Internet Lentils

On our first night of vegan week, brought to you by Thug Kitchen, I attempted White Bean and Red Lentil Burgers. I have made their Smokey Bean and Spinach Sliders before and they are da bomb. Best veggie burger I have ever had. Saying that about my own cooking is a little cray, but I think it’s the liquid smoke in that recipe that makes it the best thing since sliced bread.

Now I’m not going to give the recipe away here, even though I saw some bloggers online writing it out. Ya’ll should probably buy their damn cookbook like they intended so you can smell the dead trees that mother nature paid for. Let’s go over the highlights. Keep in mind that my husband and the cookbook have tried to drill in my head that I need all of the ingredients and the correct ingredients at that.

15 ingredients total, I messed up 5 of them.

Ingredient #1: Red lentils.
Firstly, I have never heard of or had a lentil in my lifetime. My trusty friend Aaron tells me they’ll be near the rice. Ok, that sounds like something I can handle. I picked out a bag that says “lentil”, seems like the right thing to do. Later I find out that there are multiple types of lentils and I definitely picked up brown instead of red. But it’s all got to be the same, right? I mean, rice generally cooks the same in the rice maker, so why wouldn’t lentils? I’ll just follow the recipe (and not the bag) on how to cook them and call it a day. Hmm. These little fuckers are hard. Am I sure they’re done? It’s not like I’m cooking chicken or any sort of meat, so it shouldn’t really matter? Sure, yeah, whatever, moving on to the next step.

Ingredient #2: Jalapeno, minced.
I omitted the jalapeño because fuck that, that’s scary. Ever been in a knife fight with a jalapeño? Shit ain’t fun.

Ingredient #3: Red Onion.
I totally forgot to pick one of these up because we were in the produce isle for 100 goddamn hours trying to pick everything out for the week and couldn’t get the damn produce bags open. So I gave the fuck up.

Ingredient #4: Your favorite no-salt, all-purpose seasoning blend.
What the actual fuck does this mean? Again, my trusty friend Aaron to the rescue, explains to me how this works. Never heard of such a thing. I have some Italian seasoning, does that work? When I went to the store, apparently they had never heard of such a thing either. Why would I even have a favorite seasoning? My favorite seasoning is bland AF, do ya got that, grocery store?! Thinking you’re all smart with your alphabetical order seasonings. Why don’t you go hang out with some CDs, another alphabetical, takes up too much awkward space in my house, infectious breed of junk. Fuck it, let’s use oregano, it brings all the boys to the yard. I need a milkshake break at this point.

Ingredient #5: Zest of a lime.
Seems like a goddamn waste to buy this little fruit just to tear its skin up for the sake of a few flavor bits. Fuck it.

I will say that cooking all of the ingredients and forming them into burgers wasn’t too earth shattering. I was thinking, alright, not too shabby, gonna cook up these burgers and then chow down. Boy was I wrong…

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As someone who has never had a lentil before, I didn’t think twice about the lentils being so hard. Until Joe pointed out that some of them were impossible to bite into. I then did something you’re never supposed to do when cooking, feeling sick, or making a website (only 2 of those are correct in this statement). I googled about lentils. Turns out, red lentils cook way faster, thus the recipe calling for them and describing a short cooking time. And the brown lentils I used take for fucking ever to cook. I go on to read that eating the uncooked lentils can give you severe abdominal pain.

Do. Not. Want. Stop Eating. Now. I start texting all my friends, HALP 911 LENTIL EMERGENCY. While my friends agreed that the lentils were not cooked, they said I would be fine eating it. I got too scared, like I always do, and stopped eating it. While Joe ate the whole damn thing and lived a happy healthy life.

That’s the last time I ask Stack Overflow about lentils.

On the real though, I’m going to make these again, and make them the right way. It was a very different flavor profile for us and I was excited about that. The few bites I did try were damn delicious despite my oversights.

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Thug Kitchen is my Spirit Animal

I spent a whole Saturday reading through the first Thug Kitchen cookbook and then that week ahead I spent the whole week making recipes from it. They were devine recipes, language and all.

If you don’t know about Thug Kitchen, you need to peep dat shit. I’m pretty sure Thug Kitchen is my spirit animal. I hope no one thinks I’m trying to copy them by the way I write, I just, I get it.

