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Failed Recipes

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Failure x 2 [25 Mar 2009|12:03pm]

[ mood | doh! ]

Failure part one: Rice.

Rice is not difficult to cook. I know this. However, I failed at this last night.

Take pot. Take measuring cup. Fill twice and put in pot.
Add cup of rice and set to boil.
Wait 20 minutes.
Why is rice not cooking right? Hmmm, probably got turned too low. Turn up heat and keep cooking.
Hmmm, rice is getting all mushy now. Never had this happen before.

And then the aha! moment.

My measuring cup was a 2-cup measure. 4 cups of water:1 cup of rice = rice pudding.

*sigh* Try again.

Failure part two: Lemon-cinnamon chicken.
(This was from several days ago)

I followed the recipe closely. The basics are lemon juice, 2 tsp. oil, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 2 chicken breasts. Marinade for 15 minutes, then cook. Not hard, right.

It is if your kitchen is not lit because you are lazy.

So, I cooked everything and it smelled yummy. I sat down to eat and was surprised by the flavor. It was....spicy. And not savory like cinnamon. I ate another bite and then the aha! moment.

In a dark kitchen, cinnamon looks similar to another reddish brown spice. Cayenne. I'd made lemon-cayenne chicken.

Still tasty, but really not what I was going for.

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Notes to self [22 Sep 2009|02:47am]

[ mood | embarrassed ]

  1. When buying new and interesting hot peppers from the farmers' market, it is generally a good idea to start by putting one (1) of them into a dish, until you know for certain just how hot they are.

  2. Scotch bonnet peppers, like poisonous snakes, are better identified before close contact than afterwards.

  3. Check local regulations to see if there is any provision for aloo gobi being considered a prohibited weapon of mass destruction.
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flip: more historic failure [09 Nov 2009|08:28am]

[Cross-posted from maga_dogg.]

Before there were cocktails, the cool tipple for the American colonial to throw back was flip, of which I have spoken before. But I hadn't tried it myself, didn't know first-hand anybody who had, and could only dredge up a scant handful of brief modern testimonies online. Notwithstanding that these last universally held flip to be the foulest beverage they had ever consumed (a view also quite widely held by contemporary visitors to the colonies), I felt that the frontiers of historical research deserved my personal attentions.

and to think they LAUGHED at me! LAUGHED!Collapse )
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Successful until the very last step. . . [08 Mar 2008|08:03pm]

I'm a bartender, and I've been working on re-creation pre-Prohibition cocktails, using fresh ingredients and classic liquors and liqueurs. Obviously, back before there was corn syrup, bartenders didn't use corn syrup, but Americans in the Nineteenth century had quite a sweet tooth in their drinking. Sugar, in many different forms, was an integral part of almost every drink. In the old days, a cocktail definitionally had liquor, a sweet syrup of some sort (maybe just simple syrup), some bitters, and probably one more ingredient -- a juice, or a liqueur, or just SOMETHING else.

Well, one of the sweet syrups that they used was Grenadine syrup, but the Grenadine they used had about the same relationship to the stuff we have as the Maraschino cherries they used have to ours -- they're similar, in some sort of sense -- if you've had the real thing, you can sort of taste what the modern thing is TRYING to do -- but, they're not very close at all. (A "maraschino cherry", by the old definition, is a sour cherry marinated and stored in a thick syrup/paste mixture of Maraschino liqueur and sugar. Luxardo still manufactures them, and if you see a jar, pick one up -- they're really rather good.)

Grenadine is a very easy syrup to make: one part sugar to two parts pomegranate juice. You can add a couple drops of orange blossom water, but it's not strictly necessary. The only reason, as far as I can tell, that the real stuff fell out of favor is that, for decades, you just couldn't GET pomegranate juice in the United States. But now that we all love our antioxidants, there's no reason to use the Rose's Artificial Stuff any more. Well, unless you want to, I guess.

So, I decided to make some, for the first time. I put the sugar and pomegranate juice into a pot, and set the flame on reasonably high to get it simmering. Once it started simmering, I reduced the flame and simmered it for about a half hour, until it had reduced and thickened somewhat. I changed the heat a few times, and did do a full boil for a couple minutes to caramelize the sugar; in the future, I'm not sure if I'd do that. The darker caramelized sugar flavor tastes more like the Rose's stuff we're used to, but it overpowers a lot of the pomegranate flavor. I was tasting it as I went (using a new teaspoon each time -- I'm sanitary), and it was coming along nicely.

Eventually, it finished, and I poured it into a glass bottle for storage.

Then I put the bottle in the sink, not noticing the puddle of water, and the jar cracked, and my quart of Grenadine went down the drain.

Oh, well. At least it was down the drain rather than on the floor.

