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Monday, November 22, 2010

When Bad Things Happen in Good Kitchens

Many people who don't cook all year long feel pressured to get in the kitchen this week. Should you be less than thrilled with your results on Thanksgiving Day, I thought I'd commiserate with a few failures of my own.

My friend Ranie and I decided in junior high to bake the "Better than Sex Cake" from our school's cookbook. We weren't sure what went wrong with the dry, flavorless cake we produced, but we decided that whole sex thing didn't seem like much to look forward to after all.

Several years ago, I cooked potato soup to feed my church study group and refrigerated it until our meeting the following night. Chatting away with my friends, I forgot to keep stirring the soup as I reheated it on our host's stove. The result: my carefully prepared soup tasted as if it had been simmered with cigarette butts. Thank heavens for the cornbread my mama made to go with it.

Reheating was also the root of a tough lesson learned as a child--and one that I unfortunately learned again last week. Wanting to help my busy grandmother prepare lunch, I removed a ceramic container of vegetable soup from the refrigerator and put it on "high" on the electric stove. In a few minutes, the heat had cracked the container all the way around the bottom. For a good 20 years, I remembered the lesson: glass will crack if exposed to sudden changes in temperature. Then a few weeks ago, I microwaved chicken broth in a Pyrex measuring cup -- a vintage '60s job inherited from my other grandmother. I emptied the hot stock into my soup and proceeded to crack the cup by filling it right back up with cold water.
My most colorful failure came recently when I bought some butternut squash, pear and gorgonzola ravioli at the farmers' market. The vendor suggested I serve it with a wine sauce. I carefully sauteed some shallots and added some red zinfandel...and ended up with this: purple pasta. Yuck.
There are some nights it's a good thing you didn't invite anybody over to eat with you -- even a relative! Nevertheless, at least you can dim the lights on purple ravioli. There's nothing you can to to camouflage scorched soup.

Whatever's on your menu, I'm sending you good kitchen karma -- with a hefty side of cornbread -- for your own experiments this week!


Susie said...

My ucky story is when i was feeding my basketball team around 1996 or so and made two giant pots of chicken tetrazini from scratch - no rotisserie chicken for me! In my haste to heat the pots up right before the girls were to arrive I scorched both pots!!!! The girls ate crescent rolls and salad. They still kid me about it.

Neil said...

we are attempting a turkey day meal at our place - hope we survive!

but your story about the busted ceramics reminded me of a story from when i was little. my mom asked me to make some tea and said i just needed to put the tea pot on the stove and add water and tea bags. she then went to take a nap. i filled up the plastic tea container, rather than the tea pot, with water and put it on the stove. the plastic promptly melted and water went everywhere. that's when i learned the difference between the tea pot and the tea container. and also that i probably didn't have a future in science.