"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Roasted ambitions

by Julie Tilsner on September 13, 2007

in Good Ideas Gone Bad

There are days when even the simplest of tasks are beyond my skill set.

Yesterday was one of those days. Day three of ministering to two kids home sick with a vicious stomach flu. Tons of work piling up. No time to exercise. Boyfriend problems. PMS.

And I pick that evening to make a dish involving roast vegetables.

Bad. Bad idea. I should really have drank a bottle of wine and called it a night.

But visions of orzo with roast vegetables and feta cheese just danced in my head. Joey told me about this recipe weeks ago, and I’ve been ruminating on it ever since. A simple dish and the perfect antidote to the day’s hassles. A reason to unclench my teeth. Plus a good reason to use my $7 block of glorious, creamy, tangy Israeli feta cheese.

The problems were manifest from the start. As there was no written recipe, Joey had described its ingredients and how to assemble them to me last week over dinner, and I had duly written them down, on the back of a receipt I found in my purse.

When I went to retrieve said receipt last night it was not there, although the other 47 slips of paper were all happily in place and easily identifiable. I had no choice but to try and recreate the recipe from memory.

Must you roll your eyes so? You read this blog voluntarily.

Next problem: A quick look around the kitchen revealed that I did not, in fact, have many of the ingredients I should probably have. No chicken stock to cook the orzo in, for example. I did find a can of vegetable stock, but the arguments pro and con over using it shut down my brain and I went to cut vegetables instead.

I had zucchini squash and asparagus, and garlic, and onions. No peppers. No carrots, nor potatoes. I chopped them up in pieces far too big to go with an orzo, then cut them again. Hope over experience.

I cranked the oven up to 450. I turned on the timer. I couldn’t find my roasting dish so I set the veggies all out on a cookie sheet covered in tinfoil, brushed them with olive oil, dosed them with black pepper and sea salt. I shoved them deep into the oven. Then I went upstairs to stare into space.

I smelled the burning before I heard the timer ring.

You should have seen it. I can’t even show you a photo. Draw your conclusions from the one I have used.

That temperature, for that amount of time, would have made lovely roast potatoes and carrots. Zucchini will shrivel into little black squares. And asparagus can be burnt away to nothing, apparently. The garlic head was lovely, though. I spread four or five cloves onto some bread and ate it, hoping to avoid the flu that had felled my children.

In the end, I aborted the mission. I didn’t even try to make the orzo. And in the smartest thing I did all night, I called out for Chinese, ordering a hot and sour soup with known healing properties.

That and a cold beer made the night a little better.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Mr Squid September 13, 2007 at 6:08 pm

At least you still have the feta.


Sam's Mom September 13, 2007 at 8:29 pm

I’ve tried and tried to roast some garlic cloves , so they are sweet and spreadable but they never turn out :-\


elfini September 14, 2007 at 9:08 am

I see you didn’t mention any deep breaths. How quickly they forget… tsk tsk…


Kelli Johnson September 14, 2007 at 1:30 pm

Boyfriend trouble?! How can that be after he bought you flatware? Did the choice of untensils say what had previously remained unsaid? Was it Target? Should he have gone to Ikea?
I find this very troubling, very troubling indeed…


AT September 14, 2007 at 1:46 pm

…I was actually headed to Bloomingdales, but…


Kim September 15, 2007 at 7:16 am

It’s like you read my mind. October is national fire safety month (or something like that) and I’m looking for stories of kitchen fires to post about (so my own instances of nearly burning down the house don’t seem so ridiculous). Burnt vegetables are good, too. I’ll send you some linky love next month.
Ho-hum. Off to the Candy Expo this week 🙂


eliza September 15, 2007 at 3:53 pm

try to grill outdoor next time. no bbq? use woods. LOL.


westernqueensland September 15, 2007 at 4:22 pm

Julie, you and your peeps are always welcomed here in our place in Woodside. We even have one really nice restaurant, and lots of nice of people.
Thanks for reading this overlong post and putting your two cents in. It makes this blog stuff worth it. I am, however, still torn about this one.


Terry B September 19, 2007 at 2:40 pm

A great post! We food bloggers [myself included] are happy to post about our successes in the kitchen. It’s the rare, brave soul who shares defeats.
Hope the kids are feeling better and you haven’t caught whatever they had.


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