You build the house, I’ll build the baby

So, if you’re here reading this blog, odds are you already know I’m not the best cook.  The sad thing about this is, my cooking is a reflection of my overall knack for doing most basic things in life.

You know what it’s like to have a knack for something, right?  You can visualize what you need to do in your mind, and then you just kind of do it.  No real learning required.  It’s like you always knew how, you just needed to go through the motions.  Well here’s the thing about me.

I just don’t have a knack for stuff.  

Now, that is not to say I am not good at certain things, or that I am not smart, or that I have not acquired certain skills.  There are some things that I am very good at, and honestly, most of them are intrinsic.  I guess you could say I have a knack for making conversation with strangers.  Or maybe that I have a knack for coordinating schedules or making plans.  But when it comes to doing things with my hands…I just don’t have it.  And while my cooking is a reflection of that, but the truth is, cooking is not the only domestic project I struggle with.  So, without further ado, welcome to this very special edition of 

Katie can’t do house projects!

Now as you probably know, I have a baby on the way, and my husband and I have been working away getting the house ready for our little blessing who will be joining us in about 6 weeks (at the time of these events). Now, we’ve had a very odd but fortuitous advantage when it comes to getting ready for baby in that neither of us has gone to work in about 12 weeks. Danny has worked from home helping with distance learning and curriculum (he’s a teacher) so he’s had work to do and meetings to attend, but as for me, I haven’t “gone to the office” in about three months. So, whereas most couples find themselves in crunch mode when they hit 30 weeks, we are actually pretty much done with all of the big stuff.

And honestly, it’s all been Danny.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve helped some.  I’m really good at ordering things online (could that be considered a knack?!) and most of what I’ve done is plan and order and then sit back and watch Danny make everything beautiful.  And y’all, you should see our nursery.  Danny free-handed a beautiful mountain mural on our accent wall, and refinished a second hand changing table to match the crib that he pretty much single handedly put together.  He’s also hung bookshelves and refinished the bassinet and done about 900 other projects that I was completely useless in helping with.  I’ve told you before, he’s kind of OP.  Now I guess the fact that I’m building the baby kind of makes things even, but I really wanted to feel like I was helping with the nursery.

That brings us to today.

After a quick Target run today (my first big public outing in like 100 days!), Danny decided to relax and play some video games (he is on summer break, after all) and I decided I was going to do something productive.  Really the last thing that needs to be done in the baby’s room is that the curtain rod needs to be put up.  I know how to do that, in theory, so I thought I’d surprise Danny and hang the curtain rod all by myself.

I bet you can see where this is going.

Now, I want the curtains to hang above and slightly outside of the window frame so that the room gets nice and dark, so I grabbed a tape measure and measured three inches out and three inches up and made some small pencil marks.  Now, last time I hung up curtain rods (I really should have written about that day.  It was a wonderful disaster.  But I’d saved face by blaming it on the fact that the curtain rods were plastic garbage that I bought at BigLots for about $4 each) I ran into the problem that when I tried to insert the anchors, I ran into studs, and all of the anchors broke.  Well, not today, studs.  I pulled out our handy dandy stud finder and made certain that there we no studs under my marks for the anchors.  Man, this is going to be a piece of a cake. 

I used a nail to create a small hole to get the anchor started, and then inserted the anchor, but the hole wasn’t big enough.  So I created a bigger hole and tried again.  I got the anchor about 70% of the way into the wall when it would no longer budge.  Now, I’m a big enough person (especially right now- teehee, pregnancy humor) to know when I’m defeated, so I hung up my pride and went and told Danny what had happened.  He came in, like my knight in shining armor, confirmed that there was in fact no stud in the wall, gently tapped the anchor the rest of the way into the wall, and returns to his game.

Show off.

Okay, now I know it can be done and that I’m on the right track, so I’m gonna finish this thing all by myself, easy peasy.  The bracket requires two anchors, so I repeat the same steps on the second mark.

The anchor breaks in half.

Well surely that’s just a fluke, so I grab another anchor.  It breaks in half.

I grab the stud finder and verify for the final time that there is NOT a stud in the wall, and defeatedly knock on Danny’s study door again.  He comes in and confirms that I’m not crazy, something is definitely blocking the path.  He creates a second hole, up and in from the first set of holes, and runs into the same phantom stud underneath.  He goes and gets the drill, and at this point I’m realizing that my plan to surprise him while he played video games has just turned into me forcing him to work on a project he didn’t intend to do today. 

We conclude that the anchors can’t be placed in this area, and that we’ll have to spackle, paint, and start over. But Danny lovingly makes it clear that, as he stated earlier, he doesn’t want to work on it today. Danny returns to his video games, and I spackle up all of the holes.

So that brings us up to speed.  Danny is playing video games and I’m back doing what I do best- quipping around nonsense on the internet.

I guess we all have a knack for something.

Observations for next time:

-Let Danny do the projects and stick to my post at amazon prime

—————-Katie

And here I thought turkeys couldn’t fly

Before we get started: You know, when I chose to name this blog, it actually occurred to me that I don’t know whether turkeys can fly or not! So I googled it (no I didn’t, let’s be real, I asked Alexa because I’m lazy) and it turns out, turkeys CAN fly! Which kind of messes up my title, but I’m keeping it anyway. Because only once in my life have I actually seen a turkey fly. Which (spoiler alert) brings us to the following true story.

