Monday, March 14, 2011

Riding the Learning Curve

Note to self: next time you go meddling around outside your comfort zone, choose a day when nobody else is home. I love my bustling household on a weekend, but I should have remembered how hard it is to multitask when one or more of the tasking threads is unfamiliar and in need of an uninterrupted train of thought.

Yesterday I tried my first raw food recipe aside from just eating food that is raw. I chose Lisa's Mushroom Alfredo with Zucchini Noodles from her wonderful blog: My execution of Lisa's recipe varied out of necessity. I was out of onions so I used a leek, and I only had one ripe zucchini. I know they are currently out of season, but these suckers were flippin' expensive! $6.50 for 3 squash! And then to discover that two of them were hard as rocks because they were unripe! In my experience, zucchini are not a veggie one needs to squeeze to determine ripeness like, say, an avocado. I forcibly chopped the granite zucchini into manageable chunks for my gizmo but they weren't moving through the lovely wire mesh.

["I'm starving, can you make me some organic shells-n-cheese?" my daughter said as she passed through the kitchen] -- I put on a pot of boiling water.

Not knowing what to do with my possibly-never-edible expensive squash, I put them in a baggie and into the crisper, not that they needed any crisping.

So, moving on, I realized I had a quantity problem. I had been able to utilize my new dehydrator for the first time for the mushrooms and leeks, and I had the right quantity of cashews (I'm allergic to walnuts, so that'll be a variant from Lisa's recipe as well) but I wouldn't have enough "noodles". Time to add one more new variable to my uncharted territory: quinoa macaroni -- I'd been wanting to try it for some time. I could just mix it in with the raw zucchini noodles after it cools.

["Could I get a plate?" my husband asked as he searched for the grill tongs for his barbeque chicken and my son's hot dogs.]

Okay -- back to the quinoa macaroni: "darnit why do they make the writing on these boxes so small?" I said out loud as I held the box at extreme arm's length.  I ran upstairs to the bedroom to get my glasses. By the time I came back down my daughter's water was boiling. I threw in her noodles, put her organic vermont cheddar cheese powder into a mixing bowl with some organic milk, and put on a pot of water for my own noodles.

Whew! regrouping, I pulled out the new pitcher I had ordered for my HealthMaster and gave it a good sudsing. My old one had been leaking out the bottom some very stinky, rusty goo every time I made a smoothie or a sauce, and whether it really leaked upwards into the contents of my food or not, I perceived that it did, so it had been spoiling my healthy efforts. The new pitcher fit onto my blending motor just like the old one, albeit more snugly. I began scooping the warmed, marinated mushrooms and leeks from the dehydrator tray into the blender. I found that my fingers worked better than a spoon for this task.

["Here's the dirty plate. can I get a clean one?"] I'm not sure if it is because my husband is used to a staff at his office or if I was just taking up so much room in the kitchen with all my appliances that he couldn't move around me to get the plate, but whatever.  I used my sticky, marinade-covered fingers to get him a "clean" plate.

Okay -- the water for my quinoa pasta was boiling, so I stirred in the noodles. "Do not overcook" the instructions warned. I carefully set the timer with my sticky fingers, and noticed that I had forgotten to set a timer for my daughter's noodles, but they seemed to be ready, so I drained them and mixed them into her sauce.

Whew! Focus . . . . time to blend my sauce --  I had a phobia about starting my blender with the new pitcher, as if something I was about to do would also ruin this new, as yet unsullied pitcher. I started the blending on a low speed, cringing with each catch in the regular rhythm of the blades. My daughter came in wanting something, but the sound of the blender was so loud she turned around and left the room. I raised the speed on the blender (louder still!) and finally relaxed as it appeared to be working properly. It was finished. The timer went off for my quinoa pasta.

["Isn't my macaroni ready yet?" my daughter said.] I pointed it out to her and drained my own noodles, rinsing them well with cool water so they would not "cook" my zucchini noodles.

["do you have any whole wheat hot dog buns?" my husband said, walking in with a plate-o-meat.] I pointed to the 'fridge for my husband as I popped a quinoa noodle into my mouth. It was still stiff! Ugh!

["Is there any lettuce for my sandwich?"]

If not for all the interruptions, I'd have remembered that the quinoa noodles were still an unknown entity to me and I should have tested one of them before draining the whole pot. So, no noodles today. It was time to eat.

Here's my finished product, obviously sauce-forward with the lack of sufficient zucchini:

There was enough sauce for at least two people, and barely enough zucchini for one, but I offered it to all nonetheless. I got no takers. My husband couldn't get past the color of the sauce. I may add a dash of turmeric next time for this reason. I found the meal to be delicious, but very rich and filling, and after the first several bites I realized it was too sweet for me. I am cognizant of the fact that my particular palate is not as accepting of sweet flavors as other folks', especially after being vegan for a while. I think no agave nectar at all in the marinade, and half of the balsamic vinegar would have been better for me, but that's just me.  I will be making this meal again with these minor changes.

Looking back on the whole experience I can see it as predictably comical. I had sort of a perfect storm going on-- a new way of preparing food, as yet unfamiliar to me, a house full of people and dogs, four different meals for 4 people, an unknown dehydrator, a new blender pitcher, a new type of noodle, raw, rock-hard zucchini. When it was all done, I needed a nap!


  1. 1. awesome looking raw dish
    2. you can come and work in my preschool any time...this is the story of my life : )12 kids and three employees (plus husband, pets, and children's parents' coming in and out all day), it can be quite a chore to stay on task.

    that dish looks awesome! i never thought of marinades when it comes to raw cooking (er, food prep).

  2. Thanks Stephanie! I don't know how you do it. All those interruptions make my brain feel scrambled at best! Yeah, Lisa has some pretty great raw ideas -- check out her blog when you get a chance. It's linked in this post of mine.