Monday, September 22, 2014

Adventures in Cooking

I am not known for my prowess in the kitchen.

"Rachel is such an amazing cook!" Said no one.  Ever.*

This is one of the reasons you should not expect lots of beautiful photographs of incredible, sophisticated food on this blog.  (The other reason is that I don't have a nice camera.)

However, every once in a while, one must set aside the venerable can of tomato soup, the excellent Tillamook cheddar, and the store-bought bread.  One must actually cook.

And that is exactly what I did.  Here's how it happened:

On Saturdays, Steven and Meredith get a sack of randomly assorted vegetables from a local community farm thing.  Alarmed at how many potatoes he'd received the past two weeks, Steven piled a bunch of fresh produce on the kitchen counter and asked who wanted to make a vegetarian mystery box dinner.

I volunteered.

Everyone's faces were carefully straight, my own included.  No grimaces or smirks.  Brave eyes that looked right at you without a hint of despair.  I made my way to the kitchen.  Let the real hunger games begin.

With great deliberation, I surveyed the piles of potatoes, dill, beets, onions, green beans, acorn squashes and a bag of greens that Steven informed me was spinach.  I must choose, but choose wisely.

I eyed the squash.  They sat there submissively, offering no challenge to my authority.  I remembered a stuffed acorn squash dinner at my friend Erica's two years ago, and decided to make my own version thereof.

I had never cooked an acorn squash before, but take courage!  I own a netbook, and my brother and sister-in-law have internet service.  It took two minutes to discover that cooking acorn squash is dead easy.**

I had chosen well.

I made a stove-top quinoa filling (quinoa, carrots, onions, red bell pepper and wilted spinach), and served the entree with sides of roasted potatoes and a spinach salad with walnuts and apple slices.  Inspired by the recently viewed Master Chef finale, I even plated it!

It looked better in focus.  It tasted great!
It turned out the greens weren't spinach after all (too peppery).  We're guessing mustard greens.***  Still, it was good.

Emboldened by my success, I volunteered to make Sunday dinner, as well.  Another quick internet consultation, a glance in the spice cabinet, a combination/alteration of two recipes, and voila!  Crockpot chicken and vegetables.

Onion, carrot, potato, dry rub, small chicken.  Cook on low for 5 or 6 hours.

And there you have it.  Dinner by Rachel!  Warm, healthy, creative - and best of all, completely edible.  :)

*To be fair, I do make an excellent chocolate chip cookie.
**Cut in half, gut, place upside down in a rimmed baking dish, add two cups of water, cook in oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
***I know.  But he said it was spinach!  Yes, it looked and smelled funky, but how was I to know it wasn't some sort of small-farm, heirloom variety?

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