Thursday, August 25, 2005

Kitchen Confidential

It sucked to be me in the kitchen this week.

I am not in any way a trained cook -- I'm sure a real chef would spontaneously combust upon watching me work -- but I like to think that what I whip up is fairly edible. I do my bit for potlucks, bake sales and whatnot without breaking into a nervous sweat. People ask me for recipes; that's good, right?

But this week, for some reason, I lost my touch.

First there was the Bar Cookie Incident. I'm not sure how you can ruin a bar cookie, but I managed to do it while trying to reprise my successful Polka-Dot Blondies -- I forgot something, or put too much of something else in, and completely ruined them; wound up scraping half-melted M&M's off the top with my finger and eating the technicolor mess just to keep from wasting it. (Bonus loser points for violating my diet.)

Then there was the Kasha Incident. The paternal side of my family hails from Eastern Europe -- the German colonies that Catherine the Great established in Russia, as well as that border area between Prussia and Poland that changed hands about every sixth months back in the old days -- so every once in awhile we'd have borscht or kasha or some other Slavic dish at home. And back during my crunchy granola student days, I'd occasionally buy a scoopful of bulk kasha at the food co-op and cook it. Well, the other day I noticed some kasha at our local bulk store and bought about a cup of it to make, for old times' sake. So last night I'm being the Good Daughter, getting a head start on tonight's supper, and I'm trying to make the kasha. I brown some onion and mushrooms; set them aside; make some seasoned broth and set that aside; brown the buckwheat groats a little. For reasons not immediately clear to me now as I'm writing this, I decide to skip the traditional step of first mixing the kasha with some beaten egg before heating it in the pan. You know what happens when you omit this step, then pour the cooking liquid on the kasha and bring it to boil? Oh, let me tell you: You wind up with a disgusting bruise-hued mush, punctuated by a few hard buckwheat kernels. It looks like something you're fed in Treblinka, in solitary, if you've been very, very bad. I was so aghast I immediately took the pot outside and dumped the contents in the woods, where I suspect it probably disgusted a host of other life forms as well.

I was able to redeem the supper menu by quickly cooking up some bulgur to mix with the onions and mushrooms -- had this with pork chops and winter-mix vegetables; it was pretty good -- but my two-fer of culinary disasters has me spooked. We're eating takeout tomorrow night.

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cmhl said...

every day I spend in the kitchen is pretty much a disaster--- at least you have some successes!! love your blog!

Charlotte said...

Heh. There was the soup I made that I cut my fingernail while chopping for, and my gas match exploded during the simmering (too close to the burner). I called it the cursed soup.

Then there was the time I put baking soda instead of baking powder in the lemon bar mixture. The fizz was pretty but not very tasty baked up.

As a home ec teacher said when I told her about soda/powder, "My kids do this all the time. I tell them that's what my class is for, to make mistakes in."

I have done eggless kasha, but not more than once, and it was a long time ago. My sympathies.

Eat some take-out, then get back in the saddle. You'll be fine.

HeyJules said...

Thanks for a very funny post! We've all had our share of kitchen disasters, haven't we? Mine tend to be more "equipment" based than food related though. Just last year I took half of the side of my thumb clean off while trying to cut potatoes on a mandolin. Serves me right for using some fancy appliance thing when I could have just used a plain old grater.

Anyway, thanks for a good giggle!

LutheranChik said...

Well, folks, I'm walking on the wild side tomorrow morning by attempting banana French toast...wish me luck!

LutheranChik said...

She's back! The eggless banana French toast was a success -- you buzz a banana and a half, maybe 3/4 cups of vanilla soymilk, 2 TBS of brown sugar or maple syrup, and some cinnamon or nutmeg. (I threw in some flaxseed meal just to thicken it a bit...and because I'm being a health noodge.) You have to use a non-stick pan because it's inclined to stick...but it turned out really good...made the whole house smell like banana bread.

J.C. Fisher said...

Aha! I knew it: your Slavic heritage (announced by your last name, LC! I just noticed it on the envelope you sent me).

I'd pronounce your cookies delicious . . . but I'm honestly saving them (will try soon! will try soon!). They look good, promise! :-D

As far as cooking goes: I'm said to be pretty good, but I'm just an ad-lib cook. Whatever's around, I throw it into the skillet (or the rice cooker: my FAVORITE prize from the agonizing divorce-division!)

If something turns out "not so hot"? Eh: "it's all going to the Same Place anyway" is my usual rationale/rejoinder! ;-p