Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A near accident of epic kitchen proportions narrowly averted by shear dumb luck

(Bloody internets just let me down, forcing me to wipe my internet memory and now I have to remember all my freakin' passwords - gah! And reset all my websites to English. Lort!)

Anyway, yesterday was rather impressive in that I made dinner for the first time in a few weeks and this one included dessert! I have been Jonesin' for brownies for a while and managed to not get my act together in time for Valentines Day. That's alright, the Dane isn't aware of the wonder of brownies, so what he doesn't know he loves he can't miss.

But last night, ho oh! last night I decided that I would deny myself no longer! I WOULD have brownies. I WOULD. I actually had all the ingredients in the house. Except for buttermilk, but I've long ago decided that I'm not going to buy buttermilk because recipes always call for less buttermilk than comes in a carton (even if I buy a LEETLE carton) and I can "make it" myself by adding lemon juice to regular milk. This works great and if you pay NO attention to the weirdness of the milk after lemon juice addition, you'll do just fine in the Archaeogoddess Kitchen of Magic.

So it's all going swimmingly. I have dinner ready to be cooked and I'm prepping dessert so that there will be a flawless transition from dinner to dessert. But somewhere along the way I forgot the wisdom of Jamie Oliver. Jamie, patron saint of the cooking Archaeogoddess, points out that while you can play around with salad dressings to your hearts content, you should probably learn to bake before doing something mad with your desserts. He also stresses that you should REALLY READ your instructions CAREFULLY. I may have to start repeating this before bed.

I completely neglected to notice that I was supposed to put my brownies in a 13x9x2 pan. I figured, brownies go in a brownie pan. A brownie pan, is in my mind because it always has been when I made box mix brownies, a 9x9x2 pan. Which I do not have. I DO HAVE a 13x9x2 pan but in the heat of the moment, I'd put my chicken dish into it. (This turned out to be a serious error in judgement as I do have another pan that would have been BETTER for the chicken and saved me a great deal of heart ache, but my god when I do something wrong I like to do it wrong with STYLE!) I, remembering geometry, figure that although I do not have a 9x9x2 (remember, this is what I THOUGHT I needed) pan I do have a spring-form cake pan.

Note to self: stop pretending that you have math skills.

Once the batter is prepared (and I do follow those instructions very carefully and use my handy mixer to great effect) I pour it into the pan. Now here's another thing. The instructions say to line the pan with foil or if I use the Jamie Oliver recipe, with wax paper, and then butter that. Well, I'm using a spring-form pan, screw the lining! I'll be able to get my brownies out of the pan EASILY! I'm just going to butter. But HEY I have this vegetable fat that is never going to get used - it's like shortening... I should use that! So I smears it around and pour the mix in and voila! It seemed a bit high in the pan, but hey.

There was a lot of "hey"-ing going on in the kitchen. Sometimes it means I'm a genius. Sometimes, not so much.

I then move the pan to a suitable location so that I can saute some veg without getting hot oil on the batter. On goes the stove. Oops, forgot to turn on the oven so the chicken can cook. La la la.

And that's when the nightmare began.

Little did I know, but my spring-form pan, having behaved BEAUTIFULLY for years had rusted and deformed. Brownie began leaking rather quickly from the seems.

AH! AHHHHHHHHH!

Things began flying out of my cupboard under the counter as I searched frantically for alternative dishes. My pyrex pie pan and a VERY solid ceramic oven dish best used for quiche were all that I had. Shortening was grabbed and vigorously rubbed all over the place, eventually ending up all over the counter and on the handles of various spoons that I was trying to use to saute veg (which I was still trying to do at the same time as trying to save the brownies, it was a mad few minutes, spoons kept slipping out of my hands, go figure) and then ended up all over the stove as I realized I had to turn the veg OFF. Eventually brownie mix was split between the two dishes with only some loss that managed to be smeared all over the counter, turning up at odd times to vex me over the past 12 hours.

Right. Back to dinner. My timing was completely off, I had started and then aborted sautéing veg while my chicken baked in the satan-spawn oven. I had plenty of time before I needed to worry about starting to sauté again.

This begs the question: if I know my oven sucks, why do I continue to use it?

Anyway, you would also think, that having just managed to save the brownies from certain doom, I'd leave well enough alone! No, not me. I am a clinical idiot. If you say, "don't poke that" I'll poke it and ask, while poking it, "why not?" Clinical idiocy. So I'm looking at the brownies and the recipe. The recipe says that you should sprinkle marshmallows and peanuts over the top after they come out of the oven and then you drizzle chocolate sauce on top of that to make REALLY FANTASTIC brownies. I was not planning on making REALLY FANTASTIC brownies, I hadn't purchased the stuff needed to make chocolate sauce. But now I had 20 minutes to kill... And it hit me, like a stroke of genius - why wait for the brownies to come OUT to put the nuts and marshmallows on? Haven't I had brownies that had nuts and marshmallows INSIDE? I don't have peanuts, but I do have walnuts (which I prefer) and HUGE marshmallows left over from Christmas when I couldn't find little normal marshmallows to save my life. So I hack up the nuts and the marshmallows (by the way, cutting marshmallows - not easy) and sprinkle them over the brownies with the idea that they'll sink into the mix while I'm waiting to put them in the oven.

