Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Recipe For Disaster

Yesterday my oldest came home from school with a recipe and partial ingredients for play dough. We made it today. Only it didn't make play dough. It was thick soup. It was nasty.

So I just have to ask, how do recipes work? Are times merely suggestions? Did I follow the instructions so much to a tee that it ended up being a disaster?

I have heard people say that they prefer cooking to baking because with cooking they just know how much to add and how long to cook it. With baking everything has to be so precise. But Hubby has played around with a chocolate chip cookie recipe that Alton Brown played with on Good Eats. From the show we learned that you can tweak things 3 different ways to produce 3 different kinds of cookies. We picked the cookie texture we wanted and have tweaked from there to perfection. So even baking isn't as precise as some people believe.

I think that's another reason why I hate cooking. I did exactly what the stupid recipe said to do and I now have Kool-Aid smelling stoup in my garbage. Ok, I didn't follow the recipe exactly. But you tell me if these variables would have made any difference at all. It said to combine the water, oil, and Kool-Aid and stir until the Kool-Aid dissolved. It never completely dissolved after several minutes so I moved on.

Next I was supposed to add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 5-10 minutes on low heat stirring occasionally. Oldest son was helping and you know how eager kids can be. Perhaps we stirred more than just occasionally. But couldn't one argue that "occasionally" is a relative term anyway? That shouldn't have been the downfall or they should have said in the recipe: if you stir too often you'll mess it all up! The recipe said to do all that until it formed a doughy ballish thing then in parentheses the mom who typed the recipe said "it will I promise!" So I thought maybe it would take a while. 5 minutes passed. Still super soupy. 10 minutes passed. While it was thicker I wouldn't say it was the consistency of dough.

15 minutes passed (the recipe said to cook for 5-10) and the consistency never changed. I got bored of the whole project and decided to move on. The recipe said to get the "dough" out of the pot and knead it for several minutes. I took it off the heat and set it aside while I put dinner in the oven. Then I spooned out this pink muck onto my counter and went in with my bare hands. I kneaded for over 5 minutes. The consistency never changed. My mood changed. From hopeful to pretty annoyed!

Oldest son got out his Play-Doh from Christmas to show me what it should have looked like. Thanks kid. I know. Somehow your incompetent-in-the-kitchen mother wasted everyone's time, not to mention the ingredients you brought home from school!

As I type this I realize I should have taken a picture of the goo before I chucked it. But I could barely get it off of my hands using lava soap and an S.O.S. pad! But it was pretty sticky and messy. My fingers still itch. It totally reminded me of how my scalp would itch when I dyed my hair with Kool-Aid. (By the way it never worked really well. My hair is too dark! But I do have pictures of me and my roommate, who happened to be adopted from India, dying our hair with Kool-Aid one Friday night. Amanda was good peeps!)

I also realize that many people will read this and think: Wow. What a doofus. Who screws up homemade play dough? Does she also burn boiled water? And what moron dyes their hair with Kool-Aid? Oh, I did once as a teenager. (Come on if you're part of the younger than 35 crowd you know you at least thought about it!)

Now that I have made a complete fool of myself in public. Again. I will stop typing for the day. I just hope you all stop laughing soon.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Trade Off

When I lived in Utah my pet peeve was the stray cats and dogs. Mostly cats. And really they weren't strays. They just never went to their own houses. Cats were everywhere leaving their essence all over my backyard so I really didn't want my little kids out there. The cats would wander all over my yard as if they owned the place. Most of the cats were not easily scared but a few were. There were many times when I would chuck a nearby toy at the sliding glass door while I was nursing to startle a cat sauntering through my backyard. I hate cats.

Once I was meeting my visiting teaching companion at her house. There were these evil white cats that were rubbing up against our legs. She told me those cats were the worst on her street. Those cats would actually run into her house and refuse to go back out. I hate cats. My youngest boy was very scared of those evil white cats. He was shaking and crying. Mama didn't raise no fool! I had to pick him up so they would leave him alone.

There is one cat that I periodically catch in my yard now. But very rarely. There are many animals around here. It's kind of cool from a reasonable distance!

We have pictures of a squirrel eating persimmon from our tree. There are often raccoon tracks on our back patio. There are also little lizards (that after nearly 2 years my boys still haven't noticed enough to try and catch! Yay for that!) and snakes.

There was a dead garden snake (a decent sized one mind you) on our front sidewalk about a month ago. Our next door neighbors moved it before my husband could. Today we were taking down our Christmas lights along with everyone else on our street. My husband suddenly told the oldest son not to get close to the plants and flowers. He had been on the grass the whole time so I couldn't figure out what that was all about. Hubby said he didn't want to tell me why and then he finally told me there was a very small garden snake up against the house. I saw it and it was pretty small. But shudder! I guess that's the trade off. Lizards and snakes instead of nasty cats. Honestly, I will gladly take the lizards and snakes over the cats any day.