Monday, May 25, 2009

Cooking Something New

I am so bored with food, it’s ridiculous. I like to eat, sure. But cooking seems like a lot of time wasted on something that disappears in fifteen minutes. It’s hard to get excited about cooking. And of course, when you’re dealing with food allergies, your choices get limited that much more.

So I’ve decided to challenge myself to try cooking something new once a month. Last month, it was Belgian Endive. I bought some on a whim, looked up recipes, and tried the easiest. It was okay. Not great, but okay. It’s got a bit of a bitter taste so you have to cook it for a long time with something like margarine and lemon to get it to mellow out. The good thing was not that I found a recipe that I loved, but that I branched out of my boring routine and took the mystery out of one of those funny-looking vegetables at the store. Now that I’ve tried it once, I’ll be willing to try it again soon, in a different recipe. And I’ve already found one that sounds much better than the one I tried.

Tonight, I tried frying plantains. I’ve had plantains before, in restaurants, and I really like them. They’re a relative of the banana, but they’re not sweet. They’re actually more like a potato in consistency and taste, and recipes range from sweet (with margarine and brown sugar) to savory (with oil, salt, and spices, or used as an ingredient in dishes such as stuffing). In restaurants, I’ve had plantains sweet and I’ve really liked them. But after cooking them that way tonight (sliced, fried in margarine, and dusted with brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla), I wasn’t as thrilled. Perhaps I bought the wrong kind – there are different varieties. But they tasted like potatoes topped with sugar. Hmm. Kind of dry. Not really what I was expecting.

Here’s the funny part. My son, who is extremely picky and rarely likes anything new, liked the plantains. This from a kid who won’t eat potatoes. But he liked them. Maybe that’s how I’ll get him to start eating potatoes, now that I think about it.

Anyway, once again, it’s not so much that I found a great new recipe, as that I tried something different, and dinner wasn’t the same old boring fare that is usually is. My son helped me cook them. We all sat around and evaluated them. We tried pouring maple syrup over them. (That helped.) In other words, dinner became a family experiment, not just a boring chore.

I think next time I buy plantains, I’m going to slice them and thread the slices on a kabob with meat. I bet they’ll take on the flavor of a marinade and be a good potato substitute. Or maybe they’ll be awful. But I’m willing to try, just to do something different and shake up the ol’ dinner routine a little.

So, what have you tried lately that’s different? I could use some ideas.


Infant Bibliophile said...

Hi - was happy to come across the UFAN site and your blog tonight. I'm living in SLC with an 18-month old son allergic to wheat, egg, milk, nuts, and sesame. I just started an allergy blog a week or two ago, and one of the main reasons I did was to try an experiment where we try one new food per week. Right now, it is simple stuff to test his allergies, like apple and beef. But, I pictured us wandering through the supermarket when he's five and trying to come up with all kinds of unusual items he's never eaten. Looking forward to following your blog and participating in some UFAN events.

Kelley J. P. Lindberg said...

So glad you found us! One of the things food allergies have done for many busy moms is reintroducing the "joy" of cooking (yes, I'm saying that with a wry smile). When you can't rely on ready-to-eat prepared foods as much, you reacquaint yourself with your stove and recipe box. I never dreamed I could bake a cake without a box, but now I experiment with baked treats all the time, and it's become fun. (Never thought I'd say that.) And it's easier than I thought it would be. We adjust, learn, and adapt when we need to, and that's a good thing. Good luck with your experiments, and welcome to UFAN!