Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On personal failings

I'm not a vegetarian. I'm not really likely to become one. However, for budgetary/health/environmental reasons I try to cook about half of my meals vegetarian.

But I'm really, really bad at it.

Part of it is just the lack on an adventuresome spirit. I have this massive vegetarian cookbook with a million recipes marked but I don't trust it. It doesn't help that I won't eat zucchini, because it looks like a spoiled cucumber. And if you slice an eggplant, it basically looks like purple-skinned zucchini. And broccoli makes me ill.

You get the point.

But beans are where I reign supreme. With a bag of black beans, a slow cooker and some spices, I can Change. Your. Life. Or at least Make. You. Tacos.

Which is close enough.

But there's a limit to how often one can eat black bean tacos. Mine is probably two-three times a week, but my husband doesn't feel quite as committed as I do. So I figured I would venture into the realm of lentils. I mean, they're cheap, there are multiple kinds, and they pop up in multiple cuisines, so it seemed genius. Except that I'd never had them. I don't know that I'd ever actually seen them. They were just something that Cinderella had to pick out of a fire.

At this point I've made lentil tacos once, lentil soup twice, and one god-forsaken mistake of a red lentil curry. And I can't tell if I'm doing it wrong, or if I just really hate lentils. I almost found out with the last soup, which followed a very promising sounding recipe. And then it went kind of wrong.

See, you know how toasting whole spices makes them more fragrant and delicious? I only knew that in theory. This recipe, which called for toasting cumin seeds, was the first time I'd actually tried to put it into practice. I'm pretty sure I burned them. Or, given that I'm pretty sure used too much oil, the problem may simply be that I deep-fried them. Having no basis of comparison, I can't say for certain but the seeds went in tan and came out black. I doubt that's how it was supposed to go. The other problem was I didn't feel like measuring the cumin - I just eyed it. And I like cumin, so I used an amount that I felt reflected that. This was not the correct choice. Every bite made you feel like you'd been sealed into a giant envelope of low-sodium taco seasoning, which I used to think would be a perfectly lovely way to pass an evening, but no longer. By the time things got this far, I realized I'd also forgotten to blend some of the soup. Then I stood there and I thought about all the work that would go in to setting up the immersion blender (i.e. taking it out or the pantry, plugging it in, and pressing a button), and just gave up, walked away, and watched some Buffy.

1 comment:

  1. you don't use oil to toast. think bread to toast process. spices + seeds use low-medium heat and move them around. if you put your face close you should be able to smell whatever you're toasting get a little more intense. if you can smell that intensity while standing above the pan, you're heading to burny-town.- OS