So one of my 2018 goals was to cook through an entire cookbook.
I’m not a complete newbie to cooking, but I stick to the basics a lot. I don’t cook as often as I should and eat a lot of junk. I want to learn so when I look through my pantry, I’m not instantly saying there’s nothing to eat when there is a lot to eat, I just have to cook it.
Last Monday, I picked up the cookbook Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day. It took a while to settle on it when faced with the mountain bookshelf of cookbooks covering all sorts of topics. But the $4 a day and the fact it wasn’t huge sold it to me.
There are less than 200 recipes and they cover all sorts of things from breakfast to drinks to snacks to big batches for large parties. So this weekend I did my first few recipes. 2 Breakfast recipes and a Dinner one.
Day 1: Tomato Scrambled Eggs & Spicy, Crunchy, Creamy Polenta
This was the first recipe in the book and I instantly thought, “Oh shit, this is easy.”
Fun fact: for some reason, I am awful at eggs. I always overcook or under cook them. I can do hard boil (kinda) and scrambled (kinda…) but it’s a process. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always messed them up.
I may have gone in with too much enthusiasm.
First mistake: I only had 3 eggs instead of 4. No problem, just cut the amounts by a bit right?
Ho-oh oh, my friend. That’s what I thought too.
I chopped some fresh Basil (Black would not stop bugging me and getting on the counter), fluffed the eggs, and started cooking down a can of tomatoes. Knowing that I had less eggs, I even drained the tomatoes and took some out. When they were cooked down and juice evaporated, I poured in my eggs.
Now at about this time, I think things are going swell. It’s starting to cook and form little clumps, all according to plan. I toast some bread, I’m listening to my audio book, and cleaning some dishes up while stirring the mixture. Everything is fine.
It’s fine. Totally fine.
The eggs stop clumping. There’s too much tomato. It’s tomato with some egg rather than Eggs with tomatoes. I somehow managed to mess up the very first and one of the EASIEST RECIPES.
That is the face of shame.
Yep. 27 years old and still bad at eggs.
I can’t start over. We have no more eggs. The only ones we have I found at the bottom of the fridge and expired in May 2017. I have to make do or else we’re eating tomato egg soup (scratch that, uncooked eggs are not good to eat).
I turn up the heat. I can just force it to congeal by cooking out the liquids. It’ll be fine. Fine. Absolutely fine.
5 minutes later, we were getting somewhere. It was thickening and clumping together and there was hope.
When it finally looked like eggs, I put some toast down, plopped the eggs on top, and sprinkled some of the basil with salt and pepper.
“This pile of fluffy, creamy eggs holds together a mass of tangy, juicy, sweet tomatoes…” -the cookbook.
Mine were slightly gritty looking, not fluffy, and slightly questionable looking. But whatever.
Rony’s office review: “It’s good, dude. If you hadn’t told me you messed up the eggs, I wouldn’t have known. B+”
“Why a B?”
“Presentation could be better. The eggs are a little red.”
“They’re suppose to be?”
Looks at cookbook. “Oh yeah. Guess they are. A-”
Breakfast done. I let him pick out dinner and of course, he chose one of the weird ones. Polenta. What the heck is polenta anyways?
Now it says spicy in the title. I cannot eat spicy foods. I get sick. So we decided to cut that out. No chilis for me, thank you.
The dish basically consists of this goop looking substance called polenta, spinach with garlic, and a sunny side up egg. I hate sunny side up eggs. I don’t like yolk. This whole dish is gonna be an experience.
Went to the grocery store, found polenta mix, got more eggs, got garlic. We’re set to go.
I cook the garlic and spinach down in butter while I start the polenta. It’s basically corn meal and you have to keep stirring it to keep it smooth.
It’s a weird consistency. Like porridge. I’m not a fan.
When it’s close to done, I start cooking the eggs. This I did not mess up! Kinda. I forgot to set a timer and may have let the eggs cooks too long because the yolk was only half runny. All well. I hate yolk.
I scooped the polenta in a bowl, topped it with the spinach garlic mix, then the eggs, and sprinkled Parmesan on it.
Okay but for real, I had less trouble making this than TOMATO EGGS. WTF.
I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t like the too runny mash potato texture, I put too much garlic in the spinach, and I still do not like sunny side up eggs. Also I have no clue where the crunchy part of this recipe is. Was it suppose to be the eggs because that definitely didn’t happen.
I tried. Guys, I really did try.
The worst part: It only took half a cup of polenta mix to make this. I still have a whole bag I have to use because we’re not going to be wasteful.
Rony’s review: “Good with the yolk. Good presentation and texture. Needs more chili.”
“There aren’t any chili.”
“Well I’m going to fix that.”
I gave him the remainder of my bowl and he was happy. The simple things in life.
Day 1: Omelet
Yep, you read that right. It’s an omelet. Just an omelet. Nothing fancy, litterally just an omelet.
Okay so it calls for dill and shallots and my grocery store had neither so I cheated and didn’t add them. I put all my shit in a bowl, mixed it, and heated my pan. When the butter was melted, I poured it all in.
All of our pans have this weird dent and the stove top tilts so keeping the eggs level was a hassle. I would tilt it this way and that and try to find some balance so the eggs cooked evenly. When it looked not translucent, I added cheese and attempted to fold it in half.
It was not easy and I was almost positive I was going to break it. But I folded it, let it cook and plated it.
“You don’t want any brown on your eggs.”
Overall, I think it went okay. Yeah, the eggs were brown and I’m pretty sure I overcooked them. I just can’t win.
Rony’s review: “Mmmmmmmmmmmm good!”
You can’t mess up an omelet right? Right?
I am trying and I think that’s the slightly disheartening part, but the food tasted okay and I tried new things. There’s a lot of recipes in the book that I know I’m not going to like. I’m a picky eater. But I’m going to try.
We’ll see how next weekend’s recipes go.