Saturday, September 12, 2009

the universe does not want me to bake

Remember last November when the great cookie carnage of '08 occurred? Little did I realise that this signaled the beginning of a trend. I have been trying to up my game a little, since my roommate can turn out the most amazing treats with little more than butter, sugar, caramel and showtunes. But whenever I attempt anything more challenging than a Krust-Eaze box mix, the results usually go horribly awry.

It doesn't help that Jeff is trying to get me interested in period cooking. As a colonial woman, of course cooking would be my responsibility, and it's one that I genuinely AM interested in, especially since I get to play with fires. But it hasn't been going so well. I'm trying to master a Sally Lunn receipe, which is flour, water, eggs, sugar, uh, salt, and yeast. And I have yet to not kill the first batch of yeast, so I always end up using twice as many packets. Then of course there was my unintentional over-spraying of the pan, resulting in a lovely puddle of...whatever it is they put in non-stick cooking spray. (not historically accurate, I know, but then again, neither are electric ovens) Jeff even bought me the a copy of the Gentlewoman's Companion, a CW publication that has over five-hundred receipes, all printed in the original eighteenth century dialect. Which is nice, except for the baking times: "Bake in a moderate oven." Ooookay. Thank heavens for margins where I can scribble modern interpretations and notes. (1 pint=2 cups. Bake at 350 for approx. 20 minutes...)

Jeff was off at a workshop today, so I decided to try to find something I could make for dinner. Most of the receipes called for ingredients that I didn't have ("take a piece of lard the size of a goodly egg...") but I finally settled on breaded lamb chops and Yorkshire pudding. I love Yorkshire pudding, but I haven't had it since England, so I was excited. And the receipe was easy: three eggs, well beaten, a cup and a half of sweet milk, three tablespoons of butter, melted, a cup and a half of flour, sifted. Mix together well, pour into a shallow pan, bake in a hot oven. ("400 degrees for 30 min/425, 25 min?") The pudding, baked in a Pyrex pie pan, turned out glorious. It bubbled up in the middle, butter pooling around the edges, and then sank back down when I took it out of the oven, just like I remembered. Finally, I thought--something right.

Then Jeff and Nicole came over. Nicole is learning how to build men's waistcoats from scratch and Jeff is her guinea pig. I directed him to the bangers I had bought for dinner and started the process of reducing potatoes to mash...until Nicole asked if the pudding was supposed to be smoking. Jeff had turned the burner on under the pudding, not the burner under the pan o' bangers, and the pudding was burning. I grabbed up a towel, moved the pudding to another burner to cool off and turned off the offending burner. I stood there, towel in hand, intently studying the pudding to see if it had been burned when--


The Pyrex exploded. Shards flew everywhere, hiding themselves in corners and liberally dusting the scones I had made earlier. My heart, moments before preoccupied with beating normally while I saved the pudding, moved instantly into overdrive. Kismet came over to investigate, until Nicole grabbed his collar. I was so shocked I couldn't speak.

We cleaned the kitchen up. Pyrex may be indestructible, but once it destructs, it is some nasty edges and sharp pointy bits. HOT sharp pointy bits. But we got it cleaned up. I threw away the pudding, and a couple of scones, not wishing to inflict a horrible lingering death on my dinner guests, but oh, how my heart ached for that lovely, golden brown pudding.

Now, I was angry. I knew, logically, that it was an accident--that our stove does not make it easy for you to know which knob to turn--had made the same mistake myself once or twice--roommate had shattered a Pyrex lid only last year--but all the same, I was angry. I stomped around and held back tears, and in the end, just hugged Jeff and apologised.

"I'm not angry at you," I said, he looking earnestly and apologetically at me, "I'm mad at the universe. Apparently the universe does not want me to bake. Just when I thought I was going to succeed, the universe notices and says "oh no you don't!" and snatches victory out of my grasp."

Little does the the universe know I'm going to attempt blueberry pie tomorrow...

1 comment:

Peter said...

how old was that pyrex? apparently the stuff from 10-15 years ago is the real deal borosilicate that is highly temperature resistant, but anything from the last 10 years is just cheap tempered glass... hey, today I was going to make hot dogs, got distracted and boiled off the water so now my kitchen smells like burnt enamel. I think I might have ruined the saucepan. so even the simplest things get inadvertently screwed up.