Monday, August 19, 2013

Sweet success

I've decided to expand my blog beyond food disasters. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons. 1. I like to write, and 2. because (and you're going to want to sit down for this) I've actually had some cooking successes. And let's be honest, cooking successes are not nearly as funny to read about. Oh look, I made this dish. It was delicious. Plus then what would I have for Facebook?

So without further ado, I bring you my Monday Motivational post. Monday meditation? It's still a work in progress.

I got home from work last night at 11:30 p.m., and thought, "What better time to make cupcakes?!" So I pulled out an old family recipe walked across the street to IGA and bought a box of red velvet deliciousness.
And I can tell you from personal experience that there are a lot of things you can feel when you finish baking at 1:30 a.m. - exhaustion, delirium, a little sick from all the frosting you ate - but you can definitely not feel sad.

Yummm! OK, so it's not the best frosting job. Don't judge.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Burn, baby, burn

I hate grocery shopping.

And because I hate grocery shopping, I will often go without the essentials - like fruit snacks. And when I don't have my emergency stash of fruit snacks to satisfy my late-night sweet tooth, bad things happen. I turn to my cookbooks.

Such was the situation on a fateful January night when I decided that I needed something sweet. I perused my cookbooks and found a delicious recipe for blondies. All went well until I needed to pull the pan from the oven.

Now, because the idiot who designed this apartment put the smoke detector ridiculously close to the oven, whenever I cook, I'm forced to do a spin move that would make any NFL coach proud. I have to open the oven door, grab the dish, slam the oven door shut, spin, grab a towel and wave it in front of the smoke detector and hope like hell it won't go off. Especially since I'm usually cooking at 11 p.m.

As the timer beeped to tell me my blondies were done, I mentally prepared myself for the move. I quickly opened the oven and grabbed the pan when all of a sudden I started to fumble the dish. Now, I've seen enough Packers games to know exactly what I needed to do. I caught that ball - um, pan - of blondies with my forearm and kept it from crashing to the ground. And in that instant, I knew that was a stupid, stupid thing to do.

I threw the pan on the stove and stuck my arm under a stream of cold water until my fingernails turned purple, but it was too late. The damage had been done. I watched as the outline of the Pyrex dish slowly raised out of my skin.

Now I'm left with a bathroom full of first-aid supplies I didn't know even existed and a gaping hole the size of a silver dollar where my forearm used to be.

And still no fruit snacks.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Doughy delights

For my next cooking adventure, I chose cream scones.

I wasn't planning on doing anything involving dough quite so soon after my last disaster, but these scones looked tasty, fairly simple and, best of all, no yeast was needed.

So once again I gathered up some flour, sugar and butter and went to work. The instructions for these scones (which I found online) are very clear about one thing: DO NOT OVERMIX! Apparently, this ruins the scone's texture. The pressure of mixing the dough just right is surprisingly nerve-racking. Did I mix it enough?! Not enough?! I just don't know! In any case, here's what I ended up with.

Next, I plopped globs of dough onto a cookie sheet, and it was off to the oven.

I checked on the scones after a few minutes and reset my timer. As I was watching the timer count down, I heard a loud beep, beep, beep. Odd, I thought. I wonder why my timer is going off while it's still counting down. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. Sadly, it took me more than a few seconds to realize that the beeping was, in fact, my smoke detector. To make matters worse, I was cooking at 10:30 p.m. It won't surprise me when my neighbors band together to kick me out.

Despite my smoke detector's rather loud protests, there wasn't smoke in my apartment, and my scones were not charred beyond recognition as I expected them to be. Rather, they were fluffy warm affirmations that I don't completely suck at cooking.

My only complaint is that they weren't sweet. Not that the recipe ever indicated they would be, I just automatically think sweet when I think of scones. But all in all, they were a success.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bread, bagels, Battlestar Galactica

For my first cooking challenge, I attempted bagels. I mean, how hard could bagels be? You take dough, make it into a circle, boil it and then bake it. Even I should be able to handle that.

Or so I thought.

I've never made bread dough before. I can remember buying yeast only one other time in my life, and I don't recall what, if anything, I made with it. In fact, yeast terrifies me. But I was willing to work through my phobia.

So I take my little recipe and make my bagel dough. I knead it and squish it and get it all over my counter. I shape it into little circles and let it rest for 30 minutes so the dough can rise. After the time is up, I go uncover my little experiment, and ... nothing.

They look exactly the same as they did 30 minutes ago!

Well, clearly, I screwed up somewhere, so I toss that batch in the trash. I begin again. Mix my dough, make little circles, cover them up, wait 30 minutes and ... NOTHING.

No cute-looking fluffy bagels, just sad, flat dough staring back at me. By now I'm yelling at my good-for-nothing bagel dough, which I'm sure only helps. I take a moment to compose myself. "Maybe they don't rise till you bake them?" I ask myself hopefully. So I decide to continue on with the recipe.

I stick the sad little circles into boiling water, where they come out all slimy and gross. Then into the oven they go. After 15 minutes, I open the oven door only to find pathetic lumps of dough that do not in any way resemble a bagel. I am sad. But maybe they taste OK? Hope springs eternal.

No. They do not taste OK. In fact, imagine eating a really doughy, thick strand of spaghetti. That's what my bagels tasted like. No amount of cream cheese was going to cover up this failure.

Now my trash can contains two batches of doughy disasters. Maybe, as a good friend told me, I need to start with basic bread and work my way up to bagels. Or maybe I should never cook with yeast again. It's just a thought.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's wrong with popcorn?

I hate cooking. Despise it. I have been known to survive entire weekends on microwave popcorn just because the thought of cooking a meal was too daunting and exhausting. If a recipe has more than three ingredients or includes instructions more complicated then "Mix together and serve," it gets tossed aside. Sadly, I'm not exaggerating. There have been times I've forgone Hamburger Helper because there were too many steps.

But it's time to expand my horizons. I figure at some point in my life, I should be able to make something more advanced then a sandwich. So starting today, I'm going to try new recipes and see what I come up with. With any luck, I'll improve my cooking skills and create some new meals. But just in case, my pantry is always stocked with popcorn.