The first thing you need to know is that they use some ris-kay language. Which is GREAT. It really makes the recipe reading hold your attention. And they call you out if they know you’re being a little bitch. I need that in my life, because I am often being a little bitch.

The cookbook had so much more than just recipes. There was a section on how to marinate and bake tofu. I’ve been doing this for years now and have never tried it the way they presented it. I am turnin’ dat oven up to 11 next time I bake some mother fuckin’ tofu.

They give a nice list of must-haves for the kitchen to get your started, from kitchen utensils to kitchen cabinet essentials. I felt pretty good to know that I already had all of these things. Hell yeah, just a modern day cooking artist right here. Note: Melon Baller was NOT on the list. Fuck that thing.

The most helpful section to me was about learning how to substitute ingredients in a recipe. If you don’t have this, just use this. BUT don’t try to substitute a green pepper for an onion because that shit just isn’t the same. And what did I do during my week of trying Thug Kitchen recipes? For every recipe I tried, I forgot an ingredient or 2 and tried to substitute. Some were successful, some were not. I could hear them cursing at me in my head each time I fucked up the dish. More on that later.

I guess what you really need to know is that Thug Kitchen is a vegan cookbook. Though I feel like if I never told you that, you wouldn’t have been able to guess it. The recipes are so rich in flavor and full of ingredients that you don’t even notice the meat is missing. Even the cheese. We made tacos without cheese and it was still baller. The healthy ingredients are off the chart, your heart will be feelin’ extra strong after a week of Thug Kitchen.

I went through the whole book and didn’t write any of my favorites down. I was like shit, I have to go back through this book again to find dinners for this week? Luckily, our trusty friend Aaron was here to handle this for me. He flipped to random pages and those were the dinners for the week – easy peasy! Unless you’re Aaron, it probably wasn’t so easy for him. I say this because I am a difficult person.

Here is an example:
He flips to tofu tacos. While this excites me, I am also immediately against it because it combines tofu and tacos which means that we cannot have a taco dish or a tofu dish again during the week. He is flabbergasted. He explains to me that there are very different types of tacos in this book, I could have tacos all week long if I wanted to. Same with tofu, there are many different flavor profiles that tofu can have, so why not have it more than once a week? He goes on to say how tofu is a bean, just like black beans, which is also something I only like to have once a week. Well, folks, we had a week of different types of beans thanks to Aaron convincing me that I am ridiculous.

The weeks menu looked like this:
1. White bean and lentil burgers with fries
2. 5 spice chinese stir fry
3. BBQ bean burger with peach salsa
4. Tofu scramble tacos

The grocery list was long AF. I asked if I had to get real broccoli as apposed to the frozen broccoli I already had. Aaron insisted I do so. I told him this was too much fresh produce! He said “it’s one section of the grocery store!” Ok fine, you win. What happens when we get to the store? Joe is like, “why do we need all this produce?” BECAUSE AARON SAID SO THAT’S WHY.

It was fun cooking with things I have never cooked with before though. Aaron got a picture of our dinner every night that week only to be upset he wasn’t there to eat it with us.

Hold on to your butts, this is going to be a wild week of vegan cooking. Stay tuned to hear how I fucked these recipes up.

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Failed Improv

It’s been a year since I last updated and don’t get your hopes up that this means I will update again. This must also mean that I have more confidence in cooking and fail less. That one is up for debate. Here’s a story about how I failed at thinking I could make up a recipe.

Things I Had:
– 3 pounds of yukon gold potatoes
– frozen morning star fachikin
– 1 avocado
– a bunch of spices
– an old red onion

Things I Didn’t Have:
– everything else.

The recipe I tried to make was called Roasted Potato Cups with Loaded Guacamole which was inspired by http://potluck.ohmyveggies.com/roasted-potato-cups-loaded-guacamole/

I thought I could dress up the potatoes with the taco-ish spices and then stuff smashed avocado and a piece of fake chicken inside. Sounds good, right? Errrrr.

