Testing my resolve
Wow, tonight did not start out well for the challenge. I was incredibly excited for a new cooking adventure, cooking Indian bitter melon, or karela. I had decided to make a curry, something we eat around here fairly frequently. As typical, I even started with whole spices, toasted them, and ground them to make my own curry powder. I blended the spices with oil and ghee, sauteed the onions in the lovely mix, and starting prepping the karela. I had done some research into the vegetable, as well as reading several recipes and thought I had a handle on how to cook this stuff. Nope. Even after cutting into the karela and discovering its fresh cut grass scent, I was as confident as ever. I added it to the mix and waited for it to soften. Once it did, I eagerly dipped my spoon in for my first bite. What do I even say about this dish? It was horrific. I spat and spat and spat. I washed my tongue. I even considered washing my mouth out with dish soap. Ugh. Not only did it taste bad, but it made my tongue tingle, a sensation that lasted far too long. I was crestfallen. And wanted to order pizza. But I didn’t. Did I mention that my yogurt had also gone bad, and I couldn’t make the mango lassis I had planned? Yeah, that happened, too. Boo. Hoo.
My spice scented basmati rice was already done. I had my mango nectar and naan at the ready. I had no thawed meats or fresh vegetables available to make a new curry, and I badly needed a hug. My well-stocked pantry ended up saving the day, more specifically my beautiful, bead-like split red lentils. I started over on curry, this time using a vindaloo blend from the Savory Spice Shop in Boulder, those gorgeous little lentils, and some canned diced tomatoes. Poured over the rice and served alongside some warm naan, it made for a warm and filling winter’s dish. I was so very glad that I hadn’t ordered pizza.
Now, I do have to fess up to breaking my rules just a little bit, but I promise it was for a good cause. I have been to the grocery store, and I bought a few things outside of my very limited list. You see, some friends of ours are going through a very rough time, and I needed to make them some comfort food. They adore my gumbo, and I didn’t have all of the necessary ingredients, including chicken. In order to stay in the spirit of this challenge, I did use coupons, which meant buying more meat to qualify for the coupon. My friends will also be getting a lovely herb and garlic stuffed pork loin. I may have to cut a chunk off before I deliver it, though.
As it turns out, I ended up cooking five entrees tonight: the horrible karela curry, lovely lentil curry, gumbo, stuffed pork loin, and some spiced baked chicken (couldn’t use all of it in the gumbo). If I were a baseball player, I believe that would mean that I had batted .800, not bad at all.