Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Self-Criticism Equals Deliciousness

The cool thing about cooking is… if it turns out crummy the first time you can always start again. Sadly though, you might have ruined all your food in the process and now you have to go back to the store to buy some more. But hopefully that won’t happen… The other cool thing is, if you’re not afraid to be your own critic, as we generally are pretty good at beating ourselves down, you can actually learn a lot and in the process become a better cook. The trick is to use every mistake as a learning step. So in other words, don’t think of them as a mistakes, just think of them as potholes in the road of life (ya, I know I’m cheesy), but with a little care you can fill them up and make the road smooth again. The other wonderful thing about cooking is, even if you are using a recipe, once you get used to how it works and you build a little confidence in your cooking abilities, you can veer off the paved recipe road and create your own route to deliciousness. Let me use my most recent endeavor, to which the results were pretty tasty, but could have been better and now I know how, as an example.

I was skimming through my new favorite cook book as you might have seen me mention in a previous post, The Well Filled Tortilla by V. Wise and S. Hoffman. I came across a basic recipe for fried potatoes in which you cook potatoes and onion in a hot skillet with a bit of oil until they are crispy then you can use them for whatever you like. Well, being the daring person that I am, I figured I could take this idea and make something new out of it.

Instead of using plain (white-skinned) potatoes and onion like the recipe called for I thought, “why not use the sweet potatoes and russet potatoes I have instead.”
So I took two medium sized russet potatoes and two medium sized sweet potatoes and peeled and cubed them. I then chopped one medium onion and tossed all of this in a large skillet with about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Continuing of my adventurous path I figured why not use some chili powder to season it up too? Well, I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but they turned out pretty darn delicious; that is with one exception.

If you read other recipes or watch cooking shows where they are chopping or cubing things, they often direct you to make sure all pieces are cut evenly. The reason they say this is so all the food will cook evenly and in a reasonable amount of time. I am apparently too cocky for my own good and in my hastiness to fill my stomach, I cut the russet potatoes bigger than the sweet potatoes. This caused the sweet potato to cook quicker than the other, plus it also took twice as long as it should have. In the end it all got cooked, but by the time the everything was cooked through, one potato ended up being over done while the other was just right minus one or two really big chunks. So needless to say, I created a new tasty way to make potatoes and now I know how to make them even better next time.

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