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“Black Thumb” in the Kitchen

I suck at cooking.  That is the plain and simple truth.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have been sustaining myself with a long string of kitchen failures and am getting rather tired of eating food that is not very tasty!  My beef broth came out weak and tasteless, my roasted veggies too dry.  When I tried to turn them into soup, it was bland and pasty.  The stirfry I made is too tangy with too much ginger and I still have two quarts of it to eat.  Yuck. If I don’t have a tried and true recipe to follow, what I produce is almost inedible.

I love procuring food. I love growing it.  I anticipate that I will love raising it when I finally get my farm.  But cooking?  I really am going to have to find a partner with some skills in the kitchen (as if I didn’t already have enough strikes against me when it comes to attracting a man!  My mother was right… no wonder I’m still single).  Cooking food is simply not my forté.  It never has been, and I suspect at this point, it never will be.  I mean, tell me, who but the most untalented cook could make such beautiful veggies lose their flavour?

Of course, being a student, I can’t afford to throw this stuff away.  Furthermore, I can’t really replace it.  Most of it is beautiful, organically grown food from my CSA, so I can’t just go out and buy more even if my budget would allow.  So, I eat it.  But I really wish I could do a better job of cooking!  I suppose it doesn’t help that I am constantly rushed, doing everything at top speed and multitasking.  Maybe my culinary skills will improve when I have more time to enjoy and meditate in the kitchen, rather than approach food prep as yet another chore on my long list of “to do’s” I try to get through every day.

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6 Responses

  1. My cooking problem is distraction. I forget that I have food on heat and I overcook. I’ve thrown out so many burnt meals after spending hours/time/money on gathering the ingredients and prepping them.

    I do recommend following a tested, home-prepared recipe and the use of thermometers and timers.

    I use my friend’s recipes at http://www.bisonbasics.com
    He tests, and tests, and re-tests everything. I maintain the website and know that I’m always updating recipes based on his most recent discoveries. The meat recipes use fully-pasture fed animals (we mostly use local Southern Ontario bison and elk).

    I’m trying to convince him to create a great and simple recipe for dog food using all those undervalued cuts and offal.
    If you ever have some spare time, it’s worth a look.

    I also was moved by your ‘deer collision’ post. It’s a dangerous situation that, by luck, I’ve avoided by seconds more than once. Everyone becomes a victim; the deer, the driver, and the passengers.

    I still carry my husky unrestrained inside my pickup truck. I’ve been thinking more about the consequences after reading about your experience. Do you have any recommendations for dog seat belts?

  2. I have the same problem, i.e. distraction. I definitely need to purchase a timer and a broader range of thermometers! That would help considerably. And having tried and tested recipes to follow as well. I simply do not have the intuitive capacity to cook without a recipe. The amount of food that is going into the composter today is testimony to that! I get my new CSA share tomorrow and need to make space and there’s a whole lot of stuff I simply have not eaten because it’s too unpalatable!

    Thanks for sharing the bison website – I just bought a pastured lamb for the freezer and have no idea how to cook it. Do you think his recipes would be helpful for that? I also have some grass feed beef now – yum!

    Regarding seat belts for dogs, this is the brand I have:
    https://www.neopaws.com/catalog/seatbelt-p-1841.html?osCsid=86bkqh0qkm6jl0ef50eumcoeg0
    I like it because it has a fully padded vest that distributes any impact across the chest instead of just along straps. Also it allows to you strap the dog in quite tightly. Most setbelts I’ve seen have a tail piece that you pass the car seatbelt through. This is often over a foot long, meaning that if you get into an accident, your dog can move a foot or more before the belt kicks in. If you roll, that could mean a lot of banging about for the dog. I pass the car belt right through the back of the harness and Ross can hardly move at all once buckled in. He’s not thrilled about it (and I have to admit, it’s a bit awkward to set up) but it kept him safe in at least a head on collision

    I don’t know that any of these seatbelts are really crash tested. The one I have seems a bit flimsy and in a more severe accident, perhaps it would break. But at least keeping the dog fairly immobile should minimize the chances of that. I haven’t done much research into seatbelts since I bought this one several years ago, so if you find out anything interesting, I’d love to hear about it!

  3. I asked Peter today about using pastured lamb in his bison and elk recipes (btw the elk is at http://www.eatingelk.com) and he says no problem. Might want to make some mint sauce to go with it though.

    I don’t often eat out because of the cost, but last night we tried the grassfed burger at The Stockyards Smokehouse in Toronto. It was really good. I’ll be posting a review and photos on http://www.torontovore.ca very soon.

    • Thanks for checking this out! I’ll be sure to try some of those recipes with all the lamb I have in the freezer. I figure by the time I’m through a dozen packages of lamb chops and four legs (not to mention a huge roast), I should have figured out how to cook it well!

      I’ll be sure to keep the Stockyard Smokehouse in mind for my next trip to TO!

  4. I am hardly in a position to offer advice about cooking, but probably like you, I’ve really had to learn the hard way – doing and redoing! A couple of thoughts: have you ever thought of using recipes for kid’s food? There’s a guru here called Annabel Karmel whose recipes are delicious and, of course, because middle-class parents in the UK are absolutely obsessed about organic, 100% organic and very healthy – low-salt, lots of veggies, and though labor-intensive, very very simple. Very locavore-friendly. Her recipe for cheese sauce is the best I’ve come across – I’ve tried them all! Joy of Cooking gets used in our house at least once a week if not more – I’ve never found anything to replace it when I am facing a bizarre vegetable (e.g. celeriac) that I don’t know how to cook (even google can’t compete here). And the single greatest discovery I made about cooking is that organic stock (which I imagine you use anyway) is a world apart from OXO cubes. There’s a brand here called Marigold, which is vegan, and is the only stock I ever use in soups regardless of what they call for. Unless you have the luxury of homemade, which I rarely do, a good stock can really help boost flavor.

    • Oh, thanks for those suggestions! The cheese sauce recipe sounds wonderful. I just got the most beautiful cauliflower in my latest CSA share and would love to eat it simply with a cheese sauce. Sounds wonderful! Is this the recipe you’re referring to?

      http://www.annabelkarmel.com/age-range/babies-9-12-months/recipes/cheese_sauce_recipe

      As for soup stock, I actually make my own quite religiously. I usually make veggie or chicken stock but last week tried my first go at beef stock (which was relatively successful but needed more bones for more flavour… next time!). I don’t find it particularly onerous as you just throw a bunch of roughly chopped veggies and bones or a chicken carcass into a pot and let it simmer away for hours. I make it when I have the time, then freeze it for use later. And you’re right, it does add a lot of flavour!

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