Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dinner Failure

On my way home from work last night, my stomach was grumbling as I thought about what to make for dinner. I'd been thinking about it all day - after (gulp) a croissant for breakfast and leftover ravioli for lunch, I was in the mood for something delicious and healthy. I had a fair amount of produce leftover from the weekend, so I was confident I could whip up something utterly delectable (and light on the carbs!).

I finally decided on a salad with toasted walnuts, sliced nectarine, prosciutto, and some crumbled cheese - all items I had in my refrigerator. I could barely contain my excitement at the prospect of making such a fresh dinner without having to go to the market.

Upon arriving home, however, I was greeted with failure upon failure. I found that my lettuce had wilted on the outside, so I only had the crunchier leaves from the inside of the head to use - not exactly ideal. I tossed them in a simple vinaigrette, but (ugh) failing to taste before tossing, I later realized I used way too much salt in making the dressing. The pit of my nectarine had gone soft (I didn't know this was possible!!) and had bruised most of the fruit. Half of my prosciutto had dried out, and at this point I completely forgot about the walnuts.

Dumping my "fresh" salad into the trash, I ended up eating cheese and crackers. Really healthy, right? I was downtrodden but couldn't help but laugh at myself. It really goes to show how important fresh, quality ingredients are when you are planning such a simple meal!

Failures in the kitchen happen a lot. I may write about all of these delicious meals that I make, but really, there are always a few mishaps in every meal, and sometimes so many mishaps that the whole thing ends up in the garbage. These mistakes, though, are how I'm learning to cook. Living on my own has helped me gain confidence in my cooking skills, because I'm no longer afraid to mess up. I've smiled my way through absolutely disgusting or utterly tasteless meals I've made before, and that's okay, because it turns out better the next time. The main thing is to not be afraid of the kitchen!

On a side note, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant is a fantastic collection of essays about what you cook for yourself when no one is watching. I read it when I first got my own apartment last year, and after last night's meal of cheese and crackers, am definitely going to plan a re-read soon. It's funny and touching, and completely relate-able - I'd highly recommend it to anyone, whether you live alone or not.

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