the fallen

my kitchen successes and failures come in cycles.  recently i’ve been trying to gauge whether my move towards “failure cycle” coincides with cockiness.  my thoughts become something like, “well, i’ll just ignore all those negative reviews of giada’s mascarpone mini cupcakes…there is no way my cupcakes will be too light and cave in and not separate from the paper!”  right.  they looked like mini craters.  the upside was that they tasted pretty good and the boys didn’t seem to mind them.  failure one.

failure two.  lentil soup.  i’m a big fan of heidi swanson and her cookbook and blog, but oh. my. did she let the ortiz family down with one of her lentil recipes (i’m not even going to bother going back and linking to it – trust me).  it was a night where we were expecting 20+ people after dinner and so i thought a simple lentil soup would be easy and quick for us.  so bad that even my frugality that would normally be horrified at throwing out a whole batch of untouched soup couldn’t be summoned to make me find the energy to turn it into something edible.  there was a double horror on this night, though, as omar made a comment (i must add he said it very kindly, obviously not intending to hurt my love of lentils feelings) similar to this when i had him taste it, “yeah, pretty bad.  and i’m not even really a fan of the other lentil soup you make.”  i was a bit taken aback as i really like my other lentil recipe.  sad.  i guess that’s failure two and three if we get technical.

failure four-ish.  can someone please tell me the secret to chocolate chip cookies that don’t turn out flat as pancakes?  wasn’t the internet-hyped new york times chocolate chip cookie recipe supposed to fix this problem with its 36 hour chill/hydrate-my-dough trick?  evidently not.  they are still tasty, and i’m actually starting to think it is my baking stone’s issue.  the ones i make on my standard cookie sheet seem to turn out a bit thicker.

i just read margie haack’s recent comment magazine article, and she has some great words pertaining to avoiding perfectionism in the kitchen and in life in general:

One of the most important aspects of eating together—providing a safe place for shared communion—is enhanced when you are freed from the many “shoulds” and “oughts” perfectionism brings. As you increase your range and skill in the kitchen, keep a sense of proportion—and if failures occur, there’s always the dog or the compost.

or in our case, since we are dogless and compostless, 2 and 3 year olds.


6 thoughts on “the fallen

  1. Such a bummer when you work so hard and it doesn’t work out. I felt the same way when I made my yellow cake (though that was kinda my fault) and tried my hand at gazpacho last week. I served the gazpacho to friends who said it was too much like baby food. I didn’t like it either and threw out the whole bowl. I just couldn’t even give it to the dog.

  2. it’s butter. less butter/oil, less flattening.
    actually, the nestle-toll-house recipe (although i don’t make this) turns out pretty fluffy and not flat.
    I have an urban legend choc chip cookie recipe that does alright – but it has oats in it. probably helps b/c it absorbs the butter!

  3. All too familiar… And just when we got cooking down pat, we up and move to CO where the altitude reeks havoc on all baking recipes and delays cooking times just enough to totally throw off the normal “on the table by 5:00” routine. UGH! Fortunately, our family has learned to go with the flow, as even home cooked meals are just another part of our adventure (also called life). 🙂

  4. I loved Margie’s article, too. I don’t really enjoy cooking, so it seems doubly hard to take when the family doesn’t “appreciate” my efforts so much.
    I took it as a victory when my extremely picky youngest son recently remarked on a dish, “That wasn’t *too* bad.” ( We are working on being more tactful and considerate of mom’s feelings re: food.)
    I enjoy your blog! And, I actually have an awesome oatmeal-chocolate chip cookie recipe, too, if you’re interested. 🙂

  5. we just did cooking illustrated’s best chocolate chip cookie recipe…. YUM! not flat. the NYT recipe that you just did is my husband’s favorite chocolate chip recipe…. he likes them flat and crispy. i think he is an alien. i like mine fluffy and gooey.

  6. I always use the Toll House cookie recipe on the bag, Land o Lakes margarine and a traditional cookie sheet when making chocolate chip cookies and they always turn out perfect!

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