Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cooking Failures and Wins

Well...I had hoped to have some wonderful dishes to share with you today. I sat down on Sunday with a list of what produce I had on hand in the kitchen....fresh pumpkin, butternut squash, fresh tomatoes, kale, chard, cabbage, carrots, etc....and made a menu plan for the week. Mochi dumplings, pumpkin and chickpea stew, black bean soup, and apple spice cookies were all on the menu. Everything sounded wonderful! Well, not everything has turned out quite as I had imagined....

First, let's look at one WIN:

Apple Spice Cookies, Adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup and 2 TBSP canola oil
2 cup peeled, cored and grated fresh apple
3/4 cup sugar, plus some for coating
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely chopped or grated crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl.

Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

It will be messy. Roll 1/4 cup balls of dough and roll into more sugar for a nice coating. It's a big mess, but worth it.

Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and bake for 20 minutes.

These cookies are great the first day or two, but start to get a bit soggy afterwards. If you make them with whole wheat flour they are pretty healthy. I have been eating them with tea for breakfast as they are more like muffins. If you don't plan to share, I would halve the recipe. Even a bit soggy, they are delicious. I was lazy, so I put the apples and the ginger in the food processor. I used freshly picked apples from my cousin Rosemary's tree. You could also use applesauce, but I would add less oil and you might need a bit more flour. They are really pretty tasty, though, and vegan, to boot! Aaron even likes them. :) Cooking WIN #1.

Some of the failures as of late have been heart breaking. I had high hopes and really dug deep into my cookbook collection to really plan out this week's meals. I usually have a loose plan, but really wanted to make sure I was using up all of my gorgeous CSA produce. I spent about two hours on Sunday looking at cookbooks, my magazine clippings, and my recipe box. I really planned everything out and decided to try some recipes I have been wanting to try for quite a while.....

Well, this didn't go well. These are some mochi dumplings I have had ear marked in Clean Food since the first day I read it. This is the second time I tried to use mochi....I just am not feeling it. It sticks to your teeth when you cook it. It's weird. I stuffed these with a veggie mix that was tasty, but Aaron and I could not get past the texture of the mochi. Failure #1. 

We made the dumplings with the salad from The Grains of Paradise from Flatbread's....a place in Paia I can't wait to visit. I printed out the recipe from Amanda's blog...it is a simple salad with rice vinegar, oil, sesame seeds, I used some nice lettuce, lemon cucumbers, organic pre-fried tofu, carrots, hijiki,, etc. This was all great and I should have LEFT IT ALONE! ...But I did not leave good enough alone. I thought the dressing was too sour, so I added a little sesame paste.  The sesame paste over powered the whole thing and gave it a really weird taste. I am sure it would have been great without it. BLECK! Bad dinner. Cooking Failure #2.

The next dinner we had was a WIN!...but I made the recipe up myself! I guess sometimes I should go with my gut.

Black Bean Soup (I added whatever I had in the fridge...use what ever veggies you have on hand.)
1/2 chopped white onion
1 whole chopped purple onion
2 chopped carrots
1 chopped yellow bell pepper
1 fresh bay leaf (these keep forever! buy them...they make a HUGE difference and last for a couple of months in the fridge, seek them out from a farmer if you can)
S and P

Saute for about 5 minutes.
Add in 2 cups of dried black beans that soaked in water overnight (or use two cans of black beans and reduce cooking time)
Add one 15 oz can roasted tomatoes
Add 4-6 cups water or stock (I started with 3 and added more as the beans soaked it up)

Simmer until you reach your desired consistency. I added lots of chopped cilantro on top. Yum. It would be great with some lime, cheddar cheese, or greek yogurt or sour cream on top. I am cutting down on dairy, but would have enjoyed any of these toppings. It was fine without, too. I actually had some of this soup for lunch today with a small piece of sourdough toast...OMG, it was great!!!!! Cooking WIN #2.

What else was a fail? I bought some frozen lobster tails on sale for $4.99 each and was actually only charged for one of them. Good deal, right? WRONG! They were fishy and gross. Cooking FAILURE #3!!!

Tonight I made some stuffed chard leaves from Vefa's Kitchen, a great Greek cookbook. These turned out ok, but it was more like a casserole. My chard leaves fell apart so the rice and vegetable stuffing fell out everywhere. They looked awful, but actually tasted pretty good. I guess this was a WIN / FAILURE combo. I took pictures but they were too hideous to share. 

Tally: Wins...3, Failures, 4

Part of going into the kitchen night after night is that you don't necessarily know what you are going to come out with. It could be the best you have made, it could be the worst, or it could be a good lesson for the next time you try the recipe. It's only Tuesday, and I have 5 more meals planned for the week....so I have something to look forward to! 

In the meantime, I leave you with Peroni...his dinner (actually...his breakfast) is always the same....and he always loves it, especially when I mix in some carrots for him. :)

Get in your kitchen, don't be afraid to fail...you might just win! 


  1. I like the black bean soup idea of whatever you have in the kitchen, great idea, I will for sure try it! What do you know about Quiche? I made a swiss, bacon and spinach one the other day and just did a recipe for a Mexican quiche. Would love to try a veggie one that has poatoes, squash,etc. inside. Can you come up with a good one utilizing your fall CSA ingredients?

    Love your blog!

  2. Hi Amanda:-) If you ever make that salad again use "Sushi Vinegar" It's a bit different than place rice wine vinegar for it's MUCH sweeter. Aloha!

  3. Those are the best types of soups! Love black bean.