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.
"Now I'll never have my own show on The Food Channel!"