Yes. ‘Tis I once again, returning for a rogue Cooking Adventure. I’ve honestly been up to my eyeballs trying to get everything ready for Memento Mori: Book 3 of the Monstrum Chronicles and haven’t had any time to even cook new things! I’ve literally been subsisting off of the boring same ole, same ole for weeks. But last week, it was a special week, one of my absolutely favorite weeks in the year. It was SHARK WEEK, a time where the Discovery Channel dedicates the week to raising awareness about sharks and trying to portray them as the beautiful and magnificent creatures that they are, and not as nightmarish beasts. In my bid for a slightly more successful Shark Week party this year, I decided to up the ante by making some stellar Sharknado cupcakes in addition to a carved shark watermelon and cool blue cocktails. This proved to be just a little more in depth than I expected.
Yes. It has been quite some time. Much has happened in the last month or so. And while not all of the stories are fun, I would like to take a moment to focus on what has happened, what is happening, and what is going to happen. Call me the seer of seers, prognosticator of prognosticators…Wait. That’s from “Groundhog Day”.
Anyway, without getting all ‘Phil’sophical on you, I’ll get straight to what’s going to happen here in Katherineland.
COOKING ADVENTURE #93: Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas
This has quite possibly got to be the miracle of all Cooking Adventures I’ve ever done. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much go wrong with a recipe and yet…turn out to be edible in the end. Literally everything I touched during this managed to go terribly. And what’s more…I was dictating most of what happened to a friend whilst doing it. It was my first “Cooking Adventure Live” attempt…and it proves that any outside distraction can have disastrous consequences. Well, maybe not “disastrous”. After all, they were edible in the end, ha ha. And they lasted me practically a week! I shall now dictate to you absolutely everything that happened during the Great Enchilada Meltdown. Be Prepared.
COOKING ADVENTURE #92: Blackened Salmon with Mango Avacado Salsa
Let’s be clear: this winter didn’t want to end. It was/is clinging to Maine like a bug clings to the outside of a speeding car, air rushing against it. That’s how much we wanted winter to go. It’s like it was trying against all odds to stay and make us miserable. Now that I’ve made my point, I’ll also make the point that because of this weather, my diet has consisted primarily of delicious comfort food…lots of pizza, pasta, and of course, chocolate. And that has made several pair of my pants feel just a tad too tight for comfort. So, I decided that I was going to try and get back on a healthy track and start preparing some food that was better for me overall. On the list of foods that are fabulous for you: salmon, avacado, and mango. And wouldn’t you know it, I came across a recipe that utilizes all three. I was delighted. And admittedly, a little nervous. I hadn’t cooked fish in a long time. I hadn’t eaten salmon in practically five years. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this even if it turned out brilliantly. I like being surprised in a good way. Love it in fact.
And you were expecting Honey Cake. Hate to disappoint… Yep. The edges are a tad blackened but honestly, how does one not immediately start salivating like a hungry hyena upon looking at that decadence? Simply one of the funnest and tastiest desserts I’ve had the pleasure of pulling off for Cooking Adventures. And while it took me close to two hours to prepare the entire thing and bake it, I’d happily do it again. I have a weakness for pie. While I’ve made many, many cakes here on Cooking Adventures, pie really is one of my favorite things, no matter what kind. So, I kind of wanted to step up the idea of just a basic apple pie and do something a bit more creative. Even if being “creative” means slaving over a hot stove for a half an hour waiting for sugar to melt. But it wasn’t just the caramel that made this pie “adventure” worthy. It was the crust. The damn basket-weave crust. I’m not a weaver of anything much less pie dough. So that…that made things interesting.
COOKING ADVENTURES #90: Chicken Parmesan and Apple Coleslaw
So, when I decided to make coleslaw alone for a Cooking Adventure, I may have been underestimating just how much of a meal it could make by itself. I mean, this coleslaw was BITCHIN’, don’t get me wrong. But once you’ve munched on it for four days straight like some kind of bovine cabbage lover, you really do start to miss eating other food. Yes. The above picture shows the coleslaw paired with a burrito. Don’t try to understand it. Just know that I needed to eat SOMETHING besides coleslaw that night. I decided that in order for this to be a really interesting adventure, I’d pair it up with my very first attempt at making Chicken Parmesan. When I really get down to the details, the coleslaw was really more of a “frolic” than an adventure. I mean, it’s cutting stuff up (unless you’re lazy like me…) and tossing it together with other stuff in a bowl. Not all that difficult. Anything involving chicken, however…instant stories to tell, old friends. Instant stories to tell.
This recipe. Oh my freaking word. It has taken me a week longer than usual to just have the right time to sit down and knock this recipe out. Between working crazily on Book 3, working on yet another writing project, work, presentations, birthday parties, and other what not, I wasn’t able to finally complete this one until last night. And, my dear folks, as I’m sure you’re more than likely aware, it didn’t quite come out like it should have due to three cardinal reasons: A.) Laziness, B.) Missing ingredients, and the all popular C.) Time constraints. I really tried my hardest to have everything assembled and to do it correctly. But let’s face it; when you’ve just gotten home after a long day at work, the last thing most of you want to do is slave over a kitchen stove, trying to assemble something that’s going to take another two hours before its done. I didn’t eat last night until close to 10. I basically looked like this. On the upside, I have a bunch of leftovers for the rest of the week. Pluses and minuses, folks. Pluses and minuses.
The title of this Cooking Adventure might give you some idea as to my thoughts when diving into it. This is probably one of the strangest recipes that I’ve ever made with some of the most random ingredients. But, the person who gave me the recipe is a fantastic cook and it comes out of an old cookbook called “The Silver Palate” which is apparently quite renowned. And after making a wonderful Shepard’s Pie and eating the whole thing before I could get a picture of it, I figured this would be a worthy fill-in for my Cooking Adventure post…even a more adventurous candidate. This wasn’t easy. I had to face cooking and eating several foods that I wouldn’t eat at all normally and prepare the entire thing with a level of patience that I didn’t know I possessed. But…and I don’t say this often…it was all worth it in the end.
COOKING ADVENTURE #87: Asian Lemon Chicken Tenders
Anyone who is anyone can appreciate fried food in some shape or form. Usually, I prefer to think of fried goodies as “the lazy treat”, something that I can order out somewhere and enjoy without any cares in the world except for how said fried goodies will affect my skin. I was expecting the act of frying chicken tenders in my own kitchen to be somewhat of the same joyous feeling, a blissful extravaganza of fun eating and feeling as it I had not a care in the world. If only that were meant to be. Let’s be honest: frying food takes a lot more work than people make it sound. Unless you happen to own a deep fryer and have incredible disposable methods for all of that dirty oil, frying food at home is kind of a hassle. And for me, it took longer than it probably should have. Figures.
What I learned this week is that no matter how cathartic cooking may be for some, for me, it isn’t a good idea to attempt if I’m in a bad mood. There are sharp objects, often hot pots and pans, and little space available to spread everything out. After having a particularly bad day, I decided “What the hell? What more could possibly go wrong?” It’s best not to ask those questions. I had found a pretty spectacular recipe that was just calling my name. I’ve been craving Mexican food for a couple weeks and this seemed like just the thing to take care of that hankering. Well, it would have been if I’d paid a little more attention to what I was doing. But we all know what it’s like, to be so angry that you’re trapped in your head and can’t step away from it. I tried a number of times. My declaration of “I AM NOT GOING TO LET THIS EMPANADA BEAT ME!” is what finally made me put my rear in gear and pound these things out. And now, the terrible tale…