(x-posted to xiphias)
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more adventures in the Great Salt Jar [20 Jan 2008|10:39pm]

I have to post a retraction on the ultra-salt ketchup I mentioned last summer: although an utter failure as ketchup, it turned out to be a very useful ingredient. If I used it in a situation where I'd normally use salt, it worked like very, very flavoured salt. So far, so good.

I played around with the jar, adding more mushrooms, jalapenos, sundried tomatoes and so on; however, recently I thought I'd start a fresh, clean experiment and do a garlic-ginger version. I chop up a couple of heads of garlic, a liberal amount of root ginger, layer it with metric fuckton of salt and splash in a bit of vodka to get the liquids started and for added preservative effect.

A week or so later, the garlic has gone green. A light, minty yet unnaturally vibrant green, suggestive of chlorine gas or the cheek of a goth Medusa. I am not sure if this is what pickled ginger and garlic is meant to do, or if it's a particularly chic variety of botulism.
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Reading comprehension is essential. [20 Jan 2008|08:21pm]

So, we had this baggie of red pepper seasoning blend given to us by a friend. Quite easy: Boil pasta, fry seasoning blend with two teaspoons of oil, then mix with pasta and enjoy.

Smelled wonderful as the herbs cooked.

With the first forkfull, I immediately ran to the kitchen and began cutting a few slices of bread to eat, as my mouth was painfully on fire.

The two teaspoons referred to the seasoning blend, not the oil. I had used the entire bag, which was about 8-10 times the amount needed for a half pound of pasta.
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unflaky pastry [04 Nov 2007|06:22pm]

Here is how I was taught to make flaky pastry: first, make a basic shortcrust and cool it, yada yada. When you come to roll it out, take as much shortening and butter as you used to make the shortcrust in the first place, and break it up into lumps about the size of a fingernail. Roll out the pastry into a sheet. Put blobs of butter and shortening about every inch or so across half the surface, then fold the other half over it and roll it flat again. Repeat until all the butter/shortening is used up. Chill for another hour or so before use.

This process bears a certain resemblance to the forging of a masterwork katana and takes approximately as long. You have to be really careful to roll gently towards the end, because otherwise the squashed lumps will break through the thin layers of pastry. But you get a delicious multi-layered flaky pastry at the end. It's worth the effort, but it's not something you make a regular habit of. It's ideal for, say, Cornish pasties, which was what I was aiming for tonight.

Because it's not something you do regularly, I wasn't sure about the recipe so I decided to look it up in the closest thing we have to a Basic Cooking Reference: the Settlement Cook Book, 1965 edition.

Here is how The Settlement Cook Book says to make flaky pastry: make a basic shortcrust, but instead of half butter, half shortening, use all shortening but put in a quarter-cup more. This should, in retrospect, have made me suspicious.

Instead "Woohoo," went I, "lo these many years my labour has been wasted, when the antediluvian American housewife, in her constant struggle to hang on to her man's affections, knew the secret to quick and easy flaky pastry all along."

The antediluvian American housewife did not use the adjective 'flaky' to mean what I think it means.

I think I've salvaged the result. But Cornish pasties it ain't. Rrrgh.
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Mutant Pepper [28 May 2007|09:49pm]

[ mood | giggly ]

(x-posted to own journal...not really a failed reciepe, more of a freaky ingredient)

No6 (comes out of kitchen): So you know the oversized orange bell pepper we bought yesterday at Wegmens?

Me: Yeah?

No6: So I cut it open, and it was filled with little peppers.

Me: Huh?

No6: Well, you know how usually inside of peppers, there are all the little seeds?  The seeds in this one had sprouted, so inside the pepper were all these little immature peppers.  It's disturbing.  Come see.

Me (following into kitchen): So it was a Mommy pepper?

No6: Well usually the pepper falls to the ground and breaks open first before the seeds sprout like this.   So this was a mutant.

Me: So it was a pregnant pepper?

No6: Yes, but with many little peppers.

Me: So it had had in-veggio fertilization?

No6: Even the peppers at Wegmens have disposable income.

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garum-scarum [09 May 2007|08:26pm]

This recipe isn't exactly failed yet; rather, it's midway through a gentle but inevitable curve towards failure.

Recently I read Mark Kurlansky's Salt: A World History, which is not exactly the most engaging non-fiction ever written, and struck me as largely an excuse to extract travel advances from Kurlansky's publisher. It did, however, include a good number of recipes; admittedly, many of them call for spices that only grow in Sichuan or unidentified fish mentioned in Roman texts, but one thing that struck me was the line of descent from salty, fermented fish sauces, leading ultimately to soy sauce in China and ketchup (plus assorted brown sauces) in the West.

