Further Lessons Learned in the Kitchen – Patience

Spending hours in the kitchen not only results in food that nourishes the body, but it is a process that nourishes my soul. It is time that allows me to disconnect from technology, from other concerns, and to focus on the task at hand.

Kale, Cabbage, and Quinoa Salad

Kale, Cabbage, and Quinoa Salad

It is also a time for me to experience powerful learning moments. In the kitchen, I have learned the value of process, as well as the value of failure. Most recently, I have been reminded of the value of patience.

Weeks ago, I picked up a bag of hazelnuts at the store, thinking about how incredible it would be to make hazelnut butter. Hazelnut butter soon turned into Nutella. So, last Saturday, after breakfast and crosswords with my husband, I placed 2 cups of hazelnuts into the oven for a quick 10 minute roast in order to loosen the skins.

I slowly and painfully** rubbed the skins off of the nuts, and placed them into the food processor.

Roasted hazelnuts

Roasted hazelnuts

**Do not do as I did and use your bare fingers…it will create a slight blister. Use the “kitchen towel” technique!

Once the hazelnuts were pulsed into a coarse meal, I added a few teaspoons of raw cacao, and kept on blending…. and blending… and blending…

Pulsed hazelnuts

Pulsed hazelnuts

But unlike when I have made other nut butters, that magic moment when things get creamy kept illuding me. Getting frustrated, I figured that I must need to add some moisture, so I added one, and then two, tablespoons of almond milk. The mixture became moist, but not smooth and creamy. Deciding that Nutella was no longer an option, I threw some dates into the mix and made “Nutella Bites.”

They aren’t great, but they are edible. I need to tweak some things before this recipe is “shareable.”

Nutella Bites

Nutella Bites

Curious to learn where I went wrong, I sat down and started to research (something that would have served me well before my experiment began…). I learned from Oh She Glows that I lacked the necessary patience. Getting the mixture to that creamy place can take a full 15 – 20 minutes of constant processing.

So, my failed attempt at making Nutella, just like my failed attempt at making yogurt, was due to a lack of patience… And yet, the next day, I sliced, roasted, peeled, chopped, and simmered ingredient after ingredient to make a delicious, healthy, and hearty quinoa, cabbage, and kale salad, inspired by Ashley’s quinoa salad and Sarah B’s braised cabbage.

I documented the process with my iPhone, and the finished result was so beautiful, I just had to take some “real” photos to share this creation. On a slow Sunday afternoon, creating this colorful salad was a labor of love.

Sliced Cabbage

Sliced Cabbage

A 3 pound head of cabbage (the smallest I could find) is a LOT. I braised the whole head, but used only about half in this salad.

Cut in half and roasted for 10 minutes, then seeded, peeled, and cubed

Butternut Squash – Cut in half and roasted for 10 minutes, then seeded, peeled, and cubed, and roasted for an additional 15 – 20 minutes.

Squash is easier to deal with once it is softened.

Peeling a blood orange

Peeling a blood orange

Blood oranges are so beautiful – one of nature’s many delights!

Combine sliced kale, chopped orange, and chickpeas

Combine sliced kale, chopped orange, chickpeas, and dressing

I took at least an hour preparing this hearty salad that provided me with meals all week long. It occurred to me after the fact that while I continue to procrastinate my experiments in bread making because “it takes too long,” the active time to make bread is far less than the time I spent making this “easy” salad.

Add ~2 cups cooked quinoa

Add ~2 cups cooked quinoa

It’s all a matter of perception, I guess. Something about working with vegetables relaxes me. I love chopping them. Fresh herbs, however, often intimidate me with their “laborious” preparation process (i.e. washing, drying, and chopping). Clearly, my mental perception is slightly skewed.

Toss in squash

Toss in squash

Awareness is the first step, though, so fresh herb chopping and bread making loom on the horizon.

Braised cabbage

Braised cabbage

Perhaps because of the time and attention it took to prepare this salad, I delighted in eating it for lunch or dinner each day last week.

Last but not least, toasted pecans

Last but not least, toasted pecans

My patience was rewarded! With so many textures and flavors, this salad was great. I look forward to repeating it with variations here and there.

What lessons have you learned in the kitchen?

-L