Complete Failure


This week is definitely a chicken week, and right now I have this delicious chicken (whole, cut up) marinating in buttermilk for homemade fried chicken tonight. I must say, I have never successfully made fried chicken that tasted anything good like what you get out, but this time I have Alton on my side.

So we can hope.

Since I have that hope, the hope of a delicious fried chicken, green beans, and buttermilk biscuits, today I will warily go into the realm of another Complete Kitchen Failure (tm….HAH! Like I have the copyright to complete kitchen failures. That’s …well someone else famous I don’t like who only supplies me with awful recipes)

Anyway. So. This was a day, quite like every other day, back before Josh and I were married. It was a class day, and he had work. I would be out all day, incapable of coming home to fix us anything before he arrived. Letting him cook results in a very. late. dinner – he doesn’t get home until 5, and his specialties either take multiple hours to cook, or are also known by the little glove with the face. (did that glove ever freak anyone else out as a child?)

Anyway. That’s not the point – the point is that I chose that day to make something in the crock pot, the almighty hail to delicious food in no time. Plug and go cooking, ftw. (for the win. If you didn’t get that, you probably didn’t get the title reference either. Sorry)

So I had looked up a few recipes on the ever-mighty cooks.com, and also checked google, until I’d found a couple good crock recipes. Crock cooking is not exactly in my cooking history, I’m still learning. I picked up a few great ones – like taco chips, and the ever delicious stew. Oh, that stew was good. Josh was not a fan, but I was fan enough for five of us.

Anyway, he loves Stroganoff – or so I used to think. He actually hates Stroganoff with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns, but he didn’t know that yet. See, back then all he knew was his version, which was that little man-hand-thing-freak (though tasty, I do like their Stroganoff). All I knew how to make was my version, which involved 3 onions sauteed and a can of cream of mushroom soup. If you know my Josh, you know that either of those things are sins against the establishment. So off I was to find a recipe for stroganoff where I could leave the Sins Against the Establishment out. (Little did I know back then that Stroganoff means, basically, cooked in a mushroom and onion gravy. I could have looked for “Beef in brown sauce” and it would have been exactly what he wanted.) Oh, also there’s a variant with mustard, but that even I knew was not what he required.

However, in my ignorance, I persevered! I found one where it didn’t involve french onion soup or cream of mushroom, and I set to creation. However, it did call for the strangest thing: 8 oz of tomato puree? What? What?!

This must be a secret ingredient, like sugar in pizza! Nobody knows you added the 2 tablespoons of sugar to the pizza sauce, they just know they want to jack an IV of the stuff into their arm.

So I follow the recipe diligently again, leaving out the onions and the mushrooms. This should be tasty! I close up the crock and plug it in. Off we go to work!

I return before he does, only to smell something odd. I have forgotten about the stroganoff by now, I have homework to do and Josh will be home soon. But something sure does smell odd…

Later, I remember what that has to be. My cell beeps to say that the stroganoff is done now, and if we’re not ready to eat I need to add a 1/4 cup of water, or everything will go dry. I go check the stroganoff, lift the lid, and death stares back. It is as though necromancy has been performed on this lifeless chunk of meat. It has its soul back, and that soul hates me.

I yank the cord from the wall, all electrical safety flown from my head, and slam the lid back down on the beast. Shortly thereafter, the smell dissipates slightly, and I, the ever-curious cat, open the lid again.

Well, 4 lives down, 3 to go. Oops.

Actually, this time it smells much better, and it only looks like death. Odd. Well, Josh is home by this time, and I tell him about the incident. Something possesses us to eat the stuff.

Wow, that was a bad idea. It tasted like tomatoey vomit. The acid from the tomatoey vinegary stuff had basically disintegrated the beef, leaving little beefy chunks. It was slightly pink. I have never in my life eaten something so vile, so vomit inducing (which I nearly did) as I did that night, and I hope I never do again.

There. You have my most embarrassing cooking moment. Are you happy??

Grumble. Least I have chicken…

Josh thought it would be a mark to my credibility to write down my most major cooking screw-ups. Obviously, people being sadists, they would love to hear about all of my cooking mistakes (and oh, do I remember each one acutely).

Here is one for you. Never, ever ever ever, and I never say never, but really –

Just don’t ever make butternut squash soup using the recipe on the Food Network.

I followed the recipe. I followed it diligently. I lift a spoon to my lips and it tastes…all right. Kind of bland, but very squashy. Kind of…aftertaste. My mouth makes a funny shape and I unconsciously start scraping my tongue off with my teeth.

“Housemate!” (Josh is not yet home at this hour, so housemate is my guinea pig.) “Housemate, come taste this. See if there’s something wrong with it.”

Housemate comes bounding out, as usual delighted to be my guinea pig. Apparently he didn’t hear the part where I said, see if there’s something wrong with it.

He looks at what’s there. “Huh.” I hand him a spoon.

“It’s….all right….” is the verdict a few minutes later.

Salt! Salt will fix this! I salt it again and let it boil some more. After all, salt will bring out the delicious squash flavors, and that will – should – heaven I hope – mellow out that aftertaste.

How foolish. Salt is indiscriminate. It made all the flavors more intense, and now the aftertaste is more punguent, more all-consuming, and more vile than ever. I grimace and go fetch myself a glass of milk. A sadist myself, and not one to suffer alone, “Housemate! See if this tastes better!”

He comes out. He tastes. He, like I so shortly before, nearly retches. I hand him the glass of milk and say, “Cheesy Hashbrowns or Stroganoff?”