Monday, April 25, 2011

A few tidbits of info

You've probably noticed a lack of updates as of late, and I apologize for that. It's with good reason, though! I recently started an amazing new career which, when I factor in time spent studying technical manuals, and the hour long commute to and from, cuts deeply into my blog writing time. I'll still update from time to time when I come across a recipe I'm particularly interested in, but it won't be as regular an occurrence. Still, you can rest assured that my new-found appreciation for the world of culinary delights isn't going anywhere, and when I screw something up, you can bet my humiliation will be up here in every minute detail for the whole world to read about!

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Jenn and her family for a wonderful turkey dinner over the Easter weekend. Great food, great company, and great hospitality...couldn't ask for anything more!

Oh, one more thing, I just passed the 1000 visitor mark, too. I know it's not exactly viral, but hey, I'm proud to have attracted that many people to witness my little journey! Thank you!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chapter 9: A Temporary Setback

Yes, it's true, I have failed. While I'm certainly proud of what I've accomplished in the last month or so, I realize that it still doesn't take much to trip me up. Case in point: Kraft pizza. You know, the little box that contains the flour, sauce, herbs, and some parmesan cheese. The one with explicit, seemingly idiot-proof instructions plastered on the back, complete with diagrams. Diagrams!! You don't even have to be able to read to make a Kraft pizza, you just make sure your hands and cooking tools are in the same position as the little pictures on the box! Ah, but the fine folks at Kraft have never run into someone like me. Someone who, given the right set of circumstances, could easy catch a bowl of soup on fire.

So, there I was, in the mood for pizza. Sure, I could just order it, but where's the challenge in that? These days, I want to actually make things. After all, that's the reason I started this little experiment...and besides, I've made sauteed chicken, chocolate chip banana bread, homemade pancakes, etc, etc. I wouldn't even break a sweat on something like this! Brimming with confidence, I tore into the box and looked over the contents. With a smug smile on my face, I poured the flour into a mixing bowl, and gradually poured in the recommended amount of water, already assured of my victory. "Mix the flour into a ball with your hands, cover, and place in a warm area for 10 minutes", it said. Easy enough, I responded. After that was done, I sat down and watched some of the latest episode of the always classy Maury while I waited. After cheering along with the TV crowd over some "DNA drama" for 10 minutes, I wandered back into the kitchen to finish the job.

I anxiously took the cover off the bowl, and found...a still sopping wet, tiny ball of gross flour. What the hell?? This wasn't part of the plan! Where was my beautifully risen pizza dough? Suddenly, the plan came to a devastating stop. First round knockout...Adam had been sent crashing to the canvas by the upstart challenger, Kraft Pizza. When I recovered from the shock of my defeat, I grabbed the disgusting sphere and launched it into the garbage, complete with all the other contents of the box. Wasteful? Yes, but I didn't care. Cursing a fit of words mere mortals should never have access to, I stormed all the way down to the dumpster on the side of the apartment building and threw the bag of filth in there, thankful I would never see it again.

Yes, I've come a long way, but I have an even longer way to go. Oh, well, it's all about the journey!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chapter 8: Two for One Special

I know, I know, I haven't been updating regularly for the past couple of weeks. I realize that this is traumatizing for some of you...and I take full responsibility for that. After all, I spoiled you, my dear readers, with multiple updates every week and now that you're addicted I cruelly cut back on the dosage and may have forced some of you into withdrawal symptoms. So, to make up for my transgressions, I offer a double shot of kitchen-y goodness today: Stir fry, and spaghetti. Now, let's get this show on the road...

It appears that much of the later chapters of my precious book focus on large scale recipes and stuff like various sauces and whatnot. That's cool, and one of these days I'm gonna make some of these fancy sauces, but for now I could just as easily buy them for a few bucks at Sobey's. I have enough trouble making the main courses, so trying to multitask and actually make the sauce at the same time is a recipe for disaster. Yes, that pun was're welcome.

