Isa Does It: The guilt-inspired cookbook challenge – The Start (November)

November 26, 2013

I like to buy cookbooks and then never use them. I also like to spend a lot of time looking for interesting recipes, save them to Evernote, and then never use them. I also like to pretend I’m going to one day compile and organize the recipes I tore out of Everyday Food (RIP).

I felt especially guilty buying Isa Does It because my normal pattern is to buy a new cookbook, read the first few introductory chapters, make a list and meal plan, and then get overwhelmed by the shopping and then make a shitty stir fry.

In order to snap out of this pattern, I thought I would try to work through Isa’s new book by making most if not all of the recipes in some sort of random order. I guess kind of like that Julia Child book/movie, but without all the weird gelatin and butchery.

November 23

Alphabet Soup

Alphabet soup
Alphabet soup
First recipe in the book: super simple to make and was great on a cold November night. It gets dark at around 2:30pm and this tomato soup with both potatoes AND pasta made our harshly lit kitchen feel a bit warmer.

November 24

Meaty Chili

[note: all photos I took of this dish looked gross. Isa has a great food stylist/photographer (Vanessa Rees). I don’t know how they photographed chili to look appetizing.]

At first I was like: I don’t need anybody telling me how to make chili, and then I realized I really do, because my chili is just kidney beans. Speaking of beans: beans that cook down and become particles of deliciousness are perhaps one of my favorite things. I would have started this sooner in the day so the lentils could have more time to deconstruct themselves.

This was great on day 1, and even better on day two. I served Nicole’s late dinner of this over a few tater tots that we had in the freezer (recommended).

November 27

Sticky Orange Chicky Stir-Fry

One thing I’m great at is making a bland, uninspired stir-fry. I have tried to up my seasoning/texture game with some corn starch and various vinegars and wines, but they have yet to be elevated. Also, on this quest, any recipe that has “restaurant style Chinese food” in the title will be an automatic read for me.

November 28: Thanksgiving

Lentil-Miso Gravy

biscuits and gravy
Biscuits and gravy are my go-to, feel good, life is short, life is amazing, smell all the roses meal. It combines the best food (hot bread) with the best topping (hot gravy). (I used the biscuit recipe from Veganomicon because of my slow Isa brainwashing that I’m undergoing.) Of key importance was testing this gravy before the main mean (pot pies from Veganomicon). We were no longer tethered to the mushroom for our gravy satisfaction. This was perfectly sharp and salty and smooth.

Chocolate-Zucchini Bundt Cake

bundt cake
I made a test cake the night before with stevia instead of sugar and was ordered to throw it away because it tasted like terrible. The second one worked really well and we used our cake server/punch bowl for the first time since we received it as a wedding present. I think this might have been the first item I’ve ever baked that wasn’t awful/raw in the middle.

November 29


Maybe we had consumed too many lentils by this point, or I didn’t bother with the cashew component. This dish came out on the bland side.


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