I don’t know of anyone who has not suffered some calamity in their kitchen…either a dish that bombed or an appliance that failed in an untimely moment. It doesn’t matter if you’re a career chef or Susie Homemaker, stuff happens, some funny and some downright scary. Do you stay cool, or, do you pout and throw a tantrum?
Since moving to Rincon on the Western side of Puerto Rico I have spent 2 two weeks getting the gas company to fix the leak in my gas line and replace the bottle of gas wasted. Fortunately for me the gas bottle is outside on the side of the apartment where my spare bedroom is located so I didn’t smell the gas. Unfortunately, it was my neighbors who suffered headaches and the gas smell. Of-course I had to turn off the gas lest we all succumb or are blown to smithereens. It was tedious to eat meals prepared in the microwave but the alternative was much more grave.
There is also no oven in this lovely little apartment so I had to buy an oven.
Finally, all appliances safely in working order I began to think about Christmas goodies for gift baskets.
The Barefoot Contessa just aired a program with orange marmalade so thought I’d give it a try. The recipe called for simmering the oranges for 2 hours and then boiling for 30 minutes more. I followed the recipe to the T and ended up with rock candy, the color of molasses. Apparently the low temperature on my range is more like medium and that means I need a recipe that cooks a lot faster or wait for the gasman to come and adjust the range. Back to the cookbooks…I know I had another recipe for orange marmalade that worked perfectly…I think it was in Better Homes & Garden…a wedding gift from my mother back in 1967.
I’ve been dying for homemade bread since the local bread shops only make a white bread called pan de agua, sort of like white Wonder Bread. You know, the squishy kind that kids like. Some panaderias (bakeries) make a French style loaf but there aren’t any artisan breads made in panaderias de Rincon. I also haven’t seen any rye flour or whole wheat flour in the local supermarket. For serious bread supplies, I’ll have to make a trip to the big city of Mayaguez or Aguadilla. At any rate, to break-in my new oven I decided to make my standby Italian bread recipe. So with the oven preheated to 375° F. and the timer set for 45 minutes, I threw a couple ice-cubes onto the floor of the oven for humidity, then watched as my perfectly gorgeous round of Italian bread mushroomed and began browning. At 25 minutes it looked like the top was way too brown but the bread could not possibly be done inside so I moved the pan to a lower rack and lowered the temperature just a smidgen. Silly me, I didn’t have any foil to tent the bread and prevent it from burning on top. Well, it definitely looked done at 40 minutes and sounded done when I thumped it on the bottom so I set the round on my cooling rack, waited a few minutes, and cut a slice.
I could not believe it…the inside was not done. And, on top of that the bread had no discernable flavor. It just tasted flat. I reviewed the recipe and ticked off every ingredient, there’s only 5 ingredients for Pete’s sake, I know I put the salt and olive oil into the bowl. What a disappointment. I so looked forward to a hot slice of Italian slathered with butter. It simply was not my day in the kitchen. My mood was totally deflated.
You know what they say, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” That bread was fine this morning as French Toast and the marmalade nay rock-candy ended up in the syrup bottle after a bit of water and vanilla was added.
I have a new novel to bury myself in today. Meanwhile, the ghosts of yesterday’s bombs can take a hike. After all, I will cook again and it will be a blue-ribbon entry, just you wait and see!