Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Culinary Hits and Misses

Cooking can be a monotonous chore, especially the day to day--what should we have for dinner routine.

But as chores go, I enjoy cooking, especially when I have an afternoon free. The free days used to be Sunday winter afternoons. Now I often work on the weekends, so I find my cooking times on other days. Luckily, Jeff has taken on some of the Sunday afternoon cooking.

If I have to pick one dish as Jeff's specialty, it's ropa vieja from this cookbook. One weekend he was really into cooking; he made ropa vieja on Saturday and coq au vin on Sunday. On Monday, I made a flank steak and black bean chili. Good eating. Jeff likes to make recipes as originally written.
Ropa vieja and coq au vin provided us with two to three meals. Same with the chili. When I had a cold, I made a chicken orzo soup. I had been thinking of carrot pumpkin, but I wanted the comfort of a chicken soup.

My recent cooking attempts have not been as successful. Last week I made a vodka sauce but used coconut creamer instead of heavy cream. First I looked for an organic heavy cream. Then I checked out recipes online. Many listed coconut milk or other dairy substitutes I think that was my big mistake. The sauce didn't look right. It didn't taste bad, but just not as good as it normally does. I doctored part of the batch by adding more vodka and coconut creamer, thinking that was my problem. The sauce was better, but not up to my normal standards.

Yesterday, I made a ground buffalo and black bean chili. I've made this several times before, but yesterday used dried black beans. I soaked the beans overnight; I thought that would make the dried beans equivalent to the canned beans I usually use. I started the chili in the crockpot on low at 11:30 and then went to visit my mother. When I got home around 3, the beans were still hard. I put the crockpot on high. We ate around 6. The results were disappointing. Some beans were still hard, the consistency of the chili was off. I won't use dry black beans again. I don't get what went wrong, but it just isn't worth figuring out.

Edited to add: how could I forget Jeff's stuffed pumpkin? It didn't have a fancy name--I think it was pumpkin stuffed with good things. It had cheese, bread and spices and was delicious.

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