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say it with me now, “om nom nom”

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I try pretty hard to feature original ideas for my food, and the cost is a lot of failure. Buckets of the stuff. Ugh. And as I move away from tried and true recipes toward completely new ones, it gets harder and harder to have a backlog of material if something doesn’t work out. This, coupled with my procrastinatorial nature, leads to a lot of fruitless nights.

Let’s discuss food philosophy a moment. Tastiness is tantamount. That’s one quality I can never bring myself to sacrifice. But the economist in me is always trying to balance out two other priorities: cool factor, calorie control & time to cook. Okay, three other priorities. Anyway, back to my point, sometimes something really REALLY satisfying and light doesn’t look like much of anything, and it’s worth it, because, well, it’s really REALLY tasty and hello skinny (like my homely Shrimp Surf ‘n Bake). Other times it’s just too heavenly NOT to share, and I cite as evidence the most amazing food Crisco can make (spoiler: it’s whoopie pies).

My recent neglect of calorie control has manifested itself in the form of an additional five solid pounds, a development that in itself is not a big deal, but I find that five pounds quickly becomes 40 for me, so my attention is important. To that end, I tried to return to my weight watching roots and had this great reinterpretation of Huevos Rancheros. I have exactly one problem with this recipe, and it makes it such that this will never work: eggs take for-freakin-EVER too bake inside a tomato. Forever. After 50 minutes of baking, the egg white was woefully inedible. I can’t justify spending any more time baking something just because it’s a neat way to do it.


Guts salsa.

Tomatoes, stuff.

The beginning of the failure.


I’ll admit that this photo really looks quite tasty. And I’m sure it would be, too, if it didn’t so cavalierly scoff at safe food handling practices. It’s tough to illustrate the slimy clear uncooked egg white smeared all over this dish, but I assure you it’s there.

 It would be a yummy mess if it didn't violate safe handling practices.

This cake pan, where I threw all the salmonella-laden refuse, shows a clearer picture of the dinner’s inedibility.

Discard bin.

There might be some merit to cooking the salsa properly, then frying an egg and serving it in a roasted tomato shell like that, but I felt the tomato flavour was just way too pronounced and difficult to overcome with what I threw into the salsa there. I did try making a tomato tube (instead of a tomato cup), throwing the egg at the bottom and salsa on top, but after 30 minutes it became clear that the egg white was rising and doing its whole “stubbornly not cooking” thing.

So that’s what I did last night. All I have to offer in terms of actionable food is not so much a recipe as it is an idea: fruited oatmeal is never as sweet as it should be and always seems to require additional sugar to balance the tartness. So I made a mango puree—one mango seems to do it for about 1 cup dried oatmeal, or four servings. I’ve dubbed it “Mangoatmeal,” because it’s vegan and I wanted to give it a name that made it sound decidedly non-vegan and even possibly cannibalistic. Also, because that was just the most obvious portmanteau.

Some visual notes.


My mango will never be elegant.

Let the sun shine . . .

If I called it "Mangoatmeal," would that imply it is not, in fact, vegan?

Eh, I'm not vegan anyway. Mangoatmeal it is.

Hopefully this weekend I will be cooking up a storm so I have something to report other than “my cooking skills cannot keep up with my creativity.” I have to say, though, I actually find most of my failed creations to be quite amusing. They say you learn more from your failures, and it’s true. Luckily I’m also quite adept at laughing at my own folly; it genuinely amuses me. So no need for consolation. I got a good laugh and a good lesson out of this deal.