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The Infamous Carrot Fiasco, and other stories

posted 12/8/2010 6:30:17 PM |
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I come from a line of fantastic cooks. Not Chefs, but home cooks whose food is always delicious and filling, no matter what. We used nothing prepared, it was all whole ingredients mixed with love. Real food for real people.

Some of my first memories are peeling potatoes in the little house on Canyon Creek. I'd be up on my high chair, maybe 4 years old, weilding a potato peeler like I had good sense and every so often, Mom and I would sneak a slice of raw potato to chew on. If you haven't tried it.. don't mock.

I also remember helping Grandma bake cookies every weekend for Grandpa. I particularly fondly remember the black walnut flavored oatmeal cookies. Yum!

Sunday dinner at the Grandparent's house was always something to look forward to. Everyone brought a dish or two and there was always more than enough food for everyone. Even if, as sometimes happened, guests dropped by for lunch. To this day, the smell of a garlic laden beef roast can turn me into a little kid. I can hardly wait to sink my teeth into it.

The ladies of my family are not followers. Recipe? Who needs a steeenking recipe? A couple handfuls of this, a pinch of that.. maybe another pinch. Does it look right? Cook it til it's done. Do you know how frustrating it is for people to learn to cook that way? Do you?

Well, needless to say, as I was learning to cook, there were numerous fiascos. Not tiny, minor, nobody notices fiascos. But failures of epic proportion. Failures that would be laughed about(even eventually by the fail creator) for years.

I think I was in the 5th grade when my little brother, cousin and I decided to make muffins. Now realize, still, I'm not tall enough to work on the actual counters. They are head height for me. It's not going to happen.

So, we get out a bowl and the recipe (such as it was) and put to work. Flour, salt, baking soda, sugar, (we liked em sweet) all into the bowl.. stir vigorously. I believe that Dwayne (my cousin) was on stir duty that morning. I think that at least 2/3 of the powdery stuff remained in the bowl. Then milk, eggs and oil .. hit it with the hand mixer. VIGOROUSLY! Did you know that when you are sitting on the floor you can paste Muffin batter on the ceiling just by spinning the handle on the hand mixer really really fast and not making sure you're in the bowl. Well.. we did. I don't even remember if the muffins were good. They must have been, we ate them.

Mom, who was always in some sort of dither or another, had a cow. Right there in the kitchen. I still don't think that she believes we were actually using the hand beater.

Another time, I was asked to pound some tough steak. Ok.. I can do that. We've got a meat hammer. Toss the steak on the cutting board and heave to. Now, I don't like a job half done. It's either done to excess or forget about it. That was the most tender steak ever!

Mom had a cow. What? I ask you? So there was a little blood all over the kitchen? Geeze, I was only doing what I was told.

Seventh grade came, and the advent of learning ratios. Remember that I'm blond here. I wanted pudding. We always made home made pudding. No big deal, I'd done it ten or so times before. So I get the Betty out and find the recipe. For some unknown reason, my little pea brain rationalized that the fractions were ratios. so 1/2 cup ended up 1 to 2 cups. Do you have any idea what happens to corn starch when you add far too much of it along with far too much milk? Nowadays, in the laboratories they call it Newtonian fluid. You can walk on the stuff.

There was would be pudding everywhere. It crawled out of the pan, slithered across the stove and onto the floor. I swear, I think at one point it stopped and waved. I was freaked out. I just could not understand how this could happen. So, I screamed for Mom.

Smart move Murgatroyd, she's still sharing that little story with her friends.

However, don't let this all fool you. There were kitchen fiascos that didn't even involve me. Like the red Jello that you could bounce knives off of. I bet you could tape it to a wall if you wanted to. It was that solid. I wasn't even in the room. So I cannot take the blame.

Then there was the cake that came out as hard as bricks. You couldn't really cut it. You had to get a chisel out and sorta chip away at it. Even the chickens wouldn't eat it. It sat in the yard for weeks before it finally broke down enough to fall apart. Again, not my fault.

We had good times in the kitchen though. Bread baking day was my very favorite. Beating up the dough, watching it rise, beating it up again. Then that first loaf out of the oven. (we made enough for a small battalion) That first loaf had a name and it was named, Sacrifice.

We did not even let that bad boy cool down. Mom ripped it apart and doused it liberally with butter and honey. You ate it before it stopped burning your fingertips. Oh .. man that was good. (no wonder my butt is so big?)

