Those who know me personally know that I don’t enjoy cooking. I love eating and trying new foods, but the physical energy and mental concentration that is needed for cooking is too much for me. Life would be awesome if we could survive on take-out or convenience foods, but that is not realistic. The problem I have with cooking is I can rarely prepare a recipe and have it turn out perfectly more than a few times in a row. I call this my recipe season. Here are a few examples to explain what I am talking about.
Bread Bowls. Back when I was first married and chronic pain was inching its way into my every day life I found a simple yet totally cool way to make bread bowls. I would use a Pampered Chef Stoneware baking bowl turn it upside down, then drape Pillsbury bread dough over it and bake. My bread bowls filled with a pasta or green salad were always a hit with guests at a BBQ. I made it a few more times for family dinners, each time my bowl was a work of art. My season ended when I wanted to impress my in-laws by bringing one over for a get together. I failed not once, not twice, but three times in one day!!! No matter what I tried or did could keep my bowls from tearing or falling apart. A few months later I wanted to make one for my parents and ended up with the same disappointing results. I have attempted this several more times throughout the past 15 years with NO success.
Chicken Enchilada Casserole. Another easy dish that only requires dumping the ingredients into a casserole dish and baking. Thankfully my season for preparing this dish lasted for several years. We tired of this dish after time and I stopped making it. Fast forward to last year when I found myself craving this dish. I found my recipe, bought all the ingredients, followed the directions and FAILED. It was edible and surprisingly didn’t taste too bad, but it was terribly dry. So I decided to try again…. This time it was too moist, more like a dip than a casserole. I don’t know where I went wrong, since I followed the directions the same as I had done before. With this last failed attempt I decided it was time to retire this recipe.
Hawaiian Bread. Who doesn’t love a sweet Hawaiian roll or bun? I was overjoyed when I discovered a recipe that promised the sweetest most beautiful braided Hawaiian bread. My first attempt was a total success. It looked as good as it tasted. My next three attempts were also a success. So I felt safe making a few loaves for Thanksgiving. Now friends, it is at this point in my life that my pain increased greatly and when I began to struggle paying attention to detail even on my better days. Knowing I didn’t want to spend all my energy baking bread on Thanksgiving day itself, I gave myself the entire day prior to bake and to not be distracted by anything else. Thankfully I purchased enough ingredients to make three loaves instead of the two that I had planned to make, because I made a shocking revelation as I was waiting for the first batch to rise. As I began to mix the second batch something struck me as odd. I quickly realized that instead of using egg yolks I used egg whites in the first batch. Instead of throwing out the dough I decided to let it run the course of rising and baking and would make two more batches instead of one just in case the first was disgusting. Surprisingly the first loaf turned out to be just as flavorful as the second and third, the only difference was that it wasn’t yellow. I attempted this recipe one more time the following month and failed. My bread didn’t rise properly and it was dry.
My last example is the most delicious and moist banana bread that I have ever sunk my teeth into. Again, nothing fancy, the recipe itself is quite simple. Last winter I made large batches and would freeze loaves for future use. They never disappointed. This brings me to last night. I was in the need of some comfort food and had a few bananas on hand. Checked off all the ingredients from my recipe and placed them on the counter. Sifted my flour, baking soda, and salt. Mashed my bananas and mixed them with the sugar, nuts and butter. Beat my eggs and prepared my loaf pans. Combined my dry and wet ingredients, poured batter into loaf pans, put them in the oven and waited. The aroma coming from the oven mixed with the cool breeze that was flowing through the windows was heavenly. It was when I went to remove them from the oven that I discovered my error. On the counter next to the oven was the bowl of beaten eggs!!!!!! Banana bread without eggs???!!!! I burst into laughter and almost tinkled in my pants as I tried to explain what I did to my husband. Once the loaves cooled we decided to give it a try. Believe it or not, it wasn’t bad. In fact my husband and daughter would have never known the difference if I hadn’t told them.
Although my last cooking error wasn’t a total disaster, it has taught me a few lessons. Lesson one: don’t cook after I have taken my evening pain medication. Lesson two: only cook when I have the time and mental ability to stay focused on the recipe and nothing else. Lesson three: Once I start screwing up a favorite recipe it is time to move on to something new…..
Lord help the man who marries my daughter since I am the one teaching her how to cook!!!!!!