Well friends, today is June 25th, which means only one thing: (well, two things. One, yesterday was my birthday, and two) we’re halfway back to Christmas! I love having my birthday exactly 6 months before Christmas, cause I get to look forward to one as soon as the other has passed. So, since I don’t have much in the way of culinary disasters to write about at present, let’s take a little trip back to the ghost of a Christmas dinner past.

Picture it.  Albuquerque, 2018.

Danny and I have flown west to spend Christmas with my parents.  It was kind of a last minute decision, but I’m very glad we decided to go, because it ended up being my sweet Grandma’s last Christmas on earth and I’m so happy that I got to spend it with her (and no, we never did tell her about the disaster that’s about to ensue).  It’s delightfully cold and rainy (the rain would turn to snow the following day, closest thing I’ve had to white Christmas in quite some time!) the presents have all been opened, and it’s time to start thinking about Christmas dinner.

Now, being the younger of two sisters, I’ve had this trick that I’ve always stuck to for holiday meals, and year after year, it’s worked like a charm! My mom is the veteran cook, of course, and my sister is an excellent cook with a take charge attitude. So naturally, as the second born and also having zero culinary skills to speak of, I always feel a little useless in the kitchen when we all three cook together. So, for the past several years, my MO is to flutter around the kitchen and look flustered, tapping my finger to my chin, looking very deep in thought, while helping out a tiny bit here and there. It goes something like this:
Step one- Volunteer to start the mashed potatoes
Step two- Peel potatoes
Step three- Step back and look flustered
Step four- Pause for a sec and have a sip of wine
Step five- Return to the potatoes to find that mom/sister has taken over
Repeat with various other dishes


And y’all, it works every time.

But alas, my sister and her crew are not visiting, so I realize that my usual tactics are not going to work this year.  So I decide, resolutely, that I’m going to take the lead on making this Christmas dinner. 

As much as my surprise as yours, everything comes together pretty smoothly! That’s the thing about these holiday meals, nothing is particularly complicated, it’s more just a matter of timing and juggling all the sides. But we were 90% done, and everything was looking great. I’ll admit, I had been a little worried about the turkey- we forgot to buy an aluminum roasting pan and had to cook the turkey in a large glass pyrex dish, but it had become perfectly golden brown. The rolls were done and the pies were prepped and the potatoes were mashed, we even had fresh chocolate chip cookies cooling and I was feeling very proud of how it was all coming together. I pull the turkey out of the oven and set it toward the front of the glass flattop stove, popped the green bean casserole and sweet potatoes into the oven, and turn on the back burner under a pot of water for the instant stuffing- the final side item to our nearly completed Christmas dinner.

At least, I thought I turned on the back burner.

Mom says she’s going to start to carve the turkey, and reaches for a knife while I turn to start some pans soaking in the sink.  That’s when it happened.  That’s when the turkey exploded.

Oh, no, you read that right. THE TURKEY EXPLODED!!

Now, we know there is a God, because at the moment, no one was standing in front of the stove. But all at once there was a loud, heart stopping CRASH as the turkey FLEW a foot into the air and large chunks of glass flew everywhere (you can’t make this stuff up). My immediate reaction was to check on my mom, who was about to carve the turkey, but thankfully had not yet approached the stove. She was fine. I was fine. Everyone was fine. But dinner….dinner was not fine.

You see reader, I had not, in fact, turned on the back burner.  I had turned on the front burner.  The burner over which the glass pyrex pan holding a hot turkey sat.  It grew hotter and hotter until the pyrex shattered. Glass shards impaling the turkey.  Glass in the mashed potatoes.  Glass in the stuffing.  

Once I wrapped my head around what had happened, after settling down from the shock of the explosion and the relief that no one was hurt, I literally started to weep.  By now of course, my dad and husband had come running, and my husband held me sweetly and promised that he was just glad I was safe and that no one cared that dinner was ruined.  But I cared about dinner!  This was the first holiday meal I had pulled off! 

Well, as my sweet Grandma would say, we can only do what we can do.  We dumped the potatoes, stuffing, and cookies, salvaged the legs off of the turkey, and made do with the surviving sides (the ones that were still safe and sound inside the oven, thank goodness). And speaking of grandma, when she rolled in with her walker to join us for dinner, she didn’t even notice anything was amiss, although she did say she would have enjoyed having some mashed potatoes with this meal. 

Me too, Grandma. Me too.  

Observations for next time:

Let mom and big sister handle the cooking, and just keep hiding behind the wine glass.

—————–Katie

Cooking? What’s that?

Well gosh, hi there!

It’s been a minute since I sat down to write a blog, and by a minute, I mean a full year!  And as always, I assure you, over the course of the year we HAVE eaten, I’m fairly certain, although sometimes I can’t recall what.

Now, last year was one heck of a year, so I honestly don’t even feel bad about not having blogged much in 2019.  We had good times and bad times and traveled and honestly, there just wasn’t time to cook interesting meals, much less write about it (although what’s funny is that over the past winter I did ruin two meals in a fairly epic manner, but both meals were ones I had already blogged about in the past, so I didn’t really feel like I could blog about messing up the same meal twice.  That’s just sad, even when you have a curse). Now, we traveled a whole lot in 2019, hoping and praying that 2020 would bring us a baby, so we wanted to get some trips under our belt before starting a family.  Little did we know that while 2020 WOULD bring us a baby, NO ONE would be going ANYWHERE this year, so we are very grateful for the busy year that was 2019.

