“You’ve got to keep your wits about you in cooking and not stop in the middle of things to let your thoughts rove over all creation.” Marilla Cuthbert, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Okay, dear Marilla . . . you caught me . . .
Wits have been lost: I’ve huffed and groaned and wrung my hands in despair as nine, plump yolks curdled, never to transform into the silky eggnog of holiday expectations.
Things have stopped in the middle: in another instance of dairy incompetence, egg whites wouldn’t budge into snowy peaks no matter how much whirring I put them through. My tiring arm gripped the mixer with frantic determination. Didn’t matter. A speck of yellow had destroyed everything.
Thoughts have most definitely roved: hasn’t anyone miscalculated in the rush to get dinner done? And poured out three-fourths cup of milk to avoid a soupy, mashed potato-y mess? (Happened Sunday night.)
Isn’t it easy to confuse the two bowls and place a dry ingredient—salt, for instance—into the creamed mixture while preparing a batch of double chocolate oatmeal cookies? (Also happened Sunday night.)
Seems I’m not alone, going by the folks over at King Arthur.
Inventing stuff like Brown Rice and Banana Salad with Bacon and Black Olives isn’t something done everyday: I love searching out and eating nice, normal recipes the same as my fellow kitchen dwellers (I’m in there so much, my dad has told me I should bring in a bed!), and want things to turn out the way they’re supposed to. Adhering to measurements and following steps are rules that should be pretty obvious, right?
“Should” being the operative word.
Sometimes, I don’t have the exact ingredient.
Inside that cookbook is a good-looking muffin begging to star as my breakfast. One substitution won’t hurt . . .
Until afterward you realize that coconut butter does not resemble a coconut oil butter-type spread. (That sorry, soggy mound definitely deserves a retake.)
Raise your hand if in a moment of laziness you didn’t cross the kitchen to get the right measuring tool so you opted to wing it. (Raises hand.)
Dragging out the handheld mixer is often a hassle, too. Thanks to some light strength training, my arms have gained muscle. Why shouldn’t a minute or two of good, ol’ fashioned elbow grease be sufficient despite directions dictating me to “beat with electric mixer on medium speed for five minutes”?
Another thing you might have already guessed: I’m not the most patient of mortals. Common victims of my impatience?
Granola, seeds, and nuts.
Abruptly has golden, oaten perfection been packed away when a brief bout of hardening in the freezer would have spared me the loss of my crunchy desires . . . cruelly have cantaloupe seeds (because I’ve learned to treat them the same as any other seed) been subjected to high degrees in an effort at faster baking. (I meant to keep track of them with hawk-eyed vigilance. Honest.)
Still, I forced myself to swallow either chewy or charred bits because granola, seeds, and nuts are precious commodities and slathering my mistake in yogurt and peanut butter was better tasting than the processed, preservative-laden “snacks” inundating supermarkets!
But I don’t always growl and stomp over to the trash, frustration coursing my veins.
A few years back, a cake—I forget which kind, but it was a recipe done plenty of times before—was mixed, poured, and popped into the oven with barely a second thought. I couldn’t wait to serve it to my family.
Then, I remembered the leavening . . . around fifteen minutes too late!
With a mad dash, I flung open the oven door, and thumped the steaming, gooey concoction onto the counter. What could I do? I was desperate. Hmm . . . maybe it wasn’t too late . . .
So I sprinkled in the required ingredient, gave the half-baked batter a quick stir, and hustled it back into the oven.
It worked! No starting from scratch or rolling up into cake balls! I was relieved and mouths were happy.
Now it’s time for . . .
What kitchen blunders have you salvaged?
Did something barely edible but tolerable come out of it? Or was a—to quote the painter, Bob Ross—“happy accident” born that you wished to remember and repeat? (Important tip: try to write down what you remember—“extra heaping of vanilla,” “around a quarter cup less bread crumbs”—when something turns out even better than usual; you’ll be spared the agonies of wracking your brain and prolonging hungry appetites in the future!)
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