One of the weirdest things that happened when I started this blog was my struggle when I had to measure ingredients. I never, ever measured anything (other than for baking purposes) before I started this blog and it really threw me off. My process for making sauces and dressings was to throw things into a bowl, taste and adjust as I went. Basically, it was very difficult for me to guess what a shake of this or a squirt of that measured in terms of teaspoons and cups. One of the disasters that stands out in my mind was when I tried to make these charred brussel sprouts for the blog last year. I had been making versions of these brussel sprouts all winter and they were one of our favourite dishes. I felt like I had the process down perfectly: lightly steam, drain, char in the same pan and dress with a delicious sauce. But, when I tried to measure out what I normally just throw into my pan as my sauce, everything was off. It was disgusting. The biggest problem was that I used way too much of everything and the brussel sprouts were drowning in their glaze. I never attempted the blog-version (i.e. measuring) of these again, until now. We finally bought our first batch of brussel sprouts this year and I forgot how much I love them. I can’t believe we have gone so many months without these. Either way, they are back and this time, I measured with much more skill. Now you can make them too!
I grew up hating baked carrots. The only kind I had ever eaten were super sweet, sickly, maple glazed carrots, baked until they were completely mushy. I can’t tell you how much I disliked those. Because of that, for a long time, any time anyone mentioned baked or roasted carrots I immediately explained that they were one of the few things that I didn’t like. Somehow though, I have been introduced to the real glory of roasted spiced carrots. Most of the time, they snuck onto my plate as a side dish at a restaurant (and I am more opposed to leaving food on my plate than eating some less than tasty vegetables). It’s also funny how much your tastes can change as you get older. Sometimes the version you had as a child is not a very good representation of what the dish could be and sometimes your taste buds just evolve (olives!). Either way, I try to remind myself to stay open to things that I think I hate, just in case something changes. The other night, I was reminded of the change in my opinion of roasted carrots when I went out to a spanish tapas restaurant and I had delicious roasted spiced carrots: perfectly spiced, ‘al dente’ and slathered in a flavourful sauce.
Sometimes I feel like I forget about the most obvious meals. The other day I thought of chili, and I am pretty sure that it has just never occurred to me to make it before (maybe I’m forgetting? It almost feels impossible that this was my first time making it). Either way, it’s not something that I normally think of and the other night, it kind of just occurred to me: vegan chili would be a great one pot meal! I totally committed to it (i.e. my boyfriend who can be pretty picky with dinners approved) and then I realized I had no beans. Luckily, I was able to run to the corner store which is pretty well-stocked with canned goods, grabbed some beans and corn (which is such a nostalgic part of chili for me) and I was all set! It’s pretty amazing that a bunch of beans, some basic vegetables, and a few dried chiles and spices can make something so hearty and delicious.
A very long time ago, I worked in a kitchen for a short period of time. The restaurant was a steak house and I worked on the salad station. It was a time in my life when I was debating quitting university to go to culinary school so I thought it was a good idea to get some experience in the kitchen before I made such a life-changing decision. For a lot of reasons, I didn’t end up going to culinary school but the one dish I think of when I think of that time was their caesar salad. I remember, on my last day, the chef I was working with gave me a little container of the caesar dressing because he knew I loved it so much. Since then, I have never really made my own caesar salad dressing. This is because every time I looked up a recipe they called for anchovies, which I have never been able to find at the store. A couple of weeks ago, I got a massive craving for caesar salad and decided that instead of tracking down anchovies, I would just try to make a dressing without it. On top of that, I knew I wanted it to be a kale caesar salad. I finally got my hands on some black/dinosaur kale again (which is my favourite in salads) and since caesar salad dressing is quite heavy, I didn’t want any delicate greens that would get weighed down.