Thursday, August 21, 2008

One-dish wonder

Since I've upped the ante on training for the big day, I am ravenous all the time. Food has become a big part of my life. I spend more time in the kitchen (earlier, an hour a week was the most cooking I could take, and this included microwaving). I have started diversifying our weekly menu by experimenting with varieties of meat, veggies and fruits that I never knew existed. The Food Network is now among the most watched TV channels (I'm a novice cook, so Rachel Ray's mish mash international recipes are perfect for me; and the idea of "getting it all done in under 30 minutes" is quite appealing). I do customize her recipes a lot; and I have no names for the Indianised versions of the 30-minute meals I concoct, usually after a tiring swim or run (when the regular rice and curry just won't satiate the demons in my stomach).

DH was wildly enthused when I started on the cooking project. He goaded me on, ate everything I produced with obvious relish while making contented nosies, even took pictures of the first few dishes that came out of my oven (see below). But I am no gourmet cook or even a creative one. So, unlike Rachel Ray's diverse and colorful recipes, all of mine started to look the same and only taste slightly different. We like spicy food, so all the meat dishes (and sometimes even the veggies) have cayenne pepper and paprika/red chilli powder in them. There's usually garlic, ginger, yoghurt and lemon juice among other things in the marinade for any kind of meat. For health reasons and for carb-loading purposes, every meat dish is accompanied by boiled veggies and rice/bread. And ever since I found cheap mushrooms at the farmers' market, they have featured in every dish.

Chicken Breast with boiled veggies and rice

Pork with caramelized onions, boiled veggies and rice

Spiced sausages and red peppers with boiled veggies and wild rice

Get the picture?
I have turned out some winners on occasion (southwest turkey burger, bread gnocchi, tagine style chicken, cuban spiced pork tenderloin, spicy stuffed crab mushroom, honey nut chicken, everything lo-mein, chicken cutlets, 5-vegetable fried rice with 5-spice pork), but they have been few and far between. I have found that in pangs of hunger and fatigue, culinary versatility rarely surfaces.
So, while DH’s enthusiasm has waned a tad, I plod on unfazed, dishing out meat and boiled veggies every week to satisfy our uncomplaining palates.

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