3. Make Sushi

I understand that this might be a confusing item to have added to my list of things that stretch me outside of my comfort zone. It's important to remember that what may be commonplace for you, may be a stretch for me. I love to cook. I also suck at cooking. My husband is a great cook. He loves to experiment with things and see how they turn out. He often challenges himself to take on recipes from the most complicated cookbooks, he's not afraid to take chances. It's one (on a long list) of the things that I love most about him, his willingness to wander out on a limb and explore new things, I am inspired by this. I stick to the basics just to be sure that everything turns out and I don't get egg on my face, literally or figuratively. So, this is a stretch for me.

I have a complex and expensive relationship with sushi. I would argue that this is my most expensive habit, my husband would disagree and confirm that I have many more expensive vices (Target). I tend to get a sushi fix at least once a week, if I'm having a particularly bad day, or need a pick me up, sushi is my go-to comfort food. I skip the pizza, the mac and cheese, the Chipotle, and go straight for the raw fish. When I need a night out with my girls, it's usually a sushi date. I love sushi so much, that each time I became pregnant, and had to delete the raw fish sushi from my mealtime repertoire, I acquainted myself with all the rolls containing cooked fish, and then scheduled my sushi rendezvous far enough apart so that I did not have to worry about mercury poisoning. Do you see? I love sushi. I will go to great lengths for sushi. I am always looking for ways to enhance my relationship with sushi. However, combining my repeated failures in the kitchen with my love for sushi, this will be interesting.

As is becoming an increasingly common theme for me here, I didn't want to have to do this alone. I emailed my friend Heidi who has taken a sushi making class before and invited her to our house along with her husband and her son. I figured that if I failed, it could not possibly be pinned on me alone, Heidi could take some of the blame too. Maybe this is one of the reasons I like to do things with reinforcements, then I don't have to take complete responsibility if a disaster ensues. Could this be?

Heidi must have been wise to my plan of blaming her for certain failure, because she emailed me back proposing alternative dates, weeks in the future for this activity. On any other occasion, I would have postponed my sushi making adventure so that I could have Heidi's support (or more accurately, so I could have the option of blaming Heidi for gaffs). Only, I had committed to doing it this week and I cannot let myself down. Looks like this adventure just got... more adventurous.

On Friday morning, I went to gather the necessary items for sushi construction. A few years ago, we were outfitted with the appropriate hardware (the rolling mat, etc.) by a family member who foolishly thought I was brave enough to try making it at the time. So I was specifically shopping for the edible stuff, the nori (seaweed), sushi rice, and most specifically... the raw fish. I met a lovely fish monger at Coastal Seafoods in St. Paul who told me exactly how much I would need and he knew his stuff because he had just made sushi the previous night (he said it was easy, I didn't believe him). It's important to recognize here and now, that a normal sushi outing for me alone would have cost approximately $15 (I told you it was an expensive habit). Taking into account that I was actually preparing sushi for 2, the total cost for all of the necessary goods was... $10, that's $5 per person, and a savings of $10. So, this is my new plan for the Lindstrom family to save money in this rotten economy. I will make my own sushi. I had better be good at this!

The thing that takes the longest about sushi is the cooking of the rice. Sushi rice is just like normal rice, it takes a good 20 or 30 minutes to make, and then it needs to be cooled to room temperature. Once that is done, it's just about getting your mise en place and it's smooth sailing. Smooth sailing, that is, if you've read the instructions. This would be a good time to explain that I have a talent for putting together Ikea furniture without ever opening the directions. I should have a side job doing this. I could easily solicit my assembly skills. I am awesome at it. This is not bragging, this is just a ridiculous truth. Honestly, if I were in a beauty pageant (don't hold your breath), I would have a hard time choosing between three talents for the talent portion; parallel parking, getting pregnant, and putting together Ikea furniture. Unfortunately, sometimes I am mistaken in thinking my Ikea talent can be transferred to anything and everything. Like sushi, for example.

My first roll was nothing short of horrific. It was approximately three times the size of a "normal" sized roll, and could not have accurately been called a "roll." If I'm being perfectly honest, my first and only thought at that moment was, "I don't think I'm cut out for this." I was ready to throw in the bamboo mat. Then I realized how completely moronic it was to give up on sushi. There truly was nothing I wanted more than to make some sushi. Besides, I had not planned a back-up meal - and I was not about to go hungry. I picked up the directions, and tweaked my technique and each roll got easier and easier. I think that the rolling of sushi is all in the attitude (I wonder if they teach this in sushi-school). It takes a little gumption, but if you're a seasoned sushi connoisseur like myself, you know what the end result should be, and you keep rolling with that in mind. By the time I had enough sushi to feed a small army (an army that goes by the name of Colleen Courtney Brady Lindstrom), I had really gotten the hang of this. The good news is, the Lindstroms will effectively be saving $10 a week from here on out! Beyond the amazing financial benefits, I was reminded of a time from my past...

When I first learned to drive I would get lost a lot. I had no concept of direction, and would regularly pull the car over to a pay phone and call my mom in tears (these were the ancient days before cell phones). I admired my mom, because she was so calm in helping me reframe my observation of the situation. She would remind me that in the midst of being lost, eventually with practice I would find my way. This was the case of the sushi experiment. With my first roll, I felt inadequate and lost. When I reframed the experience, I realized that a little problem solving (and maybe a little peek at the directions) would get me to where I needed to be.

I am not a fan of the word "fail." The word "fail" denotes an inability to try again. If you fail it is final. You have failed. You are a failure. Nothing about that word inspires you to dust yourself off and get back on the horse. Had I believed that that horrible and embarrassing first roll was truly a failure, I never would have gone on to make the super awesome rolls that my husband and I gobbled up in a fraction of the time it took to prepare them. This is important to remember as we go through life, inevitably putting ourselves in situations where we are bound to falter. It's okay to trip and fall every once in a while, but the important thing is to pick yourself back up and find your way.

Next week, I'll learn to play a song on the piano. Please follow this blog and check back often!


  1. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/category/sushi

    step by step for perfect sushi rice (with a printable recipe link)

  2. She has class 2 up now - this is really an excellent site if you've never been...


  3. I love your post and your writing style. I have never tried sushi...I am too afraid. What does it taste like? I am curious. It looks delicious! You did a great job!
    P.S. I LOVE salmon...is it anything like that? ;)
    I know...probably not...


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