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Hits and Misses

I’ve been doing a lot of recipe posts lately, mostly because our family has taken a more whole-foods, plant-based approach to eating, so I’m trying a whole bunch of new recipes. I used to cook chicken dishes 3-4 times a weeks and beef dishes 1-2 times, so it’s been an adjustment. For the most part, the new dishes have been delicious. I love that when you don’t rely so much on meat to fill a meal, the spices and vegetable flavors come to the forefront. I have really realized that much of one’s success in cooking is due to the creative and diverse use of spices. Some of the recipes I’ve tried have used 8 spices in one dish.

Although most of the stuff we’ve tried has been delicious, there have been a few misses. This winter stew had an incredible sauce that used tomato sauce, peanut butter and soy sauce, which resulted in a sauce that almost tasted like a beef or meat sauce. However, the tempeh was a definite miss in this dish. Too much and too overpowering. I think I’ll try making this dish again, but omit the tempeh in favor of more vegetables.

The Happy Herbivore cookbook has provided some serious tastiness (like those fantastic cupcakes), however, two of the dessert recipes were big let-downs. The famous Black Bean Brownies that have done so well on the Happy Herbivore blog got two bites out of me and my husband, then met the trash can. The texture was neither cake-like nor fudge-like, and the taste was more banana and less chocolate. The texture was also problematic in the Chocolate Chip cookies–it was like chewing on a wet sponge.

One more notable miss was the butternut squash casserole out of the Veganomicon cookbook. The majority of the recipes in this cookbook seem to be too involved and time-consuming for a mom juggling the needs of a baby and toddler during dinner prep. Most of them seem to take about an hour and a half–and a lot of that is active cooking, not just baking or simmering. That’s too much for this mom! Anyway, the butternut squash casserole came out “eh”–not particularly tasty or unique, and for the work involved in peeling, chopping, and cooking one of those, I expect to be blown away. Incidentally, I do have a butternut squash soup recipe that is mind-blowing delicious that I will share in the future!

I feel a bit disappointed and frustrated whenever I try a new recipe and it doesn’t taste good (especially if it was a lot of work), but that’s the only way to find out if it’s a hit or miss. And I know to try something else next time! Experimentation is key in the kitchen! Remember–the invention of chocolate chip cookies was a happy accident–Ruth Wakefield ran out of baker’s chocolate and chopped up some chocolate for her cookies, expecting it to melt and be absorbed by the rest of the dough to become chocolate cookies. Thankfully, she was wrong! We have to keep trying and trying, because you never know what’s going to tickle your tastebuds!

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