Lately I’ve been trying to cook more. I can bake just fine, because baking requires two things: ability to follow directions, and a taste for sweet things. Check! Cooking on the other hand tends to call for a certain intuition, which I apparently lack. I don’t know what goes with what, how long is too long, and my cooking vocabulary ends somewhere between “sauté” and “simmer”. But lately, thanks to Pinterest.com, I’ve been stumbling upon recipes that look both delicious and doable.
My first attempt was a stovetop broccoli and white cheddar macaroni and cheese. The picture looked simple. Pasta, broccoli, and some sort of cheese sauce. Can’t go wrong! Well, after converting pounds and ounces to cups and grams, substituting sharp white cheddar for just normal cheddar, and faking my way through cooking the broccoli (the recipe says to cook it “according to package instructions”, though the package was both a) in Spanish and b) lacking any instructions for a microwave or stovetop), I attempted to create the roux. Thanks to the eensy counter space in our kitchen, I was frantically running back and forth from our kitchen table (where my laptop/recipe was) to the stovetop (where the food was), trying to remember in what order the butter, milk and flour were to be added and how much time was supposed to be given before adding the next ingredient. Thank goodness Kelli was around and was able to help me with this tricky process. Another reason cooking is difficult? Everything has to be timed so perfectly! And if you don’t know what you’re doing (in my case with the roux) you’re in for trouble. The mac and cheese eventually turned out alright and Kelli and I even enjoyed leftovers. In the future, I’d use more pepperjack cheese and preferrably a stronger cheddar, and also let the sauce thicken a bit before pouring it on the pasta.
The next thing I tried were Hasselback potatoes. These seemed impossible to mess up. But oh, they weren’t. I think the potatoes were the faulty ingredient here, which is a shame considering they are basically the ONLY ingredient. The potato I used was super hard even after 40 minutes of baking in the oven. I also didn’t use extra virgin olive oil, just regular kind, so maybe that was a poor choice too. And, how in the world are you supposed to cut a potato that thinly? Maybe Kelli and I need to invest in another knife (we only have 2, neither of which are of the thin-potato-slicing variety I guess). The potato was hard, burned to the bottom of the pan, and not at all “crispy on the outside and tender on the inside” as the recipe claimed. I even cut up fresh garlic, and good thing I did, because it turned out to be the only tasty thing about this side dish miss.
I have about ten other recipes saved on Pinterest that I want to try in the near future, though I’m terrible at improvising, and many of them require ingredients I can’t find or techniques I don’t know. Since the mac and cheese did turn out edible though, I’m thinking that’s hope enough to at least give a couple of them a go. For Monday Night Dinner, I made these three eggless cookie doughs, which were simple, quick, and delicious, thus fortifying my belief that I’m meant for baking and not cooking (though can it be considered baking if it never left its dough state?). I’ll try to keep you all posted on my kitchen experiences (or shall I say ex-fear-iences?) and especially cue you in to any knock-out recipes I find and successfully make.