Wednesday, August 08, 2012

the vegan shepherd's pie and okonomiyaki debacles

"Soon" is admittedly more like "later" in my book sometimes, but I do deliver in the end. 

In most of my posts, I share pictures and descriptions of things I throw together that generally taste good, look decent, and I consider successful. Like all aspiring foodies though, there are times where we attempt something different or something new and... well, to put it bluntly, sometimes sh*t just doesn't work out.

The first disaster: vegan shepherd's pie.

I bought this from Eden (my favourite grocery store, too bad they don't deliver) during one of my vegetarian weeks. I call this particular dish vegan shepherd's pie even though I think the ground round is technically not vegan, and not marketed as such since its manufactured in a location that also processes milk and eggs. I'm not a hardcore veggie or vegan, so I don't mind such things. I'm not really sure about whether or not committed vegans can use "contaminated" products (so to speak), so if you know, please share!

I boiled some waxy potatoes and sweet potatoes and drained them. I sauteed the ground round with an onion and... honestly, I don't remember what the green bits are. Some sort of vegetable stem I think. At this point, I HAD ALREADY MESSED UP. How? Because I'm an idiot who operates on autopilot sometimes. Let me explain: 

Recently, I had purchased a jar of coconut oil, because Jenna Marbles on her blog was all like "hey guys this stuff is the bomb, use it in your food and on your hair/skin", and because I really enjoy her blog and videos, and I'm into health/natural living, I was just like "kay". So I went and bought some, and had been using it in my smoothies and to sautee spinach and whatever.

It became a habit. I had actually made a mental note to myself when I took the ground "meat" out of my fridge that I SHOULD NOT cook it in coconut oil, but I did it anyway.

The sad thing is I didn't even realize the error I'd made until I ate it. The first bite was okay. The second was less okay. The third was like, "what the hell is this?" Fail.

What makes me consider this unsuccessful is that it was not the flavour I was going for at all. On top of using the wrong kind of oil, it was underseasoned, and the coconut flavour made the sweet potatoes far too pronounced. Final verdict: too sweet yet bland, and weird tasting. Do not want.

The next episode was the time my roommate and I tried making okonomiyaki, a Japanese dish consisting of savoury pancakes typically made with flour, eggs, some meat, and vegetables. 

It started out rather promising - it's supposed to be easy to make, and you can throw in whatever you want. Emily saw a friend make it, and we were pretty confident it would turn out delicious. Har har har.

The whole point of okonomiyaki is that you can use ingredients you want. So we were like, "cabbage is good." And proceeded to use like 6 cups of it. Mistake.

What else is good? Chicken. Grabbed some chicken.

Once we had mixed all the wet and dry ingredients together, we were like "hm, this batter looks pretty runny. Oh well, maybe it'll firm up in the pan."

Did it firm up? Yes. Did it hold together?

No. Not at all. FAIL. It looked like scrambled eggs! It completely fell to pieces as soon as we tried to flip it. Terrible.

So we said, "well, how do we make this batter bind together"? ADD MORE FLOUR. And we kept adding more flour. And then even more. Do you know why this was a terrible idea (more terrible than other occasions of adding excessive amounts of flour)? Because for some reason, we had gotten toasted flour. Why. Why. Why.

Did it bind together? Yes, clearly. But how did it taste? Sort of like a cross between smoked bread (if such a thing ever existed) and charred bits of can't-quite-figure-out-what-I'm-eating. I suppose the smokiness was not bad per se, but once again, because it was so far from what the dish is supposed to taste like, it was a disappointment.

By far these dishes weren't the most delicious things I've made, but in the end they were okay when it was 2am and I was hungry. And at the very least, they were great for the laughs.

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