Never Cook When Panicked and Other Life Lessons My Mother Never Taught Me

When Storm Sandy hit the East Coast (yesterday) as a born-and-raised Southern Californian with little or no experience of big storms, I panicked. Between the PTSD and lack of experience, I was sure the log home we live in would collapse; the trees would all fall on our house, etc. My answer was,  find something to do!

This works better when you play computer games to put off the panic because your spouse is late than it does when you spend two days getting ready for “stormaggeddon.” I came up with what I thought was the perfect answer, I cooked. Creative, kept me busy, productive, and distracted me from watching the approaching storm.

We needed bread. I’ve been making a batter bread because I’ve been getting up early to bake and write. [You do NOT want to see what I do with loose flour at 4 a.m.., and neither do I. Worse, I’d have to clean it up – kneading bread is out. ] The batter bread falls easily. I made two loaves, and made a banana bread too. Opened the oven to add the banana bread, both loaves fell. One looks like a sink hole, the other is sway-backed.

The banana bread worked fine, but the two types of baking powder in it combined to give it a rather nasty chemical after taste. (I didn’t have enough of one can, so I augmented with another, happened to be another brand.)

Ug. Okay. Forget baking.

I found beautiful, small and CHEAP asparagus last week (around $1.16 a pound!). Of course I bought 4 bunches. I had ham, so I made my usual “spring” risotto. Ham & asparagus, rice, some onion, broth topped with Parmesan. What could go wrong? Well, it isn’t very creamy, although it is good, and it’s a bit salty. It’s okay, but certainly NOT my best effort.

By this time I was downright depressed. The risotto is usually something we gobble up. We both ate a single serving and quit, definitely NOT my best.

In desperation I looked around for something even I couldn’t screw up. There were two Sara Lee blueberry pies in the freezer. Perfect!

Read the instructions, dutifully set the oven temp, in it went. About 3/4ths of the way through, as it was starting to brown I realized I hadn’t put the slits in the top crust. Pleased that I’d remembered, I cut them.

When I pulled the pie out of the oven, the filling hadn’t bubbled through my slits, the filling had pushed the top crust off the pie and it had “puked” onto the cookie sheet. Ug. Okay. The pie was done, the filling on the sheet wasn’t burnt and got eaten.

My life lesson from Stormaggeddon Sandy: DON’T COOK WHEN DISTRACTED!

But see? There you go. Now you know this and you don’t have a fridge full of not so great food as well.

Just once I’d like to learn something worthwhile without it being expensive, painful or embarrassing – and usually two of the three. This falls into the expensive & embarrassing categories. It could’ve been worse, I could have been feeding others!

Lesson #2: Blueberry pie for breakfast isn’t bad!

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