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

Berry Orange Smoothie and Foodie Finds

Berry Orange Smoothie

Berry Orange Smoothie

I had an awesome mini-vacation over the weekend! I went to Florida for an audition, and was able to meet up with one of my best friends. I was sad to come home so soon, but have had a great time since returning to SF.

Wading in the water

Wading in the water

After ballet class on Tuesday, I wandered over to the Ferry Building Farmers Market to pick up some fresh fruit. I ended up with some gorgeous navel oranges and a pack of strawberries. When I got home, I decided to toss some of them into the blender to make a Berry Orange Smoothie.

Beautiful bunch of oranges

Beautiful bunch of oranges

Berry Orange Smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 orange, seeds and casings removed
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • Topping of choice (I used granola)

Combine fruits and coconut milk in blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into glass, and garnish with topping of your choice.

Fruity and fun

Fruity and fun

Foodie Finds

While I was at the Ferry Building, I also picked up a bag of Original Granola made by From the Fields. This wheat and oil free granola is made in Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge. It has a great crunch, a variety of nuts and seeds, and plump cranberries. I’m looking forward to trying the Honey Lavender flavor soon!

Farm to Fields Granola

From the Fields Granola

When I was outside, I gave into temptation, and accepted a sample of Dark Chocolate Coffee Almond Brittle from G.I. Alfieri. I’ve seen them many times before, but have always managed to keep my distance. I have a big weakness for nuts and chocolate! Today I’m glad I stopped. The almond brittle is delicious! It is thin and crispy, with smooth dark chocolate, and a surprisingly strong kick of coffee flavor. I enjoyed a lovely conversation with the man handing out samples as well! It turns out he was a dancer, and knows many of the teachers I train with in the city. What a small world!

Dark Chocolate Coffee Almond Brittle

Dark Chocolate Coffee Almond Brittle

This was the perfect way to wind down after my fun, fast venture to Florida! The rest of the week will be a bit less leisurely, but with my new foodie finds and fruit, I feel ready to take on whatever comes my way.

Yum yum

Yum yum

Happy Eating!

-C