Monday, July 21, 2008

liquor up

Okay, then, let's talk about my cooking disasters:

-Once I left a batch of Forgotten Cookies (see!) in the oven overnight, as the recipe suggests. Then, you know, I forgot about them. Later the following evening, Austin turned the oven to 450 to preheat for an emergency pizza. Emergency indeed! Forgotten cookies, parchment paper and cookie sheet, all incinerated. Mess!

-I always swear that I have never had a failure from a Paula Deen recipe, but I did try her Caramel Pie and it just didn't turn out. Bland and lifeless, although Austin was a trooper and insisted it was fine. My only Paula-related screwup, to date.

-When I was baking the semisweet chocolate layer cake with vanilla cream filling (yes, that's right, an A recipe from my master list), I thought it was a disaster. The layers didn't rise evenly at all (big crusty rings around the outside, center still almost liquid after almost twice the recommended cooking time) and I only barely got them out of the pans onto the cooling racks intact. Charlie Murphy did not help matters by stalking and effectively ripping pieces out of each of the three layers (what can I say? He has great taste). So the whole thing was extremely hodgepodge and in fact the most ghetto looking cake I've ever presented. The good news is, it was DELICIOUS. Delicious enough to warrant an A, and the Delicious Happy Cake Dance from Badness at work the next day. Nice try, Charlie Murphy!

-That key lime pie from last month's book club never did set up. Not even after being stored in the freezer for weeks. I wouldn't classify it a failure, because it was tasty! But had to be eaten with a spoon out of a cup (with honeydew sorbet and grilled peaches? Ok!).

There are many non-specific situations that I remember from my younger years of learning in the kitchen. I didn't know olive or vegetable oil could go rancid, and had at least one batch of boxed brownies taste bitter as a result. I also didn't know that self-rising flour has an expiration date, a pretty short one, especially in a kitchen as hot as mine. This can produce many an uninspired (hockey puck) biscuit. These are all things I needed to learn the hard way, and I'm pretty hardcore about ingredient turnover in my cook-o-sphere nowadays. Except with jams and jellies, I will keep those things way too long. I hoard homemade preserves.

I've already posted blogs about the pomegranate-berry sauce incident (the near death of my precious Le Creuset) and the blackened apple crumb pie. I did also mention the burned skillet lasagna, which was the unfortunate result of me just not paying attention. I have had a bad habit lately of not setting timers and just getting cocky about my own sense of kitchen timing, which can lead to some mushy pasta and charcoal crostini.

In retrospect, though, I'm certainly my own worst cooking critic. I think my palate is picky enough to the point that I'll decide something tastes "off" when no one else can tell when I'm talking about. I'll certainly have a very lofty idea in my head when I start a new recipe, and rarely is the final result EXACTLY what I was going for.

P.S. Please join me in welcoming to the world my newest godson, Ezra Gore Buchanan. I get to go meet him in the morning, and I don't know if I'll be able to sleep tonight from the anticipation!

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