That being said, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I am on day 90something of quarantine and I haven’t had the presence of mind to crank out a single blog. Now in my defense, I never would have imagined I’d be home that long, (I mean really, did any of us?). Like you, I assumed I’d be out of work for 2, maybe 3 weeks, so I used that time to tackle some major nesting stuff around the house, and blogging just never rose to the top of my list. 3 weeks turned into 6, 6 weeks turned into 10, and I managed to keep myself busy with home improvement projects and tasks to prepare for baby. Also, it never really occurred to be to be blogging about cooking, because cooking has been delightfully simple this entire quarantine experience. I pretty much just make a meat and a simple side for dinner, and usually, baby picks everything. And you know what? It’s been really awesome. I don’t stress out nearly as much about cooking as I did before. I think this might change the way I do meals for the future. Not that I’ll get any better at cooking, but maybe as least at meal planning!

Also, I think part of the reason there hasn’t been any good blog material this quarantine is because Danny has been doing a lot of the cooking. And not surprisingly, he’s quite good at it! (I say not surprisingly because this man is good at just about everything he does. Seriously. I married him knowing he was an excellent teacher and writer; I had no idea he was also incredibly handy, skilled at home improvement tasks, and a pretty great cook and baker. I honestly think he’s kind of OP, but I guess we’ll just say I married up.) He’s been glad to help with the cooking not only because he’s not working (because I mean, neither am I) but because I have the ever present excuse of “I’m building a baby”, and he’s let me milk it for all that it’s worth. Gosh, he’s gonna be such a good dad!

But alas, y’all, I’m literally out of stuff to do.  The baby’s room is pretty much done, the parenting books have been read, and every inch of this little house has been reorganized, cleaned, decluttered, and baby proofed. So I’ve got to do something for the next 8 weeks, and if you’ll have me, I might just crank out a blog or two.  I might even tie in some stories of other domestic woes I’ve encountered this year, and who knows, maybe I’ll start making my own baby food.  That could take us on a whole new adventure!

Thanks for sticking with me.  

————————-Katie (and baby)

Who’s idea was it to cook outside?

Ladies and gentleman,

It is with great gladness that I achieve a second post in a row after months away from blogging (or perhaps, from cooking?  You’ll never know)  and return to you with this SPECIAL addition of:
KATIE CAN’T GRILL
That’s right folks, it’s the week after Father’s Day (or, at least, it was at the time of this particular meal) so in honor of all the grilling dads out there, we’re taking things out of the kitchen and into the Tennessee humidity for a little adventure over the charcoal.
Now, usually in my home, I do the cooking (kind of) and my husband, Danny, does the grilling.  I seriously love it when he grills.  I hand him a plate full of raw meats and veggies, sit and stare at my phone for a half an hour, and he returns with dinner.  Sometimes I sit out with him while he grills, but a lot of the time he enjoys listening to a podcast or something while he mans the grill, so I let him do his thing.  Well on this particular night, hubby was feeling a little under the weather and decided that partaking in the cocktail that is charcoal ash mixed with Tennessee allergens might not be the best bet.  But, we’d planned on having brats and corn on the cob for dinner, so I took the burden upon myself to “man” the grill.
Now listen, y’all, I’ve never grilled IN MY LIFE.   There was this one time a few years ago that my cousin Martha and I took to the grill and made some kind of kebobs and Martha swore up and down she had no idea what she was doing either, but I’m not entirely sure I believe her; she’s a total foodie and everything turned out to be delicious.  I’m not even sure I can consider myself as having helped, I mostly just stood there and talked about how I didn’t know how to grill, but we got through it together (side note, Martha, what WERE the men doing??) and that is my entire grilling career.  So I have no IDEA what I’m doing.  Danny was kind enough to come out and light the coals for me, which was awesome, I didn’t even have to watch the youtube video I had pulled up.  But then he nestled safely into the air conditioned living room, and I was on my own.
I put my hand over the coals and determine that they are warm enough to start, and I place everything on the grill.  I was super excited because in addition to regular brats, our local grocery store was carrying hatch green chile brats!!  Danny asked for two green chile brats and I wanted one of each, plus I threw another regular one in there for lunch the next day.  Along with the brats, I’d cut up squash and zucchini along with corn on the cob, all of which I’d just picked up at the farmer’s market that morning.  This is going to be such a great meal!
Hahaha.  Oh, Katie.
I place the food on top of the grill and realize AFTER the fact that I should have spread the coals out evenly rather than leaving then in a heap.  Using a large grilling fork, I poke through the food and push the coals around a little.
Alright, everything is set, so now i just sit here, right?  Man.  Grilling is SO easy!
After a few minutes, I flip the brats and find that only half of the bottom side has cooked.  I give a gentle blow to see if the coals are all glowing and nearly suffocate on the cloud of ash that floats into my face.  Through my tears, I note that only the coals in the center seem to be cooking, so a very small spot in the center is the only area that is cooking up.  I reach for my trusty grilling fork through again and shuffle the coals around.  I am REALLY doing this in the wrong order!
I wait ten minutes and reassess.  The brats are beginning to look appetizing, but the squash is looking very dry, and I’m realizing I probably should have given them some oil (and probably some s&p) before grilling them, but drizzling oil now seems like a bad idea, open flame and everything.  I begin to flip them and two slices fall between the slats into the charcoal.  Whatever.
I flip the brats again and find that they are still not cooking very evenly, so I rearrange everything on the grill to be sure that they’re getting enough heat.  Mind you, it’s been like 40 minutes since I started this “easy” endeavor and I’m beginning to feel a little hangry, so I wander to the pantry and pull out the jalapeno cheetos.
(Oh!  Opportunity for a funny side story!  
I’m eating this particular gmo-filled snack because last week, I found them in the pantry and opened the bag not even realizing until I began popping them in my mouth that the ONLY reason these junky things are even in our house is for Danny’s game night next week.  Danny walked into the kitchen and found me eating his game night snacks, and the following conversation went like this:
Me: 
Danny: 
Me:
Danny:
Me: Alexa, add jalapeno cheetos to my shopping list.)
Okay.  Twenty minutes and an unnamed number of cheetos later, the brats are nice and blackened, the squash is supremely sad and dried out, and the corn…..just looks like corn.  I bring it all to the table and have the following realization-
I have NO IDEA which brats are regular and which brats are green chile.
Danny, as always, smiles sweetly and serves us both.  The corn was delicious (save it, it’s hard to ruin good sweet corn) and the brats were super tasty too, except that somehow, I got both the chile brats and Danny got neither.   But as usual, he didn’t complain a bit.
Although I did notice he didn’t touch the squash, and I don’t blame him.
Observations for next time:
Evenly distribute hot coals before adding food
Oil and season the squash and zucchini
Pay attention to what goes where and keep track
Leave the grilling to Danny
———————-Katie