Anyway, I asked Jenn for a suggestion for something fun we could make together, and she decided on beef stir fry. I'm especially thankful that for this one, she did the shopping, which saved me the humiliation of buying the wrong stuff. Again. Once we got the ball rolling in the kitchen, she got started with the beef strips, which seemed to be pretty much the same procedure as the ground beef in the taco recipe, and I started cutting up peppers. If you've kept up, you know that I'm very, very slow at cutting veggies, and the peppers are no exception. You also likely know that I have to be told explicitly what to do, or I will inevitably do it wrong...again, the peppers are no exception. I figured I was suppose to cut them into tiny chunks like I did(verrry slooooowly) with the tomatoes and had already done the red pepper like that before she thankfully saw me and put me on the right track for the green one. I need to stop assuming things about cooking...if I assume something is right, YOU can safely assume I'm wrong. I also feel compelled to note that there was a yellow pepper as well, but she was quite insistent on not using that one for some reason. One of these days I'm gonna say screw it, and take a big bite out of a yellow pepper just to see why I shouldn't. Skipping the fluff and getting to the end, I was quite impressed with the stir fry. I didn't eat much of the beef and mostly stuck to the veggies, but still, it was really good, especially the unpronounceable sauce! Why have I ignored all of this stuff for so long??

Next up is something I've actually eaten before: spaghetti with garlic of the rare times where I know what I'm getting into. It's also shockingly simple to just throw the stuff in a pot of hot water!! Oh, and as Jenn and I found out from the "John Tesh radio show", always get cold water from the tap when you're cooking, not hot water, because hot water can take particles off the inside of the pipes and it can get into the food. Knowledge is power! I also LOVE Jenn's method for figuring out if the spaghetti is finished: just get a piece and throw it at the wall!! Seriously! If it sticks, it's done. That is hilarious and awesome. And not just normal awesome, but "Old Spice guy" awesome. I'm tempted to try it with other types of food, but something tells me it wouldn't work quite as well, not to mention it would likely be considered a social faux pas. Curse these societal norms.. Oh, and the moral of the story is, spaghetti is awesome. Go throw some at the wall and enjoy!

Friday, April 8, 2011

A retrospective

Well, it's been about a month since I bought my book, so I figured I'd take a look at myself and see how I've progressed. To be honest, it seems like ages ago since I stumbled my way through the basic scrambled eggs recipe, literally having never cooked anything that didn't go straight into the oven/microwave as is. If you recall, it took me a minute to even remember what a whisk was! The kitchen was like a foreign country to me...and not one of the good foreign countries, either. One of the countries where the hotel clerks carry assault rifles, where you're just as likely to be mugged by the military as you are by street punks, and where smiling in public breaks at least four laws. You know the ones. Thankfully, that's no longer the case.

Slowly, but surely, I've become quite a bit more comfortable in the kitchen. Granted, I've got a LONG way to go, and nobody in full control of their mental faculties should ask me to prepare a three course meal, but if you want some French toast and bacon for breakfast, or some tacos for dinner, I can probably accommodate that. It might not sound like much, but to anybody who knows me, this is nothing short of a miracle. What's even more incredible, is that I'm actually truly enjoying this stuff! I mean, right from the start, I was determined to at least learn how to cook basic stuff, but I wasn't sure if I'd actually enjoy what I it was a pleasant surprise to discover that the culinary world is quite a wonderful place, after all. Naturally, I won't like everything, and so far I've picked recipes that I think I have a better chance at liking, but still, you know what I mean.

You may also have noticed I haven't updated as often the past couple of weeks. Part of the reason is that I'm not *quite* as hilariously useless anymore, and a big part of why I write this is the humor. Another reason is that I've been having an absolute blast cooking together with Jenn recently, and in those situations, I don't have the opportunity to screw up as bad, thankfully!

Just wait, though! Remember that damn salmon from Chapter 2? While it was *sort* of a success, I admitted that I cheated my way through it, and just baked it rather than sauteed, plus the whole bone situation baffled me at the time. I know I said I wouldn't revisit recipes, but this will be a special case. Get ready,'s soon gonna be time for a rematch...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chapter 7: Mexican Revolution

Ah, back to cooking..seems like forever since I posted about a new recipe. Last week I said I was gonna get into soup and/or salad today, but you know what? I just didn't feel like that. To be honest, soup is a strange beast in my opinion. I prefer my nutrition to be either a solid or a liquid, but soup is like some bizarre hybrid, and my unsophisticated palette can't handle such oddities. A liquid with chunks of solids floating in it? Blasphemy. I suppose it's inevitable that I'll get to that stuff eventually, but I don't have to like it! Anyway, today's menu was something significantly more fun: good old fashioned soft tacos!

