Around here, we have a bit of a joke about my apparent inability to follow a recipe. The problem isn’t quite that I attempt some artistic improvisation–not intentionally, at least–but that I tend to realize, just at the point when I’m too committed to risk running to the store, that I’ve run out of some crucial ingredient and so am forced to improvise–out of necessity. No matter how many times I read the recipe beforehand, no matter how detailed my shopping list, this happens almost invariably.
Today, however, takes the cake. While trying to make felafel, I:
- discovered that the tahini I had in the fridge had been recalled and determined “unsuitable for consumption.” Not only did this mean throwing away my (almost full!) jar of tahini, but it also left a vast stretch of empty shelf at the Co-op where tahini should rightly be. Substitution #1: cashew butter.
- realized, while making the cucumber-dill sauce, that I was completely out of dill. Solution: I borrowed some from my mom, to be added to the sauce later.
- made it all the way home from the store before realizing that I had not purchased pita bread. Felafel! Without pitas! Solution: Mitch has been commissioned to pick some up on his way home from work.
- searched and searched all through the produce department, but there was not a scallion to be found. Substition #2: garlic scapes. We’ll see how that goes.
- had planned originally to soak the chickpeas, but became concerned that, though my recipe recommended only an hour and a half for soaking, every other recipe I looked up recommended soaking the chickpeas overnight. By this time I had already purchased the dried chickpeas, and had only three hours left for prep before dinner. Substitution #4: canned chickpeas.
- found, to my surprise, that I had roughly half the amount of chickpeas required. This realization came after I went to the store and after I went to my mom’s (she had, in fact, offered me a can of chickpeas, but I’d declined, confident that I had plenty at home). Substitution #5: half chickpeas, half soy beans.
- opened a jar of cumin, only to find that it was completely empty. Substitution #4: I shook the bottle vigorously over the bowl, and settled for a “fine covering” of cumin, rather than 1/2 teaspoon.
All that, and I haven’t even cooked the felafel yet. Who knows what will come of that?