My Food Habit: May Favorites & Fails

I was recently asked in an interview what hobbies I have outside of music, and since music is kind of an all-consuming lifestyle, I verbally flailed and came up with nothing. So I’ve been thinking, and it occurs to me that since I’ve had a kitchen and someone to food with I’ve been getting into cooking. My life, like most, has always revolved around food; moreso the eating of it than the making of it. I grew up with more than one competent (and territorial) chef in my house. It was easier (and tastier) to let them cook than to compete for the time and space to learn how. But I’ve often had friends with whom I would go on exploratory food dates, and I’ve not infrequently played at venues that payed me wayy too little if the food was excellent. I suppose I enjoy food as a hobby as much as I appreciate it for sustenance, and I’m only just exploring that passion as a home cook. Here’s what I’ve figured out so far:

I have a terrible memory, full stop. Even when I’ve made something fantastic I can never remember what it was. Each day in the kitchen is a new day. So far, my process starts with whatever foods are likely to expire first. I google what we have (usually staples + whatever’s in season and on sale at the local market) accompanied by the hopeful if sometimes dubious descriptor “healthy recipe”, and choose from what the web has to offer. I rarely make the same meal twice. Micky, who is a go-to meal kind of chef, to my great relief enjoys this method. In spite of my inability to recall specifics, I’m getting the general hang of the ‘laws’ of cooking. I imagine some day I might be able to throw something together from scratch. I can now tell from a glance which recipes appeal to my palate and are likely to turn out well, and my success rate is roughly…%90? I’d guess %99 palatable, %80 palatable AND attractive (always a win).

I’m proud of my progress in this department, and even though I’m not going to instagram my dinner I thought I’d document May’s “favorites and the fails” as a testament to what I do sometimes when I’m not musiking.

Chai Spiced Persimmon Smoothie – Since moving to NZ I’ve discovered and fallen in love with persimmons. Which is good, because they are everywhere. They’re sweet, lightly flowery, and beautiful on their own, in baked goods, and in this chai smoothie. 

Health Rating: 5/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 5/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 5/5

Eqq Baguette Breakfast – Micky and I popped into a farmer’s market on the way to the Black Box Theatre Session in Kerikeri and got ourselves a really nice $4 artisan baguette. We had some beet greens and a terribly prolific swiss chard plant which needed using or losing.

Health Rating: 3/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 5/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 5/5

Pearl Couscous with roasted pumpkin and chorizo – Three leftover chorizo and some pumpkin that needed using inspired the Google search. I had recently purchased Israeli couscous because I adore the texture, but had yet to cook with it until now. SO easy and delicious. I loved everything about this. 

Health rating: 3/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 5/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 5/5

Spiced Pumpkin, Carrot, and Sweet Potato Soup – A Little leftover pumpkin from the previous recipe, an apple that was nearing its end, and a lack of pretty much anything else in the pantry except an abundance of carrot and potatoes made this the only recipe that I was equipped to make. It was perfectly cozy and autumnal. BONUS! I made delicious croutons with the remnants of two stale bread loaves. 

Health Rating: 4/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 5/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 5/5

Carrot Cake Banana Bread – We were gifted an entire bunch of small overripe bananas, so…banana bread. This looked dense and unappetizing to me when it came out of the oven, and I’d failed to notice that before we could dig in it needed to sit undisturbed overnight . When I got around to serving it for breakfast a couple days later, I was pleasantly surprised! It is dense, but also tasty and super healthy! I made mine with oat flour. 

Health Rating: 4/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 5/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 4/5

Spicy Indian Cucumber Salad – So brilliant and easy. I had some cucumbers that hadn’t long for the world and not much else except pantry items and condiments. It seemed a long shot, but I googled “cucumber dinner” and ta da!

Health Rating: 5/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 5/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 5/5

Creamy Mushroom Toast – Throwing this one in for the Americans. I LOVE mushrooms and can’t believe “mushrooms on toast” isn’t a thing back home. Here and in the rest of the world touched by England it’s more common than pancakes, and I highly recommend it.

Health Rating: 3/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 3/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 5/5

The Best Chicken Soup – About this time of the month Micky came down with COVID. I googled sickness fighting soup and cooked up this, the following beef stew, and a pear almond crisp in the event that I too fell sick and neither of us felt like cooking. Delicious soups and a good move. 

