September 26, 2010

adventures in cooking: failures

I like cooking and baking. It's true. Contrary to popular opinion (or what I like to think is a popular opinion), I do not always succeed all of the time. Don't be shocked - it's true. Three examples for you:

Jucy Lucys

I have been trying on and off for over a year to make successful Jucy Lucys. Restaurant worthy Jucy Lucys. I've cooked them too long so all the cheese has already oozed out and then used a George Foreman grill that puts pressure on the burger so that the cheese oozes out. So I've been convinced that a grill pan will change the way I attempt to bungle a Jucy Lucy.

A grill pan! Jucy Lucys! Let's watch and see how I mess it up this time...

Aw, they come apart in the middle! I need to find some better strategy of putting the burgers together. I'll figure it out one of these days.

Next up: Homemade pizza.

But don't I make homemade pizza all the time? Yes. Yes, I do. One of Andrew's friends has coincidentally come over two nights in the last two weeks when I've made pizza and he's convinced it's the only thing we eat.

However, we received a pizza stone as a wedding present (remember all that packaging?) and went out and picked up a pizza peel with which to cook pizza. Friday we made a pizza on the peel, ready to put it in the oven on our new pizza stone and make some delicious pizza...

And it bombed. Bombed terribly. The pizza wouldn't slide off the peel but some of the toppings fell off into the oven. We had to move the pizza onto a pan, a pan I forgot to oil, making it difficult to serve the pizza. Disaster all around.

My Jackson Pollock pizza stone, stained for all eternity with the marks of my failure. I'm going to bake some bread today in an attempt to figure out the best way to work the pizza peel before trying pizza again.

And finally: Pumpkin bread.

The picture doesn't look terrible, but baking it was an ordeal. I mixed the ingredients together in the wrong order (I skimmed the recipe poorly, but in my defense I feel specific things could have been worded differently. Like when you say "mix together dry ingredients" but don't mean sugar, don't write "dry ingredients." Name them if you're not going to include all the dry ingredients listed at the top. But I digress). The cream cheese on the inside wasn't the right softness, making it difficult to spread on top of the batter. The recipe was for 3 mini-loaves and I only have one regular size bread pan so it overflowed on one side. I anticipated this though, and put a pan underneath the bread pan in the oven. It caught the overflow so I didn't have to clean out the oven afterwords - just pick up some of the pizza toppings that fell off that damn peel.

Oh well. I'm going to make granola today and I know that can redeem this weekend of horrible cooking and baking. We also have an acorn squash that's taunting me from the counter. That pumpkin bread recipe used up the last of the brown sugar so I wanted to buy more before eating it. If you're going to do it, might as well do it right.

So... new job: I am the corporate volunteer liaison for the reading program I served at last year. I'm digging it. I spent all Friday morning adapting a powerpoint to use with community volunteers and I felt like a champion. Technically my job is to coordinate volunteer opportunities for the various corporate donors of my program as well as support the current volunteer coordinators at our various sites around the state. I've only been doing it for two weeks, but I enjoy it so far. I miss the kids I worked with at the YWCA, but I'm going to volunteer there once a week - remind myself why I'm doing what I'm doing.

All right, time to go. I'm going for a walk and perusing some of the shops downtown - just looking for now until our finances aren't so touch and go. Picking up some flour and brown sugar for this afternoon's baking - things I know I can't mess up like hummus, salsa and granola. Maybe some Italian bread in an attempt to make the pizza peel love me.

Bacher out.


Patti said...

Have you tried a baking soda/water paste to get the stain of the pizza stone? Or bleach, toothpaste, or laundry stain remover? Just ideas. Might work.

Kari said...

It's possible to mess up hummus. Remember?

Bacher out.

Katie said...

I think I read somewhere that staining of the peel is inevitable, and a good sign of use...also I'm wondering if once it becomes more "seasoned" it will slide off easier, either through use or a rub down with oil maybe. Can't remember where I read that though. Good luck!

lindsay said...

I ended up rubbing flour on the peel and sprinkling it with a lot of cornmeal. It worked fine! I am a pizza-stone-maker!

I'm not too worried about the stains - it sits in the oven and no one sees it anyway. Plus I think trying to get them off will take away some of the seasonings, like a cast iron skillet.