I’m in danger of being kicked out of an on-line gourmet club and I wonder which of my “friends” turned me in. I received an emergency communiqué this morning warning me to “Stop Making Those 17 Cooking Mistakes.”
Every time I attempt something new I create a big mess and the taste is often so bad my nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. (Never use balsamic vinegar when marinating vegetables unless you like the color purple.)
Even the most mundane of dishes have gone south in my kitchen which produces dingy, limp vegetables, lumpy gravy, and gummy rice, which even Rebel Dawg won’t touch. When your puppy prefers his dog food over your leftovers, you know you’ve crossed the line.
My two sons were here last week and I did some flagrant compliment baiting. “Which of my creations during your childhoods do you most often crave,” I asked, as they rifled through the fridge looking for something to snack on, most of which had become unidentifiable.
“Hmmm, Godfather’s Pizza!”, they exclaimed in unison as they looked at me in loving pity. But I thought I was a fabulous cook and even belonged to a gourmet dinner club at one point in my life. (And I wonder why we disbanded after one year. More likely, they liquidated the club then reformed without me.)
I just don’t have any excuse except I don’t much like cooking any longer and the list of things I can’t mess up is limited to canned green beans and hot tea.
Here are a sampling of the “infractions” included in the e-mail, all of which I am guilty:
*You don’t read the entire recipe before you start cooking. Check. When you have to go to the store twice to complete the recipe, you lose a lot of your momentum.
*You boil when you should simmer. (There’s a difference?)
*You don’t shock the vegetables when they reached the desired texture. (What the heck does that mean? I’ve shocked a lot of people, but never a vegetable.)
*You don’t know when to abandon ship and start over.”
“There’s no shame in making a mistake,” the chef reminded me. “And while it may feel a bit wasteful to throw food in the trash, tossing the mistakes is best. (He must have a hidden camera in my kitchen.)
Of course, there is a no-turning-back point, too. If you’ve overcooked a chicken because you didn’t use a meat thermometer, you’re bound to serve an overcooked chicken. At that point, the best practice is to ‘fess up, apologize, pass the wine, and move on.
Maybe I’ll just forget the food and serve the wine, hoping my guests won’t notice my developing disability. I still wonder which of my friends ratted one me.