Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cooking Buffalo Pucky

Never watch cooking shows while you are cooking.  I think this should be rule number one to living a happy life when you are blessed with sub-par cooking skills.  Cooking Shows+Cooking=Bad.  So don't do it.

I have wonderfully fantastic sub-par cooking skills.  I figure that if it doesn't smell burnt and I'm not chipping charcoal off the edges off of whatever I just baked, then I'm doing good.  If my family eats it with no complaint, then I give myself a hearty kudos.  Heck, I don't care if it looks like straight up vomit as long as it is edible.  (SIDE NOTE: I do have a dessert concoction that my kids lovingly call Apple Barf because it LOOKS disgusting but it TASTES fantastic)  I don't cook artistically, which is probably why my perpetually hungry boys will eat just about anything I put in front of them.  Raw sushi?  ::snort:: That stuff is inhaled, especially since I regularly plop Quinoa blobs on their plates and they can't discernibly name a singe ingredient.  I suppose it's all about what you are exposed to.

Which is why I should NEVER watch cooking shows.

The problem is: I love watching them.  Iron Chef, Iron Chef America, Rachel Ray... I could list about twenty of them.  My latest Kryptonite is BBC's The Great British Bake Off.  It's amazing!  The amateur bakers have to make these impossible recipes from scratch, many of which they've never heard of, and do it perfectly. I can take that show with me anywhere in the house, which explains a lot. Cooking shows are so enthralling, I end up burning my own dinner.  My iPad is the guillotine of dinner cooked sans the smoke alarm going off.   Flour on the floor, sugar in every nook and cranny of my cutlery drawer, the mounting pile of dirty dishes and the frankly alarming smell I can't find the origin of.  The iPad and my kitchen are not a good mix.

The Bake Off is primarily desserts and pastries.  Not that I am complaining.  They look good enough for me to want to eat my iPad screen.  But, the show is starting to give me dangerous ideas.  Like.... I might be able to cook like those crazy talented bakers on the show.  It totally looks possible.  For them.  For me is another matter entirely. What I should have done was slap down my unprotected hand on a red hot burner and told myself to walk away from the mixer, but I didn't.

It's as if I have a stage marker for stupidity and I can land on it, on cue, every time.  I'm wonderfully reliable that way.  Regardless, I woke up this morning in a delirious, half-dazed haze with the baking bug.  I was going to bake two loaves of cinnamon nut cranberry bread and two plain loaves along with shredded pork and homemade BBQ sauce for dinner.  Ambitious?  Nah.  The folks on the cooking show made this stuff look like a walk in the park.  So says the gal that chugged about a pint of DayQuil (that would be me).

Just to set the stage here, I came down with a nasty flu-like thing that has my head in a full nelson.  The previous day I had done an hour of yoga and an hour of MMA on an ankle that is only one month post surgery (needless to say, I am super sore).  I was operating on a scant few hours of sleep and I was super cranky.  Thanks to DayQuil, I got the brilliant idea that THIS time it was going to be different.  THIS time I was going to be that baker mom kids brag about to their friends.

I should have stayed in bed.

I started with the Cranberry Nut bread.  I can make bread in my sleep.  It's not hard.  All I do is turn on the bread machine to the dough setting, toss everything in, cut into loaves and bake.  I cheat for the sake of my sanity.  Adding extra components is apparently more difficult.  I added... and added and buttered and sugared it.  The dough mixture was so thick, I could knock myself out with it.  Which also meant that even though the crust was black, the insides were runny.  Not doughy.  Runny.  Not sure how that happened, but it met a tragic, gooey end.  Then it was on to the regular bread.  Easy peasy, right?  While plain loaves were rising, I began shredding pork and making BBQ sauce.  I'm pretty good at BBQ sauce.  I think it's one of those things that gets noogied into the head after living in the south for seven years.  The problem was the pork.

Shredding pork is not hard.  Hanging onto the bowl with slippery pork hands is (and at this point I was a little hung over).  The space between the counter and the fridge is less than three feet, which is PLENTY enough space to let the bowl go flying to the floor.  Awesome.  Hungover or not, I move pretty fast when I have to rugby tackle the dog before she went hog wild lapping it up.

After shoving the dog out on the back porch (you should have heard the whining.  She thinks I am SUCH a mean mom!), I rescued the pork off the floor and put the over-risen loaves of plain bread in the oven.  I was bushed and I'd had enough.  According to my iPad, Nancy from the Bake Off just pulled out a show stopping loaf of a Croatian bread I can't even pronounce.  Danged iPad.  I figure it was about time to lie down.  Sweat was forming a river down the side of my face and I was putting off more heat than the oven. The flu was barking.  Sleep seemed like a novel idea...

BIG mistake.

I was awoken by the ear splitting screech of the smoke alarm.  Plain loaves are smoking up the kitchen and I pull them to safety.  They're done.  Really done.  Blackened seems to be my forte.  By the time my boys walk in the house from school, they are greeted by the usual acrid cloud cover in the kitchen and the symphony of buzzers, timer beeps and alarms.

I expected them to head straight for the potato chips or cookies my hubby made (he is an AMAZING baker), but no.  They want a hunk of burnt bread, all the cooked parts of the doughy sweet bread failure and are over the moon that we are having real Southern BBQ for dinner.  Bless their stomachs of steel!

My only consolation is that one day their wives will thank me for being a horrible cook.