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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Category Archives: Kitchen Tools

Taxes trump blog. It’s the governments fault I’m behind on my posting.

Wednesday night was a bit of a watershed evening for a few reasons:

1) I successfully used a mandolin. I once took a one night cooking class in which the teacher tried to teach me to use a mandolin. “It’s so easy! I love my mandolin!” she exclaimed. It’s so dangerous, I’m going to slice my fingers off, I thought. I was unable to keep the thing steady or make the even slices the tool insists upon. The instructor had never met a student who couldn’t work a mandolin. But then we bought one of our own. And it has a nifty little notch that keeps it firm across the top of a bowl. Using a mandolin horizontally instead of vertically is all I needed. “It’s so easy! I love my mandolin!”

2) The dough rolled out in less than a minute. I don’t know if using whole wheat dough makes the process smoother but I didn’t even need a rolling pin; I was able to spread it with knuckles & fingertips alone.

3) About half way through preparing the meal I realized I’d made it up. I wasn’t following a recipe. I just had the idea that whole wheat pizza with potatoes, rosemary, goat cheese & spinach would be good. That, my friends is the way a natural cook thinks. Who knew?

4) I took the pizza out of the oven when I smelled the crust burning. I know, you think this is very obvious. But I am the type of cook who used to think, “It says 20 minutes, it’s only been 10, it can’t be burning.” I would ignore the smell, even to some extent the smoke, until it was unsalvageable. This time I checked it, saw the one on the bottom was cooking too fast, took it out & finished cooking the pizzas on the top rack, one at a time. When I said at the outset this cooking thing did not come naturally to me, I was really, really not kidding.

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My mother gave me my Juice-o-Mat. It’s one of those rare objects that exceeds expectations in both form and function. I used it tonight to squeeze the lemon for the coleslaw because I was afraid I wouldn’t get the required 4t. of lemon juice from my one lemon. Juice-o-Mat came through.

Dinner was a new recipe: Turkey Sloppy Joes from Real Simple. It was fast, easy and everybody liked it. There was a request to make the Sloppy Joes less sweet so maybe I’ll cut the brown sugar in half next time. I looked up dressing for the Lemon Coleslaw on Epicurious and added poppy seeds to the recipe. I used a Meyer lemon which gave it a nice, soft flavor. I also served leftover baked beans from the freezer as a side dish but that was a mistake; the beans and the sloppy joes tasted too similar. We still seem to be on a summer food kick – apparently global warming also affects taste buds.

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