Thursday, April 05, 2012

Going to plan B…. and plan C….

I fairly regularly have minor disasters in the kitchen when it comes to preparing food -- it’s usually nothing very terrible, just the frustration of things not going exactly as planned.

The day before my last victim came for lunch, I found myself standing at the counter and picking out rice noodles from the vegetables of the Pad Thai dish I had made because it was only after I had put the meal together and tasted it that I realize the noddles were not quite cooked enough.

It seems intuitive that one would actually test the cooked noodles before adding them to the vegetables, but for some reason I didn’t – I had followed the cooking directions on the package and just assumed they would be done. So I had to cook them some more and then add them back. I was very glad that I had decided to make the dish a day ahead.

I had another little adventure in the kitchen recently. Having cruised by the market early Monday morning to see if there was any interesting meat marked down from not having been sold over the weekend, I found some really good deals on some steak and a very nice chuck roast.

On the way home the wheels began to spin about what I should do with this meat – all of them involving my large crock pot: Make chunks out of it and fix stew? Cover it in mushroom soup and onion soup mix? Make beef burgioni (that’s our joke pronunciation around here for boeuf bourguignon)?

I wrestled with this for a couple of more days and then realized if I didn’t do something quickly with the meat it was going to end up in the garbage, so I decided to make Willow Manor’s pot roast (which I have blogged about before).

I rubbed the spice mixture on the meat and turned the heat up under the big cast iron skillet and when it was good and hot I started to brown the meat. While that was sizzling I went in search of the raisins, which go in the sauce. I found them all right. And so had the ants. Even though the box of raisins was still wrapped in its the original cellophane packaging, the ants had found a way inside. When I opened the box I could see they had been very busy for quite a while and it wasn’t going to be a matter of simply washing the ants off and salvaging the raisins.

The raisins were ruint. Ruint, I tell you.

I tried to figure out what to do next. I stood there dithering for a bit. Do I really want to drop everything and rush into town for more raisins? No, I do not. Did we have any other raisins about, say in the refrigerator? No. We did not (I was wrong, however, because there were raisins in the refrigerator – pushed all the way to the back and behind something, which is the topic of another post I will get around to some day).

Aha. I have craisins (sweetened dried cranberries) that are in a much more secure container and so I decided to use them instead of the raisins.

Having completed the sauce and browned the meat, I went into the storage room to get the crock-pot to cook it in and realized that the crock-pot was not there.

I had loaned it to Judy a week earlier so she could use it on Saturday before to keep soup warm at the birthday party she held for her husband. As we were getting ready to leave the party, I said, “Don’t worry about rushing to get the crock pot back to me. I almost never cook in it…”

Except now.

Now what? The oven temperature for the pot roast was supposed to be 220 to 225, but I did not want to fire up the oven for 3 hours to cook it (trying to conserve electricity, doncha know). Our small convection oven has 5 preset temperatures, with the two lowest at 200-210 and 300-350, so I put it on for 30 minutes at 300 and then 30 minutes at 200 and so it went for a couple of hours, and it turned out great.
And Judy brought my crock-pot back the next day.


Far Side of Fifty said...

When we lived in Florida I kept almost everything in the fridge unless it was in a can. I bet the Craisins worked just as good as might have created a new recipe:)

Cloudia said...

Keep discovering!


Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral


Oklahoma Granny said...

You're one creative lady!

Jenny Woolf said...

Haha - your cooking sounds like mine. Creative bodging I call it. Funny thing is often things are just as nice when I do them "my" (accidental) way.