Step 1:
– Cut potatoes in half
– Scoop out potato flesh with melon baller or teaspoon
– You can bake the potato flesh balls and it will be like a tater tot

My Step 1:
– Ok I’ve cut the potato in half, but there’s still a big chunk left here in the middle
– What is a melon baller?
– Is this a different kind of teaspoon then the usual measuring device? Is there something I don’t know about teaspoons? Do they double as knifes? How is a round thing supposed to puncture a raw potato?
– Dig a spoon into the potato as hard as you can, which is not very hard, and nearly impossible
– Try to use a knife to cut a hole and then scoop out with spoon. How do I make a knife cut round? Whoops wen’t all the way through the potato with that slice.
– Are the potatoes going to cook if I barely cut any flesh out?
– Give up after a few potatoes and just cut into fries

Step 2:
– Bake the shit
– Prepare the shit to stuff with

My Step 2:
– Shit bakes unevenly because different sizes
– Microwave weird morning star fachikin strips that are nearly freezer burned and feel super rubbery
– Taste weird fachikin
– Cry.
– Cut the avocado and worry that it is too far gone to eat

Now, we eat. Or we don’t eat. Depending on how you feel about this mess.

Lessons Learned:
– Potatoes make everything better, but nothing can make a weird fachikin better
– Avocados are delicious, but guac is better
– Lucky Charms for dinner is good too.

This look was appropriate (this image size is pretty appropriate too):
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French Fry Spill

Guys, I’ve been having a lot of spills lately. I don’t know what the deal is. And as frustrated as I get, I am still determined to make meals better than spegetti and tacos. I don’t know if this counts as a fail, seeing as how the cooking part is still happening. But it sure feels like a fail when your shit splats everywhere. 

You know what annoys me about recipes? Ridiculous titles when all you’re really doing is boiling some noodles and adding a store bought sauce. “Roasted encrusted pan seared twice cooked salmon smothered in winter vegetables with a green chilie sauce”. Bitch all you did was put some salmon in the oven after sprinkling pepper on top and again on the stove and added a jar of sauce after you microwaved your vegetables. Ain’t nothin special about that so quit tryna sound so special in your title. 

The Internet can be so deceiving. But it works for me because adding more than one spice is like standing on one leg, wobbly and I usually fall.

I wanted to make my own French fries with some seasoning, sounds simple enough, right?

Well, first you have to figure out how to cut a potato into French fry shapes and potatoes have odd curves sort of like women so that was difficult to figure out. Whatever, they’re smaller than the potato originally started and that’s all that matters.

Then I threw some junk in a bowl – olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, chili powder, and tossed the potatoes in. “Tossing” is such a difficult thing. I’m standing there like dancing with a bowl in the kitchen hoping that the fries get equally coated. Wonder if this is a technical term in the cooking world, “tossing”.

The recipe says to lay them on foil and use non stick cooking spray, but of course I ignore that because I’m a badass bitch.

After the oven took its sweet ass time preheating, I finally got to put my large pan into the oven. Except oh no, I don’t. Because I drop it all over the oven door instead. I have fries seeping out of my oven onto the floor and I hold back from a hissy fit because dudes, potatoes are a luxurious item. I can’t live with this tragedy. I’m all like MAN DOWN MAN DOWN CALL A MEDIC!

I guess the good news is that I also have a smaller pan of fries, so I’ll stick those in. Oh speaking of sticking, they stuck to the pan like a tongue on a pole in the snow. 

So fuck you french fries, I’m ordering pizza that I don’t even like on the one day that it isn’t half off because the Caps didn’t play the day before.

Sorry potatoes, YOLO.

Cats be like, wtf ma?

  
  

I’m good at something!

I decided one rainy night that I wanted, what I call, “A Frank Dinner” (AFD!). The main ingredient in an AFD! is garlic. You basically want to leave your house smelling like garlic for days and have to brush your teeth 2-3 times to smell normal again. The only downside is the vampires it attracts.

An AFD! also typically consists of salmon and a green vegetable. I devise the plan for lemon pepper salmon and rosemary roasted potatoes and asparagus. Of course, all of this is covered in garlic too.

