Posts Tagged ‘cooking fiascos’

…would have to be yesterday. Trader Joe’s frozen biscuits. I’m always looking for new ideas on what to make in the mornings, fast, that Dee especially can eat for breakfast. She usually has no more than ten minutes (at least for Em, I can scramble an egg and make toast).

I found these biscuits, six frozen cubes in a box. They look like raw clay or some sort of construction spackle. Directions say, Heat oven to 400°F, place the squares in the middle of a lightly buttered baking sheet, place sheet in the center of the oven for ten minutes, and wa-la, fresh hot biscuits.

I was in a hurry, didn’t let the oven heat fully. The biscuits after ten minutes had started to melt from the bottom up, but after 15 minutes they resembled molten cubes, the tops still half-preserved, like small buildings partially collapsed. They tasted OK but looked not at all like something a 13-year-old girl would find appetizing. I fed her slices of a Bartlett pear instead.

I don’t have many major cooking fiasco stories. My cooking errors add up in small immeasurable bits. They hardly make a sizable hill. I don’t like to cook generally, it’s more a chore than a pleasure, and when I get into a rhythm I’m not prone to making big mistakes.

I once heard someone say that if you never miss a plane, you’re spending too much time waiting in airports. I suppose if you never have a cooking fiasco, you’re spending too much time dabbling in the kitchen and not enough time creating feasts. I dabble, except for the occasional new recipe.

Recently I tried a garlic lemony coriander chicken recipe, from India, and it was lovely, a burst of flavor. Garlic breath for days. It wasn’t terribly hard, took about an hour, maybe two. I thought, I ought to do this more often, try new recipes, but when it’s 5:30 pm and Em is asking, What’s for dinner?, I don’t have the wherewithal (not to mention fresh cilantro) to make something different.

Jim’s been cooking since I got back from Vietnam. Tonight he made a roasted chicken. Seven nights without my even thinking about what’s for dinner, and I think, I ought to go away more often. He makes it seem easy, pulls something out of the freezer and wa-la, it’s 6ish and I hear his voice, Dinner’s ready.

But I know he’ll get tired. We all do. The rotation through a pretty dull repertoire—turkey cutlets, tacos (haven’t made those in a while), roasted chicken, buffalo burgers, spaghetti, pasta puttanesca, ribs. I mean, it’s not like they’re aren’t a good number of meals to choose from, but after 365 days even 20 choices seem small.

Nowadays the challenge is to try new things and plan ahead. Today on the exercise bike at the gym I saw a recipe for shells, those jumbo type, with Italian sausage and spinach and cheese filling. I thought, I should make those. Mom always made stuffed shells, she had her repertoire too, some of which I’ve adopted, but I forgot about shells.

Kids’ll love ’em, the article said, and I did love them as a kid. Not a lot that can bomb with giant shell pasta, ricotta cheese, and sauce.


-related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC – COOKING FIASCOS

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Mix-Up!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Mix-Up!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Mix-Up!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Have you ever had a cooking or baking fiasco? These Holiday Rocks may look perfectly normal, but peer a bit closer — they are blonder than the delicious Rocks that Mom makes. And the taste buds don’t lie! They were bitter and a LOT drier. We made the mistake of using year-old nuts from the freezer, whole wheat flour from last year’s Holiday baking, and (the icing on the cake) we grabbed the baking powder when we should have added baking soda.

What’s the difference between baking soda and baking powder? Baking soda is bicarbonate of soda (NaHCO3) which when combined with an acidic ingredient, such as vinegar or the lactic acid in buttermilk (the sour milk in traditional Rocks), releases carbon dioxide which forms into bubbles in the food. Baking powder contains baking soda along with cream of tartar and a starch. The mixture of baking soda and an acid in powdered form, combine in liquid to create the same reaction.

According to Kitchen Savvy, baking soda, combined with an equal measure of cornstarch and twice as much cream of tartar, can be used to replace baking powder. However, baking powder generally should not be substituted for baking soda since this will leave excess acidic compounds in the food which may affect flavor, texture and color. Whoops!

Did I mention our Rocks were also bitter? Part of the bitterness was from the baking powder. The other part was because the pecans had been in the freezer for a year and had gone a bit rancid. We threw the first batch of Rocks out (the squirrels loved them!) and took a trip to the store for new ingredients.

It wasn’t until the second batch that we discovered we had used the baking powder instead of the baking soda. Round two tasted alright (and we did eat them all) but they were dry and crumbly and the dates were chewy.

On top of all that, we tried to make Frito Pie over Thanksgiving and, guess what, the pinto beans never got soft. We soaked them overnight, then simmered them over 7 hours. When Liz mentioned it to her mom, she told us if beans are too old, they never get soft, no matter how much you cook them. Back to the store for fresh pintos!

Tis the season to spread a little Holiday food cheer and most people are cooking up a storm. We touched on cooking fiascos in the comments on one of our Thanksgiving posts. Care to share the times when your cooking or baking flopped, fell, melted, stiffened, or took a dive?

If you don’t have any culinary nightmares, when’s the last time you had a good food fight? (One of my favorites is from the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.)

Grab a line for a Writing Practice, then, 10 minutes, Go!

My first cooking fiasco…..

My first food fight….

The last time I bombed in the kitchen…

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

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