Thursday, December 19, 2013

Life Lessons Month of December: Blog 3- Letters from Mom & Mimi

Hi Ellie!

Well, after reading your Mom’s blog last week, it seemed only apropos to piggyback off it with a few recipe blunders of my own!  Like mother; like daughter… you will see that the apple did not fall far from the tree in our yard!  I think that is good news for you El as ‘perfection’ in our two kitchens is not even on the grid!  So for my blog this week let’s go with:

Life Lesson Learned #42:  After 50 years, practice still doesn’t make perfect!

I will be the first to honestly admit that I am not chef material in any category El.  My recipe blunders come freely in the comfort of my very own kitchen!  You might be surprised by this admission, but if you have ever seen the cupboard above my stove you would think I was a Julia Child wanna-be!  Up till recently I have had it stocked with thousands of magazine recipes such as main entrees, soups, side dishes, salads and of course desserts all of which I have had every intention of someday creating.  You see El, I read recipes like romance novels… their words are a seduction to my palette.  And each time I find one that I fall in love with, well…. I carefully cut it out and store it in a place that is easily accessible to retrieve for all the times I plan on pretending to be a kitchen guru.  Well, Julia Child’s I am not, and those so called ‘times’ I thought would come never have as of this date.  In fact, not one of those numerous recipes have ever seen a mixing bowl, a baking dish, my stove or refrigerator, not even my kitchen counters and I can say with 99.99 percent accuracy that they probably never will!  And I am sure you are now thinking, “So why collect them?”  And the answer to that Ellie is, “I don’t have the slightest idea!” I would like to believe that with all the recipe reading I do, my kitchen skills would improve over time.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I am an eternal optimist!
Until then, the best I can do at the moment is add to your Mommy’s list of a few cooking tips that I have learned of what not to do in the kitchen:

1.)   Don’t try to double your great-grandfather Bud’s fudge recipe.  That’s what I did Ellie, and the reason I did it was to cut down on time (my first mistake)… and it backfired on me big time.  I had two big pots going full boil on the stove, one hand stirring the right pot clockwise and the other hand stirring the left pot counter-clockwise.  My arms got tired quickly so I upped the heat (my second mistake)… Don’t do that.  Make sure to use the candy thermometer properly (my third mistake).  Don’t round up.  And after pouring the fudge into a pan and refrigerating it for the proper time frame… don’t be so surprised when you take it out and it’s still ‘soup’ consistency.  My fifth mistake came when I asked your Great-Gram Bubbles what I should do.  Her answer was to pour the fudge into a jar, refrigerate it, and use as an ice-cream topping.   Sounds like a perfectly great idea right?  Wrong!  When we tried serving it this way, the ice-cream tasted as though it had a gritty sandpaper burnt chocolate taste drizzled all over the top of it.  At that moment, four pounds of fudge went right into the trash.

2.)   When making a turkey for dinner, check the bird’s cavity to see if there are little paper bags filled with the bird’s organs and remove them before placing the turkey in the oven.  All I will say is … Ooooops, your turkey may have a livery taste to it… not horrible, but not yummy delicious either!

3.)   If a recipe calls for 4 or 5 cloves of garlic, don’t add a ‘0’ to the end of either number just because the original recipe doesn’t look like it called for enough of them.  Apparently garlic does not have to be seen in a dish to give off a wonderful presentation (who knew???).  After serving your Poppy spaghetti and clams with 40 cloves… well, let’s just say it creates a 2 day upset stomach.  Knowing that I felt kind of bad for his illness, your Poppy found a perk to eating this revised dish.  He commented afterwards that if there were such a thing as vampires, he would be exempt from their bite in at least a 40-mile radius.  Leave it to Poppy to find words of kindness! 

4.)   When making Cajun fish, don’t ‘Cajun it to death.’  Your Poppy said I lit his butt on fire.

5.)   And lastly, when cooking, don’t train your family that the smoke alarm is the ‘call bell’ for “Dinner is Ready!”

So I guess the lesson I have learned Ellie is that mastering a recipe is definitely possible, but be ready for another mouth-watering challenge to take its place.  Remember, “Practice doesn’t always make perfect.”  It’s more like, “Practice paves the way to evolving.”  Like your Mommy said, “Kitchens are a great place for friends and family to congregate.  After all, food brings people together.”  So “blunder” away my little Ellie Crocker… and do it with love.  If you cook, people will come.

Love you bunches Ellie-bean,

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