Thursday, February 9, 2017
The Not Quite Bare Cupboard Update II - Plans and Substitutions
The other morning, I got up and wrote out a list of things to do. "Strain yogurt to make Greek yogurt, make egg noodles for soup...". Then I went out to sit on the front porch with Maddie so she'd eat her food (she's a very spoiled doggy. She likes company at mealtimes. The cat doesn't seem to count). It was cold and blustery and suddenly that chicken noodle soup seemed like the absolutely only fitting meal for the day. So when I came in, I put the yogurt in a lined strainer over a bowl, covered it and shoved it back in the fridge. And then I forgot for a little bit about dinner and worked at other things.
One thing I am surely learning as I go about these challenges. It takes time. It makes work. It's not quick. At 10:30 I finally sat down with the cookbook and scanned the recipe for egg noodles. 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg! Wow. I hadn't counted on that. Note to self, look at recipes next time when planning meals. But, being the substitute cook I am, I decided I could sub in 2 eggs and forget the whole business of using up four eggs (with whites leftover). I also determined if I was going to use 2 eggs, I'd best make half a recipe, so I cut the flour in half. Now I have half the noodles and fewer eggs than I'd planned as my leftovers. Now, at this moment, I realize that I likely could have made the whole recipe since I was using the two whole eggs. Another fail on my part.
Making egg noodles was not hard. The most work required was all the kneading. The recipe says to knead the dough for ten minutes. I'm not really sure I needed to. The dough felt right to me earlier into the process but I don't know exactly what it's meant to feel like. Here's where my planning ahead would have benefitted me: there's a ten minute rest period for the dough. I took this time to read ahead through the rest of the recipe. Oops. You let the dough rest ten minutes. Then you divide and roll out each section and sort of fold it and cut it and unroll it (why? I'm not sure. Why not just cut the long pieces from the unfolded dough?) You do all that and then you must let the noodles dry out for at least two hours.
Uhmmm....I meant to have dinner ready in 1 hour. I'd even started my soup base while I was waiting on the ten minute rest time for the dough because I was going to be all super efficient. Apparently I'm not super efficient. Super efficient would have looked at the recipe early in the week when I was planning. Efficient would have checked the recipe first thing this morning after I made my plans. And read it all the way through. Then I'd have known that the noodles also require 15 minutes to cook. I should never assume I know anything until I've read the recipe. I kept thinking of all the cooks who said fresh pasta only required a few minutes. No. 15-20 minutes is what the recipe says.
Dinner was not horribly late today. We ate somewhere around 1:15, not so terribly late but later than we're wont to eat. And it was good. Hunger didn't hurt the flavor in the least. The noodles were tender. Not as thin as they ought to have been but thin enough to be tender and not fluffy.
I learned a lot in making up this simple recipe. I learned that I need to plan more. I need to plan more fully. I need to read the recipe when I have never made an item before. I don't need to assume that something is as simple (or more difficult) as I think it might be. I need to plan meals more fully if they require me to do more than open a package and pour into a pot of boiling water. I have also learned over this past month of cooking for John's Daniel Fast, as well as for these challenge meals of mine (I've made all the main dishes I've planned. The menu may vary but the main entrée stands), that convenience is nice but cooking real food from scratch is a process that takes time and rewards one with a deeper satisfaction not just in the eating of the food but in the preparation.
We had chicken noodle soup for dinner. It was meant to serve two meals. It served us for dinner and for supper tonight. I used 1 1/2 quarts of broth to make my soup and I put 3/4 cup chicken into the freezer. I need to put the last quart in the freezer too.It's a little less than I thought I'd have. That is sufficient to make my favorite Spaghetti a la Diable, even a little bit more than the recipe calls for. I'll have at least one less egg and only one quart of broth. At the end of the challenge period I'll list all my leftovers and compare them side by side with what I thought I'd have.
There are still quite a few meals to go this for this challenge week. I still have the chicken legs and the mac and cheese. I also have the yogurt draining to make the cheese pizza. Since I'm having unexpected company this weekend and I'm unsure how long they will be here or even when they are actually arriving, it will be next week before we have those meals.