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Old 09-17-2006, 08:46 PM   #1
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How to fix a potential disaster

This subject comes up periodically, and I'm bringing it up again because it happened this afternoon. What do you do to solve a problem that comes up and you have guests waiting for dinner? In this case, I was the guest, and a Pakistani friend was making us lunch. Actually he'd made the food the night before, and was re-heating it. His potato/cauliflower/pea dish was quite thick and was burning. He rather panicked. Hubby told me to go help (I was staying out of the way, I made the salads). I grabbed the pot, found the nearest available bowl, and tossed the food into the bowl. Immediately filled the pot with water.

The hint is this: when re-heating a thick dish, the microwave is king. If you have to reheat it on the stove, low and slow. BUT if it burns (and this means virtually anything), you immediately toss it into a different bowl or pot, and immediately fill the offending pot with water. DO NOT scrape the bottom of the pot. You want to have the smell go away (hence filling the burnt pot with water), and you don't want the food that is still good to have that burnt flavor (hence tossing it into a separate pot or bowl immediately). I rescued the dish, and it was delicious. The man could cook wonderfully, but wasn't up to cooking in a strange kitchen, and didn't know how to rescue a failure-in-the-making. At risk of sounding sexist, in my life (note that disclaimer), men tend to assume success (in all their endeavors) and sometimes simply cannot deal with failure.

What is your best way to snatch victory when your food is going south?


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Old 09-17-2006, 09:14 PM   #2
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It really depends on the disaster. I have, as you did, saved a burning dish or two, or three, or four, etc., etc. by quicly moving to a bowl and filling the original pot with water. I believe anyone experienced with cooking starchy foods would have had that experience.

Other things, such as repairing a broken cake, could take much time, or very little depending on what the cake was being made for.
1. birthday cake falls onto the table and breaks apart when transfering it to the table. Fix: laugh about the scene and break it into bite-sized pieces. Place it in bowls with ice-cream and top with whipped cream. Serve it up.

2. Special filled layer cake blows-out a side and filling is leaking out. Cake is being entered into a competition. Fix: Remove icing from cake side at the rupture. Clean the filling up as best as you can and glue the cake sides together with same flavored royal icing as is the original icing. Cover with original icing to present a smooth and great looking cake. Hope for the best. Try to place the repaired side so that the sampled cake has only the original icing on it.

Another horendous experience is to use the wrong flavoring in a dish, and too much of it.

Example: Couple of months, maybe a year after marriage. I was at my in-laws home and was tasked with making spaghetti and meat sauce. I reached for a bottle lable "granulated garlic and proceeded to shake some into my suace. To my suprize, my MOL re-used old spiced bottles and often filled them with other spices. I had just poured about a tsp. of cinamon powder into my spaghetti sauce. My fix was to add raisins, chili powder, and brown sugar to the sauce and try to transform it into something like a tamale filling I had had that was quite good, if a bit sweet.

The more you know about various types of cooking, the more you can do to fix potential cullinary horrors.

Oh, the spaghetti sauce was a failure and I had to start over again. But I tried the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time. I have since learned to make the tamale filling. Don't think it would be the same over pasta as it is in tamales though.

Sometimes, things can be fixed. Sometimes they can't. And it's a good thing to know the difference.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

“No amount of success outside the home can compensate for failure within the home…"

Check out my blog for the friendliest cooking instruction on the net. Go ahead. You know you want to.- http://gwnorthsfamilycookin.wordpress.com/
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Old 09-17-2006, 09:46 PM   #3
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i say for stuff thats burning hmm.. i immediately transfer the non burnt parts into a new container. for other disasters such as something falling apart or something that doesn't taste right... hmmm make somethign new and exciting that tastes good and has an abstract look to it ^^
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Old 09-18-2006, 01:05 AM   #4
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Sometimes, you know what? If all else fails...make reservations or order pizza to be delivered and then just laugh, laugh, laugh. It's only food and the world won't stop turning because something was goofed up. Life's too short to worry about these situations.

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Old 09-18-2006, 01:10 AM   #5
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at the risk of sounding sexist?
I used to work at sheep cloning factory. The hardest part was staying awake during inventory...
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Old 10-16-2006, 06:55 PM   #6
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I made a pot pie the other day, got the "gravy" nice and thick, poured it over the meat and veg filling, slapped the crust on and put it in the oven. Took it out when done - forgot that I used frozen pearl onions and frozen veg. The gravy thinned out a bunch - instead of pot pie it became "soup with a lid" and was quite good.
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Old 10-16-2006, 07:37 PM   #7
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Well, stuff happens.

When I put my homegrown fall broccoli into pot of boiling water for Thanksgiving dinner and scores of little green worms started coming to the top of the water, I had my husband dump it in the fencerow for the deer, and heated up some Le Seur baby peas.

When my yeast was past the "use by" date, and I added two packages instead of one to my pizza dough, causing the pizza to rise a height of 6 inches, despite our attempts to pierce it with a fork and smack it with a spatula, we laughed, had another beer, and picked the goodies off the top.

As my great-granny used to say, "You may as well laugh as cry!"
We get by with a little help from our friends
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Old 10-16-2006, 10:05 PM   #8
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true meaning of yeast expiration date

Originally Posted by Constance
Well, stuff happens.
When my yeast was past the "use by" date...
FYI, the expiration date on dry yeast (active dry or instant) indicates the "shelf life" of the yeast - that is, the time it can be stored, *unopened*, in "reasonable" conditions (eg: not subject to moisure and at "room temperature"). Dry yeast for home use is packaged in vacuum sealed packets which are foil-lined to prevent moisture from penetrating.

Active dry or instant dry yeast is actually quite robust and, after the package is opened, will keep for a long time if stored in the freezer in something that will keep moisture out (like a zip lock bag).

Over the years, many posters to the "Bread, Cornbread..." forum have noted this fact.

The longest I have kept an open package of yeast (it was a 1-lb bag of active dry yeast) in the freezer (in a zip-lock bag) was 3 years. It was good from beginning to end.
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Old 10-22-2006, 09:27 AM   #9
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Yes, Bucky. My husband, father, and many male friends always assume success. When s....t happens, the women in the family have to run in and rescue the operation. They throw up their hands and stomp out! Hubby is an excelent cook, but hasn't cooked for company in a decade or more. Mom just sent him a pasta maker because that was one of his specialties and the last one I bought was a disaster (poorly milled and the pasta was torn to bits). In my family & friends experience, and I do write that conditionally, men like the showy stuff -- barbecues, breakfasts, and specialty meals. When things don't go off just so, they need to be rescued so that the rest of us can eat. The women plod along and get food on the table no matter what happens. When the made from scratch pizza wound up in the back floor of the oven, I call dominoes. When the pasta gets shredded by the machine, I have the package of barillas ready. And, as mentioned, when something gets burned, I rush in so that the food isn't burned AND the smell isn't unbearable. The fact is that hubby and male friends are great cooks, but they don't seem to be ready for anything to go wrong.
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Old 10-22-2006, 11:03 AM   #10
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Lots of folks are afraid to even attempt a soufflé because they're afraid of its falling. In my classes, I always tell my students, the biggest and best trick to soufflés is not to tell anyone you're making one! Then, of course, follow the instruction to the letter, and don't open the oven door for any reason while it's baking, and it should be perfect, 99% of the time... for the 1% when your three year old runs into the kitchen while you're baking a soufflé and jumps up and down, turn it into a sauce or pudding. Cheese and veggie souffles are great over rice, potatoes, as an impromptu fondue... and dessert ones turn into great puddings, especially if you have some vanilla ice cream handy!

Wine is the food that completes the meal.
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