Iron Chef: College Ingenuity
So when I was invited to a pot luck by a school friend with whom I'd never hung out off-campus, the stakes were raised. I don't want to be the person who brings a bag of tortilla chips -- I mean, really, people -- but I also didn't want to sacrifice the loaf of bread I'd baked that day.
I want to make a halfway
decent impression on new people.
I had most of a farm share still hanging out in my crisper. Plus, lately I'm on a quest to rotate my pantry stocks, and thanks to Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
, I've accumulated bags of random whole grains. And there was a Thanksgiving theme to contend with.
Add that together, and somehow I managed to whip up a pretty good salad, if I do say so myself -- and all without laying out any additional cash and using existing tried-and-true recipes, which is always an excellent bonus. Otherwise, I tend to try some random recipe that I've been eyeing and then screw it up somehow because I was in a rush and forgot to add something in the middle and wind up apologizing for my cooking and the missing cake because it's all over the bottom of my oven and the fact that I just showed up late.
, you can adapt the general framework of the whole-grain salad to just about any season, and it makes a good quick meal for yourself if you're not due at a pot luck that week. With the exception of some obvious odds and ends (olive oil, salt and cranberries), this was also a completely local dish, which is always really satisfying.
As a compulsive cooking overachiever, I have a tendency to see pot lucks as a challenge: How can I make something totally novel and awesome...yet avoid shopping? It's like