The Easter with too many carbs

Oh, hello there!

I’m feeling the need to cover my face out of embarrassment as I sit down to type up this blog (it’s really hard…I’m going to start using both hands to type now) because I haven’t published a blog post since OCTOBER!

Now granted, you may remember that a few months back, I mentioned starting a new job that completely turned my schedule upside down and I really don’t cook traditional dinners much anymore.  I know it’s a little unfair that I’m still using this as an excuse, especially because I’ve been at my “new” job for over a year now, but sometimes there’s just nothing to report!  Even when there is, I’m really bad about putting it all into words before the sadness and hilarity of it all slips away from me.

Another blunder I’ll admit to- what was I THINKING trying to post one blog a week?  If I had set a realistic goal for myself, like once a month, perhaps, maybe I wouldn’t have completely fallen off of the internet the last several months.  Maybe I can commit to one blog a month.  What do you think?  Yeah?

Well, let’s get started then!

The last few times I’ve have something go really wrong in the kitchen (wrong-er than is normal for me, that is) I’ve had the presence of mind to scribble a few notes down to remind me of just how the disaster unfolded when the time came to put it on paper.  (Side note: I love that I use words like “scribble” and “paper” when it fact, neither of those things play ANY part in blogging) so I’ve got a few to start with.  So for today, let’s go with–

He is risen, the rolls have not .

No, no, that’s entirely too sacrilegious (ducks and looks for lightning) let’s try again. (Besides, the rolls did rise, that wasn’t the problem, but now I’m getting ahead of the story).

Jesus is alive, so pass the pork.

Ehhhhhh….still too much? Okay, how about–

The Easter with all the Carbs

It’s Easter Sunday in the Valencia house and due to personal reasons, we had made the decision NOT to serve on a ministry team this year (which, for me, is all kinds of weird.  I don’t think I’ve ever simply attended a church service on easter, I’ve always been serving or teaching or singing or something, probably starting from the year I was in the womb) so after attending the late service like a couple of creasters (Creaster: noun, one who attends church only on Christmas and Easter) I decided to make us a good old fashioned easter dinner.  In past years, I’ve picked up a half pre-cooked ham, and, in past years, we’ve ended eating ham for 9 days and then STILL throwing away a very large portion of it. So this year, I picked up a little….I’m not even sure, eighth of a ham.  I also picked up potatoes for scalloped potatoes and rolls.  And just in case that’s not enough carbs, Danny’s requested stuffing (because what’s a holiday meal without stuffing?).

The only thing I made here that has a specific recipe for is the scalloped potatoes, everything else just required heating up.  I’d made this version of scalloped potatoes before and it is SO good, so I’ll include the recipe for you.

Cheese Scalloped Potatoes, by way of plainchicken.com
Ingredients:
2lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (Yeah, we definitely did not thinly-enough-slice them)
3 cups heavy whipping cream (I only had a pint, so I only used 2 cups, and a little milk)
1 tbsp dried parsley (does anyone ever actually add this?)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I buy the pre-minced stuff, cuz I’m lazy/brilliant)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup mozzarella (I used cheddar-jack blend because I prefer cheddar on potatoes

(Oooooooookay, per usual, looking back at my list of modifications, it’s already clear why this potentially didn’t go well, but you never see these things in the moment.  Plus theres a curse.)

Preheat oven to 400.
I realize that the rolls are supposed to cook at 375 and I have no idea what the ham should really be cooking at, so I figure 400 is probably good for everything as long as I watch it.
(Did I mention there’s a curse?)

Layer potatoes in prepared pan 
I asked Danny to chop up the potatoes, and in hindsight I’m realizing that it’s entirely my fault that I didnt tell him how small to chop them.  I suppose they should have been more thinly sliced, but danny chopped them into perfect little cubes and I was certain that they’d cook up just fine.  Right?
(Sigh.  I can’t even blame the curse here, can I.)

