Friday, November 28, 2008

Funny Disasters

I have mentioned loving to try new things. I am quite an adventurous soul, especially where food is concerned.

So for Thanksgiving this year, I tried a lot of new things. Some turned out really well and some, well, didn't.

Petit Fours are a must on our holiday table. I'd recently read the fun book, Bon Apetite, where the heroine is an expert at making the little cakes.

Quick definition on Angie-isms: Y-e-a-h is a long, drawn out yeah. Make sure you drop the notes in the sound to fall out and down your knees like a jazz slide. It makes the word have a much more satirical meaning. You can raise your eyebrows and give a little look of disbelief at the same time for extra emphasis.

So I looked up how. Y-e-a-h, it looked like someone of my advanced ability could achieve. I mean really, I've been baking at an advanced level for quite some time. I looked up fondant recipes and chose a pourable frosting. Heh-heh-heh. 

Y-e-a-h, not such a good idea. Of course, it would have been better if I'd have made more of a pound cake. But no. I wanted to try a new orange poppyseed cake idea at the same time. Mm, hmm. You got it. The cake was too light and too tall. When I horizontally cut it into 3 layers and frosted the inside layers with buttercream frosting and jellies, that almost worked. The portion I tried layering with buttercream and chopped chocolate chips, not so much. They kept falling out the sides.

Then I forgot to pour the orange syrup over the top. I remembered after frosting the buttercream layer. But of course, I had the solution. I flipped each portion of the cake upside down onto wax paper. Then I poured the orange simple syrup over the whole cake, cut the inch by inch sized cubes, tucked a toothpick into each square and froze the entire sheet cake.

I made the pourable fondant. Pulled out my tiny orange confections and began dipping the 1 inch squares into the warm frosting. Well, that was the idea. But most of them stuck to the wax paper as the buttercream bottom had become a tasty glue. Y-e-a-h. sigh. Oh, did I mention that the simple syrup made the bottom (new top) of my petit fours mushy enough to slide down the toothpick? Y-e-a-h. (Are you doing that jazz slide with your voice?)

Chocolate chips and poppy seeds fell into the frosting like leaves falling off the trees while frosting plopped in huge drops onto the tray. That wasn't working. Hmm. I tried the jellied versions. Hmm. I pulled out a kitchen knife and attempted to frost each little side and top. Frosting dripped everywhere running down my hands like I'd dipped into a bucket of paint.

I tried. It was a disaster and looked like something a toddler had made. One of my little creations appeared to be the Leaning Tower of Pizza, another looked like a miniature Mount Rushmore, one had fallen over and another committed hari kari as I watched. sigh.

My attempt to hand-make my family's favorite holiday tradition looked like a play dough, finger paint and mud pie experiment all in one.

So I did what anyone would do . . . I reasoned that if it tasted good, then all would be well. Y-e-a-h. They were so sweet my teeth ached and my tongue tried to back up in reverse at a break neck speed! 

Ufta! (Something like oh my goodness in Swedish.) My throat scratched and my head ached. The recipe did call for 6 cups of powdered sugar.

Oh if that were my only cooking disaster this holiday. sigh. But no . . . remember I'm adventurous.

I undercooked the turkey and had to microwave it in pieces. (You should have seen my hubby and sister-in-law's looks of pure horror! I think that she actually blanched.) The sad thing is I make a really decent Sage/Garlic Herbed Turkey--normally. 

One thing turned out better than all the rest. I tried a new sweet potato recipe. I poured orange juice over the sweet potatoes and then an apple pie style crumble topping of melted butter, brown sugar and flour. I baked them for 30 minutes and then topped them lightly with mini marshmallows. I browned the marshmallows just like tradition demands.

The one dish usually passed and passed and passed was suddenly a hit. One of our relatives in an intense fight for her life had lost weight from cancer to a dangerous level. (We cheer when she can eat.) She ate TWO helpings of the sweet potato concoction.

Isn't it interesting that the thing you usually place as most important can become the least and the least expected, the most mundane, can teach us so much?

We Snoopy danced in the kitchen over sweet potatoes and suddenly the disastrous petit fours and dismal microwaved turkey became so unimportant. Miniscule. We found deep joy in sweet potatoes of all things because they would prove to be the stuff of hope.

Guess what new recipe will have great memories attached from now on? :-)

Oh, and the petit fours? We'll get some for Christmas Tea. You know the kind, they come in a box in lovely assortments of colors and flavors. And we'll serve sweet potatoes with orange sauce and apple pie style crumbly topping.


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