Cooking Failures, and Recoveries

This Sunday was the prettiest Sunday in a while – the wintery temperatures abated and after a clarifying night of storms, blue sky abounded. I was going to cook everything: cooking is a pleasure in a kitchen with so many windows, and it still wasn’t warm enough to spend all day outside (though I tried mightily!) so I set about trying two new recipes.

I am rarely daunted by the fact of having none of the tools or ingredients I need. I should be though; it can be truly, breathtakingly difficult at times. As with many of the times when I’ve wished for a less finicky version of my current blender, this day was bad for the new recipes: I tried a pesto dish that really needed a food processor, and a crockpot dish that needed me to have full-fat coconut milk, not the more cow’s-milk-substitute kind I had, and for some reason, my yeast never being the kind of yeast that will actually turn bread out correctly.

What turned out: pesto that was really just a loose cheesy, nutty salad (not the worst thing in the world, but not what i was going for either), a watery version of saag chicken curry (also not badly flavored but truly lacking the fortifying creaminess that gives it its luscious flavor. Also… was I going to perfect curry the first time I ever tried it? I doubt this.) and hard-as-rock french bread rolls with no puff to them at all (I am doing yeast wrong. How am I doing the yeast wrong???).

I was bummed all evening – my visions of plump, crusty rolls beside steamy curry for dinner and light pesto to throw on leftovers or pasta throughout the weak were dashed. But isn’t that just the way with daydreams? They get dashed all the time. I needed a recovery plan. There would be no throwing out of mundane failures, if I could help it.

The way I buckled down this time? The pesto-that-cannot-be-created will be wilted with some alfredo sauce for a pasta dish this week. The curry was better the day after and on a whim I packed a rock-hard roll in the same container as my curry – during lunch, it softened up into a dumpling, which added some texture to the broth-y curry. Overall, I think it will all get eaten, and I will have learned a few of my lessons: either be easier on myself if my tools aren’t up for the job, or pick recipes at times when I have the tools!

Also, anyone have advice for getting bread to rise? I really want to make this work.

3 comments on “Cooking Failures, and Recoveries

  1. crystynace says:

    I could never get bread to rise either by hand or in my bread maker. Really, the trick seems to be to proof the yeast first. You take the water/milk/liquid ingredients (except oil and eggs), make them warm (about 40-44 degrees celsius) add the sugar from the recipe and the yeast and let them sit for ten minutes or so (for quick rise yeast, not sure about the other kinds as I haven’t been brave enough to try them yet). After the ten minutes you should have a nice foamy mixture (if it’s not foamy at all your yeast is dead I’m told) you add the other wet ingredients like oils and eggs, then have the dry ingredients already mixed together and add them (all at once on top in the bread maker or sifted and stirred gradually if mixing by hand). I went from thick, dense lumps of bread to light fluffy delightful breads when I started doing this.


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