Stir together heavy cream, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Pour over potatoes.
YUMMMMMMMM

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Top with cheese and bake until golden brown and bubbly. The ham is supposed to bake at ten minutes per pound and it’s maybe 2.5lbs, so that should work out great.

I set the first ten minute timer and go to prepare the rolls (which, of course, means seeking out my husband and making him open the scary jack-in-the-box tube of dough).  As I lay the uncooked dough on the pan, I have a sudden realization.

We have NO veggies to go with this meal.

Normally I get green beans, or asparagus, or at the very least a side salad, but somehow it slipped my mind.  The ten minute timer goes off, I stir the potatoes and then I scour my freezer, surely we have some frozen green beans in here.

Nope.  Never in my life have I felt like such a stereotypical American.  Not a single vegetable in my house (although in my defense, I grocery shop on Mondays).  Well, I guess we’ll just eat ALLLLLLLL the carbs today.  (I’m pausing to decide if I should make a last supper joke here, Jesus took the bread and all that…..nope, nope. I can’t do it).  The timer goes off, I pop the rolls into the oven and stir the potatoes.  I set another ten minute timer.

The stuffing comes together fast, and I set it aside. The timer goes off.  Even having only cooked the rolls for 10 minutes, having cooked at 400 has made the rolls a bit more than golden.  I pull them out, set them aside, and throw some cheese on the potatoes.   Man they smell good.  Thank goodness for potatoes for always being there for us!

The ham, which I glazed with concentrated apple juice and spicy mustard, probably cooked longer than it needed to and is looking a little shriveled, so I pull it out too, I fluff the stuffing, and survey the goods:

-One semi shriveled ham

-Rolls with an excellent tan

-Some seriously good smelling potatoes

-Good old stuffing from a box

-Zero vegetables

It’s sunny with a high of 74° today, so Danny and I cart everything out to the patio, bless the mess, and dig in. And over the sound of crunchy potatoes, Danny tells me everything is delicious.

I sure do love that man.

Observations for next time:

-Buy some dang vegetables

-Bake things at the appropriate temperatures

-For the love of all things, follow the actual recipe

———–Katie

 

Tricky Treats

This dreadful installment is brought to you by Halloween, the scariest day of the year! Ha! Let’s be real. Every day is the scariest day of the year in my kitchen.

The task was simple. Make a spooky treat for my community group Halloween party. No big deal! I found some cute Pinterest ideas that looked so simple even I couldn’t mess them up, and moved boldly forward.

(Spoiler alert- I mess these up).

Here is what we are going for –

So cute, right?

Originally, I had planned to make homemade peanut butter thumbprint cookies. I’ve never made them before, but they look pretty simple. However, while meandering through the aisles of Walmart looking for all of the specific ingredients needed, I had come to my senses. I would use break and bake cookies, and then decorate them myself. So that’ll be a peice of cake. I start out feeling equally optimistic about the brownies, I usually do fine with box mixes! And since I’m doing break and bake cookies, this is going to be quick and easy.

<Insert witches cackle here>

I’m making a double batch of brownies, so per the box instructions, I mix both bags of brownie mix with eggs, oil, and water (per the recipe, doubled). I’m using 2 8×8 glass pans, which I coat with butter and dust with flour in hopes that I can slide the whole brownie out without cutting them.

I pop the brownies in the oven and set the timer. The box says 36-41 minutes for this size pan. I wonder if that changes when making two pans, so I make a mental note that they might need a little longer. Meanwhile, I break apart my sugar cookie dough. I line my cookie sheets with foil (less clean up, right?) and voila. Man, I’m so smart for getting break and bake!

<Insert looming scary music here>

Fast forward 40 minutes. I test the brownies with a toothpick, and it comes out gooey.

10 more minutes.

10 MORE minutes.

These brownies have now been in the oven almost 70 minutes, and I’m beginning to smell burnt edges. I really hope they’re done, because I’m taking them out.

I want to let the brownies get nice and cool so they’ll come out smoothly, so i aside them aside for a while. I put the cookies in the oven for 11 minutes, according to the instructions.

After 10 minutes, I check them just to be on the safe side! I open the oven, and find that the cookies are bubbling liquid in the middle and burning on the bottom.

<Insert psycho theme music here>

My heart sinks. What is happening?! Wait. Is this because of the foil?

Well, damn it.

I don’t have another shot at these, so I franctically pull the cookie sheet out and try to remove them so I can finish baking them without the foil, but they won’t move without breaking. Think fast, Katie!

I pull out a second cookie sheet and line it with foil, put it upside down over the cookies, and flip the whole thing. Once they’re upside down, I flip them back on to the first cookie sheet, sans foil. They break a little. A few have holes in them.

Whatever.

I give them 5 more minutes, and pull them out.

Yeah, I can’t use these.

At this point, I decide to get out of the house. I’m going to have to buy store bought sugar cookies (at least my brownies will be cute) and I promised myself I’d get out and vote today. When I come back, the brownies will be cool and I can decorate them. No big deal.

Fast forward two hours and one local election precinct later, I return to the kitchen. The brownies have cooled, so I carefully cut around the edges of the brownie pan and turn it over, anticipating one beautiful brownie to come sliding out.

Well damn it!!

Okay, what can I do with this mess?? I scrape the gooey centers out and put them in a mixing bowl. Here we go. I can do this.

Attempt #2: I remember someone once telling me that you can make truffles out of cake that doesn’t come out, I bet it will work with brownies too! I’ll make them look like eyeballs! Yes, this will be so cute! I mix in a little cream cheese frosting (leftover from my husband’s birthday cake last week) to give them texture and roll them into truffles.

