Sunday, March 20, 2011

sunday success stories

what, you don't use a tomato can as a trivet?

(cutting board may or may not be drying in this position)

In case you couldn't tell, the LKTC has seen a lot of action today.  And these are just the post-dinner dishes...

This morning, I practically bounded out of bed, which is a welcome change from the troubling lethargy that's otherwise been weighing me down most days (yeah, I'll go to a doctor soon...).  I beat the majority of my fellow fifth floor residents to the laundry room, and aside from some awkward conversation with an older Greek man who was basically only wearing boxers, I pretty much had the place to myself.  While an embarrassing volume of my clothing spun around the dryer, I took another stab at buttermilk biscuits. 

SUCCESSSS.  Ok, so I haven't reached Biscuitville quality by any means just yet.  But this batch was a marked improvement.  I was actually disappointed that I made so few biscuits (last time, I took one bite of each batch, and tossed the rest). They were flaky and light and delicious.  Sophie can vouch for me--we ate them as snacks while shopping this afternoon (unconventional? yes.  but snacking will get a little unconventional when you can't eat out, but happen to have an interest in marathon shopping). 

After an expensive afternoon at Tyson's, Sophie and I came back to my apartment, and while she worked on her taxes, I decided to face another former kitchen failure.  Meatballs.  While I sort of consider myself southern (hence the slight obsession with acquiring awe-inspiring biscuit skills), I definitely identify more with my Italian-ness, so I was especially bummed when my first stab at this staple failed.  And knowing Allie was coming over to join for dinner, the pressure was on (she's not only a fantastic cook, but also Italian). 

Maybe I was just in the right place to be up to my elbows in food today, but the meatballs were also a success (buttermilk biscuits also involve a fair amount of hands-in-goo time).  I am slowly beginning to find a soothing rhythm in the onion dicing, herb chopping, and garlic mincing that tend to initiate many of the dishes I cook.  And let me tell you, if you have never hand squeezed whole tomatoes from a can into a pot, you have not lived, my friend.  Nor have you had especially delicious sauce (or so claims Food Network magazine, which says whole canned tomatoes retain the most flavor).  

Anyways, not only am I getting better about literally getting my hands dirty, I'm also learning to just RELAX. I think cooking has always stressed me out because I get caught up in following the directions perfectly, telling myself it won't turn out properly if I don't.  And then, as I started cooking more, I managed to turn out some blah meatballs and flat biscuits, even after following the directions perfectly. So I've started taking more liberties (why yes, I do think that dough needs another 2 tablespoons of butter) and tailoring recipes to my taste (um, parsley is gross.  sub basil...and don't tell food network).  I never thought I'd get to the point where I could stick my hands into a bowl of ground meat, raw egg, cheese, bread crumbs, and herbs without gagging (ok, when you type it all out, it does sound gross...).  I'm still not ready to clean out a whole roasting chicken, pat it down with butter, and "massage" it (a technique my sister swears by), but I'm working my way there...

Now that I've so appetizingly described food and its many (gooey) stages, scroll on back up to those photos and remind yourself that even if I can't do the recipes justice with words, I can at least show you pretty pictures of the final product. 

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