My Biggest Meal Prep Recipe Failure

Okay let’s get to it – this week’s recipe was a failure.

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Looks okay…right?

It tasted good on the first day but on the second day, all the olive oil had hardened into a solid oily mass surrounding the shriveled asparagus. Like icebergs crushing the hull of a trapped ship. The texture and taste were seriously compromised. With “Make Now & Eat Later” Kosuke and I try hard to find simple make-ahead recipes that taste just as good (if not better!) as time goes on. But this recipe simply not deliver.

Kosuke valiantly tried to rescue the asparagus by cleaning each spear using a paper towel. One night, he got confused between the oily paper towel and the freshly cleaned asparagus and threw away the asparagus. That’s how bad it was! The salad could not be distinguished from a dirty scrunched paper towel. 😦

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Why am I sharing this failure recipe?

After reading that, I am sure many of you are thinking – Why on earth is Jessy still sharing this awful recipe?? (Well, in my defense, the asparagus did taste pretty good on Day 1. So maybe it was not a complete and utter failure.)

I am sharing this recipe because I fear failure and I am working on getting over that fear. Not so long, a Princeton professor posted a CV of his failures. It was refreshing to see someone so accomplished admitting that things do not always work out. My experience in the kitchen is a record of that. Sometimes I cook too much for the week and have to throw food away. Sometimes the salad is shockingly salty. Sometimes I forget an ingredient and substitute badly.

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And sometimes my food is just downright ugly. What is that brown puddle???

I have read lots of beautiful food blogs (unlike my very amateur one) and always wonder how many times the blogger had to make the recipe before it succeeded. How many cookies did they bake to get that perfect shot? I mean, we all mess up sometimes (even though I hate to admit it).

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About to go sailing. Wearing my I’m not so sure about this” face. (Photo Credit: A. LeClair)

Avoiding new things to try to avoid failing

I guess, most people don’t want to look like a failure. But my deep fear of looking like a failure firmly emerged in childhood. According to family stories, my dad thought that I might have some kind of speech disorder because I used so few words. He wrote all the words that I could use on a single index card. His point was that my vocabulary was so limited that it filled only a few lines of the card. (I wonder if that card still exists somewhere in my parents’ house…)

In the end, it turns out that I learned to speak just fine. But it took time because I was afraid to try new words. I would stubbornly practice by myself before trying new words.

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Nervously giving a Japanese presentation in college. (Photo Credit: M. Matsui)

My fear of looking like a failure followed me into college. My avoidance of failure made learning Japanese a real struggle. There was just no way that I could participate in class without making some mistakes. I had to try (and fail) in order to improve. My Japanese college classes were a daily exercise in speaking up, even when I knew that I would often fall on my face. It was painful. But that experience encouraged me to be braver and to try other things that I might have avoided.

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(Photo Credit: M. Labella)

Here are just a few things that I tried:

  • joining my college’s horseback riding team (and competing just weeks after getting on a horse for the first time)
  • trying to learn to ice skate (in class my teacher complimented me on my graceful way of falling down)
  • taking an internship at the JFK Library when I have absolutely no background in library science, history, or politics
  • living without running water, electricity, or internet for a summer
  • moving to Japan
  • being the first foreigner to join the Kyoto City Zoo volunteer program
  • entering a graduate program in a field where I had no previous coursework
  • starting this blog

I definitely am not succeeding at everything that I try. But I am starting to enjoy the fun in trying. One of my Japanese professors once told me that I am good at turning “bitter” experiences into “sweet” ones. Maybe that is my way of learning to deal with my failures. If nothing else, at least I can tell a funny story about the time I messed up!

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My first horseback riding show. At least, I got the hairdo right. (Photo Credit: M. Labella)

Honey and Mustard Marinated Grilled Asparagus

So without further ado, here is the recipe that failed. Maybe I just messed up the directions. These are the original directions translated from Japanese to English. Hope you all fare better with this recipe than I did!

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Asparagus, 1 bunch

Olive oil, 3/4 cup

Vinegar, 2 tablespoons

Honey, 2 tablespoons

Mustard, 1.5 tablespoons

Salt, 1.5 teaspoons

Pepper, some

  1. Snap off the tough part of the asparagus spear at the bottom. Toss with a small amount of olive oil and spread in single layer on a baking sheet. Grill under the broiler on high until the edges start to brown slightly.TheGreenTurnip_AsparagusMustardDressing_3.jpg
  2. Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  3. Transfer the grilled asparagus to a storage container and pour the dressing over the top. Cover and store.

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ADAPTED FROM“焼きアスパラガスのマリネ”FROM “作り置きそうざい.”

Want to learn more about simple, Japanese-inspired weekly meal prep? Read “What is Make Now & Eat Later”… Wondering if the prepped food stays fresh? Check out “Does the Food Really Stay Fresh“?

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Come back on Monday! New recipes and random musings posted here every week.

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3 thoughts on “My Biggest Meal Prep Recipe Failure

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