Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Epic Fail

I have a dry erase board magnetically adhered to the refrigerator. It is the same dry erase board that I had surgically adhered to my graduate assistant "office" (i.e. cubicle) during my stint as a masters student in Literature. Now, instead of witty quotes from professors, classmates, and required reading material for class, it holds the weekly menu, though sometimes I put a quote up there for old time's sake. And nothing quite expresses my weekend kitchen adventures at the moment quite like my trusty dry erase board:

Allow me to explain. Sometimes it's a good kitchen week. Sometimes you walk into that kitchen like you own the thing (even though it's only leased until the summer of 2012). You grab a pot and its like a witch's caldron. In go the ingredients and out pops magic. Sometimes you just get it right on the first try. You don't even bother to measure things out, and somehow, you just know what to do to make a good dish into a great meal. This week was not that week. This week was a bad kitchen week.

Exhibit A:
German cabbagy noodles Friday. This was a recipe idea given to me by a recent graduate of my academic institution. And it's a great recipe idea. Some egg noodle, some cabbage, a little carrot, some vinegar, a little sugar. It should be an easy peasy meal. Brainless even. Unfortunately, this was a bad kitchen week, so I managed to completely screw it up. Instead of going with my gut, I decided to find a recipe with some sort of measurements listed for how much vinegar to use versus how much sugar. I ended up making my "sauce" based on another german dish that was, essentially, noodles and celery.

The problem: cabbage in no way reacts to vinegar and sugar in the way that celery does. Now I know this. Of course, if I would have just made the blasted dish and added a little bit of each at a time until I got the taste right, I never would have needed to learn this lesson. The recipe I came up with looks a little something like--

German Cabbagy Noodles
1/2 bag egg noodles, cooked
3 carrots, shredded
2 c. cabbage, shredded
2 T flour
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. water
salt and pepper

1. Add flour, vinegar,  water, salt, and pepper to a pan on med heat. Mix thoroughly. Add noodles, carrot, and cabbage.

Of course, I wouldn't make this particular recipe if I were you. I wish I was you because then I would have never had to taste it. It came out far, far too sweet. I tried to douse the sweetness with more flour and water, but to no avail. In a last ditch effort, Art poured in some soy sauce and then he ate it on pumpernickel, claiming the soy sauce made it edible. It wasn't. I will try again, but I'll have to do it for a sole lunch at school. Art has no desire to attempt German Cabbagy Noodles now or in the future.

Exhibit B:
Sunday's dinner was Johnny Cake. No fear, it turned out swell, a little dry perhaps, but swell. This was another type of kitchen calamity entirely. You see, the Johnny Cake is supposed to bake in a 13 x 9 pan, but we used up ours on an actual cake. No worries. I put the Johnny Cake in an oval casserole dish instead. Of course, it took twice as long to cook, being a lot thicker than usual, and after that, the center was still a little jiggly. As a solution to the jiggly, I put the lid on the casserole dish to help keep heat in without drying the Johnny Cake too much. It did work.

Unfortunately, I checked it too soon and the center still wasn't quite done. Like an idiot, I grabbed the lid to put it back on. Then I realized I wasn't using a pot holder. It started to hurt, but I already started lifting it. I couldn't very well drop it. The lid is solid glass. It would have shattered and worse, on my toes, so I had to forgo pain and get the lid back to the stove top, where a pan of veggies was bubbling happily away. Lid safely down, I ran to the sink and stuck my hand under cold water. I was whining and moaning and generally feeling sorry for myself when Art made a sound that was part alarm and part panic. I looked at the stove and there, to my horror, was a wooden spoon on fire.

You see, we have a gas stove. When I dropped the lid, it knocked the stirring spoon for the veggies into the blaze underneath the veggie pan. Art got the fire out quickly, but the spoon will forever hold the marks of my misfortune.

And the Johnny Cake, you ask? That's for next time.


  1. I know exactly how you feel...I've been going through the same thing over at Prose and Potatoes. It always helps me to remember Judith Jones's wise words:

    "Food has the tact to disappear, leaving room and opportunity for masterpieces to come. The mistakes don't hang on the walls or stand on shelves to reproach you forever."

  2. Thanks, Sarah. I'll keep that in mind. I've noticed your recent lackluster clean-the-pantry phase. Maybe this is what comes in January. The month of lackluster meals. This to shall pass, aye? Here's to kitchen excitement when the world outside starts to thaw.