Here's what I've been thinking about so far. In list form.
- Never have I ever cooked orzo...why is that.
- I like the idea of making something that makes whomever is eating it do something. For example, how "exciting" is it when you go to a restaurant and a dessert option is make your own s'mores? A little bit exciting.
- Rice pudding popsicles. That's something I thought of.
- It might be cool to take two dishes with different ethnic tastes and merge them. The common factor maybe being orzo or rice.
- Cooking scares me sometimes. I'd much rather bake and so I'm going to extremes in my mind to figure out some way I can make orzo into a cookie. Probably not possible, and definitely not delicious.
A couple days later...
This is my first mind map:
The result was fried rice pudding arancini balls. I thought this may have been the best idea ever. Ever. It was a dessert, the flavor combinations were endless, I COULD MAKE A SAUCE. I got my arborio rice for a thicker consistency, my whole milk, and made rice pudding for the first time.
I think I hate rice pudding. Maybe it's because I stood over a stove for half an hour, trying to make the pudding super starchy, or maybe it's because I might be slightly lactose-intolerant.
(Notice: Throughout this blog post you will be viewing poorly lit and composed photos. You're welcome.)
It tasted fine, but the idea of making a fried rice pudding ball wasn't exciting to me. I knew I was capable of coming up with more ideas, and I'm pretty sure it had been done before. I actually wonder if it would have been successful had I gone through with it. Too bad.
Later that week, I made my second mind map, still clinging to the idea that I could make a dessert.
So I tried something. I tried to make a rice pudding pumpkin pie. Because it was seasonal and I like pumpkin pie and it sounded good. When the first hints of fall appear, all I can think about is cinnamonandpumpkinandmapleandapples and I can't escape it. First I made a pumpkin rice pudding (still with the arborio rice) and then poured it on top of a graham cracker crust. It didn't taste...bad. It definitely wasn't exciting...it didn't seem too innovative...I kind of just didn't want to eat it. Back to the drawing board!
Please enjoy this kind-of-mind-map at the bottom of my Dramatic Literature notes. The class was talking about colonialism and I was thinking about rice. Again.
I needed to get away from the idea of making a dessert. It wasn't going over too well and I needed to challenge myself. I still liked the idea of making something you could eat with your hands, kind of a street food thing. I knew I liked the idea of using a classic rice dish and so I tried to think up as many as possible. By the end of my mapping, I had two top dishes: paella and jambalaya, both of which I've never made before.
I thought making egg rolls was pretty smart. They seemed like street food to me, I liked the idea of making a dipping sauce, and I also liked the idea of merging two types of cuisine. My first attempt to make jambalaya was a vegetarian attempt. Here's the thing, guys. Guess what? It didn't taste like jambalaya. Because there was no meat. I had to buy the meat, you guys. Aside from the meat issue, I tried using rice wrappers for frying the egg rolls in and because I thought I may get brownie points for using rice in two different ways. No dice. Unless your mouth wants to encounter a lot of weird, chewy bubbles, leave those for the raw spring rolls. Please.
Basically what you'll see here are a couple of Jimmy Dean sausages fried in multiple layers of Saran wrap.
The next morning I headed over to the Seward Co-op to get myself some andouille sausage. I'd like to add that I've never purchased sausage in my life. Also, I picked up some spring roll wrappers in the frozen food section of United Noodles. My second jambalaya attempt turned out remarkably better. Cooking everything in the fat rendered from the sausage made everything taste better (Oh, really? Meat actually makes things taste better?). No, yeah. So much better. The rice cooked up perfectly this time, just the right consistency. The spring roll wrappers I bought worked SO. MUCH. BETTER. They actually looked like egg rolls.
Now, the sauce you see in the picture is made up of two kinds of mustard, mayo, and paprika. I like it, I'm not sure if it masks the flavor of the rolls yet...but I'll be serving it.
Why didn't I ever try making something with orzo? The texture of it wasn't intriguing to me and I felt it couldn't be manipulated as much. The different varieties of white rice and how crucial it is to so many dishes around the world offered up so many possibilities.
This project was super challenging. A lot of the time I had to ask myself what innovation meant. I was constantly worried that I wasn't being innovative enough. In the end, I'm pretty pleased with what I decided to make. I think it's interesting to consume a well-known dish through a different kind of...container. After seeing everyone's finished products in class, I wish I experimented more with the texture of rice, it's purpose in a dish, and, scientifically, what it's capable of. Instead of just taking a classic rice dish and doing something different with it, I would have liked to use rice in a more non-conventional way. I appreciate this project pushing me to use ingredients I don't normally cook with (meat.) and to develop ideas through a design lens. The first lecture we had concerning some basic design concepts and how they're implemented in the food business helped jumpstart my creative process and allowed me to think in a way I'm not used to. Always keeping in mind, "Have I seen this before?" and "Do people want this?" was helpful throughout the process.