This doesn’t work. This doesn’t work at all. This is a sticky gooey MESS! It’s not going to set into truffles. Unless…..

Attempt 3: I have a brick of melting chocolate in my pantry. I bet if I melt it down, dip the truffles in melting chocolate, and put them in the freezer, I can make chocolate covered brownie bites! Yes! I’ll make them look like eyeballs! This will be so cute!

This doesn’t work.

My husband arrives home about now, and finds me all but crying over my mixing bowl full of chocolate goo. My cookies were a failure, and my brownies were a failure. This isn’t the first time he’s found me like this, and as usual, he’s kind and patient and compassionate. He offers to finish my sugar cookie spiders while I vent and cry about my bad day. He also suggests we try baking up the brownie truffle mix one more time to see if it’ll set.

It doesn’t set. There are no brownies. The end.


Editors note:

Still me. I’m the editor.

In the end, Danny did an amazing job with the spider cookies, so much so I referred to him as Spider-Man (see what I did there???) I brought the not-brownies to the party, and my friend came up with a brilliant idea- BROWNIE DIP! We served it with nilla- wafers and tricked everyone into thinking this treat was intentional.

I do love happy endings.

———————-Katie

Pumpkin spice and nothing about this was nice

The first day of fall!

It may still be 95° in Tennessee, but I decided today that I would summon cool weather upon us by baking up a storm of fall inspired things! A few weeks back, I had made a loaf of pumpkin bread on a whim with an easy Pinterest recipe, and it turned out awesome, so I decided to spread my love of fall and bake some for my neighbors!

Now, I use the word “bread” very loosely, and I think you’ll see why when you read the following recipe, which comes by way of geniuskitchen.com:

Pumpkin Bread- No egg, dairy, or nuts

INGREDIENTS

3 cups flour

3 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Yes, you read that correctly, THREE

POINT FIVE CUPS OF SUGAR! When I

made this last week, I halved the sugar

and it was plenty sweet, so I’ll do that

again today. Since I’m making a double

batch, I pull out my largest mixing bowl

(it’s purple) and begin to combine my dry

ingredients.

As I’m mixing, my husband calls to me from the other room and asks, while I’m already covered in flour and sugar, could I also maybe bake a cake for his game of Dungeons and Dragons? After all, today is the two year anniversary of this campaign, so there really should be cake, right? Naturally I say yes, because I’m that awesome.

Except we have no eggs. And I really had no business saying yes. I don’t make cakes. Who do I think I am, Jessica Chicago?*

I dig out the recipe for my grandmother’s applesauce cake, knowing it has no eggs (because she was allergic, like me). I’ve made this before, it’s simply and yummy and goes well with my fall mood. I speed- read through the ingredients, and realize it’s virtually the same thing I’m already making (with applesauce instead of pumpkin, but actually has LESS sugar, ha!) so I pull out my green mixing bowl, knowing full well there’s a very good chance I’m going to get these mixed up.

Purple for pumpkin, green for apple. I say it out loud 3 times. Purple for pumpkin, green for apple.

The pumpkin “bread” batter comes out beautifully, and I divide it into 4 loaf pans. It needs to bake for 60 minutes, and the cake only needs 45, so I have 15 minutes to get the cake ready to put in the oven.

Yeah, right.

I mix the flour and sugar, and as I try to cream the butter with the applesauce, I realize that you cannot, in fact, cream butter into applesauce. I had speed-read the recipe and it turns out, the butter was supposed to be creamed with the sugar, not the applesauce. I beat the mixture rapidly with a fork, and they join together about as beautifully as oil and water.

Once I get the liquid mixture semi-homogenized, I mixed it into the flour and sugar. I use every muscle in my arm to crank the wooden spoon and around, and slowly, it begins to mix together. Except, this mixture doesn’t even slightly resemble cake mix. It looks more like mud, and it’s incredibly sticky. Apparently, the order in which you combine the ingredients is -kind of- crucial in baking.

I set the sticky mess aside and contemplate starting over, but I’ve used up all the applesauce. In my pantry there is a box of spice cake mix, but again, I have no eggs. I’m allergic to eggs and my go to trick is to replace the eggs with……applesauce.

Sigh. I should’ve started with the box mix. Who do I think I am, Jessica Chicago?*

I return to the batter and mix it sheepishly as I grab my phone and call my sister, Jessica*, the baker. Surely, she can turn this around. But there’s no answer, I’m on my own here.

Mixing slowly, I add one tablespoon of water at a time until the mixture becomes semi-pourable, and that’s going to have to do. My husband asked for a cake, he didn’t specify “delicious” or even “edible”. It was supposed to fill two 8” rounds, but it barely fills one. Whatever. Into the oven it goes.

After the hour is up, I pull it all out of the oven. I put the cake into the fridge and walk the warm bread to my neighbor’s houses. I’m a hot mess when I get back, because “fall” in Tennessee is just a day on the calendar, and I had found myself cursing the whole endeavor under my breath as I’d sweat my way around the block.

I slap some canned cream cheese frosting onto the cake-thing and call it a day. As I clean up and rotate my sore mixing wrists, I remember something.

I have an electric hand mixer.

I’ve just made four loaves of pumpkin bread and an applesauce spice cake and it never occurred to my non-domesticated brain to pull out my hand mixer.

I hate fall.

