23 June 2006

This Desperate Housewife

I used to think I was a good cook, and so did everyone else, for that matter. (Never mind that freak salt incident when my mother let me make banana nut muffins unsupervised for the first time back in the fourth grade.) Freshman year when I made a birthday cake for my friend Brett, my friends swore it looked like Martha had iced it herself. And when Jaci and Cheryl and I made cupcakes for Cheryl's older brother and his roommates, I fussed at Jaci for her poor kitchen etiquette because, after all, I was an expert. Later, I reveled in the cooking bliss of preparing meals for myself and my now husband, Clay. And my family would praise my snickerdoodles, claiming they'd never tasted better.

So, upon getting married and obtaining a kitchen of my own, I was ecstatic when considering the prospects of culinary fame knocking at my doorstep. Visions of piping hot casseroles and gourmet meats smothered in savory sauces danced through my head, and I was fairly certain I could only receive rave reviews on whatever dish I placed on the table. I was fairly certain...until recently.

The first full week I was in charge of planning meals and going to the store to purchase ingredients for said meals, I could hardly contain myself. After poring over our slew of shiny new cookbooks for hours, I finally determined the perfect menu for the week. But that evening when I came home and began to prepare the first dish on the list, I realized my terrible mistake: I had purchased the wrong ingredients! Now for any seasoned cook, this would not cause panic because she would be prepared with an arsenal of dry pastas, spices, and canned goods. This newlywed? Have you seen our pantry? Well, I thought I could improvise - emphasis on the "thought." Turns out I had looked at the wrong picture in the cookbook and surmised that I could use the one box of pasta shells we had to supplement this dish. But this recipe didn't call for pasta shells.
So, in my attempts to be resourceful, I created a dish which surpasses description. My dear husband, a man who is rarely unable to clean his plate, could not down more than six or seven bites. And what's worse, the bread was also a flop (a cardinal sin in Clay's book). My hopes were dashed and I was left with a pot full of Lord knows what, which I kept in the refrigerator for a week in an attempt to salvage my pride. I later threw it out.

However, I wasn't going to let that stop me. The next morning, I decided that I would wake up early and make blueberry muffins for my husband before he went to work (previously I had remained in bed like a slug, only rolling over once to mumble a sleepy goodbye). He had been slaving over all those numbers and I owed it to him to make him a hot breakfast. So I mixed the batter together, poured it into our mini muffin pan then popped it in the oven to bake, timing it so that Clay could have fresh, hot muffins as he stepped out of the shower. After a few minutes, a very strong artificial blueberry smell began overtaking our small apartment so I went to check on this delightful breakfast I was preparing. As soon as I opened the oven door, a cloud of smoke billowed out into the room, triggering the smoke detector. I frantically searched for something to fan the detector with, slamming the oven door in the process (and leaving the burning muffins there to burn) as well as making a terrible racket which I'm sure the neighbors appreciated. Clay, of course, was alarmed by the din and poked his head out of the shower with a worried, "Is everything okay, honey?" (He later told me he had pictured massive flames licking the ceiling, an obstacle he would have to dodge in order to make it out of our apartment alive and only wearing a towel.) Needless to say, he didn't eat the muffins.

Still my reserve grew stronger. The following week, I decided that, in honor of my husband's birthday, I would make the bread pudding he'd been talking about for months - from scratch, bread and all. I cracked open my cookbook, made a list of ingredients, and set off to the store. I returned home with confidence and began preparing my sourdough starter, which I let set out for 24 hours as detailed on page 32 of the Perini Ranch Cookbook. The next morning, I combined the starter, flour, baking soda, and water, then let it set out to rise (along with my spirits - I'm really getting this! I thought). It wasn't until the following day when I pulled the towel off the bowl that I realized something was terribly amiss. An acrid smell was coming from the bowl, and where the dough mixture had previously been, the kitchen goblins had placed a tough crusted layer covering some incredibly sickening sticky goo. Although I was more than happy to discard of this strange concoction, I was crushed to see it bagged up and tossed in the dumpster.

Now this desperate housewife prefers to stick to the pre-packaged frozen dinners and "just add water" meals until this culinary thunderstorm blows over.

1 comment:

Rachel Masters said...

wow. Hm....that's...interesting...and humorous at the same time...kind of like dad's snake story which he decided to unveil for the first time this past weekend. He'll have to tell you...in person. Anyway..good luck with the cooking thing...:-S