In the interest of frugality, health, and stopping my friends from making fun of my eating habits, I’ve been meaning to cook more. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 12 years, but I am also quite intimidated by vegetables, so my diet is mostly carbs. I learned how to cook a little bit in home ec class, but my mother never taught me any of the wonderful cooking techniques that she learned from her mother because we never really sat down and had dinner as a family, and because even when I did eat meat, I didn’t really eat meat, and she had no idea what I liked besides bagged rice. Honestly, there wasn’t much I liked besides bagged rice, that’s a little less true these days.
Over the years, I’ve grown fonder of vegetables and have experimented with various recipes–my mashed potatoes are sublime, and my baked mac and cheese is a show stopper, but with the increased number of potlucks I attend bringing the same dishes or just beer, and the shame I feel when friends say things like “Oh, that’s chard, we can blanch it with the skdjlhfghiuas and stir fry the dfhkghla with the df.gjnh, and that should be good” I realize that I need a new dish. Chard, and kale, and all those things– I like them when people prepare them for me, but I look at a big leafy bunch and panic. Squash, pumpkin, and eggplant are other vegetables that I love, but find incredibly intimidating.
I’ve been saying it for a while, but I’m actually slowly working on this whole cooking thing. My past two shopping outings have had me spending an inordinate amount of time in the spice aisle, which has now left me with two things of oregano, no nutmeg, and no parsley–oregano is good, I’ll use it somehow. The problem I find when I cook, is that everything comes out bland. Even if I load my dish up with garlic and other flavor agents, it still just isn’t very exciting.
Yesterday, I decided to try my hand at rice pudding. I found an easy recipe on the interweb that got rave reviews, and I went for it. It was only after the rice was nearly done cooking that I read the comments saying that you should never use long-grain rice, which, of course, I had used because it’s what we had; and that the recipe was so simple some woman’s eight-year-old excelled at it.
My rice pudding tasted like rice–that’s it, mushy, slightly crunchy rice. I gave Gentleman Scholar a taste, and to his credit, he was quite gracious as he poured cinnamon on top and took it into the other room. I burned my tongue taste-testing it, and even after dumping in an inordinate amount of sugar and vanilla extract, I’m left with the fact that my rice pudding is just blah.
I am not defeated, I will try again, but I just don’t understand why everything I make comes out tasting like paste.
We’re having a house-warming potluck on Saturday and I’m planning on making asparagus and morel bread pudding, minus the morels, substitute portobellos. This is one that I’ve never made before, and if it comes out like a dish of mush with a crunchy top, I will be forced to send Gentleman Scholar to the store to buy a lame loaf of garlic bread. That would be shameful, so I’m hoping for the best.