(Note: In the end, the cake was a little dense and thin but overall still fairly tasty. As for the pumpkin bread, I never tried it myself, but one of my neighbors texted me later and thanked me, and said Lily liked it more than everyone else. I can’t remember for the life of me if Lily was the baby or the dog. I’m choosing to believe she’s the baby.)


Observations for next time:

Shop Kroger’s bakery

Be Jessica Chicago*

* http://www.facebook.com/Jessicachicagocreative

————-Katie

The Lo Mein Event

Hello, reader(s)!

Wow, it has sure been a while since I sat down to document a meal-gone-wrong! The truth of the matter is, I haven’t done much for exciting cooking these last few months. Since February I have had company visit twice, had the flu, had TWO sinus infections, visited my sister in Texas, and helped to plant a new church, so it’s pretty much been spaghetti and tacos every night this year!

Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. But in what world would spaghetti and tacos every day be a bad thing?

(Funny update on this: WHILE composing this particular entry, I started a new job. How’s that for a wild spring??)

All that to say, when life is crazy busy, I don’t endeavor new recipes, and when I don’t endeavor new recipes, usually nothing interesting happens. Don’t get me wrong- in my absence from blogging I’m certain there have been a few things that made me laugh, or cry, or both, but perhaps not enough to earn your time. I suppose I could write about the time that I made breakfast muffins only to leave them out and have them spoil. Or the time that I made dinner for my new pastor and dumped potatoes ALL over the kitchen. Maybe you’ll hear about those another time. But, for today, we’ll stick with my latest endeavor-

The Lo Mein Event

As ordering emergency Chinese delivery has become a frequent event in my house, I have made the discovery that my husband really likes Lo Mein, whereas I’ve always gotten fried rice. The second or third or ninth time we got Chinese, I tried some of his lo mein and discovered that I also really like it! So, in honor of trying new meals, I decided to make my own lo mein (now, you’ll note that once you have all of the ingredients, this is not an expensive meal to make; that being said, I did not currently have any hoisin sauce or oyster sauce or sesame oil on hand. I remember thinking as I spent $14 on miscellaneous sauces for this one dang meal- my husband had better like this stuff because I’m making it once a week until all fourteen (five) of these sauces are gone!)

Well, here goes nothing!

Tonight’s meal is compliments of JoCooks.com, at https://www.jocooks.com/recipes/chicken-lo-mein/

For Sauce

* 1 tbsp brown sugar packed

* 2 tbsp soy sauce low sodium

* 2 tbsp dark soy sauce

* 1 tbsp oyster sauce

* 1 tsp hoisin sauce

* 1 tsp ground black pepper

* 1 tsp sesame oil

For Chicken

* 1 lb chicken breasts skinless and boneless, cut into small pieces

* 2 tbsp soy sauce

* 1 tsp fresh ginger minced

* 3 cloves garlic minced

* 2 tbsp olive oil

For Veggies

* 2 tbsp olive oil

* 2 cups shiitake mushrooms sliced

* 1 cup Chinese cabbage shredded

* 1 cup carrots julienned

* 1 large onion chopped

Other

* 16 oz ramen noodles or any other Asian style noodles

* 3 green onions chopped

I had the forethought to cook up chicken thighs yesterday (thank you, past Katie!) so I start by getting water boiling on the stove. I make spaghetti noodles all the time, how different can this be? Once the water is heating, I set to chop up my veggies. The recipe called for Chinese cabbage, shredded carrots, and mushrooms. My hubby won’t eat mushrooms and I’m using red cabbage my Kroger clicklist didn’t give me an option for Chinese cabbage. I set to chopping the veggies into tiny pieces, all the while I’m still confused by the cabbage, I mean, did they grow it in China? Is it Chinese American cabbage? Is that politically correct? Isn’t cabbage just cabbage?

It’s while I’m deep in tonight about cabbage fairness that I realize I’ve sliced the top of my index finger, and it has begun to bleed. Geez! I wrap my hand haphazardly in a paper towel and decide to just throw everything into the blender as I shamefully holler across the house to my husband to please bring me a Bandaid, which he does, and sweetly wraps my finger for me.

The blender stops screeching and I’m suddenly aware of a low hissing sound. Ugh. You know that old adage, ‘a watched pot never boils’? Turns out, a forgotten pot boils over immediately. Especially when you’re bleeding. Thank goodness, the Lo Mein noodles are packaged into neat little bundles. I throw two bundles into the angry pot and proceed to clean up the water that had spewed everywhere.

Five minutes later, I dump the pot into the colander, and grunt when I see that the noodles are clumped together in one solid chunk. Whatever.

By this point I’m pretty much over this meal, so I quickly mix the thirty (five) different sauces together and impatiently throw the noodles, veggies, sauces, and chicken into the wok, and use my cooking scissors to chop green onion right into the pan. I mix it all up, plop a few scoops into bowls, and put them on the table. That’s when the craziest part happens:

This. Is. DELICIOUS! Danny high fives me and gets himself a second helping.

Best compliment ever!

Observations for next time:

It was a little sweet, so I need to identify which of the 75 (five) sauces was sweet and use less

Stir noodles constantly and watch them like a hawk

START with the blender instead of the knife

——————–Katie

Cat Fried Rice (not really)

It’s a Friday night, and we are in the mood for some Chinese food! Given the recent events of the pot roast tragedies, I decide to give our local Chinese joint the night off and try to make something of my own. I mean, how hard can it be to make a little fried rice?