This one wasn't actually in my book, I just happened to see a commercial for tacos yesterday and decided that was gonna be next. I know it's not a complicated thing to make, but you must remember, without explicit instructions I'm utterly useless in the kitchen...but I was lucky enough to have Jenn give me a hand, so it's all good!

So, off to Sobey's I went in search of ingredients. It was pretty straightforward for the most part(I bought significantly more ground beef than I needed, but that's ok) until I went looking for lettuce. You see, I was under the impression that lettuce is, well, lettuce. How wrong I was...there's an absurd amount of different types of lettuce, each one confusing me more than the last. Ok, ok, so there was actually only like 3...but that's still 3 times as many as I anticipated. Naturally, I wasn't lucky enough to pick the right one, either. I found out later that I should've got "iceberg lettuce", and I bought...uh, I forget, but it wasn't that one. Thankfully, she already had the iceberg stuff in her fridge. Lesson learned.

I also found out that I slice up tomatoes far slower than any reasonably intelligent person should because I insist on making sure every little chunk is the same size; I guess that isn't as important as I had imagined, but hey, I'm a perfectionist...or something. Another thing I learned today is that it's pretty easy to cook ground beef. Granted, Jenn actually did most of that, but it didn't LOOK the end, this was my favorite non-breakfast recipe so far, I must say. Fun to make, easy, and tasty! Definitely something that will work it's way into my regular rotation.

Oh, and I forgot to take a picture again. Use your imagination...or go back and look at the space clown picture in Chapter 2 again.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Oriental adventure

This update is a wee bit different from the others thus far, as it's not about anything I actually cooked. Still, it's about food, and it was a fun experience, so I figured what the hell, I'll write about it. Before any of you write angry comments about how I'm breaking the rules of my own blog..know this: I know where you live!! Ok, that's a lie, I can't back that up. For some of you, at least.

Anyway, yesterday evening Jenn was in the mood for Chinese food, and there's a little spot not far from her place that she really wanted to try. I'm all about expanding my horizons and whatnot now, so I was more than happy to go and give it a shot. First thing we noticed when we got there was that our waitress seemed far too young to be working there. I'm talking like 10 years old, 12 tops. I mean, I remember the big scandal at the 2008 Olympics about the Chinese putting 12 year old kids in the gymnastics events and saying they were 16, but I had no idea it spread to waitresses too...unless that's gonna be an Olympic event next year in London. But I digress...

Jenn instantly found what she wanted on the menu while I stumbled through it, with a look on my face that likely resembled the look the dumbest kid in your high school physics class had on his face during the final exam. Seriously, I didn't recognize anything except rice. Luckily for me, she was helpful enough to make a suggestion: Chow mein with chicken fried rice and an egg roll. Sounds good, let's go with that. Oh, and as my "security blanket", I ordered some french fries from their Canadian menu.

A few minutes later our half-pint(but very pleasant) waitress brought us our egg rolls, and we cut into them preparing to find some sort of egg and vegetable combination. To our surprise, it was nothing remotely resembling that, and was instead some sort of mystery meat. We never did figure out what it was, and eventually assumed it used to be a turtle...if that's the case, turtle tastes pretty good. When our main course arrived, I was shocked by how much there was, and started to dig in. I still don't know what exactly chow mein is, but I certainly wouldn't mind giving it another go some time; and the chicken fried rice was amazing. I actually regret ordering the fries because I couldn't even finish half of them after all that(also cause they were way too expensive...). If there's one positive thing about never having experienced all this stuff until you're nearly 30, it's that now I have the ability to adequately put into words how eye-opening all of this has been.

So, next week, it'll be back to your regularly scheduled programming, where I'll likely be doing some sort of soup, or salad, or both. Until then, dear readers!