Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Veg. Times: fast and sloppy

So, sometimes I become overly confident in my multitasking abilities.  Sometimes it's harmless, like talking on the phone while playing a game on the computer and looking through recipes for dinner.  Sometimes it's dangerous, like driving while holding my travel mug of coffee and changing the CD in my car stereo.  Other times (probably most times) it's just stupid, like trying to do all of the steps to a fast-cooking recipe at once.

Somewhere along the line, I came to realize that one of the main reasons it takes me so long to cook is because I insist on doing all of my prep work before turning on the stove (unless part of the fun is boiling pasta or steaming brown rice for five hours).  Silly me, I figure it's easier to have all your bits chopped and ready to go before you start heating the oil and forget it's hot until you add the garlic and it promptly lets out a plume of sulfur-smelling smoke while turning black and instantly attaching itself to the nonstick pot.  Not that I've ever done that.  I'm just saying it could happen.

ANYWAY, The 30 Minute Vegan marked the beginning of a change for me.  I had hoped it would be a change for the better and it may still be, but right now I feel like I'm learning to cook all over again.  The revolutionary technique the authors of 30MV came up with to save time was to chop one ingredient while another is cooking.  It works well in their recipes.  As I learned last night, though, it doesn't apply to recipes they did not construct, necessarily.

I made Two Broccoli Stirfry on Soba Noodles but I was overly ambitious regarding my ability to quickly chop the broccolini while the noodles cooked and the broccoli steamed.  Once I got that mess under control and had drained the noodles, therefore vacating the large pot, I decided it was time to stirfry the tofu, but didn't let it cook long enough not to fall apart when I hastily stirred in the two parts of broccoli.  Then the tofu started sticking to the pan so I wanted to add the sauce, so I just stirred together the orange juice and tamari and decided the cornstarch slurry probably wasn't that important.  Why would it be?  It's only what makes the difference between broth and sauce...  Then I added the noodles and tried to stir everything together, but the noodles sat too long in the colander and I didn't let them steam long enough to release their hold on one another, so I more or less obliterated any shape the tofu might have been clinging to [desperately].

In the course of making a complete mess of what could have been (and was in the past) a very attractive and tasty meal, I also managed to completely ignore the recipe after the part about stirfrying the tofu.  I might have saved the tofu if I had removed it from the pot like I was supposed to, and I might have had time to add the cornstarch if I was stirfrying the steamed broccolis alone, rather than with tofu that was growing unnaturally attached to the bottom of the nonstick pot.  I also would have kept everything intact better if I had laid the tofu and broccolis with sauce over top of the noodles, instead of trying to stir them into the mess.  Finally, I think I might have sped up the timeline for replacing my saute pan, since I neglected the steaming broccolis long enough to burn the pan after the water had evaporated.

I wouldn't call it a dinner Fail, but it could have gone better (and did, last time).  No pictures, because it was very unattractive, but you can click on the link to see how it could have been.

Tonight, I made Warm Chickpea Ragout with Chard, Tomatoes, and Harissa.  I don't have a thing to say about it after that display.  You can check out my ramblings from the first time I made it, though, if you're really that interested.

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