(mis)adventures en la cocina

I set a goal for My Happiness Project to tackle one cooking adventure a month. Yes, one. A month.

Listen. Don't judge. I realize I'm a grown professional woman in her 30s. I know this. My schedule and lifestyle just aren't built around the priority of elaborate meal preparations. I don't cook. My relationship with cooking is akin to my relationship with dance. I have season tickets to a number of ballet and modern dance companies in Salt Lake City, but I'm not getting up on that stage. I'm a foodie who enjoys weekend brunch almost more than anything in this world, but I'm not competent in my own kitchen. I'm a patron of the arts, if you will, and cooking is most certainly an art. Perhaps I need to unfollow the posh cooking shows that fill my hulu/netflix queues and stop psyching myself out, but I still maintain that cooking is an art. I can't begin to explain the intimidation.

I mean, seriously. Where the hell do I even start?

Armed with a new cookbook, I accepted my mission: One pot. Surely I can't mess up a single pot of something or other (wait for it). I also armed myself with a cute new pot thing. I was so proud as I headed off to the grocery store with a recipe in hand. Like a real live grownup, with multiple ingredients and everything. I decided on chicken and dumplings because it was the easiest recipe in the dutch oven section of the book. Here's the deal, Reader, I didn't even realize until I was already home with groceries that the cute new pot thing I purchased wasn't even a dutch oven - and - it couldn't actually be used on the stove top. Apparently I'm supposed to bake casseroles inside the oven in my cute new pot. Not my goal. Not relevant to the ingredients I'd just carted home from the grocery store. Great.

Emergency phone call to mom to confirm that stoneware is not meant for stovetops. It's not. Emergency trip to Williams-Sonoma across the street to buy a cooking thing I can actually use for my One Pot Wonder plan. A painful chunk of change later I'm standing in my kitchen trying to focus on the recipe and ignore the un-scripted cash I just dropped. I'm also trying to ignore the fact that most blushing brides simply add Le Creuset to their registry and wait for gramma to pull through. Let it go, let's not add insult to injury. Yet - I felt excited to be chopping veggies and preheating my new fancy cooking pot thing. I was on my way! Look, y'all, I'm cooking!

I used the instructions in the cookbook to know how to chop my veggies propoerly. Yes, I did. 

Once the veggies were chopped I lifted the fancy lid and cried. Cried. Out loud. The little book inside the box told me not to cook anything dry, so I oiled the pot before letting it heat up. The pot was now covered in burnt black weirdness and it was smoking like crazy. In that moment I was like the first cavewoman who ever saw fire: confused and angry and completely out of my depth. I had never seen this one pot cooking process in motion and was convinced I had completely ruined my new toy. Mumblings of "damnit" and "it took all of three minutes to screw up three hundred dollars" and "I should've bought a handbag" and "I knew this was a horrible idea" escaped my lips. I'd been told they were indestructible, but through the haze of burning oil smoke I lost all sense of perspective and logic. I trudged forward and softened my onions.

Burnt mess. 

Once I got rolling I put aside defeatist thoughts of what I assumed was a ruined pot and focused on the experience I set out to have. I then made dumplings for the first time. Which is to say, I whisked flour, salt, baking powder, and parsley together before dropping it in the pot. Oh la la.

Time to make the dumplings...

Thirty minutes later, as I scooped out broth, veggies, chicken breasts, and dumplings, I realized the catastrophically burnt mess was gone. And now masquerading as parsley bits. Oh well. At least I hadn't overreacted like a jackass by crying into my veggies.


Happiness Project brunch, no.1

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