You know that cooking show on the Food Network, Chopped?
For those of you who aren’t familiar, let me introduce you. There are four chefs to start and they have to cook through appetizer, entree and dessert in a timed cooking challenge. After each round, one of the chefs is ‘chopped’ (perfect, right?!). The curve ball to this cooking show is that the chefs all get a basket with a few ingredients (example: a whole fish, daikon radish, matcha powder and gummi bears) and all the ingredients must be present on the plate for the judging (and it has to taste good, obvi).
The connection between my life and the hit television show is that lately, it’s been like the basket on Chopped when it comes to cooking anything for myself. Except it’s a race against time which isn’t a clock but rotting produce. I haven’t quite learned to control myself in the produce section at the grocery. I get really excited when I see rows and rows of fresh produce in every color of the rainbow. Eggplant, zucchini, squash, kale, cauliflower, tomatoes—I can’t help myself. As a consequence, I come home with much more than I need for myself and end up wasting and I can’t stand wasting produce.
Last week, as produce was rotting away in my fridge and I contemplated Orange Leaf for dinner—again—I decided to get up off the couch and cook something. So with the aid of some classic Jeff Buckley (and some red wine) I got busy. I cut up and boiled a head of cauliflower, I broke out my cast iron ovenware, I set to work chopping some sweet potatoes and apples and lovingly placed them in the dutch oven with some pork chops that I’d seasoned. I drown it all in some vegetable stock and threw it in the oven. It was, effectively, my own version of Chopped without the gummi bears.