We made homemade taffy in the winters. Many an evening were spent with my brother and I twisting, pulling and stretching that goop out til it was the right consistency. Mmmm, home made Molasses Taffy! There's nothing store bought to compare it to. Somehow we even managed not to get it all over the kitchen.

And now on the Infamous Carrot Incident. No, daughter of mine, I'm not actually talking about the fact that Grandma B makes Pumpkin Pie out of Carrots rather than Pumpkin.

My Pops was farting around in the kitchen one day, irking Mom and being a general smart arse. Nothing unusual there. But this time she had a carrot in her hand and she threatened him that if he didn't behave she was going to give him a black eye. She shook this big old carrot pretty hard, evidently as the butt end snapped off. It flew across the room, (I'm pretty sure it happened in slow motion.) and whacked Dad in the eye. Yes, he had a black eye. But he really cannot say that he wasn't warned!

So, yes, in our house the kitchen is the heart of the home. The heart, the stomach and sometimes even the butt.

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Taz: the little ball of fluff that could. (another pet story)
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I Sold My Soul To Dr. Seuss
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Dec 8 @ 6:47PM  
i know well about cooking with a dab of this, a pinch of that, and nope, needs more of this. and i've had my share of failures to. don't think i had any as fun as yours were, but they did and still happen. too big a dash of something. i don't cook much now, but when i do, stay out of the way, ya might get covered in some thing.

and reading this, i remember my moms home made bread. fresh out of the over, to hot to cut, and slathered in butter. oh how i wish i had learned to make bread while she was alive. i can faintly smell it now. and this has made me hungry. so guess i best head to the kitchen and see what i can throw together. like a grilled cheese sandwich, and get back out to the shop.

Dec 8 @ 7:03PM  
Then there was the cake that came out as hard as bricks.

OMG we still talk about my big sisters first cake It was chocolate in the big 8 X 13? Anyway when it came out it had split down the middle now mind you not all the way then on each side was a bit of a split My mom laughed so hard at her (I was the youngest so it took me a few to catch on) so every now and then we tease my sis if she's made any cakes lately (She hasn't since either

Dec 8 @ 7:06PM  
My grandmother, and all of the ladies in that generation, were marvelous cooks and bakers. I mean from scratch, not like I do. These women were farm wives who got up at four in the morning and baked homemade pies for the men folks and followed it up with an outstanding country breakfast.

Yes, it was a different time and memory. We will never see those days again. At this time of year, I harken back to my grandmother and send her affirmations through the Spirit for the enrichment of my life

Dec 8 @ 7:35PM  
Personally, I only use recipes for comparison. I own roughly 100 cookbooks, and I will dig through em, look more up on line, and in the end combine what I like best out of every recipe I find and make it the way I want.

We have lots of family cooking stories too. Many silly references too. My granny didn't like to follow directions or recipes, she was always sure she could do it better her way. Sugar? Sugar was for wimps! If the cookies should have 1 cup, well by golly, 1/4 cup was plenty and you better shut up and enjoy those little tasteless bricks! My sister married a Scotsman, and he requested that she make him some scones once. My sister asked my granny for her recipe, and while making them, commented "I wonder if these will be as dry and tasteless and Granny's were?"

Good memories. Thanks, Sam, for bringing them back.

Dec 9 @ 2:10AM  
...I am still waiting to find out what a "poodle" of apples is...was...and if I got it right?????

Dec 9 @ 7:33PM  
There was would be pudding everywhere. It crawled out of the pan, slithered across the stove and onto the floor. I swear, I think at one point it stopped and waved. I was freaked out. I just could not understand how this could happen. So, I screamed for Mom.

Smart move Murgatroyd, she's still sharing that little story with her friends.

I was chuckling at the tenderized steak..and then ran across this ^^^^^^ and I couldn't stop laughing!

I admit, I have to have a recipe as a guide. No matter what I do, I've even followed Grandma's cookie recipes to the letter, and mine never turn out as soft as hers. Grandma made all sorts of cookies from sugar cookies, to chocolate chip/walnuts, oatmeal/raisins, and peanut butter cookies. Grandma was quite the cook, and yes, she cooked from scratch...none of that store bought "junk" as she called it. My Mom, she used to make bread, I remember helping her with that, and her home made egg noodles. And both Mom and Grandma's homemade chicken and dumplings..

Those were the days.

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The Infamous Carrot Fiasco, and other stories