Thursday, September 17, 2009

And So It Begins

I've done it! I've began the cooking process! And it has already been a roller-coaster of excitement and emotions. Not what I expected from simply cooking from a few recipes but a good experience so far.
I ended up not being able to cook anything on my designated day, Saturday, because I had unknown plans to hang out with some friends during the afternoon. Which, believe me when I say it was a blast, but I was a little down because I would have to postpone my cooking further. Worried I would have to wait until next Saturday, I was relieved when I realized I would be making a dessert on Wednesday night for a bible study my parents host at their house. The next day, however, I was informed by my mom that someone else wanted to make dessert because it was their birthday, so yet again I was defeated before even beginning the process. As it got nearer to Wednesday the group realized no one was signed up to bring appetizers or a side for the main dish. Immediately, I jumped at the chance and began searching through the cookbook for the best things to make. That's when I found out the main entree for the evening was Chili Cheese Dogs...not much you can pair with those as a side. I was forced to narrow my search options through the cookbook; something healthy, something green perhaps. I finally settled on a Warm Green Bean Salad for the side dish and a Hummus dip and a Artichoke and Scallion dip for the appetizers.
Come Wednesday, after shopping and acquiring all of the ingredients needed for my three dishes. Upon arriving home I promptly start setting out the ingredients for the individual recipes and my mission was under way. I started with the Hummus; now I have had a few store bought types and even tried someone's homemade, so I was excited to attempt my own. While shopping for the ingredients, the Hummus recipe called for Tahini. My mind drew a complete blank. Tahini? What is that? A vegetable? A spice? No...apparently it is a sauce, who knew? Not I, so as I am searching up and down the aisles at Fred Meyer I eventually come to the conclusion that it doesn't exist or I am too blind to see it. Baffled, I decided to ask someone who works there if they happen to know where it could possibly be. I assumed that no one else had heard of it either so I say, "Excuse me, I have an odd ingredient to ask about, do you know where Tahini is?" To which the kind lady, fully knowing what it is I am looking for points me in the right direction. Of course, why didn't I look in the Natural Foods the Peanut Butter...
I have come to the conclusion that grocery stores should have a look up computer like they have at libraries. So I could go to this computer and type in "tahini" and it would tell me what aisle to look down. Back to the cooking - I put all the ingredients in my mom's mini food processor and watched as Chickpeas (also known as Garbanzo beans), lemon juice, tahini, and garlic became my own homemade Hummus. I was elated! I had made Hummus and it was easy as can be and looked perfect, and some paprika sprinkled on top gave it a nice look. My joy, however, was lost when I tried said Hummus. Taking a pita chip and putting a fair amount on it and putting it in my mouth, expecting a delicious flavor. Instead my delicious flavor was overpowered by an after taste that was bitter and sour! Immediately I looked at the recipe; did I add more garlic than I thought? Did i mess up the amount of lemon? No, everything looked in order. No idea why, but the Hummus I made had a sharp after flavor. Worried I was going to be serving something gross to people I put it in the fridge for later, hoping that the next dip would be better.
Artichoke and Scallion dip! I've already noticed something funny about this recipe book. It gives you an estimated prep and cook time, and so far they have been WAY off in when it comes to prep time. The Artichoke and Scallion dip says "Prep time 5 minutes." Maybe for a master chef! The only way I can think they allotted only 5 minutes was if the ingredients were already set out, chopped and measured just waiting to be mixed together. Taking probably 15 minutes to make this dip, I again tried it with a pita chip and Voila! Delicious! It is a very savory but mild dip and I was much more pleased with the way it turned out. Putting it in the fridge with the Hummus to get cold I waited to start the third recipe until people started arriving.
Before people started arriving I had my fabulous taste-tester Heath try both dips to see if they were edible and worth setting out for others to partake in. Wonderful Heath, who likes everything, put my fears to rest when he announced he really like both; including the Hummus! People started arriving and the dips were both a huge hit! Maybe I'm the one with the weird taste buds; which Heath would agree with considering he doesn't understand how I wouldn't like any and every food. I'm working on training my taste buds to like different foods, especially those I usually dislike, but I'm not going to lie, I avoided the Hummus dip for the rest of the night.
As Sasha, who was preparing the Chili Cheese Dogs, started setting up, I decided to start making the Warm Green Bean Salad. I had my cookbook sitting out on the stove top next to the counter where I was mixing my ingredients together for the sauce. Sasha, who claims she can never understand which button to turn for which burner, decided to try one that she thought was correct. The one she turned on, which we have a gas stove, so it's flames not just a coil heating up, but the burner she chose happened to be the one my cookbook was sitting against. Suddenly we started noting there was a smoke-y smell in the room, thankfully my mom saw what was going on and picked up the cookbook and the paper towel which was in flames and put it all out. My cookbook is now officially christened. Normally, I would be quite upset over the fact that I just spent 35 bucks on a brand new cookbook only to have it get a nice crinkly burnt spot on the front cover, the first time I go to use it. Thankfully, however, Heath was there to quickly put my emotions at bay by telling me it was now an official cookbook and it showed how used it was. If he hadn't been there, I may have gotten a bit more upset. And now that I think about it, who really cares, it's just a book and a cookbook at that, isn't it supposed to get stains and burns and whatnot all over it to show how used it is? The Warm Green Bean Salad ended up being scrumptious! I, with my picky taste buds, thought there was a little too much ginger in it, but everyone else seemed to like it.

