Friday, February 6, 2015

Winter Soup + Other Disasters

Amber Leigh Williams

Making Valentine's Day sweets for the family
Three years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to learn to cook. I stuck to it in my own roundabout way…by forgetting I had a New Years resolution altogether…until the following year when Valentine’s Day rolled around and I threw together my first cake – a strawberry cream cheese confection made from scratch. Luckily, this first cooking experience was a positive one and is even spoken of in reverent tones by my husband and others who were fortunate enough to sneak a bite under his nose. Encouraged, I continued to try my hand at cooking. Maybe I could be good at it. It made sense. My maternal grandmother is an excellent cook and baker. My sister and I once begged her to open her own restaurant...or at least publish her own cookbook. (So far, no go on both fronts but we're still trying!) 

Over the last couple of years, I’ve compiled my own list of dishes that have been well-received by members of the household. I’ve grown to enjoy cooking as I never thought I would. My sister got me a monogrammed apron for Christmas. My husband begs for my homemade carrot cake whenever Easter or his birthday rolls around. My cousin texts me regularly asking me to cook chicken lazone for him during his next visit. As good as the compliments make me feel, the best thing about cooking is the release. It's an unexpected way for me to riddle out my own thought-kinks. And can I just say that nothing works out aggression like potato-peeling! 
Cooking is a rewarding process. Sometimes something or other will wind up getting burnt. Something always spills over, guaranteed. When trying out a new dish, I’ve discovered that if I don’t at some point get lost or think the dish will turn out to be an unmitigated disaster, it won’t turn out right. Strange but true. Thankfully, not one of my cooking experiences has turned into a disaster….
Okay, now I’m lying. It took two years, but it finally happened. A cooking disaster of epic proportions. A few weeks ago, my husband was recovering from a bad cold. The days had turned frigid and gray, even for our balmy corner of the Gulf Coast. While perusing (i.e. procrastinating) online, I came across a recipe for broccoli and cheddar soup and wanted desperately to try it out. What could be better than a bowlful of broccoli and cheddar on a cold, windy night? When I worked outside the home, I remember going to a local restaurant on lunch breaks in the winter and ordering broccoli and cheddar soup. It would warm me right up. Not to mention, mm mm good!

Carrot Cake, a personal favorite from the recipe box!

I meant well. I really did. That being said, I gathered all the ingredients I would need and set about the seemingly simple process of bringing the recipe to fruition. It seemed to be working rather well…. That is, until it came time to blend the mixture. I didn’t have a food processor handy so I decided that the best thing to do would be to put it all in the blender and hit puree. Little did I know, our blender is a bit...hm, shall we say temperamental? What followed was madness and hilarity I would have only thought appropriate for a book heroine trying her hand at cooking for the very first time. The lid of the blender loosened and not only was I covered in hot broccoli and cheddar soup. So were the counters and floors as well as our cooktop with its warm burners, the front of the kitchen cabinets and, sadly yes, the white ceiling. My laptop which had been set up nearby with the recipe on the screen was sprayed—so much so the keyboard had to be removed and cleaned thoroughly inside and out for all the buttons to work properly again. My young son happened to wander into the room shortly after the mess happened and tracked the gooey, vegetable-y mess over the white carpet in the next room. (Note: white carpet and toddlers...not the best combo.)
Needless to say, the whole soupy fiasco put me off broccoli and cheddar soup for good. So discouraged was I by the experience, I didn’t cook for a week…which was about how long it took for me and my husband to find all the little nooks and crannies the soup found its way into and clean them thoroughly. Now that we can finally look back and laugh over it, I’m back to cooking. Not only that, I’m currently writing the first few chapters of my fourth hometown romance. The heroine, Roxie, coincidentally knows less about cooking than I did two years ago. My soup catastrophe has lent me a bit of inspiration. Why not have her try her hand at cooking or baking and experience a few hits and misses of her own? How many ways are there to screw up a home-cooked pie, I wonder? It looks like it’s back to the kitchen for some hands-on research. The hubby and toddler have been warned....

How about you, readers? Have you had any funny (or not-so funny) cooking disasters of your own? Feel free to sound off! And a Happy (upcoming) Valentine’s Day to everyone!

14 comments:

penney said...

I know the feeling on kitchen messes,
I had it happen to me years ago when I worked at a hamburger store, the boss told me to make a milk shake and I never made one I just took the ordered and severed them up so when I put the shake in the blender and for got the lid it went all over the window it was the last time he ever ask me to make a chocolate shake!
Not long ago we brought a big 7 up bottle and I had just open it and then drop it, the bottle hit the floor and the 7 up went right up me soaked my head hair and the ceiling, we all laugh so hard.
Penney

Mary Preston said...

I made an apricot chicken for guests - seriously yum & easy. Taking it out of the oven I dropped the lot. I would have just picked it up & served it but I got caught.

kris said...

Oh, Amber!

Two words: IMMERSION BLENDER. Seriously the BEST tool when it's time to puree a soup. I use mine all the time.

I'm a good cook, but my kids will happily tell anyone about the time I forgot the sugar in the Christmas cheesecake. Or when I forgot to add sugar to the cranberry bread. Or the time I put sugar into the broccoli soup when I should have used flour. And I made so many mistakes the first time I made buckeye candies that around here they're called ... well ... let's just say, it rhymes with BUCKeyes ...

Julia Broadbooks said...

I let my then 10yo help in the kitchen. She added flour to the dough and then turned on the mixer. On high. Flour went everywhere. We were covered. The counter, the mixer, the floor. I thought it was hilarious but she was hesitant to use the mixer for years after that.

Amber Leigh Williams said...

penney, I always thought the blender bit in movies was a bit repetitious. Now I realize why they recycle that bit over and over again - because it really happens and it really does make a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mess, LOL

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Mary, oh no! That reminds me of the time I was cooking for my father for the first time during his first overnight stay at the house my husband and I had recently moved into, our first. I made homemade mac-and-cheese, one of his favorite side dishes. I was so flustered, I forgot to use pot holders when I took it out of the oven. Bad, bad burns on my hands.

Amber Leigh Williams said...

kris, thank you for the tip! I will remember that for my birthday: immersion blender. I'm sure the hub will be happy to oblige. And my mother is famous for once leaving the sugar out of her cheesecake. I still pick on my sister for once also leaving the sugar out of a jug of lemonade, poor girl.

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Julia, I don't blame her. I approach the mixer quite dubiously as well :-)

Nan Dixon said...

Love that story! My sister did the same thing -- with pumpkin soup. What a mess.
Invest in an immersion blender. I love mine! Plus the version that comes from Costco has other cool attachments!

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Nan,an immersion blender is on my birthday list!

joye said...

I have tried and tried to make souffl├ęs and just can not get them to work. Maybe it is the recipe I use or the method. Just does not work for me.
jwisley8@me.com

Amber Leigh Williams said...

joye, souffles sound very fancy! Perhaps a little too sophisticated for me. I still haven't turned out a good pie, LOL

linda s said...

When we lived in Korea the bag labels were all in Korean. The powdered sugar and flour bags were nearly identical. I was making gingerbread to make the pieces for twenty gingerbread houses. It was late, I was tired. When the dough was too sticky I just added more and more and more flour until I could roll it out. I put the first cookie sheet in the oven in minutes later could smell burnt sugar. The cookie pieces had melted and run into the bottom of my gas stove where the sugar turned to char. What a mess. It took days to clean the oven and get the smell out of the apartment

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Linda, oy, that does sound like a mess!

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