Day 1 Cooking Challenge report: the terror of slicing an apple

By on Apr 30th

Today is Day 2 of Offbeat Home's Cooking Challenge, wherein we see if Offbeat Bride's Managing Editor Megan, a complete non-cook who lives off of cereal and frozen meals, can go an entire week preparing her own meals.

Each day, Megan will recount how yesterday's cooking went, and we'll share the next day's recipes prepared by Cat Rocketship (who SWEARS you can afford better food!). Feel free to cook along with Megan, if you'd like!

Report from Day 1 (Sunday)

(Click here for Megan's meal plan)

Where I hit the wall

This is where I hit my first wall.

See those apple slices on the right? That sight alone was enough to completely freak me out, just MINUTES into my first Offbeat Home food challenge. That cut in half apple was far as I got on this challenge before running into a problem.

Cat wants me to cut those pieces into flat thin slices. HOW THE FUCK DO I DO THAT!? Googling "how to cut an apple into thin slices" is seriously not helping me. I'm running into the same thing that stumps me every time I try to cook: reading directions that are making my eyes blur over and giving me Derp face by step number three.

See, THIS is why the Offbeat Home food challenge was invented: to help me and all of us that are cooking inept. SOLIDARITY!

Thankfully, I have a great team behind me — Cat, who is making up all the recipes and then running them by her user experience-writer husband to dumb it way down. Ariel who is cheerleading all the way and giving advice on how to ignore the "backseat cookers." My mom who came in clutch this morning with apple cutting instructions. And a good group of friends, who are doing things like helping me shop, teaching me how to not chop my fingers off, and my neighbors, who are professional chefs, hooking me up with fresh farm eggs.

Join me on the beginning of my cooking journey and together we can learn how to cut a fucking apple.

The preparation

The grocery list

The grocery list.

Yes, that is three pages worth of food and items I'd need for this week. A lot of it was things like milk, butter, spices, bread, eggs, etc. All of the things that most people buy and/or just always have on hand. But since this is Megan-the-anti-cook, and my fridge looks like this, I had to BUY ALL THE THINGS!

Along with being unable to make food, I also experience anxiety when I go grocery shopping. I have actually got my shopping for the week down to what I'd compare to a finely choreographed dance routine — hitting the same spots of the same aisles in the same order at a fast pace — in order to get in and get out ASAP. So THIS was going to be more than a challenge, it was going to be a learning experience. Of course, the essential for ANY learning experience is someone to help teach you. I asked my buddy Alex (who's in town from traveling around the world getting married over and over again) to come with me on my shopping trip.

I believe this is Alex's "are you fucking kidding me?" face.

I believe this is Alex's are-you-fucking-kidding-me face.

If it weren't for Alex, I'd probably STILL be at the grocery store looking for hoisin sauce (turns out it's a sweet Asian sauce), and looking for chick peas when they're apparently also called garbanzo beans. Then after all that I would have brought home broken eggs — turns out, you have to check the carton before putting it in your cart! We're learning here folks.

The food prep

This is the most groceries I have ever purchased in my life.

Two hours and $200 worth of groceries, a strainer, and a mini crock pot later I was prepared.

Breakfast Day 1: Bagels with goat cheese, apples, and honey

The first #OBHfood challenge: bagels with goat cheese, apples & honey — success!

Like I said, I hit a wall TWO steps into making breakfast. Cat told me to "thinly chop apple slices," and I just froze. (I know, that's pretty lame, but remember: SOLIDARITY here, Homies.) How-what-which-what angle from which to attack this half an apple?

Thankfully my mother hit me up on video chat right as I was almost 15 minutes into a freak out and she walked me through the steps. I didn't record it, unfortunately but I took some screen shots. If anyone out there hits this same roadblock just let me know and I'll help you out.

But in the end, after learning how to thinly slice an apple, I had four gorgeous goat cheese, apple and honey bagels. And they were DELICIOUS!


Photo of success by 2people1life.

Now lunch was a different story…

Lunch Day 2: Curried egg salad sandwich aka. the sandwich that took me two hours to make

The curried egg salad sandwich that took me two hours to make. #obhfood  (photo taken before remembering to add the lettuce)Here. Here is a stupid shitty picture of the fucking sandwich that took me two hours to make. Fuck you sandwich. You were tasty, but by the time I was ready to eat you I was shaking and exhausted. I was bested by a damn egg salad sandwich.

Why does anyone ever make egg salad sandwiches? It took FOREVER to boil the eggs, than let them cool, then peel them, then learn how to chop them, then realize oh crap, four eggs won't be enough, boil more eggs, chop all the other ingredients, realize I don't have table or teaspoon measuring thingies, chop the second batch of hard boiled eggs, then mix all the ingredients, then put the egg salad between two things of bread, remember about the lettuce, add lettuce, then eat.

The best part of making this lunch was that my neighbor, Ari Kolender, who is a professional chef de cuisine gave me colorful farm fresh eggs with which to make my sandwich. Look at how cute they are!:

Got some colored eggs for my next #OBHfood meal! It's nice having chefs as neighbors.

Yes, those are green eggs! I had so much fun working with colored eggs that I felt bad peeling them when the time came.

Also, if weren't for Ari, I would have had to run out and buy more measuring spoons. Fortunately Ari, getting hungry enough, just eye-balled a tablespoon of curry pepper for me. (Ssh, don't tell Cat!)

When it was all said and done, after two hours, I served myself and a professional chef my curried egg salad sandwich. I wolfed it down hungrily, Ari ate half, then wrapped the second half up in a napkin and told me that he was going to take it with him to his apartment and "save it for later." Mmm hmm.

I'm telling you, if this is what cooking is like, I know now why Cat takes so many baths. This shit is STRESSFUL. And I still have to make dinner tonight. Sigh.

So tell me: is anyone else doing this along with me? If so, how was YOUR experience? I encourage all my other non-cooks to play along and feel my pain and my joys and tomorrow we'll talk about how today's meals went! I only just got done with Day 1 lunch and I've already learned so much.

The recipes for Day 2

If you want to cook along with Megan, here are the recipes she'll be working from on Day 2. They've got loads of cheese, strawberries, and dark chocolate!

While Megan will do full posts each day, you can see photos and follow her Offbeat Home cooking challenge adventures real-time, too: @meganfinley #obhfood

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About Megan Finley

Megan Finley is the Associate Publisher for the Offbeat Empire. When she's not slaving away for the Empire, she's sharing her dork side on her own blog, Twitter @meganfinley, and Instagram @meggyfin.