A recipe for ketchup at around the time people started using tomatoes instead of mushrooms seemed really simple to abstract from - tomatoes, spices, imperial fuckton of salt. The salt draws the liquid out of the vegetables, producing a brine which preserves everything as it sludges down. I didn't follow it exactly, largely because most of the recipes in the book assume that a barrel is a standard culinary appliance.

I chopped up some tomatoes and mushrooms and layered them in a Ball jar, sprinkling a good layer of big-crystal sea salt and a few spices in between each layer. Possibly, just possibly, I overestimated how much salt to use, rather than underestimate and let the thing rot. The first bit worked like a charm: within 24 hours, the salt had drawn out enough liquid for the vegetables fruit and fungus to pickle in. I squished it down to make sure. An unsettling layer of undissolved salt was building up on the bottom.

Then I sat back and watched for a few days. The jar sits on the counter, seething. isquiesque accuses me of plotting to poison myself and her. I added some brandy (as per the recipe) to kill any germs that the salt hadn't disposed of. She does not take comfort.

At around the age of six or eight I used to take jam-jars, fill them with mud, gravel, water, plants, bodily fluids and whatever else I could lay my grubby hands on, then seal 'em up and let the subtropical sun do horrible anaerobic things to the contents. You can see why I'm bringing this up.

Nonetheless, you can't cook effectively without taking samples every now and then. Today was about day five or six; I removed a ladleful, glopped it into a blender and pureed it.

It tasted of salt. There was a slight suggestion that under the salt there were other things going on. Very possibly they were good things, in the same way that there may have been good things about the Third Reich. I added some water, blended again. Still salty. Added some water and some olive oil, blended again. Lovely ketchupy consistency, but still salty. I suspect that this recipe was intended for a world where salt stood in for fridges and antibiotics, and palates had adjusted to this.

Currently the pureed goop is serving as a marinade for some Quorn bland imitation chicken. It's sort of an unstoppable-force meets unmoveable-object thing. If anybody has a biohazard storage facility for the remaining six-sevenths of the jar, I'd be very interested.
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Failed Doughnut Recipe from Alton Brown [20 Apr 2007|02:45pm]

Recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,1977,FOOD_9936_27943,00.html

I have made the dough twice and it still won't reach the point to pull away from the sides of the bowl and has been pretty wet.

To remedy the problem I made a second batch, shaved off a tbsp or two of liquid, and dusted underneath and above the dough with flour to encourage it to stop sticking to the bowl while mixing. It was still very "gloopy," exactly as before.

I used White Lilly AP flour, which I use for pretty much everything.

I just gave up and put the second batch in the bowl to let it rise, but when it rose and I went to roll it, it was difficult (as I figured it would be...) When cut with floured cutters the dough was impossible to pick up and retain the shape, because the dough was still flowing.

I just realized I could have tried folding the dough during the rise to encourage some strength, but the way it was, I still feel it would have been slightly in vain. I am considering leaving out the part where you proof the yeast and just adding the yeast to the flour, and omitting the water. Is this an ok idea? Or maybe melting the shortening and adding it later? (I'm leaning stongly against this, though.) Maybe I should try subbing some of the AP flour with bread flour, since maybe the white lilly brand of AP flour is too soft.

Any help or suggestions is greatly appreciated. Also I'd appreciate if anyone who has pulled off this recipe would let me know what brand of flour they used? When I think about it, White Lilly never acts right in bread baking that calls for AP.

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cheese bread [25 Feb 2007|09:28pm]

This is also posted in my own journal...

what a disaster. Usually when I make bread, I use a breadmaker, so it comes out pretty well and beautifully risen, soft and fluffy with a nice hard crust. This time I didn't use a breadmaker since I was using my aunt's recipe and hadn't used it before, so I figured I would test it out by following the recipe as it was written. So of course I was really bad about activating the yeast. Ug. I didn't properly dissolve it in the hot water before adding it to the dough mixture and then I stupidly poured in the cold water before mixing in the hot water and yeast mixture. The resulting dough did not rise whatsoever. I cooked the thing anyway and now it looks fine, but it is hard as a rock. It is mega dense cheese rock. It tastes good, but I'll have to try again next week. Sigh. What a waste of food.

grumble grumble
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Awful looking banoffee pavlova! [10 Jan 2007|07:19pm]

Banoffee pavlova lit with candles

The candles in the above photo distract the eye from how much my Birthday pavlova looked like turd on a meringue!Collapse )
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My latest culinary achievement: cheesy broccoli grain-glop! [05 Jan 2007|01:36am]

[ mood | embarrassed ]

Tonight, I tried something I thought would be easy and painless: to replicate a really nice little recipe I'd come up with more or less by accident a week or two ago. Quinoa with broccoli and cheese, tossed with a little butter and a dab of whole-grain dijon mustard. I remember making that -- it was easy, and good. I was tired and hungry and wanted something easy and good, so it seemed like a logical pick. Or so I thought.

