It’s been a while since my last Meatless Monday Dinner Club, ok that’s a bit misleading, as I was simply cooking for two friends but as it was a weekly date I’m happy calling it a club.
I can’t believe that a casual offer to cook food for a friend, who was feeling under the weather and didn’t want to leave the house, would turn into a year-long adventure and who knew I would enjoy every minute of it and also grow my culinary skills and knowledge of myself as a result.
First, it was Vegan Tuesday and then it became Meatless Monday
Friends had sampled my food before, but I had never actually cooked vegan for anyone let alone planned a meal and here I was cooking for six people and the unexpected visit from the workman who also had a plate. I was nervous, this was such a great idea in my head but the reality felt completely different.
For my first dish, I played safe. I couldn’t go wrong with lentils and potato, so I created lentil pie with a sweet potato mash, I added a few vegetables to the side but nothing complicated and definitely not sophisticated. I wish I had taken a picture.
Fast forward twelve months and I’m planning three-course meals as standard and happily venturing into unchartered waters, pushing the boat on flavours and levels of difficulty and sophistication and if you are around and want a plate I’m good with that too.
There are so many things that I learned and discovered about food and myself that still continue to amaze me today some of which I learned from the kitchen and some from the food itself.
There are so many dishes that I prepared over the twelve months and I wish I had kept a weekly journal so that I could share them all with you but as I didn’t I’m going to share the ones that taught me the most and hopefully sometime soon I will also write recipes for all the dishes I prepared.
- I love creating in the kitchen
The idea of putting ingredients together to create something actually excites me. Which as my mum’s friend Glenda says would make my mother smile. You see my journey with food was a love-hate one I loved to hate it and I would happily go for days without eating any (long story read more about it here).Here is my mushroom pate with Guyanese bakes. I’ve never tasted pate before so this really was a step into the unknown and it was a delicious one.
- The key to a fingerlicious meal is planning and preparation
Cooking for people really forced me to think ahead about ingredients, combinations and timings now if only I could apply that to other areas of my life.
- I love the idea of being a chef in the Fingerlicious Kitchen
It sounds posh and accomplished but there really is something exciting and adventurous about giving my culinary space a name. Now all I need is a sign and an apron.
- I love feeding people
There is something powerful and magical about tantalising the taste buds of others and dessert always does it. Here is chocolate mousse with coconut cream topped with toasted coconut.
- I don’t like vegetables Okay there’s no revelation there I didn’t like them before, but what I did discover is that I now have a greater openness to try them before I dismiss them completely. There is nothing like a challenge to spur me on.Why else would I have such creative ideas about the butternut squash? Here is my butternut squash bowl filled with quinoa, red onion and mushroom.
And then I had a brainwave the round discs of butternut squash make a perfect base for pizza so I created mini pizza with spicy tomato sauce as the base, topped with mushrooms and vegan cheese.
- I love encouraging and inspiring others to experiment and try something new
Okay maybe that is nothing new, but I didn’t realise I could also do this with food and that people would also ask for my advice and opinion. Here are my broccoli bites with a spicy tomato dip.
- I want to learn to be a better cook
Once you find something you love doing, you always want to learn how to do it better. I’m looking for ways to hang out with the great and the good.
- Necessity is the mother of invention and this works in the kitchen too
It was snowing and I was unable to go out so instead of feeling sorry for myself I sought solace in the kitchen and the result was sweet potato bread. I didn’t even know there was such a thing and in the process, I also discovered that cooking is my new therapist.
- Don’t dismiss things before you try them
I’m so not a cauliflower person so this was a challenge not only in making the dish but also in finding a way to make it palatable for me. Interesting my guests didn’t like cauliflower either but because they knew I didn’t either they were willing to give it a try
- Don’t be afraid to fail
Sometimes a fear of the unknown holds us back. I discovered that once I was in the kitchen I was happy to push boundaries and dive into the realm of the unknown without thinking too much about it. I made vegan cheesecake with cashews and blue berries.
As I took this journey through 12 months of the Fingerlicious Kitchen journey I’m missing feeding people. Watch this space I’ve got an idea about what happens next.