Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Stovetop Cooking Challenge, Week 2

Life called and since a woman's place isn't in the kitchen, I took a week-long hiatus from the stovetop cooking challenge. Not that the inner details of my life are the stuff that reality shows are made of, but I will share that I was supposed to go to a CHER concert on Friday that got rescheduled to December because the diva is ill. My concert partner, a 56 year old woman with salt and pepper hair who also happens to have birthed me, tried to get me to go deep into Queens instead to see Jason Mraz but I kindly declined and went for the second option: the senior citizen showing of the (appropriately titled) movie My Old Lady. Really living, you guys.

Tuesday September 23

Back to the stovetop because Tuesday's status as the most mediocre day of the week calls for a mediocre meal. I have a jar of curry sauce from Trader Joe's that should be used but curry sauce usually requires the chopping up and sautéing of onions and I'm weary of making my home one that incessantly smells like allium (i.e., the one I grew up in). I think I'll do something with tomatoes even though I feel as though I've ingested too much lycopene lately.

I decide to use my new julienne vegetable peeler and make zucchini noodles because I've been dying to know if noodles made of vegetables are as satisfying as those made of wheat, and of course, if they can even be called noodles. (Topic of discussion: what makes a noodle a noodle?)

It takes me a long time to figure out the right, non self-afflicting way to julienne the zucchini. Every time the peeler hits the vegetable, I wonder if this will be the time that I julienne my finger. After a few close calls, I emerge from the prep period with only a slight cut in my finger but luckily I'm cooking for one so it doesn't matter if my blood gets mixed in with the ingredients.

I heat up two pans: one for the zucchini and one for the sauce into which I throw a chopped tomato, garlic, and half a jar of Trader Giotto's marinara sauce. I also add a few frozen shrimp that thaw at lightening speed. There's a serious shindig happening on my stovetop, so much so that I remove the tea kettle from the backburner because if three burners aren't a crowd, they're definitely a fire hazard.

The finished product turns out to be ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. It's like squid ink spaghetti with shrimp minus the squid ink spaghetti plus noodles made of summer squash.

Wednesday September 24

What to make, what to do. The curry sauce has been calling my name since I mistakingly took it for peanut butter this morning. As much as I like chicken curry, I'm inspired by both a sign I saw at the People's Climate March proclaiming "What can you do? Be vegan." and the general lack of poultry in my refrigerator so I sauté an eggplant (ugh and an onion) instead. I pour the jar of curry sauce into the pan and let it simmer with the vegetables until I decide that a taste of my half-assed baingan bharta will transport me to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It actually kind of does. Not too many lessons learned from tonight's dinner except that pre-made sauces from Trader Joe's can make you feel like a boss in the kitchen. I'm a regular Anthony Bourdain, minus the heroin-ridden past.

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