Tasty Thursday: I suck at cooking but I do it anyway and so should you!

Most days the idea of cooking a meal is daunting and a chore. It’s something I very much want to love, but when I look at a variety of ingredients my mind doesn’t automatically figure out how to pair them.
For those of you that have friends that cook, as I do (I even have a friend that’s a chef), it’s often hard to relay to them your excitement about being a good cook while realizing you’re terrible.

“Oh it’s easy, you just put spice 1, spice 2, and ingredient in a bowl, mix them and voila!”

Whatever, friends that know how to cook; this is not what happens in my world. In general I’ll add spice 1, spice 2, and ingredient and it turns into some either extremely bland yet colorful dish or an extremely over-spiced, palette confusing mess. Just like outfits and color coordinating I have no idea how to mix and match ingredients.

I’ve been told multiple times that I don’t need to know how to mix ingredients, it’s all about just mixing it up and trying new things and seasoning it to my taste.
The fact is that I don’t even know what that means. If I don’t know even the very basics of cooking beyond the difference between dicing and chopping then how am I supposed to move forward? Where do I go from here? Why even keep cooking?

Well, I’ve decided instead of listening to all that totally wrong advice for me from people who actually know how to cook that I would listen to myself. If I don’t know how to pair things well, then I am just going to follow recipes exactly. When I say exactly, I mean down to the last grain of salt – sea salt that is.

Last night I decided to prepare a dish called Vegan Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup that I found on Food.com. I chose this recipe because I knew that I had lentils and coconut milk in my cupboard, the only ingredient on the list that wasn’t at my house was the cilantro, so this made it a cheap meal for me. However, for you, I decided to calculate the price per serving just in case you are wondering.

I try to find the best deals when shopping and so I tend to shop around, though do a majority of my shopping at Trader Joe’s and Madison Market Co-op near my house. There were some things I didn’t add because I’m assuming that you have some basic staples like oil to cook with, salt, sugar, and water. Usually these products are bought in bulk and so the cost is fairly negligible.
Below you will find the cost of the product on the left, on the right you will find a note if it was changed or if I am noting how it was purchased. 

Recipe for 12 Servings  (I was making the dish for my band)

($0)1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil      I used Coconut Oil because I don’t use Olive Oil for cooking -ever
($.50)1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder   purchased in bulk section at Co-op
($0)3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
($.89)1 1/2 onion, chopped
($.79)3 carrots, peeled and diced              I included the full bag cost
($.50)3 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated       Uwajimaya 1.79lb 
($.50)3 garlic cloves, chopped                  Madison Market 1.99lb       
($0)3 teaspoons salt
($0)1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
($.99)1/2 cup tomato paste                     
($0)10 1/2 cups water
($1.98)1 (22 1/2 ounce) can coconut milk   Two 14oz cansUsed Light Coconut Milk
($1.86)3 cups red lentils                              Madison Market   1.86 per lb
($2.58)1 (22 1/2 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained (chickpeas)   Two 14oz cans
($0)1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
($.79)1 1/2 to taste fresh cilantro (for garnish)   Bundle for .79
($.39)1 1/2 to taste lime wedge (for garnish)  Bought one from TJ’s for lime wedge and lime juice
Total: 11.77  
Additional Garnish: Avocado  (1.50)
This makes each serving approximately .98c   I did not make note of what things were organic or not. I buy some stuff organic and not others depending on my checking account. This is a fairly low cost meal, but I know people that can do it for cheaper and it can definitely get pricier by buying everything organic. This is a great recipe if you want a lot of meals to come out of it.
The original recipe says 1 serving is 469.5 cals per serving. I’m pretty sure that is reduced because I used light coconut milk but I didn’t calculate it. 
How did it turn out?
It was amazing! Apparently following a recipe really works wonders, who’d have thunk? My band mates loved it and so did my roommies, so I think that I actually accomplished something.A step in the right direction.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be an excellent cook, but I certainly can follow a recipe like a champ and so I’m just going to continue doing this. I’m going to attempt to cook at least one new meal a week, so stay tuned for those. In the meantime if you can’t cook like me, there is hope!

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