31 recipes down, 219 days to go...
Friday, October 23rd.
Tonight I felt exactly like the Julie Powell I invision.
In my minds eye, I see her getting home from a long day of work, walking to get groceries, flipping the pages of the cookbook to get to the certain recipe, and preparing to start her next endeavor. All of this meaning she wasn't starting to cook until late in the evening. Recalling my memory of the movie, some nights she didn't eat until after 10 pm. That is what's called pure dedication.
I wasn't getting home from work, but rather a sweaty training session. Saturday I had two back to back scrimmages, and I had gone with my dad to a field to get some extra fielding and hitting reps to be ready come game time. I only had to walk to our garage fridge to get the quarantined groceries delivered in my order earlier this week. I wiped down the kitchen counter (which is ALWAYS dirty and gross), before placing the cookbook down open to the recipe.
Albeit, her late in the evening is different than my late in the evening. The time my family and I typically eat dinner is between 7 and 7:30 pm. Tonight, I was just starting to cook at 7:30pm, freshly showered.
- Warm Balsamic Mushroom Salad with Pine Nut Parmesan -
The First Mess
Fortunately, my hunger was minimal, which might come as a bit of a surprise since I had just spent an hour and a half working hard. I was grateful for this anyhow. One thing I have learned is that cooking on an empty stomach is no fun at all. I get hangry very quickly. You could say that I growl every time my stomach does.
I started by making the pine nut parmesan. Though similar in texture to parmesan cheese, there was no doubt it was a little different in taste. Don't tell... I ate a spoonful of this on its own :). It was just so wonderfully crumbly, and rich and tangy from the lemon zest. This 'parmesan' most definitely made the salad. And all it took to make was 5 ingredients, and a food processor. Simple, easy, fabulous.
Washing, stemming, and slicing 1 pound of cremini mushrooms was next. This type of mushroom is between button and portobello mushrooms in size. Prepping these was very similar to preparing the apples for the apple crumble I made a couple recipes back. Except this time, I didn't know how many there were.
"Five down, infinitely many to go... when will I finish, I don't know!"
Each mushroom got its turn of finger scrubbing under warm water. All it took to remove the stems was a good twist. I did finally make it through them all, whence they sat dripping on the cutting board. I'm sorry to say, I lost count at the end, so I can't tell you how many there turned out to be.
Slicing each was a process itself; but not so much as the washing and de-stemming, because now they were all together in one place. A pleasant realization I had about mushrooms was that they slice very easily. To say the least, it was quick work from there. Really, once you have the circular cutting motion down, prep work like chopping, slicing, and dicing becomes a breeze. Practice, practice, practice is my advice. And don't be intimidated at first. The amount of prep work for vegan cooking, which is all to do with vegetables, can seem daunting. It still is this way to me, even though I already have two months under my belt. It takes time to familiarize yourself with all the different vegetables, and I am learning as I go. I feel my confidence slowly coming on.
Don't get frustrated that the recipes are taking longer than you think it should take to make. Keep after it, and be proud of yourself for trying. Positive self-talk, but also advice for y'all.
I am awed by how incredibly fast mushrooms cook. All it took was some olive oil and a couple of minutes until they glistened a lovely brown and the kitchen was aglow in their savory aroma.
Other than my adoration of mushrooms, and embracing the fall season, I was also making this recipe in order to use up more of the leftover fresh thyme (see previous post). I'm afraid to say there is still a LOT more. I'm not sure if I have even made a dent.
Along with the thyme: some minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, and of course, salt and pepper were snuck in to boost the flavor.
And for protein: 2 cups of cooked navy beans were added to the warm pan of mushrooms.
The last step was assembling the bowls. Starting with the arugula as the base, spooning over the mushroom and beans, and finishing with a grand dusting of the pine nut parmesan.
When the four bowls were assembled, and pictures taken, it was already past 8:30 pm.
My mom had already eaten with my sister.
My dad, who had been gracious enough to wait, was the first taste tester. He and I both enjoyed our bowls.
Arugula is a slightly bitter and a harsher base than other salad greens I have eaten. The arugula in the center was well appeased by liquid from the mushroom saute, but the ones around the edge of the bowl, were left mostly untouched. It might have been good to toss the salad lightly to coat all of the arugula. The balsamic vinegar in the mushroom juice added a nice tang to each bite. I especially loved the warmth and juiciness of the mushroom and beans. This salad was definitely not lacking in flavor, that's for sure.
I quite like Laura Wright's creative salad combinations; she is certainly right in that they defy the stereotype of what a salad can be. The possibilities are endless!
In my minds eye, I see Julie diligently sitting down to recount her woes and triumphs each evening. By then it must be very late. Past 10pm at night. With all the world dark outside her window.
When, at 9pm, I typed the first lines of this post, I really did feel like her. Like I was in her shoes.
Let me just put in that my usual bedtime is between 9 and 9:30 pm. I can only assume that Julie's bedtime is far later. Indeed, even people I know who are my age are in awe of how early I go to bed. On my end, I am in even greater awe of how anyone can go to bed so late!
Sleepy eyed, at 9:35 pm, I was too weary to continue. I resigned myself to finishing this post in the morning, and slowly shut my computer. I hope as this challenge goes on writing posts will become quicker and easier. It has been taking me so long to write each one. But, like any skill, it takes practice. And patience. And a positive mindset.
Let me know in the comments below if are more similar to Julie or I in your dinner and sleep schedule. I would love to hear!