Making the Best of a Bad Thing – Waste Not, Want Not

May 13, 2009 at 7:17 pm | Posted in Oops | 1 Comment

I guess I’m going to categorize this post as a grocery shopping tip of the weak week.

Not that this technically has anything to do with grocery shopping. Instead, it has to do with making do and making it work. As you may have noted from some of my recent posts, I’ve had some magificent failures lately. And there were several which were so BAD, I felt that posting it could ruin my public image of perfection *cough, cough*.

So most recently, R had expressed a desire for one of those chocolate-on-chocolate layer cakes and I found a recipe, which will get posted in about a week, after I try it again – hopefully with success this time. Anyhow, it was a VERY complicated recipe and to top things off and make them worse, I decided it would be a great idea *cough, cough* to change it up and make it a roll cake. You know, like pumpkin roll or whatever? Um … stupid idea.

To make a very LONG story short (-er), I used a cake recipe that was way too moist and fluffy to be a roll, causing it to essentially crumble to bits at the unrolling step. I had already made this WAY complicated frosting, so – in the spirit of making the best of things – I decided to make it a torte. So I went about crumbling and ended up with pieces too small. And frosting too runny. *sigh* So … the final result was crumbled up cake mixed with slightly runny frosting and smooshed back into a 9 x 13 cake pan. The flavor and texture was somewhere between actual fudge and a fudgy brownie. Yum. Very, very, very yum.

The moral of this (admittedly long and rambling) story is that sometimes in the kitchen, things go wrong.
And you know what? That’s okay.

Crock Pot Rice

April 24, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Posted in Crock Pot, dinner, Oops | 3 Comments
Tags: , , ,

Well, this week has not been a good one for me, food-wise. I screwed up a couple of different meals in minor ways. One not-so-minor. But I am getting ahead of myself. Because we decided to go ahead and start house-shopping, as well as be good citizens and pay our taxes, as well as be good consumers and buy stuff, as well as be good debtors and pay for things we owe money on … and so forth … we are on a strict budget right now. And when I say strict, I mean … well, we’re not buying anything. Nothing. Not at all. This brings the idea of “budget gourmet” to a whole new level.

So I’m trying to make-do with what we have in the house. Normally not an issue for me. However, I’m starting to run out of ideas. So yesterday afternoon I got the brilliant (?) idea to make rice in the crock-pot. I hate making rice, even though it’s really cheap, because it just takes so DANG long. And the pot ends up really nasty with starch when I’m done. So I thought if I put it in the crock-pot and used a liner, this would be great!

Well … here’s an up close photo. See if you can guess what went wrong:

It was a nice try, anyhow.

It was a nice try, anyhow.

That’s right – some of the rice cooked up nice and fluffy. And some wasn’t cooked at all. Eww. I don’t know how to fix this, either. I don’t know if I didn’t put enough water in, if I went overboard on the quantity, if I cooked too “low and slow”, if I should have stirred it … so all we can do (sadly) is eat my mistake and try again next time. I think I’ll go with less rice, cooked on high, for less time. That will (hopefully) fix the problem.

Unless someone out there has an idea or a foolproof method? Leave me a comment!

How NOT To Make a Lemon Meringue Pie

December 31, 2007 at 5:41 am | Posted in Oops, Tips | 1 Comment

SCENE: Tonight I made a lemon meringue pie for my father to celebrate his birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!) It’s his favorite. I mentioned earlier that my mother gave me a handwritten, family-recipe-collection cookbook for Christmas. Well, my mom included “Dad’s Favorite Lemon Meringue Pie” recipe. Since it was DAD’s birthday and this recipe was for his favorite lemon-meringue pie, I thought it would be the perfect recipe to make.

Mistake #1: I decided that it would be a great idea (since lemon meringue is so time-critical) to make the pie mise en place. So I did a quick review of the ingredients, gathered them, and set about prepping and measuring so that everything would be ready when the time came. NOT a bad idea with lemon meringue. The bad idea entered the picture when I reviewed the recipe, had doubts about it (it didn’t have any cream of tartar, only 1 tablespoon of corn starch, etc), and didn’t double-check the recipe for accuracy.

Mistake #2: I followed the first set of directions, mixed the water with the sugar, salt and corn starch, and set it above the double boiler to thicken. Stirring constantly. This is not wrong. What was wrong was waiting more than 30 minutes for it to thicken before I started to wonder why nothing was happening. Did I mention I was stirring constantly?

Mistake #3: Trying to rescue the recipe, I took the whole mess off the double boiler and put it directly on the burner to thicken. It did – momentarily – then went back to a soupy, liquid mess. So I kept stirring, although by this time I was REALLY frustrated.


The aforesaid soupy mess. LOL

RESOLUTION: So finally I just said “the heck with it” and put it aside. I went and retrieved another (fool-proof) recipe and started over. But … the new/improved recipe called for 6 tablespoons of corn starch – not 1. Therein laid the problem all along. More cornstarch and I’d have had an award-winning recipe!! Darn it all – but it all worked out okay.

LESSONS LEARNED:
&#149 Never, never, never ignore your instincts. If a recipe doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.
&#149 When a recipe isn’t working out in the first 20 minutes or so, don’t keep trying. It will only lead to heartache and frustration for all.
&#149 If your recipe has failed, compare it to other recipes for the same item. This will help you not only to learn what the problem was, but also to learn more about how ingredients work – both individually and together.

Oops Cookies

October 10, 2007 at 4:23 pm | Posted in cost-cutting, Desserts, Oops | 7 Comments

So, about 2 days ago, I found this recipe for “Poor Man’s Candy” – basically a potato, powdered sugar, and some peanut butter. I know, it sounds gross, but I was fascinated and couldn’t figure out what it would taste like. So I decided to try it out (after all, potatoes are cheap!).

I bake two small potatoes in the microwave, peel them, mash them up. But they weren’t smoothing out like I imagined that they should. So … I added a little water (NOT in the recipe) and whipped them into smooth-looking mashed potatoes. Then I started adding powdered sugar. This is when I discovered why there wasn’t any water in the recipe. Turns out, powdered sugar draws the moisture out of the potatoes so they are “self-moistening”. Well, if you’ve already added water … you get, essentially, sweet potato soup. The more powdered sugar I added, the soupier the mixture got. Ooops.

Well, obviously, that wasn’t going anywhere, so then Rob suggested that we should just make cookies out of the mixture. So I added some flour, a little oil, an egg, some baking soda, and some vanilla. Oh, and about 1/2 a bag of chocolate chips.

I poured the whole mess onto a greased cookie sheet and baked it for 10 minutes at 350.

I got … chocolate chip cookie bars … but with the oddest texture you’ve ever tried! They’re almost indescribable in texture. Somewhere between a fried clam and bubble gum. Tasted good, but really wierd to eat. 🙂

Oh, and incidentally, Rob asked me last night when I’m going to make them again. So they get, overall, a B+ from the both of us. Ooops.

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