I had never cooked salmon in a frying pan, never roasted potatoes successfully, and never roasted asparagus. YORO (You Only Roast Once)…

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Things:

  1. I was told that different types of potatoes need to roast at different temperatures. So I googled red potatoes this time for ultimate success
  2. I’ve got this garlic mincer, but how do I get it equally across everything? Welp, I’ll just toss it all over and hope for the best (same with the rosemary)
  3. I dribbled olive oil all over everything a tablespoon at a time
  4. Salmon in a pan, hmmm.
  5. Salmon in a pan.
  6. PUT THE SALMON IN THE PAN!
  7. Heat the olive oil in the pan first?
  8. Heat the olive oil in the pan second?
  9. Just do it already.
  10. Sprinkle so much lemon pepper on the salmon that it looks like a mass pepper murder
  11. 5 min each side, wow this is working…
  12. Oh I got this handy dandy meat thermometer, let’s use that…
  13. IT’S GOOD!

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The verdict: “Wow, you’ve been lying to me this whole time, you really can cook” – Joe.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh yeahhhhhhhhhh.

It’s safe to say the house and us smelled like garlic for days. AFD! success! The rosemary also got everywhere. It’s like the herpes of cooking, can’t get rid of it!

Stay tuned to find out how repeating this recipe resulted in a few fails…

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Knife choppin’

I really need to learn how to use a knife. I remember going to get one for Joe as a present and there was a knife guy in the store. He asked me to step up to the cutting board and try the knife out and it was super embarrassing. Apparently you need to stand a certain way. Right because my legs have to do with my hands, that makes sense. It’s just like sports with having to have the right form and shit. I don’t do “form”. I do things the Jess way.

I tried to cut a lemon to make flavored water. And, well, this is what I ended up with as trash:

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Im not sure how/why I wasted so much of it. Alls I know is you gotta cut the butts off! Hey, at least I used a serrated knife.

Onions are quite possibly the worst. I’m feeling all good about my cutting ability as I get it down to four pieces. Then it falls apart like a Jenga game. I also feel like I have to hold my breath while cutting it. As soon as I breathe, all hell breaks loose in my eyes, nose, and throat. I try all the silly tricks like putting a spoon in my mouth. I think next time I’ll wear goggles. Oh my eyes, they burn! I do find it fun when you get down to smaller pieces, you can just start chopping in every direction along the cutting board. But when you eat my food, you definitely are not going to get even pieces of onion in your dish. Srs I’m not srs.

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While we are on the topic of onions, can we discuss purchasing them for a moment? I am looking for a yellow onion in the store. Sure, my eyes see a yellow one. But yellow doesn’t always mean yellow, stranger things have happened. The sign says “onions sweet”. Oh, okay. THAT DOESN’T HELP ME. Is it white or yellow? Do I need it to be sweet? Is a yellow onion sweet? Is a white onion the same as a yellow onion then? I HAVE QUESTIONS PEOPLE.

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I’ve been seeing commercials for The Worst Cooks in America and I’ve come to find out that they’re doing a celebrity edition. This makes me feel better about not getting a call back *glare* BUT they are advertising not knowing how to use a knife. Me either dudes, me either. I’m not sure I would survive on that show simply because I can’t get the basics down. Oh the messes I have made.

I prefer to just break things apart, like these delicious Hello Kitty cookies. Break, bake, and go!

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I’m just going to become a shark and cut things with my teeth instead.

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Garlic Worms

One of the hardest parts about cooking is having the right amount of the ingredients and using them before they go bad.

Recipe says: 4 tomatoes, 3 cloves garlic, 1 cup basil, 1.5 pounds pasta, 3/4 cup olive oil, 1 pound brie = Tomato Basil Brie Linguine

I have: 4 tomatoes, 2 cloves garlic, a pinch of basil, 1 pound pasta, 2/3 cup olive oil, 1/2 pound brie = Garlic Worms

So this recipe will work, right?

I’m a huge fan of brie although that shit is expensive. I couldn’t even find a pound of it on the shelf for sale. Basil goes brown over night basically so that’s always a wash, as delicious as it is. Pasta is sold in pound boxes, I don’t know where they get this 1.5 pound idea from. But I can always count on tomatoes to be there for me, I sure don’t get why they gotta be on a vine though.

Since I had all these odd measurements, I thought I should lessen the garlic and olive oil too. Yet this still came out tasting like a pound of garlic. Linguine also looks like worms. Garlic worms. I am eating worms that taste like garlic.

You basically chop all this crap and set it on the counter for 2-4 hours.

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It says to dice the tomato, so that means I cut it up in the most irregular pieces possible.

