Here is a textbook example of what separates a good home cook from a bad home cook.
Tonight I regarded the packet of zucchini squash on my counter, eyeballed the lemon in my fruit bowl, remembered the cilantro in the ‘Fridge, and decided I should make an attempt to utilize the three. I Googled these ingredients, and went down the list of summer recipes until I found zucchini and lemon Quinoa pilaf with mint.
I’ve only just been hipped to quinoa. I liked it. And better yet, I had a whole package of it in the pantry.
The recipe couldn’t be easier.
Cook 1 cup of quinoa in two cups of liquid (water or I used chicken stock, because I had some of that leftover too), bring to a boil and cover until it’s done, about 12-15 minutes.
Grate two zucchinis. Chop 1/2 cup of parsley (I used cilantro) and 1/4 cup fresh mint (I used hardly any, because my mint plant isn’t yielding for some reason. The juice and zest of one lemon. Mix it all together. Add the cooked quinoa. Mix again. Salt and pepper expertly.
The result? Well, let’s just say it didn’t look this this: (the photo on the blog I found the recipe on)
Now, in the hands of, say, Chris, or Kelli, or Julia, or heck, any number of friends I know who have not only skills but talent, this could be quite the enchanting little dish. Fluffy and spry, full of zing and flavor.
In my hands, predictably, it came out pretty gloppy.
Maybe I didn’t cook the quinoa long enough? Maybe I should have somehow drained the zucchs? I know I didn’t use enough cilantro and mint, but that shouldn’t affect the texture. Also, the lemon made it too bright. Maybe less lemon?
Who the hell knows?
The frustrating thing here is that I’m cooking better now than I ever have before, mostly because I’m, well, cooking. Learning techniques. Seeing what works and what doesn’t. But at some point there’s a ability that comes into play, a talent…for assembling ingredients into something better. Some people have it, and some people don’t.
Sigh. What can you do?
But wait! A happy ending after all. Strangely enough both my kids professed enjoyment of this little side-dish-for-dinner thing.
“It’s good,” said the boy. “Sort of like a light, French dinner.” I don’t know where he gets the French part but I like the way he’s thinking.
The drama teen didn’t make any faces at all, just quietly ate her bowl while reading something on her phone. Kids today.
Lesson learned? Keep practicing…
Photo snatched from Laura Bashar of Family Spice to make a point. It’s a lovely blog! Check it out!