I wasn’t planning on writing up Carrots & Orzo again after the first two tries- they were fairly successful because I enjoyed eating them. But then I tried to make the dish again for food’s sake and got caught with a few modifications because of ingredient availability. It turned out well, so I figure I’ll include the newest variation:
- I didn’t have actual garlic ready. Or, rather, I did, but it was brown except for where it was shooting up green, so effectively I didn’t. Instead of a clove of fresh garlic, I used the equivalent amount of minced.
- I didn’t have enough orzo! Instead of using the small amount of orzo I had and mixing in another noodle, or cutting the recipe, I just decided to go with elbow macaroni.
- I zested the lemon more finely this time. This was part intentional and part accidental.
This turned out pretty well. I think the minced garlic spread out and mixed more easily than my chopped garlic tries had. The smaller lemon zests worked out great because they eliminated my problem wherein everything stuck to giant lemon peel discs. But the best variation was the elbow macaroni. Somehow this fixed my burning-the-orzo problem from the first two tries. I was actually able to cook the food until the vegetable broth went away, and the result was tender noodles.
Verdict: Keeping this version.
Irritated by my previous wipeout in frying a banana, I decided to try again. I like bananas and the recipe was simple- surely I could turn out something decent. I did a few things differently:
- Used an underripe banana. Maybe this would fix the mushy problem and the overpowering sweetness problem?
- Omitted cinnamon. It didn’t make much difference.
- Didn’t bother mixing the honey before tasting the results of my frying.
- Kept chocolate sauce handy.
This was still a disaster. The bananas weren’t overly sweet like last time- this is where the underripe did make a difference- but I still couldn’t get them to crisp nicely. Also, did you know chocolate sauce is polar? I tried to make the bananas taste better by adding chocolate sauce, but it wouldn’t stick over the oil. Whoops.
Verdict: Friends don’t let friends fry bananas.
What can you do with a single quickly-ripening banana?
I was faced with this dilemma and a nagging feeling I should be trying to cook more often (you know, to gradually fix my incompetence), so I searched for overripe banana recipes. Somehow this lead me to a list of banana recipes, and the first one I found which only required one banana was this recipe for fried honey bananas. What did I do with it?
- Chose olive oil because I had it.
- Creatively interpreted the “lightly drizzle” instruction for the oil. I probably used too much.
- Used an overripe instead of an underripe banana. Again, most of the point of this experiment was to get rid of that banana!
- I had quite an adventure with the honey mix. First, my honey had solidified. I scraped some out, microwaved it, and mixed it with a bit more water than I’d intended. I’m not convinced I scraped out the right amount of solid honey.
- Used cinnamon sparingly.
Eeeek. This was my first kitchen disaster. First, the original recipe author is really not kidding about using an underripe banana. Overripe bananas are (1) way mushier, which makes them really difficult to flip and (2) way sweeter, which does not play well with honey. They turned out gooey and entirely too sweet.
Verdict: maybe I should try it again with less honey and/or an underripe banana.
My next cooking adventure was motivated by Spring Break. I had a kitchen and a responsibility not to eat bread and cheese for every meal, so I decided to revisit the modified carrots and orzo dish that had turned out well before. What was different this time?
- I deliberately doubled the carrots instead of doubling them when I screwed up buying a zucchini.
- I used a pot that didn’t have a great shape. It was too deep and not wide enough- I think this explains some of the problems I had where I’d mix the orzo and accidentally knock pieces out. I also had issues burning some of the orzo and it didn’t cook evenly.
- Lemon zesting with a knife is an interesting experience. I made my slices too large, resulting in largish lemon peel circles. When cooked, pieces of orzo and garlic (I chopped the garlic like I had the first time) stuck to the undersides of the peels. I will zest more finely in the future.
This still turned out pretty good. I had good food without hours of effort or cleanup, so that’s a win. Also, although the lemon zest got a little shriveled, my leftovers reheated well.
Verdict: Yay for easy, reheatable food with minimal mess. Will make again.
My next cooking experiment, motivated by a potluck, involved a banana and black bean saute recipe and an assist from a friend who is slightly more experienced than me at cooking. We followed the recipe! Notes:
- We used olive oil as our cooking oil. It was handy.
- When you want to measure out 14 oz (3.5 cups) of something- say coconut milk- you probably want a measure larger than half of a cup. Otherwise, you measure it out 7 times and get very bored. If you are a math major, like me, you may even lose count and need to rely on your trusty biologist.
- Alternatively, if you’re pouring 14 oz out of a 16 oz container- perhaps this is coconut milk!- set 2 oz aside and dump the rest of the container.
This turned out perfectly edible! We had some confusion about the amount of liquid that was supposed to remain. We had a lot of coconut milk left after the recommended cooking time, so we wound up serving it in bowls. If we were to make it again, we’d probably either serve it on rice or as a dessert. Thanks largely to the awesome coconut milk, the recipe turned out very sweet and rich.
Verdict: Good idea, no major problems cooking it. Makes a nice dessert with an unusual flavor combination (bananas and beans? really?).
For my first-ever cooking expedition, I decided to try a modification of this recipe. It looked relatively easy and had some ingredients I like. My modifications with rationale:
- No thyme. I don’t like herbs very much.
- Pecorino romano instead of parmesan at the end. It’s just a better cheese.
- Twice as much olive oil because it just didn’t look like 1 tbsp would be enough when I was trying to cook the orzo.
- Garlic is chopped…I have no idea why I did that.
- Veggies sliced instead of shredded, as suggested by one of the recipe’s commenters. It’s easier and I’m lazy.
- Lemon zested creatively. No zester available, so I kind of knifed it…
- I accidentally bought a cucumber instead of a zucchini. I knew not to cook a cucumber! I used an extra carrot and cut up the cucumber to be served on the side.
This turned out surprisingly well. The orzo didn’t exactly get “tender,” but it tasted nice and the carrots were awesome (I love cooked carrots).
Verdict: good idea, fairly easy. Success.