Oh, then it says to tear the brie into irregular pieces. Finally something I know how to do! Until I realize they’re just playing a sick joke on me. Have you ever tried to tear cheese before? Tear sticky cheese. It’s just stuck to my hands! Thanks a lot, I bet the cookbook people are laughing.

And then my trusty friend the garlic press, we meet again… PS: why is the garlic purple?

Basil, you smell so delicious, I love you, why you gotta brown so easily?

It takes me at least an hour to chop all of this up, but it’s so pretty…

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Time to boil the pasta, can I break these noodles in half first? It doesn’t say to, so I won’t. Oh, the noodles stick out of the top of the water, real cool. Oh, they slipped down a second later, okay then. More noodle power to ya.

Now I have to mix it all together, as if that is an easy task. Why would you combine really long noodles with a mixture? How is it supposed to get in the cracks and spread evenly? This would have been better with bow ties. Does it even matter what type of pasta I use? I HAVE QUESTIONS! I wonder if there is a recipe hotline. 1-800-RECIPE-HLP

I’m really glad I didn’t use the 3 gloves of garlic because this tastes like a pile of garlic. Joe ain’t mad doe.

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And the cats are all like, facepalm. facebutt. faceplant. faceplace.   IMG_0955

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The Worst Cook in America

Getting married is awesome because you obtain a bunch of new kitchen supplies. Most of which I do not know how to use. But I will say that they make attempting to cook more enjoyable. I couldn’t tell you what half the nonsense was in Crate and Barrel where we did our registry. Do we need this? What is this? Why is it this shape? I guess we are going to find out in the coming months while we attempt to use these new fancy bojangles.

I watch a lot of Food Network, which doesn’t aid me in my cooking techniques at all, but hey it’s entertaining. One day I caught an episode of the show The Worst Cooks In America. I thought to myself, holy shit, I could be on this show! A show dedicated to not knowing what you’re doing? How perfect! Basically there are 2 teams that learn from famous chefs and you get sent home if you don’t measure up to the challenge.

I decided to go on their website and see what the auditioning process is like. Like most companies, their website lacked the content I was looking for. It had casting dates for the past, so I wasn’t sure if I could fill out the application at anytime – I emailed them these questions and never heard back. Until a few months later, I got a response that casting was open and they would be updating their site soon (yeah right).

I headed back over and filled out the lengthy application. Then I received an email asking me to fill out an attached questionnaire, a day later I received a reminder to fill it out. Girl, slow your roll, I’m gettin’ to it. It had the same damn questions. How many times can I answer “What is your most embarrassing kitchen story?”, “Do you have any kitchen phobias?” Honey, there are not enough lines on this application for me to fill out my probs.

I was walking around Home Depot one Saturday and received a phone call from Cali and normally I don’t answer strange phone numbers, but I had a feeling. It was a casting guy! Asking me the same damn questions again. He was super nice and I enjoyed the conversation. This was shortly after the Baltimore Riots, so of course I was asked about that too. He said if they chose to cast me, he would call in the next few weeks…never heard back. Bummer.

But I would like to think this means I made it to the final rounds of casting and I am a runner up to being The Worst Cook in America. 😉

To combat this horrible horrible loss, my matron of honor got me a book for our wedding titled “The I Don’t Know How To Cook Cookbook”. This book is ahhhmazing! It has the definitions for everything you could think of, even SPOON! It has little tid bits like how to brown ground beef. All sorts of things to answer my daily questions when recipes don’t explain things fully. It also has a lot of vegetarian recipes which is always ideal. Only thing it’s missing is pictures, ha.

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I don’t think I ever would have made it passed the first round on Worst Cooks… I can’t even use a knife properly.

Plus, I’d miss my cats if I was gone for a few weeks. Check out these rad pics my matron of honor’s husband took the day of our wedding…

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BBLK PHOTOGRAPHY

Tofu shakin’

A tofu press may look like a strange torture device, but it is actually a magical and wonderful device.

Its got many plastic pieces along with a spiraly metal piece. I would think this spiraly metal piece could be use to harm someone, but really it is just helping your tofu out.

Don’t know anything about tofu? Don’t know why you have to press it? Sucks to be you, you’re missing out.

Tofu wants to absorb the flavor you are trying to put into it, so let it do its job.

