Thursday, February 4, 2010

And how big is your saucepan? Learn from my mistake...

I love a good recipe but sometimes what seems simple initially, quickly evolves into several hours of work.  I absolutely love the recipes in Vegetarian Times and would recommend the magazine to vegetarians and meat eaters without thinking twice.  But with that said, the main reason I like it, is that the recipes are easy, and they turn out as pictured.  And most importantly they are flavorful.  When you are busy with an embroidery and sewing business, time is very precious, as with many jobs now a day.  I do want great food, but not with at the level of involvement of last night's dinner.  The fact that I am blogging about it to save others says plenty.  I work and my first name is not Martha. 

First my criteria for a good recipe:
  • easy to find ingredients, nothing weird sounding!
  • the list of ingredients cannot be too long
  • the chopping, if needed, can be done in a food processor
  • nutritionally sound
  • easy to assemble
  • easy to cook
  • great taste
I shopped for the food at 6pm, and all the ingredients were easy to find. I was home and relaxed to cook at 7pm.  The chopping of vegetables and opening of cans took more than 30 minutes. I combined only those things that would be added at the same time during the cooking process. 
Once I had the ingredients ready, I moved onto the recipe.  It suggested a saucepan.  Look at the above ingredients, are they kidding?  So I moved it up to a larger skillet since the first step was to saute.
I was concerned at first but then it cooked down and so I added the garlic, cumin and continued stirring.
I added the ingredients (now remember it asked for a saucepan initially), and this is what it started too look like:

My concern grew (especially with the recipe calling for 2 cups of water plus all of this in a sauce pan) and I realized that I needed to do some intervention and make some common sense changes as shown below:  (Transferred to a Large Pot!)

Now I am an hour into the recipe and I have picked up the phone to call my sister-in-law Donna, who is the family gourmet chef - laughing and asking her how I could make this recipe move quicker! The next step was to add cheese to the mix, then to chop the peppers in half and stuff them with this "sauce pan filler".  Ready to eat?  No... now bake at 350  degrees for an hour!  Oh my.... oh my... starved and nothing to eat yet!

I am holding my head up (and looking pretty funky), thinking about Donna's suggestion: THE MICROWAVE...  So there I am now nuking the peppers to cut down on the baking time, and then I stuff them.  THANK YOU, DONNA!   So I stuffed the partially cooked peppers and put them in the oven with the foil covering them. 

Then I had the awesome fun of washing all the casualties during the assembly of the meal.  I assure you that no living beings were harmed in the process of this meal. Unless I count myself!
At 10 PM the meal came out of the oven, I moved it into 4 containers and froze 3 and put one in refrigerator side.   I had lost the energy to partake it and went to sleep.

But tonight it was delicious. If you were to serve it out of the oven (for those with more energy) it comes out looking like the above! New bullet point: minimal amount of dishes to be created.  I sent Donna an email at 10pm and she wrote back that she threw out her identical recipe! 

This should not discourage you out of the Vegetarian Times Recipes, but remind you to really read them thoroughly and ask yourself is that really a saucepan that they are using? I have made 5 of their recipes in the last 10 days and they were all excellent but this one - oh my... delicious but too involved for this crafty lady!

Has this ever happened to you?


karenisham said...

Oh Cookie,
I had similar experiences last weekend. I was trying to make some meals for the freezer thinking how lovely that would be to have when I want to do nothing but sew!. I made many messes & said more than a few choice words. With all I have in the freezer it should be easy to pull something out right? No, I am sick of cooking & didn't even want to thaw anything out, lol Tonight I thawed out a store bought stuffed chicken breast & decided to wing it with a side pasta dish. I see chef's on tv all the time cook a little garlic in olive oil, add some baby bellas, sun-dried tomatoes, a pinch of red pepper, kosher salt, black pepper, & then I added a little burgundy wine, what the heck, & threw some broccoli in the pasta water as it was cooking & added it to the mixture with a little of the pasta water--not bad! We decided next time to add some of the cooked chicken from the freezer. Only bad thing is I boiled over the pasta water on my smooth cook top & made a royal mess! So you are not alone Cookie dear, :-)
Better luck next time!
Karen in Ohio

Unknown said...

As the recipient of Cookie's cooking, I must say that it was VERY GOOD. Ok, maybe not worth all the mess in the kitchen....but :-)

With love from her Husband

Unknown said...

OK Cookie, I have to admit, it looks delicious...........but my copy is still in the recycle bin! Just too much time. Maybe you could make it go a little faster if you substitute couscous (it will cook quickly) or any kind of already cooked rice (especially brown rice), which you could plan ahead for and use in another meal. I'd still partially micro the peppers to speed things up. I couldn't believe you were still at it at 10:00PM! Better luck on your next try!