Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Not Everything I Cook Tastes Good: Recent Successes at Mediocrity

In the past week or so I have been focusing on vegetarian and vegan recipes in general and recipes that focus on using up the last of the fall produce in our fridge before the Thanksgiving is upon us.  Unfortunately, not everything turns out irresistibly delicious or even really very good.

I tried a baked butternut squash dish.  Foolishly, I purchased pre-cut butternut squash without looking at the price in Gelson's when I was there picking up some pears for a road trip. What was I thinking? $7 for a small bag. Well, there's no way that was going to waste for $28!!!!!  Parmesan Roasted Butternut Squash from Gourmet 2008. Despite rave reviews, it was markedly so-so. Vegetarian, not vegan. A little casserole with Parmesan cheese (the flavor highlight of the dish) and a little milk (recipe called for cream, I substituted).

Later that same evening, while the squash was in the oven, I attempted a crumble desert with some quickly softening persimmon.  Someone on Twitter suggested I try with persimmon anything that works with peaches. OK. No.  I tried this recipe from Cooks.com using whatever kind of fruit you have in the house and a common combination of oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon and so on and so forth. Working in my favor was a small bottle of Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzey's I have around as a gift from a dear friend. Vietnamese cinnamon is sweeter and more pungent than any old kind of cinnamon you can buy at Vons or Safeway. The second you open it the scent will fill your kitchen. In theory, it's a winning combo, I also tossed some Granny Smith apples finely diced into the crumble. Not vegan either because the crumble crust had butter. Vegetarian. Meh.

The next day, seriously in the mood for Thanksgiving sides dishes and with an afternoon to kill while my husband played 5+ hours of tennis in the cold wind and near rain, I made vegan mashed potatoes.  Inspired by the mysteriously frequent Reader's Choice winner in the Project Food Blog competition, Oh She Glows, I made high protein garlic mashed potatoes. They were good. Not great. It's amazing what a little real butter and milk will do for you, never mind the fact that I prefer the garlic in my mashed potatoes roasted before mashed. I also learned, watching the Food network on cable at the gym that the best potatoes for mashing are Russet or Yukon Gold. Thought I'd share.

My husband loves a mooshy stuffing (as opposed to more crumbly textured stuffings with sausage, cranberries and the works which I personally prefer).   So, stopping in at Trader Joe's for my Russet potatoes, I picked up a box of Cornbread Stuffing mix and cooked to mooshy specifications. Good, but very very salty. I woke up really puffy the next morning.

Also, while perusing the aisles of Trader Joe's I picked up already chopped sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts to throw in the oven for roasting as usual. The conclusion I come to after using precut sweet potatoes and butternut squash is that precut is not as good as when you cut it yourself. Both times. Granted you might harakiri yourself while carving a butternut squash. But the sweetness of a freshly cut butternut squash > precut butternut squash every time.

I took some snaps of all the recent home cooking, but didn't feel anything was worthy of sharing in the aftermath of such aggressive mediocrity. However, I will share a positive outcome of this year's healthier eating and more vigorous home cooking. My migraines seem to have hit the road.  About a year and a half ago I was in the middle of a veritable tide of migraines. This year they have vanished, seemingly into thin air. As a reader of this blog, you may or may not know about a little blog called 64 Weeks, 64 Food Rules. That blog was a project based on Pollan's Food Rules, and it petered out at about week 23, damn almost halfway there. What it did accomplish was a more heightened awareness of the quality of what I put in my body. I am pretty convinced that exiting chemicals and processed food almost entirely from my diet has helped heal me of my migraines.

That's all.


Kitten with a Whisk said...

I don't think I could ever give up butter or cream. I can't imagine mashed potatoes without them.

I've never seen precut potatoes at the market, maybe because TJ's does not exist in my neck of the woods.

tgirl said...

L -

Big AGREE with you on pre-cut veggies. I made a dish of roasted butternut squash, sweet potatoes & brussel sprouts. All pre-cut. DISGUSTING. Mushy, didn't caramelize. Blech.

And persimmons, I don't know who told you they can sub for peaches. They are a tough fruit to work with. They need lots of sugar. I have one cookie recipe and one pudding recipe that are delish.

Sharon said...

I am sure all that food must have been great..you underestimate

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Ben said...

Great Post. No need to be disappointed. You have created awareness about healthier eating and importnance of home cooking.