You should start a cooking blog, he said.
It will be fun, he said.
Huh, thought I, He’s always right. I bet it will be fun.
So I packed my camera phone along when I made dinner that night. I thought taking the pictures would be the hard part.
I hope two days of work per post doesn’t turn out to be average. But I’m learning, I’m growing, I’m expanding my horizons, and blah-blah-blah. I actually installed software on my computer (first time ever!) just for the following:
One of those looks-like-a-cookbook-cover food photos you see on Pinterest! (Hint: Pin it, will you?) Yes, I still have a lot to learn about photo editing. Installing the software was not the hardest part.
But here I am, writing my first post, and I should explain what nobookerycookery is all about. I love trying new recipes, out of glossy photo-filled hardcover cookbooks, magazines off the free rack at the library, or more frequently off my social networks. But sometimes, after a long day keeping up with the husband, house, and kids, or after a long night laying awake for no reason, my brain can’t wrap itself out around all that close reading and measuring that must go on if one is to follow a recipe.
Or sometimes I have something particular in mind, and I can’t find a recipe that tells me the right way to go about it.
Or sometimes I haven’t been to the grocery in over a week.
For whatever reason, I often end up tossing handfuls of this and that together, and sometimes the end result is actually decent food. As I pondered what kind of cooking blog I should start (I’m really into special diets. I follow all of them on alternating days), I realized those necessity-driven creative moments are what I most want to talk about.
Which brings me to dinner two nights ago. I hadn’t harvested my yellow salad tomatoes for over a week, and the fruit was starting to drop and rot on the ground, and the guilt was starting to prick at me. The last time I picked tomatoes, I roasted them in big batches, not being extra careful about crowding them in the pans, and the results swam in intensely flavoured soupy juice. I knew I wanted to try cooking the next patch with something that would soak up all yum, and I had bought chicken quarters at 89 cents per pound, so the obvious combination was a tomato enhanced baked chicken and rice.
I scoured Pinterest, but, try as I might, I couldn’t find a recipe that relied solely on the juice from the chicken and tomatoes to cook the rice. I would have to come up with something on my own.
What I envisioned: Pillowy rice, the bottom crusted by chicken drippings, studded with golden tomatoes and topped with crispy skinned chicken.
What I expected: A soggy burnt mess.
Here’s what I did, and in keeping with the nocookerybookery form, I won’t write it out like a recipe: Sautéed one diced onion in heated oil in an oven proof skillet, added one scoop of rice (I used a tea-cup, which is about 1 and a quarter cup when brimming, but precise quantities are not the thing here) and let it toast a bit. Then I added two handfuls of tomatoes in a layer and topped it all with two salted, peppered, and herbed chicken quarters. I don’t know what herb. It was green and smelled good.
At the very last, I got nervous and splashed about a quarter cup of water into the pan: just something to keep the rice from burning while the tomatoes and chicken commenced juicing.
It all want into a 400 degree oven for one hour.
For the visual learners (and the Pinners: Hint):
The result: I give myself a 3.5. This definitely has merit. The rice absorbed the juices and created a chewy-crunchy edge that I had to force myself to share with anyone else. But the flavor was too intense, the tomatoes took over everything. The husband figures some grated parmesan added at table would round the whole thing out.
How’d I do? Do you want to try it? What would you do differently? Be gentle with me, it’s my first time.