No matter what type of tofu you buy – soft, firm, etc. It is a good idea to press the water out of it first. We used to do this by stacking a bunch of random heavy kitchen appliances on top of it. But now we have this sweet press!

You drill the spiraly metal guy on top of the tofu and the pressure sucks the water out. The water builds up inside the little torture container and then you can dump it into the sink.

Unless you’re me.

If you’re me, you forget one of the plastic pieces and you end up drilling the spiraly metal guy into the tofu itself. It’s cool, now we have some design going here. I can never be left alone, I swear.IMG_0647

Now if you do it right, you let it press for a little bit. Then you can fill the container with a sauce of your choosing. You can then sit the container in the fridge for a half hour or over night, whatever your little heart desires. The more soakin’ time the more flavor savin’ slime.

If you do accidentally drill the spiraly guy into your tofu, don’t fret. Just keep on trucking. Don’t forget to cut the tofu before putting the sauce in. If you’re me, you can’t cut straight and end up with the oddest shapes of tofu. If you’re an adult, your tofu turns out beautiful.

I then preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 45 min. We’ve been using teriyaki lately and after pressing, soaking and baking, you get a good little crisp to the edges.

Don’t hate on tofu until you try making it yourself. A lot of the times people try it at restaurants where it is too squishy for them. There are many ways you can make it, but I find this to be the easiest.

Tofu shakin, all around, pump that jam, while I’m chown’ down.

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(PS: check out Flat Rat Studio for more cool signs like this one)

Make your own mac n cheese they says, it’ll be easy they says…

Happy New Year!

Last year I made some mac n cheese and while a lot of dumb happened, it tasted like a lot of good.

“Easy Southwest Mac N Cheese” – easy they says…

I look at the list of ingredients and the first thing I notice is that I don’t like half of them. But I like mac n cheese, so I guess this will end up good. One thing I am definitely omitting is the onions, onions are not mac nor cheese in my experience, so it’s gotta be ok. Everything else can stay, for now.

First I need a big ol’ pot for just the garlic. Why such a big pot for just garlic? Do I put the garlic in the nutcracker press? I’ve never not done that with garlic, is this supposed to be different? I swore I read it 5 times and saw nothing about that. Because I am home alone, I text my trusty side kick Jackie. She says “are you sure it doesn’t say mince somewhere?” Oh, sure enough, it does! I was also doubling the recipe so it becomes like 4 little nubbies of garlic, pressed (minced? same thing?) into the big ol’ pot. Seems like a lot. This part you are supposed to combine with an onion, but I say hell no to onions. The recipe says that they should be “soft and transparent”, so I’m waiting for the garlic to appear this way and it’s just turning brown. Guess that means I burned it. Can I still eat it? Did I ruin the whole thing? I don’t care, lettuce keep going.

Turns out the transparent thing was about the onions, not the garlic. Good to know, thanks a lot, not specific directions. Not to mention the directions say “saute”, excuse me? Come again? You could at least throw a link in there to explain what “saute” is. You know I don’t speak mexican!

Here the cats are, trying to escape in case I burn the house down…

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Next was easy: Drain the diced tomatoes, then add them to the pot with the frozen corn and chili powder. Continue to sauté until the corn has heated through. At this point I assume saute means just leave the burner on and stir. Why can’t we just say that instead? I also never trust recipes with spices, they always call for so little of the spice. What is the point if you’re only using a little bit? I say go big or go home. I might regret this shortly.

Turn the heat off and add the drained pasta and Greek yogurt. Oooooooh okay now I get why we are using sucha big pot. I don’t particularly like yogurt either, but I am trusting this recipe here.

Stir until the pasta is coated in the creamy sauce. Add the cheese and stir until the residual heat has melted it into the sauce. If you pasta has cooled too much to melt the cheese, keep the burner on low as you stir the cheese into the sauce. Didn’t have to worry about that last part, thank jeebus.

Serve hot sprinkled with the sliced green onions. Well, my green onions were a bit old. I sent a picture to my trusty side kick to see if I could still use them. Just had to cut some bad parts off. I didn’t realize that they needed to be chopped super fine, I had chopped them kind of big. I don’t particularly like green onions, but it probably made sense for this recipe.

All in all, it was actually very good! The burnt garlic didn’t ruin it, though I did use a lot because it was a bit spicy for me.

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