Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The not quite joy of cooking

I saw Julie and Julia on Sunday. What a sweet, good-hearted movie. It made me really want to poach an egg. I've eaten poached eggs before, but never actually done any poaching of my own. So I'm adding that to my list of things to do, which is looking like this right now:
  1. Decide on dates for Spring trip to Wales
  2. Be a better person
  3. Poach an egg
As part of being a better person (see item #2 above), I've decided I need to be more forgiving. So for example, I should forgive Michael Pollan for his blatant personal attack on my way of life in the NYT a couple of weeks ago. Well, the part about watching cooking shows doesn't apply to me because I don't have time for them, and I'm not sure I would watch them if I did. But it's true, I don't really cook. Sometimes I assemble a meal, and I occasionally bake things, but aside from a mad cooking kick once every five years or so, I actively avoid actual cooking whenever possible. So even though I don't believe that not cooking is as horrible as Pollan makes it out to be, I've started wondering if I could make myself enjoy cooking a little more, and if that in turn would put more joy in my life. I mean, I know a lot of people who really get into cooking, and it seems to bring them happiness. Shouldn't I try it? Or rather, give it one more try, I mean.

So Monday evening I was paging through Durham Magazine while waiting for a haircut (am I the only one who thinks Durham magazine is a big pretentious bore?) Anyway, a little recipe for tomato pie caught my eye. My friend Cindy had given me a whole bunch of home-grown tomatoes, and I was starting to get tired of tomato sandwiches. I could put them in a pie! OK, so really, a pie is technically more baking than cooking, but it involved chopping onions and sauteƩing them in butter which most definitely is cooking. I quickly pulled my tiny notebook out and jotted down the recipe, and then after my haircut I went straight to Harris Teeter and bought the ingredients I needed. The recipe called for a pre-baked pie crust, at which Michael Pollan would undoubtedly sneer, but if I'd had to make a pie crust from scratch I probably would have skipped making the pie altogether. Baby steps. I'll get to making actual pie crusts one of these days. Maybe.

The recipe was a snap. It called for a topping of cheese mixed with mayonnaise, but I'm not a big mayonnaise fan and I was afraid I wouldn't want to actually eat the pie if it had mayonnaise in it, so just used cheese. (Maybe that's why I don't always like cooking--I have a hard time sticking exactly to the recipe sometimes, and I end up not always liking what I make. Maybe I'm sabotaging my own efforts to justify my laziness? Who knows.)

Anyway, the pie came out looking like this (and smelling heavenly!):

tomato pie

It was tasty, but way, way to liquidy. That's a problem with tomatoes--they release so much water when cooked. I had to drain the pan a bit after cutting out the first piece. Maybe a more experienced cook would know what to do about that. It tasted pretty good. Not to die for or anything, but at least it didn't make me want to throw it out and eat a grilled cheese sandwich instead, which is often what happens when I cook.


spacegrrl said...

combining the tomatoes with a crapload of breadcrumbs might thicken it up a bit.

for me cooking more frequently involves planning. we actually plan 3-4 dinners a week, which is very novel for me. i never had the discipline to do that prior to my cohabitation with another human.

having good kitchen tools on hand also seems to help. pie crust is (theoretically) not difficult if you happen to have a food processor and a glass pie pan on hand.

Lisa B. said...

I have both!

And planning, there's the rub. I seem to do way too much on impulse in my life. Causes a few problems, it seems ... I should put planning more things my list ;-)

Lisa B. said...

Oh, and also, I'm at the dog training place 4 nights a week, so that cuts down on my cooking time. I need to make the kinds of things I can do on the weekend and then stick in the fridge.

rkdioxin said...

The fact that there was that much liquid makes me think there's something wrong with the recipe. Unless it's meant to be served cold, in which case the filling would set a lot more. Spacegrrl is correct that adding breadcrumbs would act to bind the filling. But that'd change the character. I guess you could also use cornstarch or tapioca starch like you might for a fruit pie filling. I wonder if adding the mayonnaise to the cheese makes the topping more likely to melt down into the tomatoes and maybe that helps to set the filling.