Friday, August 7, 2009

My Kitchen Mishaps, Mistakes and Misery

For Christmas 1974 my dad got me my first cookbook and a recipe box with cards. This is the recipe box. I still have it.

I used to enjoy cooking, but now that I am the only one really eating what I cook, most everything is either too much food or too much effort. I still like chopping and chopping away at something as it seems to be therapy for me when my nerves are razzled or I have too much on my plate.

Get it? "On my plate" – cooking, eating, food…whatever.

Now that I am out of practice, I find myself making really dumb mistakes when I cook. Like last night when I made the cookies I had to remind myself to read through the recipe carefully. I also barely had enough unsalted butter (at least it was unsalted since that’s what I prefer and buy) and I had to borrow the brown sugar from my neighbor Mrs. Winnebago.

She lives in the driveway year-round.

The recipe said to sift the dry ingredients, which of course I didn’t do because I never do. But then the butter had to be melted. So I did that and threw it all together. It called for one egg and one egg yolk. Naturally I didn’t separate the egg beforehand. And no, I didn’t keep the egg white. What was I actually to do with that? I could scramble it…if I would get around to scrambling it, you see?

Then I put the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and have I ever told you that I can’t imagine how I ever did anything prior to 2001 when I got my KitchenAid? That should be the number one requirement for every kitchen belonging to a lazy cook. You think you only need a KitchenAid if you cook and bake regularly?


I think the laziest of us need it the most. My KitchenAid is the closest thing you will ever find to a shrine in my house. It deserves a shrine, anyway.

So there’s the dough in the bowl. I don’t have photos because I wasn’t put together enough to do this properly let alone photograph the mess I was making. Then I had to put in two cups of chocolate chips and 20 crushed Oreos. I had to open the bag of chips and then…go downstairs and fetch the Sears 1978 food processor from a cupboard. I washed everything out and threw in 20 Oreo cookies. I dried the bowl-thingy, but it didn't get totally dry. Anyway, I turned that motha on and let it rip.

I ended up with Oreo flour.

So, I backed up the bus and pulled out the few Oreo chunks I saw because I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the flour and was afraid to continue pulverizing it into useless dust. I bagged up the flour and threw it in the freezer to face another day. I threw some new Oreos back into the antique gold food processor and pulsed until I had chunks. The pictures on the other website clearly had little tidbits and nubbins of Oreo in the cookies. Throwing the chunks into the bowl, I hit the switch and let the KA power through the dough and ended up with some chunks and some almost pulverized Oreos. The cookies turned out fine and even taste better today.

Last time I made Guinness cupcakes, I messed up the frosting on two different batches. While no one seemed to mind, it was obvious that I’m really, really out of practice in the kitchen. So this weekend, I am making battered and fried fish. I'm never sure how to keep the batter on the fish, but I will try to take pictures in case something goes up in flames and Good Morning America wants to pay me $250,000 for the story of how I burned down an entire Corps of Engineers campground.

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