997 recipes to go!

Next task: Dinner for Heath and my parents :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Adventure Time!

I'm beginning to realize that the title I originally chose for my blog now sounds extremely conceited. I started this blog as a photography blog, so the quest for beauty was through pictures, then my blog was a travel blog, and now it is my personal blog for writing about anything and I fear people assume the quest for beauty would be for physical, personal beauty - but alas it is not.

My next adventure which I plan to use this blog for is my attempt at cooking through a cookbook. Now before you assume I just simply copied the idea from the movie Julie and Julia, it is not true. I have always wanted to make every recipe in a cookbook. I mean, if the recipe made it into a cookbook it has to be good right? But how often do I really use a cookbook to try something "new"? I use cookbooks when I want to make something I know I will like; I just need a recipe for it - like cheesecake. But now I am going to cook through an entire cookbook even if it is a recipe I don't think I will particularly enjoy. Thankfully my taste-tester is Heath, who happens to eat anything and everything. So I know there won't be ingredients that he wouldn't eat, I will be more of the problem in that department. I'm the one who can tend to be picky, which is why I never think to make certain recipes in the first place, or even take the time to try. But now I am making that time.
Heath and I went to Borders and picked out a well rounded cookbook that we thought would give me a wide range of things to cook and bake. It's called, "The Kitchen Bible," but you want to know what the best part is? It's Illustrated! Which is, in my opinion, the best part. That way I can see if what I make actually has any resemblance to the picture of the pro's version.
In contrast to the movie, I won't be trying to cook through this book in a year. First, I don't have the money to buy all the ingredients to do it that quickly and second, I don't have the time to devote to cooking. So I am going to start by using my Saturday morning/afternoon to cook a few things from the Kitchen Bible, whether it be bread and a salad or a main dish and dessert (I'm telling you this book has a bit of everything).
Similarly to the movie, I will be attempting to update my blog with the on-goings of my cooking. Hopefully it will encourage me to use my blog more often and be able to write about my ups and downs of cooking new and exciting dishes.
My only problem that I have noted so far is realizing how much kitchen gadgets I don't own, which of course will add to the cost of cooking. Maybe I will save recipes, in which I don't have the correct utensils, for after Christmas. That way I can ask for what I need then.

With the first Saturday coming up so soon (tomorrow) I am not sure where to begin in this cookbook with 1,000 recipes! I'm thinking I should start small and just test the waters first but part of me wants to go all out and make an extravagant meal. We shall see and I will be sure to post about my first run with the cookbook at work tomorrow.