practice makes perfect

As I have mentioned before, Craig is the cook in our household. He enjoys cooking and trying new things, and he’s one of those cooks that just throws in a little of this and a little of that instead of following a strict recipe. I love that he loves to cook. It works great for me, as I don’t enjoy cooking too much and I’m perfectly happy doing dishes (which is my job after he uses every pot and pan in the house to prepare a meal). I do handle the baking in the house, and that is something I enjoy.

Every once in a while, though, I get an urge to cook. I’m hosting my book club meeting in a couple of weeks and I’ve been thinking about what I should serve for dinner. Although I’m not above asking Craig to cook for the evening – the evening where he is banished to his man-attic so that he stays far, far away from the influx of ladies in the house, mind you – I do feel like this is a time where I should do the cooking.

So, a couple of weeks ago we enjoyed a fabulous butternut squash galette at a dinner party we attended, and I thought it would be great for my book club dinner. It was so tasty and I loved that it was a vegetarian entree, as we’re working on eating more vegetarian meals at home. (We’re doing really well on this, by the way – we have eliminated beef and pork in the house and I’d say over half of our home-made dinners in the last month were vegetarian.) We bought the cookbook the recipe came from:

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We happened to have some butternut squash from our CSA that wasn’t going to last much longer, and I figured I’d better do a practice run. So I tried it last night for dinner. It was good that I practiced, because this is what it looked like:

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Not exactly making your mouth water, huh? It tasted fine, but wasn’t too pretty to look at. The main problem (with how it looks) is that the dough was falling apart as I tried to wrap it up over the squash mixture, so I couldn’t make it nice and uniform and make the nice little pleats as the illustration in the book showed. And then I kept pulling pieces away (unintentionally) and trying to press them back into place so the filling would not spill out. Now, I am a baker and I can make a good pie crust, and this is just as much of a baking project as a cooking project, so the problems I had here surprised me a little bit. But it was a different dough recipe than I usually use and the set up was new to me as well. Next time I will add a bit more water to the dough and I hope that will do the trick. I also probably did not roll out the dough as much as I should have. Since our friend Mr. Mouse is still with us (why won’t he go away? he has zero food sources left!), I didn’t want to roll anything out on the counter (no matter how much I clean it, I still know it is mousy dirty), so I used a cutting board and therefore I was limited in my rolling dimensions. Anyway, I am glad that I had this practice run, because I would have been embarrassed for the book club ladies to see such a pile of squash and dough!

Other changes I’ll make on my next attempt:

1. Use a pie dish instead of just putting it on a baking sheet. Our friends did it that way and I think it probably kept things together better.

2. Make the onion pieces a bit finer.  I might even put it all in the food processor to smooth it out in the end.

3. Add salt and pepper. I just totally forgot the seasoning. (This is why Craig is the cook!)

4. Bake just a little longer. I thought the crust was good but Craig thought it could have used a couple more minutes in the oven.

5. Prepare a dressing or topping. Our friends served a warm Gorgonzola dressing that added a really nice touch.

In the end, it was a moderate success but there was a lot of room for improvement. So, I’ll try it again in a couple of weeks for my book club meeting. I’ll let you know how it turns out that time around!

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14 Responses to practice makes perfect

  1. Evelyn says:

    This sounds yummy. You might have to post the recipe! As to your mousy counter, you could roll it out onto a parchment paper lined coutner… just a thought! Good luck with it!

  2. Evelyn says:

    This sounds yummy. You might have to post the recipe! As to your mousy counter, you could roll it out onto a parchment paper lined counter… just a thought! Good luck with it!

  3. Evelyn says:

    Sorry about the double (now triple) comment. I tried to correct “counter” and it somehow posted twice!

  4. Alan says:

    Good for you guys! I’m happy to share any recipes, resources, etc. on the veg thing. We’ve been doing it a long time…

  5. Jenny says:

    it sounds yummy for sure, and i don’t think it looks so bad for a trial run!

  6. Chelsea Conger says:

    I am so excited about the direction you two have taken away from meat, especially pork!! YAY. Piggies are so smart, smarter than dogs mind you, I can’t believe anyone would eat them!

    Hip Hip Hurray! 🙂

    • Kelly says:

      Don’t get too excited, Chels. I’m careful with my words – so note that I said that we have eliminated beef and pork in the house. This means that we can eat those things out of the home if we want to (like at friends’ homes, restaurants, family dinners, etc). At least that’s the plan for now. Craig is mostly on board with this – at least so far – but I’m really the one trying to make the change.

      But I did just watch “Babe” for the first time this weekend and it gave me a new (very cute) perspective on pigs. That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.

  7. Brandi says:

    As for you friend the mouse, have you tried putting peanut butter in a trap?

    • Kelly says:

      Oh yes – peanut butter, cheese, and sometimes whatever we just had for dinner. In the live traps, the old-fashioned traps snapping traps, and any other trap we could find. We started out being nice but now the gloves are off!

  8. Yum. Totally drooling here.
    I love that you’re the baker and Craig’s the cook – it’s the same exact setup in our house!
    And YAY for more veggie dishes!!! Every step, no matter how small, makes a difference!

  9. Christine says:

    Even if it doesn’t look pretty… it sounds delish!

  10. Kelly Cole says:

    That sounds tasty! Can I come to your book club? As you know Jon’s the cook (like Craig) but I can’t say that I am the baker (like you). Maybe if you start blogging about and posting photos of the yummy baked goods you make, it’ll inspire me – just in time for the holidays!

    PS – Still with the mouse? Bugger!

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