Bahahaha. I crack myself up.

I find a recipe with good reviews on Pinterest, from GimmeSomeOven.com (cute name, right?) I prepare my ingredients, minus the egg (I’m allergic) and the oyster sauce (seriously? Oyster sauce? I was willing to buy a bottle of sesame sauce to try this recipe out but I’m not buying that stuff. Sorry.)

I throw two cups of rice into my rice cooker (after nearly spilling it all over the kitchen….the Kroger bags of rice have the ziplock slider on the side of the bag….who’s idiot idea was that???) Next, I get out my wok- yes! I have a wok! I attempted to make a different fried rice recipe in my basic frying pan a year or so ago, and I think about 87% of it ended up on my stove top. I’m not even sure the remaining 13% was edible, but I wasn’t blogging back then so I guess we’ll never know (it probably wasn’t) and prepare my work space. Per usual, I don’t read through the entire recipe until I’ve already started pulling everything out, and it’s at this point that I realize I’m supposed to start with cold rice.

Hmmmm. This could be a problem. The rice is almost done cooking, but it’ll be a long time before it’ll be even remotely chilly, even if I stick it in the fridge. This is when I get a brilliant idea- I’ll put it outside! Nashville had been having a frightful cold snap, and the evening temperatures might just do the trick. The cooker clicks off, and I pull the bowl out and set it out on my back porch.

While the rice cools outside, I begin cooking up the chicken thighs in my cast iron skillet. This portion of prep is fairly straight forward and uneventful. Until, that is, my husband mentions that he hasn’t seen the cat in a while, and he’s right. The cat had been winding between my feet, asking for his dinner, and now he’s nowhere to be seen. After quickly scanning the house, we come to the conclusion that the cat had gotten out while I was setting the rice out. That’ll teach me to use nature in my cooking!

Fast forward twenty minutes. I return to my half cooked chicken that I cast aside when I left the kitchen and begin to slowly reheat the pan. I’m out of breath, because I’ve just scoured the entire neighborhood (the good news is, we found the cat, but I’m finding the irony in that I’m cooking Chinese food and starting to understand why they eat cats in China….). I finish browning the chicken, which is understandably sad and dry, and set it aside.

I heat my wok and slowly add in the veggies, soy sauce, and (semi-cooled) rice. I turn it over and over in the wok, still managing to get at least one serving’s worth onto the stove top. I stir, and I wait. Is this stuff actually supposed to fry? How do I know when it’s sufficient fried? I add the chicken back in, toss in the chopped green onion, and call it a meal. We serve up bowls full and plop down to watch Netflix as I realize I forgot to add the sesame oil.

Whatever.

Observations for next time:

Cook and cook the rice ahead of time

Don’t open the back door while cooking

Use sesame oil. Or don’t. I didn’t really miss it.

——-Katie

The Pinehurst Curse

Hello, friends!

My name is Katie, and I can’t cook.

I’ve been intending for a while to start a blog about my cooking misadventures, and I probably would have continued to put it off, had it not been for New Years Eve 2017.  Yes, that fateful final night of the year, when I set my friend’s oven on fire while attempting to make buffalo chicken pinwheels.  An unwilling New Years Resolution, you might call it.  (I’m so very grateful for a friend who was standing nearby and knew to throw baking soda on the fire. I’m sure that knowledge was in my head somewhere, from home ec or cooking with grandma, but who remembers those things when there are flames coming out of the oven?!) Either way, when you set your friend’s oven on fire while trying to heat a simple appetizer, there just might be a serious problem with your cooking style.

Enter: The Pinehurst Curse.

I’ve long lamented to friends and family in the past that I simply cannot cook, and I believe most of them have assumed that I’m exaggerating.   The first person to actually believe me when I would mourn my culinary tales was my sister, Jessica, because she has had the opportunity many times to see it in action.  It was her idea to call it The Pinehurst Curse, because it was while I was living in my first apartment on Pinehurst Drive that we discovered something;   Katie. Can’t. Cook.  It’s not just that I burn the occasional casserole or overcook the pasta, it’s something else entirely.

I don’t know how else to phrase this, but, physics BREAKS when I cook.  Water doesn’t boil.  Cheese doesn’t melt.  Meat doesn’t thaw.  Buffalo chicken pin wheels catch fire all of their own accord.  It’s not that I’m terrible at following recipes or that I don’t try hard enough, it’s that simple laws of nature fail to occur when I am behind the stove.

Don’t get me wrong.  We eat.  Every single day.  Fortunately, the Good Lord has blessed me with a husband who graciously eats everything I put in front of him and doesn’t even get weirded out to find me crying into my apron (okay, that one might have taken a few months of adjustment).  In spite of myself, I manage to prepare meals for myself and my husband and they are almost always edible (I can count 3 times in 3 years that we have scraped our plates into the trash and called Papa Johns- not a bad overall score) but you would not BELIEVE the fiascos I encounter while preparing said meals.

Hence, the blog.  There have to be others, right?  Those of you who will resonate with me when the alfredo sauce comes out stringy because, beyond all odds, the mozzarella chose not to melt over heat, and when the onions are still crunchy after 10 minutes of lightly sauteeing.  You’re out there, aren’t you? Join me here, where I’ll post weekly installments of my misadventures in the kitchen, and other unfortunate domestic happenings.

We’ll laugh.  We’ll cry.

We’ll just try to get something edible on the table.

—Katie