May's recipes taught me some new and valuable lessons. The first and most obvious lesson was that I need to become familiar with ingredients before using them in dishes. My experience with the Peruvian pepper sauce, aji amarillo, reiterated the fact that a good cook knows what they are using in a dish and uses that ingredient appropriately.I also learned that I am a very determined person. I've mentioned that I do not get paid a cent to write this blog and truth be told, very few people even read it. I am writing this blog primarily for me, to document my experiences and ensure that I learn from what I'm doing by taking the time to reflect on it. There really is no external reason to make every recipe in Gourmet magazine each month but yet, I keep doing it. Why? I am enjoying the experience, it gives me purpose, keeps me focused, allows me to use my creativity and eduction. I don't want to stop and even though some nights, it would be much easier to go out, order in, or make a sandwich, I have committed myself to this project. I can't bear the thought of failing to accomplish what I've set out to do. That all being said, I have begun to think about when to change or adjust my goal. The blog "Cooking Mag Mommy" doesn't inherently imply that I must make every recipe from each month's Gourmet for the blog to continue. There will have to be a point where I no longer make every recipe from every month and that point may be sooner rather than later. I will be home 6 days in the month of June. I will spend the rest of the month either in Maryland or New Jersey while Richard continues to work at the other offices of his company or I will be up in New Hampshire with my parents. I'm sure I'll get to do some cooking in the corporate apartment or at my folks but I don't know about 50+ recipes from the June issue of Gourmet.
That also leads into the next question I've been grappling with while writing this blog this month. How important is it to me that other people read this blog? This blog is very specific and appeals only to a very certain group of people, namely those people who get Gourmet magazine and like to cook from it. Should I be making an effort to "publicize" my blog? Do I want to do that, fearing that some may find this blog boring and repetitive? I've never been a "PR" person, I don't like selling things, and though I wouldn't say I'm an insecure person, I do get sensitive at times about the opinions of others.
Wow, that was a hefty bit of self analysis for a cooking blog! Now for my favorites and least favorites. I had trouble choosing a clear cut favorite for this month and my top three were all simple but flavorful. I suppose it's cheating to have 3 favorites but I've written quite a bit about other things and the pictures will liven up the text so here they are. The first recipe I did of the month, the Penne with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Arugula, combined health and flavor in a way that is rare, even in Gourmet. So often, really healthy dishes lack a richness that comes from fat based meats or garnishes. This almost meat free dish (ok, 1/4 lb of pancetta) was an excellent example of a flavorful way to reduce meat in the American diet. The heavy cream added some fat and richness but still did not take this pasta over the top in the calorie count.The Shrimp and Scallion Dumplings were a revelation to me. I always assume that something made in a restaurant takes some special skill that I don't have. The flavor of these dumplings combined with a simple soy sauce dip was identical to any I have had in an Asian restaurant. I don't need to go out to eat any more. Ok, I will but it is nice to know I can make a dish that tastes just as good at home.
The Grilled Beef Brochettes stood out to me again for their simplicity and flavor. A simple marinade and the grill made these Peruvian appetizers absolutely delicious. I hope to make these again soon now that grill season is upon us.
As for my least favorite, this month was a gimme. I really disliked the Florentine Stewed Calamari with Swiss Chard. There was just no saving grace to this dish. The calamari was chewy and flavorless, the chard was bitter and soggy, and the only recognizable flavor was crushed red pepper. This dish was one of the all time worst because there just wasn't any way I could have seen it being any better. It was not a dish for spring, or for any time of year, for that matter.