Friday, June 15, 2012

trying too hard

People, it's been an insane couple of weeks. I know, I know, I say that at least once a month. More, maybe. I haven't cooked anything other than plain pasta in, well, a really long time. For part of last week, I was living on saltines and graham crackers. It hasn't been pretty. But before the temperatures climbed above 90 and I subsequently swore off firing up my stove, I did try one of the daily recipes from the "dinner tonight" series. 

I had everything on hand for the Kung Pao chicken recipe, save some microwave rice, which I allow myself to buy even though a)the packaging probably leeches all sorts of savory chemicals into the rice in the 90 seconds the stuff spins around the microwave, and b)it's more expensive. I see it as a reward for deciding to make a meal mostly from scratch, and a way to avoid turning on any more burners than necessary in the LKTC (see aforementioned 90-degree rule).

I wanted to like the sauce. I really did. It was easy and quick. I didn't have to buy any fancy ingredients. It sounded good. The picture looked appetizing. So on. So forth. 

To be fair, the sauce didn't have the most fortuitous start. I whipped it up on a Thursday, intending to force myself to cook a real dinner for the first time in ages, despite the fact that I was doing 4 loads of laundry and was feeling queasy and overheated.  It was the same fateful day, in fact, that I turned down an invite to The Source.

Anyways, I decided to finally cook with the sauce on the Sunday following laundry/lame pants day, when I was also feeling queasy and overheated (hopefully this doesn't become the theme of my summer). I probably should've had something like ramen or chicken noodle soup for dinner, not something spicy. But, I was lured by the aforementioned pretty pictures, and the guilt of not cooking hardly at all lately. And, I'm kind of a glutton for punishment in all aspects of life, it seems. So even when I came to the line that suggested the harried weeknight chef use 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper, and thought "hmm, that sounds like a lot" (relative to the other ingredients), I just threw it in there.

It was (unsurprisingly) HOT. Really hot. Practically inedibly hot. And I love me some spicy food. So, I'm not sure if the sauce would be good with less red pepper (and/or on a day when I wasn't plagued with random nausea). I'm not sure I'll ever try it again, for now it'll always be associated with what turned out to be a God-awful Sunday. But, you should try it with oh, I don't know, a THIRD as much red pepper, and let me know how it tastes. Deal?     

Oh, by the way, I took exactly zero photos of the offending sauce, so, here's a pretty picture I took yesterday while chaperoning a group of 15 interns on a Capitol Hill trip. Yes, I, who was mistaken for a sophomore in high school just a week ago, was in charge of a group of kids for an entire day. Horrifying, I know. Luckily last night, dinner and a bowl-sized glass of wine at my favorite Italian restaurant on this side of the Atlantic did excellent things for mostly wiping out my memory of the little field trip.

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