Problem: there was no quinoa.

Now, quinoa may sound exotic to many people, but really, it's easy. It cooks more or less like rice, except that you need to rinse it a bit first, and it tastes nicer if you toast it a little in the pan after that before adding the water for it to cook in. But other than that, dead easy. And it tastes better than rice and has lots of protein. But... no quinoa.

"That's OK," replies my SO, with whom I had shared this plan. "There's millet. And amaranth."

Now, I may be able to cook quinoa, but this does not mean I am the Queen of All Obscure Grains. And my only knowledge of amaranth in particular was that my dad had a horror of it after trying to cook it only once. "I don't know how to cook those," I ventured, nervously, already starting to abandon my healthy food plans in favour of ducking across the street for a take-out pizza slice.

"Don't be silly," she replied. "They're easy. You can cook amaranth in with millet or quinoa, and if you cook it with millet, you cook it just like you do millet, and if you cook it with quinoa, you cook it just like you do quinoa. But put in some extra water if you're using amaranth -- it sucks up water like crazy."

Er... OK. Regretfully abandoning plan B (the one involving pizza), I returned to the kitchen. She had helpfully stuck cooking instructions for all the exotic grains she got at the health food store onto the fridge with a magnet, so I checked those. ! cup of mixed millet and amaranth to... Hmmm. The millet instuctions said 2 - 2 1/2 cups of water, the amaranth instructions said 2 1/2 - 3. I compromised on 2 3/4, put it on to cook, set the timer for 20 minutes, and sat down to read a book.

Millet and amaranth, I knew quinoa. Quinoa was a friend of mine. And millet and amaranth, YOU are NO quinoa!Collapse )

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Acorn & butternut squash ain't the same [20 Dec 2006|07:12am]

Several times I've made Butternut Squash Lasagna and it's turned out great. So I wondered if I could use other types of squash instead. The first one I tried was acron squash. I like acorn squahs. Why wouldn't it taste good in a lasagna.

WRONG! I'm not entirely sure just what the problem is but it turned out barely edible. It wasn't really creamy like the butternut and no matter how much prep I did there were still little strings left in the lasagna.

I only had one serving (and didn't even finish that) then threw the rest out. From now on I will only use acorn squash for roasting and serve as a sidedish.
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Martha Stewart can take these cookies and.... [17 Dec 2006|09:07pm]

[ mood | irritated ]

put them someplace they will never haunt humanity again.

Note to anyone who will listen: Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies - don't make them.

The cookie base is awesome, it's spectacular.


Two great tastes that should stay the frick away from each other. Oy.

What a holiday waste.

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[17 Dec 2006|10:43pm]

"When did H. P. Lovecraft start writing our latkes?"

Honestly, I don't feel capable of giving any further description.

O, the horror!
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shriek! [11 Dec 2006|06:46pm]

[ mood | frustrated ]

i can't even bring myself to retype it. i'm just linking to my journal.

in terms of hugeness, it's not a giant deal, but the time and raw goods involved is ... irritating.


4 comments|post comment

Adventures with a Mandolin [20 Nov 2006|07:05pm]

I was pointed to this community by misslynx and thought I would share my own tale of woe.

(crossposted to my journal)

I am writing this entry with one hand plus a forefinger and thumb.

How did I lose the use of three of my fingers you ask? Well it's really a simple story...

I had just purchased a new grating tool that had switchable blades so you could grind spices, or cheese. Or you could use (as I did.) the slicing blade to thinly slice vegetables.

Now I was thinly slicing vegetables (cucumber to be precise) so that I could make pickles for kettunainen, who has been desiring their tasty yummyness, a craving that I know all too well. So I began to run the cucumber back and forth along the blade and then wham! I had cut open the tips of two of my fingers. This was quite painful and I got them cleaned and bandaged right away. But since the wounds were in such awkward places I had to then take my painter's tape and tape them in place with makeshift wrap bandages. That was all fine, I got the fingers bandaged up, washed the slicer and rinsed all the cucumber slices carefully. Then I began again and wouldn't you know it but just as I finish the cucumber my knuckle grazes the blade and I start to bleed again. So I again bandage up, wash up, and have decided that these cucumber slices will be made into pickles for me.

So now with three banadged and taped fingers I decide to hold off on slicing more cucumber.

Today I get up, wash and change the bandages (regrowing flesh hurts incidentally) and then very carefully I slice the second cucumber I had and that cucumber, being completely blood free is now becoming pickle chips for kettunainen.

The moral of the story? I'm not allowed near sharp things.
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Bread failure... [29 Sep 2006|09:59am]

If you don't put the paddle in your breadmaker before you push the "start" button...you don't get bread. You get a solid mass of baked clay that sheds flour all over your counter when you pick it up to try to figure out what happened.

Thought I would share...
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