5 recipes down, 267 days to go
No, I haven't failed math. This was my attempt to make three recipes at one time!
Warning: don't ever try this on your own.
Saturday, August 29th
- Black Rice, Sweet Potato and Orange Salad with Toasted Almonds -
- Whole Baked Cauliflower -
- Smoky Aubergine Dip -
If you're wondering 'what the heck is an aubergine?' I was right there with you. I had never heard of an aubergine, and I was worried that it was some kind of gourmet vegetable that wouldn't be available on Amazon Whole Foods. So I looked it up ahead of time.
You wouldn't guess...
Turns out, an aubergine is the same thing as... an eggplant!
I know, WHAT? I did not see that coming. Yup, same vegetable, it just has two different names it's that special. In Europe it's called an aubergine, and in the US it's called an eggplant. Deliciously Ella is based in London, so this makes sense. I had also never heard of black rice. Well, Amazon had that too.
At 5:30 pm, I was in the kitchen ready to start what would would be my most taxing endeavor yet. I had read through and planned out how the time would go for making each of these three recipes. If there's one tip I would most recommend to fellow amateur cooks—it's taking the time to do this same thing, in order to:
1. Not be surprised by a certain step or any additional time needed
2. Give yourself enough time, including taking into account the prepping time
2. Feel like you have a good sense of what is ahead of you and being mentally prepared before stepping in the kitchen
This was my plan: First, rub the cauliflower with the oil and spices, then put it in the big oven, because this needed the longest time to cook—1 hour. Once this was done cooking, everything else would be close to ready, so it would have time to cool, but still be warm to eat. Second, peel and slice the two eggplants, then put them in the small oven to cook—for 30 minutes before adding two peeled garlic cloves for the last 10 minutes. This was for the dip. After they were done roasting, I would have time to blend this with the other ingredients in a food processor so that it would be done before finalizing the salad. Third, I would start the cooking process for the black rice—which first needed to be brought to a boil in water, and then simmer for 40 minutes. Fourth, I would cut the other eggplant for the salad, then put it in the small oven with the other aubergines (they cooked at similar temperatures—this is also really important to check the temperature each thing needs to be cooked at ahead of time, to make sure they don't conflict such that you don't have an oven to cook them in!) to roast for 10 minutes. During which time I would peel and cut the two sweet potatoes, and after the 10 minutes would mix them in with the aubergine to roast for another 30 minutes. With everything in the oven there would be time to do the other salad prep, including toasting the almonds and making the dressing. Did you follow all that? It's ok if you didn't, since I don't know whether I did...
I didn't even write these steps down—my whole plan was mental.
I think that I thought ahead of time it would be simple and straightforward, easy to keep track of everything. Basically, that it would be a breeze. I'm honestly not sure what I thought.
I sure know what it was: One of the most epically hectic messes in the kitchen that ever was!
During a period of one and a half hours, I don't think I had a single moment to pause and breath. Things seemed to keep coming up that I hadn't accounted for: like not having enough timers to keep track of everything!! AHHH!
I had to do some moving of vegetables around in our kitchen ovens half-way through because our old one had shut off. And cutting that eggplant into bite-sized chunks was the most time-consuming prep work I think I had ever done up to that point. Peeling vegetables is not something I have had much practice with either, so that was slow going as well.
I was greatly relieved when everything was in the oven, only to realize I still had more salad prep to do, and dip to make; along with keeping track of everything on my my three different timers so nothing burned!
It made me think... why do I make everything more difficult for myself then it needs to be? I could have just made the salad. But no, that wasn't enough for me. I needed to make this complete meal.
Just make the salad. Cooking should be enjoyable, not painful. Only when you enjoy yourself, does the food taste its best.
Black Rice, Sweet Potato & Orange Salad with Toasted Almonds
Whole Baked Cauliflower
Smokey Aubergine Dip
Everything did turn out, and I laid it out on the table for dinner at around 7:15. I instructed my tasters (mom, brother, and dad—my sister passed) into making a bowl with everything.
What I liked about the salad was the rich orange dressing, toasted almonds, and sweet potatoes. I did not like the eggplant in it, which unfortunately there was quite a lot of.
Eggplant has never been a favorite vegetable of mine, and these recipes further reinforced my disliking. It had something to do with the texture and underlying flavor of it.
I was not a fan of the eggplant dip.
Coating the cauliflower was the funnest part of this disastrous evening, though even this turned out just mediocre. It didn't have the crispiness I like in cauliflower, but that might have been due to the oven shutting off in the middle of its cooking. It did seem slightly underdone.
To say the least, I have learned from this traumatic experience. Don't be expecting any more 3-part dinners. Whew!