As of last week, I'm cast free! So I am officially back in action with the culinary expedition. Of course, I never fail to miss one ingredient every recipe... so it only took 3 trips to get all the items for the upcoming dishes. Note to self (and every novice chef): read through the recipe at least twice before shopping OR starting the recipe!
It makes it hard when you mix up where you're shopping... and the lack of availability for products I'm used to (i.e. arugula) at mainstream grocers made it a challenge. I rarely stray from shopping at Whole Foods Market - and not only because I work there. I know where everything is, what they carry, the quality I can expect. So sometimes it comes around to bite me when I go off the beaten path!
Then there are the items you keep forgetting that pop up at just the right time. I was buying some wonderful dry goods and spices in bulk at By The Pound, and saw asafoetida, the ingredient I was missing from a few months ago. Warning: this stuff is insanely strong and your entire house will smell like it. I now understand why it's known as "devil's dung"! Apparently the smell improves as it is cooked, so I'll report back after I use it. But for now, it's in a jar, inside a bag, inside a jar.
If you aren't already buying in bulk, you should. It's far more affordable (especially for small amounts of unusual spices), and much better for the environment with the packaging. All the Natural Foods stores in the area offer a good amount of bulk products.
Now it's time to start cooking!