I have a tendency to graze when at home with no real meal plan. I ended up focusing on trying to use up the fresh foods in the fridge because food waste is one of my biggest pet peeves. I mean c'mon Past Cara, why did you leave just one slice of Swiss cheese in the drawer? Oh well, Present Cara enjoyed it well enough. :)
I always forget how good these taste until I eat one and then want to immediately eat another one. This is what I ate this morning to put something in my belly before I felt like cooking. Some flavors of Larabars I'm not a fan of, some are okay, but this one is seriously my favorite. Ian's a fan of the pecan pie flavor, but for some reason it's hard to find around here. These babies are usually $1-2 each, so I stock up when they're on sale for $1 or less with a coupon.
Recently I decided to make my own Ranch dressing/dip. (Still working on the ratios of ingredients my tastebuds prefer, I'll share it when it comes out perfect!) One of the ingredients was buttermilk, which is used to thin it out from a dip into a dressing. Welp, we ate the whole batch as a dip with cut up veggies, so I had this little container of buttermilk left in the fridge that I just realized needed to be used. So, I searched my trusty Evernote - my recipe collection database of choice - for recipes that used buttermilk.
I ended up trying this recipe for Amish Cinnamon Bread. I halved it since I only own one loaf pan, but it didn't turn out exactly like I remember from my day of eating endless amounts of Amish Cinnamon Bread from having a zillion starters. Maybe next time I will use the batter in muffins instead of a loaf, since it took so long for the loaf to set the batter, it made the edges a bit dry. As you can see in the picture, the top layer of cinnamon sugar became it's own monster, too. Muffins might fare a little better! But, I don't know that I have a whole cup of buttermilk left so I will use one of my other recipes that use less this go 'round.
As you can see, I had a cooking fail today, too. I was trying to use up the garlic left in the house. Some of it I had peeled and put in a container in the fridge for the convenience of not having to peel it when you want to use some in cooking, but apparently if you do that and leave it in there too long it starts to grow. Oops! I grabbed the other few cloves that weren't peeled, too, and cut it all up and threw it in a pan, covered 'em in olive oil, and tossed them in the oven. Buuuuuuuuuuuut I totally didn't cover them with enough oil because they kinda scorched. Gross. Ah well, at least I tried! Sometimes cooking is just about trial and error, and learning from your errors - especially the inedible ones.
The bit about trying, that's a big one for me. Because my boyfriend is an amazing cook, and talented, he can cook anything 3x as fast as I could, and 3x better, too. So I get discouraged when it comes to even bothering attempting to cook because it feels like a waste of time and ingredients. But I go through phases where I just have this random inspiration to get in the kitchen and Just Do It. I am thankful when I have enough energy to do that! Sometimes it's all I can do to microwave something, so actually preparing "real food" makes me really happy.
I admire people who call themselves Kitchen Witches, because I do find that cooking can be a sacred, spiritual act. I think part of my desire to cook sometimes has to do with that, to be part of the alchemical process of turning a bunch of ingredients into something else totally different. I mean, that cinnamon bread wasn't anything like bread when it was a pile of ingredients on the counter. People who say magic doesn't exist apparently have never tried baking something from scratch! When I kept poking the skewer through the middle of the loaf to check if it would come out clean to tell that it was done, and it would be gooey, I'd pout and set the timer for another 10 minutes. And all of a sudden, after doing that what seemed like 8 times because my oven is finicky and in dire need of a good cleaning, it went from gooey to fluffy. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN!? Okay, I know there's science behind it, but thinking of it as magic makes it so much more fun!
I attempted one other cooking feat today that actually worked: we had a green bell pepper in the fridge, as well as a medium-sized onion. I cut them both up into fajita-style strips and cooked them in the oven for awhile till they were floppy. Next step? Wait for Boyfriend to get home from work and help me incorporate them into nachos. Is it mean that he cooks all day and then he comes home and cooks some more? Haha. That's part of what I want to be a better cook, too. Both he and Mario Batali have the same philosophy: the best tasting meal is one that is cooked by someone else for you.
I'll leave you with one last note of foody goodness: A new blog I am enjoying is fellow WoW player Ghemit's new project, Alone for Dinner. Check it out, and give it a follow, especially if you're around DC for local recommendations!