Friday, 24 April 2009

I Can't Wait for My Talent to Catch Up with my Passion!

Ok so today might be a bit of a confused, imploring navel gaze.

I've been swinging (and not in a fun way) between eating 'raw heavy' and eating 'raw lite'. Clearly, my body responds tremendously well to eating 'raw lite' -- smoothies, salads, fruit, etc --but I have so much fun playing with food, that I continue to be drawn to eating 'raw heavy'--dense, spiced, dehydrated gourmet.

I keep coming back to the idea that if I was a pastry chef, I wouldn't eat my own pies daily, would I? I mean, would I? Maybe I would. I used to have little fat chef salt & pepper shakers that looked like they ate their own pies.

I've had two days of 'raw heavy' and I feel heavy. So I'm thinking of just smoothie-ing and keeping it light for the next few days.

*kicks the gravel*

Ok, there's more I want to talk about.

For the past two days, I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen, prepping food for myself and others. This creates a lot of HOPE. I mean, when something is humming away in the dehydrator all day long, you kinda get your hopes up that all that time will amount to something worth all that time!

In the days before, I plan my menu, I shop for my ingredients, and inside myself, this sort of mild excitement starts to build about how great it's gonna be.

Is my ego involved in this equation? Well probably! Considering that not only have I not been known for my cookery, I've been infamous for my lack of kitchen prowess. While the joy of uncooking is not lost on me, it's definitely an interesting turn of events in my life. Even my Mother told me over the phone yesterday, "It's such a *surprise* that you've finally found the kitchen!" So really, should it be a big surprise that I am a bit hit n' miss with how things turn out?

Ok so what's this about today?

Well, as I mentioned the other day, I was catering a meal to enjoy with a friend of mine. And I put in my best love and intentions and care into this beautiful lasagna that I'd been rhapsodizing about. Every time I've made it, it has been delicious.

So I made the newbie mistake (or is it the old beer drinker in me?) of thinking, "Hey! If one's good, 8 must be better!" and I kept adding extra layers to my lasagna. I wanted it to be extra delicious because it was going to a guest.

I thought I was doing well, because I learned from last time not to go too thick. Instead, spread each layer thinly so that it didn't get too rich and globby. (Layers are: zucchini noodles for 'pasta', rawcotta cheese, pureed spinach, marinated mushrooms, marinara sauce, and back to the noodles, and on and on.)

What I didn't count on, and didn't realize until I tasted some before I wrapped some up for the trip to dinner, was that more layers = more dehydration time. DOH! I had left it in for 7 hours, which is perfect for a thinner lasagna, but with 3 or 4 additional storeys, it was too wet when I took it out, and so the whole experience was delicious mush. Later, it was said that if it had not been called Lasagna, it would have been delicious as its own thing.

I was so disappointed and had to shore myself up on the way over. Never mind that the herb salad with Italian dressing was divine and fresh to the palette. Or that the raw pizza was heaven-sent, and the flax crackers and carrot bread were a hit, and that the brownies were full of mock SIN. My main dish flopped and I had to fight to remember that this didn't mean the whole entire meal was ruined. Remember, I'm kinda all or nuthin'. (Raw seems determined to cure me of that!)

And of course, the whole dinner wasn't ruined. It was delicious and fun-- so much so that we have agreed to do a different raw menu every week. And I learned from my lasagna mistake and I look forward to serving it again all firm and gorgeous like it oughta be!

I remember as a kid, trying to juggle with those red and blue sponge balls with the white stripe. 'Member those? I got to where I could pretty much do it every time, but as soon as I'd say, "Hey watch this...." the balls would not co-operate! This kinda felt like that. I was that kid again, juggling those uncooperative balls, saying a dismayed, "No, wait! Watch! I can do it! Just wait! Don't go! I've got it! Ah, you weren't lookinnnnnnnng!"

The next day, I went through the whole ritual of Dinner Hope again when I made falafels, tortillas to wrap them in, kale chips, jalapeno hummus, and date nut torte.

All day, I was at it. Which I love, by the way. Nothing like a good day of uncookin''s my favorite kind of day.

I decided to use my new Vita-Mix to make the falafel balls. That would be my first mistake. I dunno, I lost count. ;) I gotta hand it to that machine, it's so damned efficient that it made falafel PUDDING in about 6 seconds. Sadly, no 'balls' were gonna be formed today. So I filled up a dehydrator tray with falafel BLOBS. Tasty little f*ers, though, so all good. This date nut torte was HEAVEN and the kale chips (next to the falafels) were a smash hit!
But inside those beautiful, golden got a little lost.

