Even though I have a lot of interest in nutrition and eating healthy, I struggle to make myself cook. I’m fine with breakfast and lunch since I long ago established go-to meals that are easy and quick to make, without actually, ahem, involving much cooking.
Dinner is another story. By the time I get to dinner, I have exactly zero interest in preparing anything for myself. I am so disinterested in cooking for myself that sometimes I just skip the whole thing altogether or eat something that’s really not ultimately good for me just because it’s there and I don’t have to cook it.
This dinner thing has been bothering me. So I decided recently to make the effort to learn a few recipes for dinner meals that could be prepared and served for two or three dinners, or for entertaining.
Little did I know exactly how rusty my cooking skills had gotten!
My attempt this week was inspired by the vegan Neatloaf I enjoyed in San Diego at the delightful Jyoti-Bihanga restaurant. That neatloaf was awesome. With mashed potatoes and gravy, it’s the perfect winter comfort food, too.
I found a recipe on A Virtual Vegan’s website, including both the loaf and the gravy. Perfect!
The recipes aren’t too complicated, the ingredients are reasonable, and she gives detailed instructions and great photos.
It was my own lack of cooking habit that had to be confronted. I cooked for many years, and certainly had the tools and the expertise to put things together. Years of disuse, however, took their toll.
My first problem was pretty basic. I had gotten so bad about cooking that I never unpacked many of my cooking supplies when I moved into my current location. Hence, I had to root around in boxes looking for some elementary items like: a bowl and a loaf pan. I never did find either one, but I improvised.
Then, there was the whole thing of actually, you know, preparing the dish. This is fundamental stuff. Chopping onions, garlic, mushrooms. Cooking lentils. Measuring spices, etc. (It took awhile, but I found my measuring spoons, yay!) We’re talking routine kitchen activities here; nevertheless, it was as if I was doing it all under water.
At any rate, I was not deterred. I actually did make the loaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy. The only thing I tweaked on the recipes was that, not having a blender around, I just used the chopped the onions and mushrooms for the gravy without blending – and actually, that is the way I would do it again.
Results? Awesome! It really turned out great. And it really is the perfect comfort meal for those wintry days. The texture and moistness of the loaf are just right. And it really tastes yummy. If I tweaked anything, perhaps it would be just a little less thyme. The recipe made enough loaf that it’s going to take me awhile to eat it up – which is exactly what I was hoping.
The gravy is the perfect addition, too. The flavor is there, along with the color and consistency that invites.
Thank you, A Virtual Vegan!
It was a worthwhile exercise, and I had fun doing it. I admit, though, I would never find myself doing this at the end of the day. So cooking ahead is the way to go.
So far, so good. Yum!