A Cooking Challenge

So this week I decided to do a bit of a cooking challenge, every Thursday my girlfriend and I get together, usually at my place. Most of the time I cook us dinner, though there’s been times where we’ve gone out to eat instead. Each week I usually try to do something a little different with the ingredients I have at home, most of the time there’s not major changes to the plate as it usually consists of chicken, carrots, and broccoli (the ingredients I’m most likely to have in my apartment). This week I didn’t feel like restricting myself to the limited ingredients I had at my apt, as I’d likely just to make the same thing I had made previously, and that didn’t intrigue me much. So I came up with an idea, I told my girlfriend to go out and get some things from the store on her way over, whatever random ingredients she wanted to have for dinner. At first I think she misunderstood my intention as she looked up a recipe online and planned out a small simple dinner from there, thankfully our conversations of the day revealed this and I pointed out that I was hoping to “work my magic” on some random ingredients. When she eventually arrived she had a couple of bags with a nice assortment of ingredients, of course she pointed out that I need not use all of them (and I did not) it afforded me an opportunity to broaden my pretty narrow cooking experience and work with a few things I never had cooked with. Here’s a Nice list of the items she purchased:

  • Chicken (skinless, boneless breast)
  • Yellow Squash
  • Mangoes
  • Peaches
  • Portobello Mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Broccoli/Cauliflower
  • Chinese Noodles
  • Lite Soy Sauce
  • Chicken Broth

So after some quick thinking (and a taste test of a mango, as I don’t have the taste filed away in my mental taste cards) I set off onto cooking. The items I chose to use for the meal were as follows:

  • Chicken
  • Garlic
  • Portobello Mushrooms
  • Mango
  • Broccoli/Cauliflower
  • Soy Sauce

I also utilized a bit of salt that I already had in my kitchen, and away I went.

First I went through quite a learning experience while handling the mango, the nice hard “center” of the mango proved initial cutting plans futile, and so I eventually settled down to cutting off slices from the surface until I had enough. I then proceeded to cut up three of the sliced portobello mushrooms, a little bit of the garlic, the broccoli and cauliflower, and the chicken. Granted I started my cutting acts with the chicken, but the mango proved more exciting to cut so I had started with that. I took a tablespoon of vegetable oil and tossed it into my all too small frying pan and set my stove up to 6 and waited for it to heat up. Once some smoke started to drift up from the pan (the sign I use to indicate it’s heated up enough for the food to be put upon it) I put the squares of chicken I had cut into the pan and started cooking them, a few moments later I added my chopped up garlic, and then after a decent amount of cooking (the chicken was pretty much at a nice shade of white by this point) I added in the mangos and gave the cooking a few more minutes, to allow all the juices of the mangos and everything to mix. I also added a little bit of salt to try to enhance the flavors. I took all of this and put it onto a plate to wait for later.

I added more oil, gave it a few moments to heat up, and tossed my broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms onto the pan. While cooking them I began to add liberal amounts of the soy sauce into the mix as well as more salt, I cooked this grouping up for several minutes and then tossed it into a mixing bowl.

I added my chicken/mango mix into the mixing bowl and began stirring it all up to try to mix the flavors, I would have preferred to mix them in the frying pan for best results, however the pan was far too small to do so effectively and I’ve learned my lesson to not overfill it in the past. The mix came together decently and I served the dinner with great success, out of the various dinners I’ve made so far I feel this has been one of the best. Admittedly if I were to try again I might add a tiny bit more garlic, and less soy sauce but overall it came out excellent and I feel I passed the challenge successfully, which makes me happy. I’m thinking of trying to turn it into a weekly affair, should the girlfriend agree to these terms of dread, and I say dread as I’m sure to come up with a failure somewhere down the line. Though I look forward to that, because I will probably learn more in the failure than I do with the successes.

As for the ingredients I didn’t use, I hope to cook something up on Saturday using some of them, since we’re planning on doing a nice Star Wars Marathon using the new Blu-Rays we’ll see how it turns out.

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