Notable thing about marshmallows. Something that I BET you've noticed if you've ever put them in hot chocolate. The little f*ckers float! The nuts... also showing a serious lack of sinkage. I poke 'em with a fork and still they remain on top. I don't really think about what this might mean as dinner is now moving along and I figure, eh, it'll work out.

Time comes for me to put the brownies in the oven and I discover that two circular dishes will not fit in a square oven no matter what you do. Again with the serious lack of math skills! Okay, cooking one at a time. Jamie says to cook brownies for 25 minutes the other cookbook says 40, I figure start at 25 and keep checking. If nothing else, I know my oven is satanic and evil.

Brownie pan #1 takes well over an hour. Brownie pan #2 takes exactly one hour.

Do you know what happens if you put marshmallows in the oven for AN HOUR?? They didn't catch fire, thank god, but they did melt into an oozy mess that then turned black and carbonized in a super sugary crust. I could have cried.

I would have cried, too, except that last night I volunteered to help paint trim which involves oil paint and turpentine and I was so high on fumes by the time the first brownies were ready to be taken out of the oven I just kept giggling. If I wasn't a clinical idiot before, I certainly am now.

We're very lucky the marshmallows didn't ignite, the house was a powder keg of paint fumes.

So today I approached my brownies with a heavy heart. What had I done? Not only had I really messed up but I had made a crazy amount of brownies, using up all of my walnuts!

I made myself a small slice. Hm, looks a lot more like dense chocolate cake than brownie. Took a taste. Hey, that's not bad at all! It's surprisingly good! Even with the crunchy sugary crust! It's not particularly brownie-like, more cakish than brownieish... but rather tasty!

YES! YES YES YES!

The hard part is not eating all of it in one sitting. The sugar rush mixed with chocolate and nuts is intoxicating.

Or that's the oil paint talking.

Oh, and in the middle of the night I woke up and realized: marshmallows can be found in FUDGE, not brownies. Idiot.

6 comments:

  1. I loved this post because I have TOTALLY been there!! Not only using the "one pan I needed for something else" but using a pan that will NOT allow any other pans to fit with it in my tiny Danish sized oven!! Lord, the tragedies we experience in our kitchens! Was it this hard in america??!! LOL

    But I did learn the "how to make buttermilk" secret!! Thanks for that! I need buttermilk to make homemade cornbread, so now I am set instead of having to buy a carton!!!!

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  2. Hahaha, reminds me of a time I tried to make a rich chocolate cake and the chocolate batter started pouring out of the seams of an old cake tin. total disaster! managed to save the situation by quickly pouring it out into two other tins but found myself with rather odd shaped cake - not quite the round shaped-cake i started out with in my head.

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  3. According to my allrecipes.com substitution list 1 cup of buttermilk = 1 tbsp lemon juice plus enough milk to make one cup. I'm really bad about that and tend to pour almost a cup and then dash a bunch of lemon juice into it. I use bottled too, since half an lemon = 2-3 tbsp and that just seems a waste in the winter when I don't particularly feel like making iced lemonade.

    For cornbread I've had pretty good success with the Better Homes and Gardens' cornbread recipe:

    1 cup flour
    3/4 cup cornmeal (found usually in the organic section of Superbrusen, SuperBest, or Kvickly)
    2-3 tbsp sugar
    2 1/2 tsp baking powder (not natron - learned that the hard way too)
    3/4 tsp salt
    1 tbsp butter (15g)
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 cup milk
    1/4 cup cooking oil or melted butter (I use rapsoil and have had no problems)

    Oven to 200 C (400F). Mix dry ingredients together. Put the tbsp of butter (15g) into your cornbread vessel of choice (I use 9 inch round pyrex pie pan, my love and joy) and pop it in the preheated oven for 3 minutes or until butter melts. Remove the pan and swirl the butter to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. (I don't pour out the extra butter, cause I'm like that, but it does impact the look of the cornbread, if you care) In another small bowl mix eggs, milk, oil. Pour this all at once into the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until just moistened. Now dump all that into your pan. Bake 15-20 minutes if you have a normal oven, do the toothpick test, eat with honey. And something hot and spicy - Cajun is perfect with cornbread, right Kelli?

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  4. Had this been me, I would've lost it at the point of turning off the veggies - which would've been followed by yelling to the other end of the house for help and then collapsing on to the kitchen floor in tears.

    And don't get me started on this silly little ovens!

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  5. Next time you do something like that, can you make sure you have fitted a webcam first ;)

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  6. This is exactly the reason why I don't bake. I'm afraid that things would go wrong, my oven will explode, my kitchen will have a black hole in the wall, or worse, my cake simply won't rise.

    Failure is simply not an option LOL

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