Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Recent Kitchen Disasters

Always remember: If you're alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who's going to know?
--Julia Child


Every once in a while I find a recipe in Gourmet (RIP) magazine or the New York Times' Dining section that I want to try.

A few weeks ago, I tried to make the NYT's Tomato Éclairs With Creamy Ricotta and Basil Filling--and it was a disaster. I don't know what I did wrong, but I couldn't get the batter to go in the pastry bag and ended up with bright orange gook up to my elbows and all over the kitchen island, bowls and floor. I finally scraped up some into a plastic sandwich bag, cut off a corner and tried it that way, and they came out okay, if not a bit deflated. That was also when I took off about a 1/2 inch chunk out of my bottom thumb knuckle with the cheese grater. I had to throw out all of the cheese and start again, and we were out of big band-aids, so I had to use a bunch of little ones and some medical tape, and then I had to wrap a paper towel around my hand, so I wouldn't contaminate the rest of the recipe. This is why I do not bake very often. Cooking is so much easier for me than baking.

But, as sad as the little lumps came out, anything looks nice with a fresh tomato slice and a leaf of basil, so the hubby humored me and ate the finished eclairs with a smile. They actually were pretty tasty, but I don't think I'll try them again. I don't think I could spare another thumb.

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Another recent event occurred one night last week as I was preparing my stuffed shells for an impromtu dinner party with our neighbors. The hubby and a pal of ours are taking a wine class together, and so when they return from class with bottles of wine, the pal's gal and I have dinner waiting. I was just getting ready to pop the pan into the oven, when I knocked the lid of my garlic salt into the pre-heated oven. I tried to grab it with toaster tongs (I love those!), but just ended pushing it through the wee slat the goes under the broiler part. I turned off the oven, and turned on the fan, as a hot plasticky smell was already permeating the kitchen. Our two cats, Rocco and Boo ran through the kitchen to the safety of the bedroom and under the bed as I hauled out the toolbox and grabbed the screwdriver. I took out all of the oven racks and stuck my head inside the 300 degree oven and unscrewed the two bolts in the back of the bottom of the oven floor (I kept burning my knuckles as they hit the back wall of the oven). I then pulled off the bottom piece (which was very awkward--and hot) and saw a bright green pool of settled, cooling,melted goo sitting a few inches from the main gas hose area. I grabbed my trusty plastic spatula, scraped up the goo into a paper towel and tossed it--spatula and all. Then, I grabbed my dust buster and sucked up any remaining green dust, wiped the oven floor and then replaced the metal piece, screws and racks. Besides a very warm facial, crisis (and plastic poisoning) was averted and I still ended up having enough time to bake the shells, which came out fabulous, btw.

(At least I can think quick on my feet!)

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