Health Rating: 5/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 2/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 5/5

Rhubarb Pear Almond Crisp – First time making something with rhubarb from my garden! I bought a bag of Countdown (supermarket’s) Odd Bunch Pears which of course came cheap with the risk of being “odd”. Sometimes that means oddly shaped or imperfect, other times it means already starting to turn. 3 far along pears + 4 ripe rhubarb stalks 

Health Rating: 3/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 5/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 5/5

Classic Diced Beef Stew – I wanted to make a comfort food that would appeal to Micky on a cellular ancestral level. This seemed to do the trick. 

Health Rating: 4/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 2/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 3/5

Avgolemono – Micky soon came out of COVID and I came into it. Now it was his turn to make a comfort soup for me. SE Michigan has a lot of Greek food influence, and our famed “Coney Island”s often have the best Greek salads, soups, and saganaki! Avgolemono (Greek chicken lemon rice soup) has always been one of my favorites! Excess of dill aside, Micky nailed it!

Health Rating: 4/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 1/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 4/5

Skillet Chicken and Mushroom Wine Sauce – Chicken breast not needed for Avgolemono was earmarked for this recipe which I adapted to use as much wine as I reasonable could. Micky and I don’t drink often, and when we do, we don’t usually drink much. This had resulted in no less than three half drunk bottles of wine being relegated to cooking wine. I used one half bottle of wine in this recipe, and it was ace! Now accepting ideas for how to use the other two half bottles of wine. 

Health Rating: 2/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 3/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 4/5

Chorizo Potato Stew – Okay, so we’re making a lot of soups, but they’re hard to fuck up and they’re good for getting extra fluids into you when you’re sick. Especially a spicy chorizo broth. I will drink that shit straight. Throw in Micky’s bonafide garlic bread and I’m sure I can’t stay sick for long!

Health Rating: 4/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 4/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 5/5

Easy Smoked Salmon Sushi Bowl – Our local market has this really great 3/$20 deal that includes ever revolving choices of packaged meats. This month I was able to score chorizo and smoked salmon. Finally starting to feel better, I wanted something that would reflect the lightness that I felt in my body, so I made a (heavily adapted) version of this sushi bowl including rice w/ sesame seeds, sesame oil & rice vinegar, cucumber, carrot, pea shoots, sesame spinach, lemon, ginger, smoked salmon, and edamame. 

Health Rating: 5/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 3/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 5/5

Persimmon Walnut Muffins – Relatively healthy, lightly sweet, and good on the go. The thing about persimmon season in New Zealand is that they are prolific such that if you or someone you know has a tree, you can’t escape them. Micky and I’ve enjoyed a weekly variation of persimmon crisps, smoothies, and these delightful muffins. I’ve got one more crisp or baked good to figure out in order to use up this latest bushel…

Health Rating: 3/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 4/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 4/5

Mushroom Miso Noodle Soup – One more soup! We’re through the worst of COVID and I’m back to gigging, but a dry cough persists and I imagine that soup is the answer. An adapted version of this recipe including chopped ginger, jalepeno, seaweed, green onion, and pea sprouts made my version so decent I would’ve paid for it. 

Health Rating: 3/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 4/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 5/5

I saved the only fail for last… 

Gluten Free Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes – Before COVID hit us, I attempted to make these for a friend’s going away party. The cupcakes turned out okay. The vegan frosting – coconut cream and powered sugar – turned into a goopy mess that made it look an awful lot like a…


So I put jam on the cupcakes, turned the mess into custard, and I cannot tell you how relieved I am that I was able to pull a fix out of the situation! Thank you, Google! Together we got us into this mess, and together we got us out…

Health Rating: 1/5 // Waste Prevention Rating: 3/5 // Satisfaction Rating: 4/5

Also pictured: Lazy cheeseboard dinner, lazy grilled cheese (burnt cheese on the outside 😋), Pumpkin Spinach Feta Pie that I’ve lost the recipe for, and Micky ❤️

Musically yours,


Ps: The Maggie Cocco Band is up next with an all new jazz set & lineup at Comfort Flames Hotel this Sunday June 5th 🎶 Upcoming Posts: Pay WhatYou Can Studio Update, May in Review, Recent Show Highlights, Blackbox Video Session Updates, “Half Light” by Madrugada, Workshops, Book club ✨

Maggie Cocco Music services are Pay What You Can so that persons who mightn’t otherwise be able to afford them have access to quality music education and services. Support Maggie Cocco Music in this mission by becoming a subsidizing supporter on Patreon.

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