I didn't realize it until this week, because I've been running on sheer enthusiasm, but I guess I'm in a learning curve...not only with my new Vita-Mix, but apparently, with gourmet raw as well.

Don't get me wrong...false confidence built on inspired passion is not at all a bad thing. I mean, enthusiasm is the sparkly beginning of any great endeavour, right? It's how I started painting 5 years ago, didn't know squat, just wanted to do it so I done did it. For the joy of it.

It's weird, though, because gourmet raw dinners turn out so great when it's for just my boyfriend and I. I'm talkin', foodgasms, where we moan and make THE FACE. So who wouldn't want to share that, right? Especially to folks who don't have any idea the amazing tastes that await them in the world of raw. My boyfriend figures that when I think of others eating it, I tend to try too hard and he lovingly suggested to 'not mess with what works'. True, I tried to improve on a perfect thing, that Spinach Lasagna.

As for last night's dinner, it turned out, for the most part, pretty good. It's that darned main course that got me again. The falafels. Separately, the falafel 'blobs' tasted fine-- great, in fact.

The tortillas rocked and were bendable and perfect. The kale chips were over the top fab.

My mistake here was, seeing as there was about 45 minutes until my dinner guest arrived, I thought, "Hey! I bet this will be REALLY great if I assemble the falafels now (meaning spread the jalapeno hummus on the tortilla, add the falafel blobs, the shredded lettuce, the tomato, cucumber, and tzatziki...tuck in the ends, roll it up, and stick it back into the dehydrator so that when dinner's served, the whole thing will be warmed and perfect.


The whole thing, though gorgeous, was mushy. Tasty, but mushy. Just like the lasagna. Again with the dehydrator time. OK, I got it now. Adding more wet stuff means adding HOURS more dehydrator time. Not just an extra 45 minutes. More like an extra 6 hours. So next time, I won't do that.

Both my guests each meal were beyond gracious.

I think to be a chef, one should be consistent rather than 'hit n' miss'. So this was a humbling couple days, with a demotion, albeit a self-imposed one. I'm feeling ready to do the food-prep workshops, but I clearly have some bugs to work out with my cooking before I start the personal chef biz. I thought, 'can you imagine if I had a customer waiting for those dinners at the end of the day?' So, not ready. Just need more experience. And these are pretty gentle lessons, really. Knowing what not to do next time is often what saves the day. Or the dinner, anyway!

I know that every cook has thrown out a batch of this or that and not every meal turns out perfectly. So now I have a new goal, to get consistent. I think I'll make a great raw chef one day. Actually, I think I make a great raw chef now, on passion alone!

Big sigh and big step forward, Rawkers!


Zucchini Breath said...

Practice makes what? I have had dishes come out so bad that I CHANGED them into other things and no one knew the difference.

When you don't know what to do, act as if you do know what to do and at least something will get done.

Aurora said...

I think it's wonderful how honest you are about your trials and tribulations. Very refreshing! It's also cool that I can learn vicariously through you.... and don't have to made the same mistakes!

I actually have never made anything in the dehydrator yet... I have one, but just haven't gotten around to plug the thing in. What would you recommend starting with?

Rawkin' said...

Aw, thanks for that, Zucchini Breath xoxo Maybe I shouldn't announce my menu ahead of time!! :)
Yep, forging ahead in that weird room that starts with a K :)
((((thank you))))

Rawkin' said...

Thank you, Aurora, for your kind words. Wow, plug that baby in and make some of that 'Amazing Carrot Bread'. It's very simple to prepare. Put it in at 105 degrees for 2 hours, then flip it off the teflex sheet (or parchment) then keep it in there for another 7 or 8hours, depending on the consistency you like. I like it to stay soft. It's so sweet and delicious. It's in the recipe section, in 'Breads Crackers & Chips'. That's the one I'd recommend trying first. Your little one will love this as a breakfast bread. Lemme know how it goes!

Thanks again, you sweet thing you!

Anonymous said...

babe you know i much i think you rawk ... and we all benefit from the generous way you share all your learnings - the great results and the not so great.

thing is, anyone who ever learnt to cook (with fire not dehy fan) has batches and batches of burnt cakes and cookies, scones where you forgot the baking powder, too much salt in the stew, etc etc etc .... behind us.

we don't get this food thing perfect first go round, and usually we have someone like our mums at hand to learn from.

you are doing fabulously and you are already a wonderful raw chef.

big love


Rawkin' said...

SG you make a very good point. Thank you!! Could I love you any more???? And as for my sharing the good the bad and the ugly, well I figure we'll all in the same 'ward' and I really recognize that we're all much more similar than we are separate, so I always figure that whatever I experience, someone, somewhere, can relate.

I'm glad it's helpful.
Big love,

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