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The dinner debacle

(article, Kim Carlson)

Last night's dinner was an aesthetic disaster. Honestly, it looked inedible. 

I was cooking Deborah Madison's Cheese and Nut Loaf, from The Greens Cookbook. It's a crowd-pleaser — a hearty vegetarian entrée that almost everyone likes. I wanted to tinker with the recipe, though, lightening it a little and increasing its vegetable quota.

Neither of which involves leaving out the eggs.

But that's exactly what I did — omitted all four of 'em. 

Maybe that was because just as I was getting ready to assemble the thing, my daughter wandered into the kitchen, made herself a cup of tea, and started a conversation. I always welcome that, no matter what I'm in the middle of, and so on we went . . . while I haphazardly gathered the vegetables and rice and cheeses that go into Deborah's recipe.

[%image reference-image float=right width=400 caption="Better than it looks."]

When I put the mixture into the loaf pan, it seemed a little different than the other time I'd made it — but that was awhile back. Maybe I was just remembering wrong?

Besides, we were discussing Lolita in Tehran, one of my favorite books, which my daughter is now reading. Or were we talking about the food program at a particular college she likes? ("Mom," she said. "They have their own farm.") Imagine! Into the oven went dinner.

An hour later when I pulled it out, the dish looked a little different than I expected — not domed and golden, but sort of brown and flat on top. Huh, I thought. That's odd. 

I knew there was a problem, though, the moment we "sliced" into the "loaf" — or maybe it's better to say "spooned" into the "goop." 

"Don't worry!" my husband said merrily, pushing the stuff around the plate with his fork. "It's fine." 

"Tastes great," said one of the girls (the one who likes mushrooms and therefore was hazarding a bite). "I'm sure it's good," said the other, busily ladling the one serving of leftover soup she'd found in the fridge.

For a few minutes, I was let down. All that effort! And then, abruptly,  I remembered [/content/mainareas/newsletter/newsletter2009/N20091125 Julia]. No apologies; I'd turn this into a lesson, an example, an opportunity for improvement. (Although to be honest, I know I'll trade concentration for conversation again.)

I scooped a healthy portion of the . . . loaf . . . for myself. Fact is, it did taste OK. Cheese, rice, vegetables — well, there's nothing not to like.

A tasty disaster, in the end. And truthfully, it isn't the most gorgeous dish in the first place — even if it is love at first bite.

(Watch for the results of my tinkering one day soon — after a little more "experimenting.")

reference-image, l