Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Here's a Tip

You know those lights on your oven range, the ones with the word "HOT" right next to them, the ones that light up when your cook top is hot?

They might look something like this:

You really should pay attention to those lights. If you don't, you might find yourself in the unlucky situation I found myself in last night. In case you were wondering, plastic grocery bags are not impervious to the heat of a flat cook top.

Here's a close up.

Yep. Melted plastic.

I TOTALLY forgot that I had just removed a hot pot from the stove when I placed the bag on the cook top. You might be wondering why I had a plastic bag on the cook top in the first place. Well, I'll get to that; it's a long winding story, filled with many a detail, as most of my stories are.

First, I'd like to say that thanks to this yellow rubber scraper thingie

Some of this stuff

and some elbow grease, mixed with a few unsavory words muttered under my breath, once shiny and now sticky, yucky black cook top was restored to its natural luster.

Yesterday turned out to be one of those days in which I would have been better off staying out of the kitchen and ordering a pizza instead.

I'm a good cook; I'm an excellent baker. However, I'm also prone to some major ditzy kitchen moments. Not everything I do in that kitchen of mine comes out picture perfect and smelling like roses. You don't believe me, well, here's a list of some of my (documented) bone headed kitchen oopsies.

1. I burned the counter tops when I picked up a smoking pan, bare handed, and plopped it down on the counter. It was one of those moments where you're presented with a choice: save your hand or save your counter top. I chose my hand and now have a large cutting board strategically placed to cover the little bubbles in the counter top laminate.

Note to self: when you own your own home, get granite.

2. I set the smoke alarm off. Frequently.

3. I break blenders. Frequently.

4. Sometimes my cakes are ugly.

5. I forgot the laws of science and broke a hot dish by pouring cold water in it.

6. Oven spills and gnarled up spatulas

Obviously I'm not immune to kitchen disasters.

I set out yesterday to fix three things: dark chocolate truffle cheesecake with brownie base, cake mix biscotti and some 15 bean soup.

I started out okay; my afternoon of kitchen adventures seemed to be heading in the right direction.

And then my cheesecake cracked. No, it didn't just crack, it rose up and sunk deeply, leaving quite a crater.

It doesn't take a culinary genius to realize that something went terribly awry. Thankfully, this recipe calls for a chocolate drizzle. Drizzle, in my opinion, along with gravy, glaze and powdered sugar can cover a multitude of kitchen errors.

I eventually added a second drizzle of white chocolate for contrast, and to hide some of the gloppiness (see, it really wasn't my day!) but I failed to take a picture.


So, while the brownie base was baking, before the cheesecake layer was added, some of the brownie batter seeped out of the spring form pan, because I forgot to wrap it in foil. Consequently, there was some sort of goo on the oven floor, but I ignored it until I saw a little flicker from the heating element. Something wet came in contact with the heating element, causing some little embers in the oven. I feared a call to the fire department was in my future, but that was a solitary event.

Goopy oven. Cracked cheesecake. Melted plastic.

Oh, yes...the plastic.

So, I made some 15 bean soup for dinner. You buy the bag in the dried beans section, add the seasoning packet and some other ingredients and have a cheap, filling and healthy(ish) dinner. This particular bean mix called for some smoked sausage and chicken to be added. I nixed the chicken and bought some turkey smoked sausage this past Saturday to add to our soup. I cooked the beans until they were almost done, added the seasoning packet as the recipe suggested and added the sliced turkey sausage. AFTER I added the sausage, NOT BEFORE, which would have proven to be quite helpful, I checked the expiration date on the sausage. This was done on a complete whim because I had only bought the sausage two days prior. What was the likelihood that the sausage would already be past it's expiration date. Well, kudos to this date checking whim I had, because the sausage expired on December 21, 2009. Um, I have a sneaking suspicion that the person in charge of the smoked sausage area at the commissary hasn't been doing his or her job to his or her fullest potential.

It expired over a month ago! A month!

Normally I check expiration dates faithfully. I must have been in a hurry on Saturday to have over looked such an important step. Once I figured out the horror of potentially poisonous meat, I extracted it all from the soup. The logical part of my brain told me that the soup was fine to eat, since the possibly infected sausage had been removed. But, you see, the neurotic side of my brain overrules logic. I couldn't get over the fact that meat, 30 days past it's expiration date, had infiltrated my soup, leaving it's toxic by products to mingle with the 15 varieties of beans simmering in my soup pot.

Even if it were fine to eat, I'd more than likely make myself feel sick from worry which would lead to one heck of a case of psychosomatic food poisoning.

Before I threw it all away in a fit of neurotic, food poison-o-phobe craziness, I called Craig. I figured he'd laugh at me and tell me that it was fine. Instead, HE AGREED WITH ME. Hallelujah, I'm rubbing off on him.

Or, perhaps my soup trepidation was warranted?

Craig, my wise and well trained husband, suggested that since we were clearly in doubt, we should indeed throw it out.

We both did not want to subject ourselves to the possibility of food poisoning, real or psychosomatic.

I didn't know how to dispose of the BIG pot of soup because our garbage disposal is um, indisposed, right now. That's another funny story involving Craig's lunch cooler and some loose change. Ha. I'm two faced in the kitchen, like Jerry's girlfriend in the Festivus episode. I either get it absolutely right or horribly wrong. There is no middle ground with me.

The idea to dump the soup into a triple layer of plastic grocery bags seemed like a logical solution. It would have been a great idea, had the cook top I rested the bags on, been cool.

Oh well.

I guess sometimes you really do have to learn the hard way.


nancy said...

Repeat after me:
It's all about the story you can tell.
Who wants to hear about a crack-less cheesecake or a pot of stewp that's not even potentially tainted? What fun is that?!

P.S. I'm horrified that Craig has crossed over to the neurotic dark side with you!
What hope does Caroline have for normalcy now?

Alison said...

Even if I do pull him over to the dark side, it won't be completely (he has to maintain some sort of manly pride) and he wouldn't admit it.
I just like how a few of my um, quirks, have seeped their way in somehow.
And Caroline? Poor kid, I don't think she has much of a chance.

joshkc said...

That soup sounds delicious! Minus the infected turkey sausage. I'm even going to try making it w/ non- infected turkey sausage and see if Josh notices. Cheesecake looks great, too. Can you tell I'm still nursing? I am always hungry! Big kisses to Caroline. Kc

Sissy said...

I hated having a smooth top stove because I felt I would use it like counter top, and I didn't like the temptation that things would get burned. At least you got it off!

And, I have to say that the heat from cooking the soup would probably kill any germs (minus the sausage, of course) and you would have been fine. Charlie, would agree with you, however.

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