It all started innocently enough.
I saw the recipe online and thought it looked both intriguing and delicious.
That was my first clue to cease and desist.
As I have shared many times, the kitchen is not my friend. Nothing about me in the kitchen is intriguing. I cannot cook to save my life. Yet, in moments of utter insanity and optimism, I throw caution to the wind and dive right in, believing that this time, things will be different!
Upon hearing that I was planning to make something called “Vegan Spinach Lasagna” my husband announced that he was headed down to the finished basement to watch the movie “Apocalypse Now.”
An apt description of what was about to happen.
Since the recipe was online, I had my laptop sitting on the kitchen counter. Before beginning, I decided to declare my culinary intentions on my Facebook status. My cousin Sarah, who is a lifelong vegetarian immediately replied: “You are MUCH braver than I am.”
Nevertheless, I plunged right in. My mom happened to be sitting in the sunroom, which is open to the kitchen. She was supposedly reading her Kindle, but I now think that she was just treating herself to a front row seat to the spectacle that was about to unfold.
Since the recipe is vegan, one obviously cannot use a container of ricotta cheese for the lasagna. Instead, I was to place firm tofu, raw cashews, lemon juice, garlic,spinach, and half a cup of nutritional yeast (among other things) into a food processor. I was assured that once finished, it would be a suitable (and tasty!) imitation of ricotta cheese.
Except that it was green and non-dairy.
Since I do not own a Cuisinart, I surmised that a blender would do just as well.
I dumped everything inside while trying to ignore the look of increasing alarm and revulsion on the face of my mother. (Seeing the huge block of tofu nearly did her in). I placed the lid on all that nutritional goodness and looked for the button labeled “blend” on my blender, since the recipe clearly stated that I was to blend the ingredients.
No such thing. (Strange, since it is called a blender).
My options were: stir, chop, mix. pulse, puree, liquefy.
What to do?
I asked my mother for help. She said that I really should have used a food processor instead of a blender.
For the record, let me state that this was not helpful advice since I already had a small fortune in ingredients loaded into my blender.
She suggested the “chop” option, since I was dealing with raw cashews. So, I pressed the button.
The machine immediately made an impressive whirring sound…and then stopped. Utter silence.
I tried again. Same thing. Nothing was moving.
Then I heard a rather strange sound. My mother had positioned her Kindle in front of her face and her shoulders were shaking.
She was laughing!
“I’m sorry!” She gasped, in response to my (rightful) offense.
Then she proceeded to collapse into more giggles.
Clearly, I was on my own.
I re-read the recipe, which informed me that if the mixture was too thick, I needed to add more vegetable broth. I was happy to hear this because the only vegetable broth I could find at my local grocery store was the organic brand that sold for a whopping $3.99. Imagine my irritation when I got home and realized I only needed two tablespoons for this recipe! So I liberally poured the vegetable broth into the blender and it worked its magic by causing the blades to happily spin.
I poured the green “ricotta” into a bowl and declared it to be delicious after a quick taste. (I will admit that this was more a declaration of desperate hope than actual fact). I offered it to my mother, whose expression suggested that a bowl full of nails would be preferrable. She politely declined and disappeared behind her Kindle.
Undeterred, I plunged ahead.
I carefully followed the recipe, layered my lasagna, covered it with tin foil, and placed it into the oven to bake.
My daughter wandered into the kitchen halfway through the baking process. Immediately, she wrinkled her nose and said, “What is that awful smell? Did something die?”
Not a good sign.
For the last 15 minutes, I was to remove the tin foil and add the vegan mozzarella cheese.
If you have never purchased fake cheese, it is not cheap. $5.99 will buy you eight ounces of a substance that is “dairy, lactose, casein, gluten, soy, and cholesterol free.”
(Let me emphatically add that it is also TASTE-FREE! But I digress).
In addition, big red letters on the packaging declare that it “melts and stretches!!!”
I don’t know about you, but I always look for a cheese that stretches.
I had begun this endeavor at 7:30. When I finally took the dish out of the oven, it was 9:20.
Online, the recipe looked like this:
And then there was my version:
It really is a wonder why the Food Network has not called to offer me my own show.
This is my mother’s reaction:
To her credit, she had bravely stepped up to the plate, ready to take a taste.
She just couldn’t do it. In fact, one look and she literally gagged.
She could, however, do this…
There was simply no containing her gales of laughter.
I don’t blame her.
This vegan spinach lasagna was without a doubt, the worst thing I have ever made.
And that’s really saying something. Oh, the stories my family could tell.
To prove it, I called our dog Buddy into the kitchen. He came running, tale wagging happily because he knew a treat awaited him.
I placed a small piece on the floor for him.
He gingerly approached. Sniffed. And walked away!
This, from a dog who will happily return to his vomit and begin eating it.
After dumping the entire dish down the sink, I headed downstairs to my husband.
“How did it go?” he asked.
“It was horrible.” I replied glumly.
“Of course it was,” he said.
I have announced before that I am finished forever with cooking. I made that very same announcement last night before I went to bed.
However…I know that sometime, somewhere there exists a recipe on the world wide web that will one day call to me, promising that this time will be different! That I can finally make that one dish that will be treasured by my family for generations to come!
Our illusions die hard, don’t they?
In reality, my family will most likely join with a man named Storm Jameson, who once said of a loved one, “She did not so much cook as assassinate food.”
Sad but true.