Monthly Archives: May 2017

A Journey through Kitchen Disasters Past

Being honest is important to me, so I’m going to be honest with you (and myself) right now. I’m a terrible cook about 50% of the time. The good news is that the percentage used to be about 75, but through brazen determination and a triumph of will, I’ve knocked it down to 50.

One big problem? I’m a recipe person who has trouble actually sticking to recipes. 

I don’t know why I started to view recipes as general guidelines that could be easily veered from. Actually yes I do. My mom veers from recipes all the time. However, there’s a slight difference between us that I tend to overlook when I’m elbows deep in my battle with ingredients: she knows what she’s doing and I have absolutely no idea.

Lies I’ve told myself in the kitchen:
1. The exact amount of water doesn’t matter that much. I can eyeball it.
2. The exact amount of seasoning doesn’t matter that much. I can eyeball it.
3. Garlic powder will probably work just as well as minced garlic.
4. I don’t need to set the timer. I can eyeball it.
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Thank you, Joe. I needed that.

There are some chefs who can eyeball it. There are some chefs who don’t need to stick to the recipe. I’ve even heard of a magic breed of chef that doesn’t need a recipe at all. That’s not me nor do I expect it to ever be me. All I’m trying to be is a chef that can make edible meals so I don’t blow all of my money on restaurants.

Like any semi-professional wannabe foodie, I take picture of everything I cook and/or eat. I’m not sure what the protocol is for posting photos of unappetizing failed meals. I’m guessing a good rule of thumb is not to do it. Oops.

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The bottom left was mostly a failure of presentation. I don’t claim responsibility for how gross pesto sauce can look in the wrong hands. The other two were failures in every sense of the word. To my credit, (I think) I was still able to eat the meals even though they turned out completely wrong. Oh, and I know it looks like tar, but I promise that’s a balsamic glaze on the chicken.

If you’re questioning the purpose of this post, I think it’s an introduction. Or an explanation. Or maybe an apology. Essentially, I want to warn you about what might be revealed in my cooking posts. If I’m lucky, my future recipes will be so successful that Food Network assigns me a cooking catch phrase. That’s how it works, right?

For now, my goal is to feel confident enough in the kitchen that I don’t need to plan a back-up meal every time I cook.

Until the next culinary adventure!

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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The Book Thief has been at the top of my to-read list since I first examined its back cover in high school. The premise was right up my ally (Seriously. It doesn’t get much better than a World War II historical fiction about a girl who loves to read.) On a Christmas shopping trip with my grandparents several years ago, I bought the book and planned to read it as soon as I finished whatever book I had at the time. But life – or at least other books – always got in the way. Still, anytime someone brought up The Book Thief my heart smiled.

In short, I felt so confident that I would fall in love with The Book Thief that I never actually got around to reading it for years.

I fully realize how ridiculous this is, and I promise you it will NEVER happen again.

I will never let it happen again because I now know that The Book Thief is everything I thought it would be and more. But now, rather than because of a semi-vague hunch based on a back cover, I know how great it is from personal reading experience.

Here is an insider look at what my personal reading experience was like:

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Unfortunately, there was no actual wine around when I was finishing the book. I did, however, have a small plastic cup with a few sips of Coca-Cola in it courtesy of Delta Airlines. Like Will Ferrell, I was bouncing around a lot because our plane back from D.C. kept hitting turbulence. I was too engrossed in my book to notice. Much.

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A very brief summary: The Book Thief is about a young German girl growing up during the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party and the beginning of World War II. Liesel is illiterate at the start of the book but develops a passion for words. Her life becomes entwined with other characters who are now among my all time favorite characters in literature. Some of my favorites are her loyal and hilarious best friend, Rudy, and her foster father.

What I loved: The characters. Even the characters I didn’t like *cough Nazis* felt so real. I didn’t have a problem believing any action or emotion, which is something I admire in a book. I’ve read a lot of books that made it their mission to make me cry, and even though I didn’t hate them, it was nice to find a book that managed to be emotionally powerful but not contrived.

Also, the book is narrated by Death. If you’re someone who has trouble with nontraditional types of narration, I recommend giving yourself a few chapters to get used to the voice. If you’re like me, you might weirdly start to love it. I generally like unique narrators anyway so I thought it was a great touch from the first page.

What I didn’t love: Nothing honestly. Death occasionally gives spoilers, so that was a little weird to get used to.

For readers who: Enjoy books that pull authentically at just about every heart string.

Not for readers who: Prefer books with easy endings. No spoilers, but it is a book about World War II.

Until the next book!