Category Archives: disasters

The Yummy Carrot Cake Disaster

So.

I decided to make that carrot cake, you know the one the guy (Ian Cumming) made on GBBO’s finale. Not 5 layers, but the same cake. The recipe is on BBC, you can find it (here).

Except, that I’m not a patient cook. Also my kitchen and supplies are all in disarray because of the great painting project and the long-still continuing refrigerator saga. In the midst of the long rennovation effort and my fridge dying (twice!) about 1/2 the food in the fridge was pitched. The food in the fridge’s freezer was moved by DH to the new freezer, etc.

This means a few things:

  1. I don’t have the supplies I usually have on hand.
  2. If I do, I’m not sure where they are or how much I have.
  3. The same is true of my cooking tools.

So I started to make a 4 egg cake with 2 eggs in the house. I’d bought pecans, but hadn’t noticed they were to be roasted and chopped. I finally (after looking in many, many markets) found star anise, but it wasn’t ground. (Our pepper may taste “peculiar” for a while, the pepper grinder was the only thing other than the coffee grinder I could find which would work. We use the coffee grinder EVERY DAY, the pepper grinder not as much and it’s smaller.)

I bought cream cheese to make the topping even though I shouldn’t eat it and DH isn’t fond of it, but decided tonight that I’d put the glaze on and maybe make up icing for a few other people. Put the glaze on.

Couldn’t resist — tasted the glaze: powdered sugar and orange juice. Should be yummy — right? Tasted like soap.

SOAP?????

Thought okay, it’s the knife, had soap on it. Got a new utensil, rinsed it, dip it in the remains of the glaze in the bowl.

More soap.

I’d already drizzled this on the warm cake layers. Cut them in 1/2. The unaffected 1/2 layers are just great big carrot muffins, unglazed or iced — right???

I can still taste that soap, and I have no idea wtf happened. The sugar was put in a clean canister < 4 months ago. All I can think is that I got something with an adulterant in it or a f’d up recipe  — which ruined mine!

The star anise is an ingredient used in the original recipe and omitted on the BBC’s version for some reason. (If you look at the baker’s twitter feed he talks about it there.) I love this recipe, will make it again, but will do these things:

  1. Do all the prep work beforehand I should have this time (like counting eggs! If I didn’t have a neighbor who raised chickens, that could have been a disaster too.)
  2. TASTE my glaze before I put it on the warm cakes.
  3. Remember that I don’t have a springform pan, but that one 9″ removable bottom pan and one 8″ removable bottom pan work just fine.

What do you do when you’re avoiding being stressed? If you’re me and you have several hours where you know you’ll be stressed, you start a complicated recipe, with many more steps and ingredients than you ever use and don’t do the prep work, you’re going to “wing it.”

I’m lucky it turned out as well as it did! If I’d only tasted that glaze first . . . .

Note: Acc to DH, the cakes are just fine. After both of us nibbling bits here and there, our conclusion is that I have an aversion to star anise, at least this much, this way, or maybe it’s the fresh-ground cloves. Either way, DH says the glaze and all is very tasty. Reminds me of what happened after the motorcycle accident: most foods smelled rotten to me, except garlic. I ate a LOT of marinara! I don’t know what this is, but the next time I make this (later this week, probably) I’ll omit the white raisins, cloves and the star anise and see what I think. If it’s okay, then I’ll make another batch. I loved the smell, but something in there. . . .

 

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The Week. . .

I’ve had weeks from hell before. I had a week where I was hosting 7 authors and 20 attendees for a writer’s “workshop” at the store. Had a car crash about 4 days before this event I’d spent 3 weeks frantically planning. My car was totalled and my ankle sprained. I got the last of the chores done with my desk chair zooming around the store.

Had the event. It was a success. Great. Three days (two?) later, a challenged person, with a minder comes in my store and wants books like Robert Jordan’s, but not his. Took quite some time, finally found him some books — then the guy has an epiletic seizure and collapses. His minder dealt with most of it, but not the vomit soaked paper towels. The bag of those I put in the dumpster, to be yelled at by the guy who owned the dumpster and threatened to have my shop removed from the center.

That was pretty bad.

I had a few times when I caught my current guy with someone else — always in April. Why was it always in April? That happened like 3 years in a row, 3 different men — all before DH.

This week hasn’t been that bad, but it hasn’t been easy.

Osteo arthitis.

Dead Fridge.

Scratched Cornea.

I have a dentist appointment tomorrow. I’m afraid. I’m very afraid! But I guess I have to go anyway.

J

 

Oh Joy – be grateful, be grateful, be. . .

The doc thinks I have osteoarthritis in my hand. No real “cure.” I can manage it with hot and cold and if I don’t, it will continue to get worse. Great.

The other “great” thing today? Our fridge may be dead. Yes, that fridge, the one that replaced the one that died after 6 weeks, the one where they sent my part to Alaska, the one which took us SIX MONTHS to get Kitchen Aid to replace. This is the replacement, sigh.

If you don’t know the fridge saga, it starts (here) and continues (here)  and (here) and (here) and (here) . It was resolved at some future date. For about 4 years. Let’s see the fridge was approx $2000, so that means we spent about $500 a year for its use. At that price, we can buy a new small one every year, and save about $200 annually!

I’ve been advocating a California closet for some time. DH had a similar idea years ago. The California closet I refer to isn’t the closet organization company, but a cool closet, cooled with air from the ground, through the closet  and then expelled thru a whisper cool or vent in the roof. It’s almost a root cellar. If we got one of those, it would never break, or at least it wouldn’t break because the computer went wonky or something fancy went haywire. And then we could buy a smaller fridge every year or whatever, as need be, because the large capital investment would be unnecessary. (Especially since we now have additional freezer space!)

My introduction to the idea came from David Goldbeck’s book, Smart Kitchen, around 1990, when the book was new. I have wanted one ever since.

The never-ending fridge saga continues!

Disasters

Stew didn’t get made. I think we had sandwiches, I know we bought bread.

My car didn’t pass inspection. The floor is rotted in 2 places, the frame too. I find out tomorrow from our friend/body guy how much it will cost to fix it; if it’s fixable. Buying a new car wasn’t in our plans this week, or next, or the one after that. This may change — quickly!

On the way home up from the garage, coming the hill a bird committed kamikaze right into my front bumper. Made me cry. It was either a very young bird learning to fly (erratic) or a wounded bird (erratic). I think it was a youngster. But all I knew was all of a sudden there was this small bird doing loop D loops in front of me. Didn’t even hear or feel it hit, but it was lying in the road, in a bad place and another car was coming in the other direction, and I was crying by then and had to pay attention to what I was doing, and. . . .

The chimney gets swept tomorrow. Hopefully, no disasters there. We replaced the stove, put in a new hearth, new insulated pipe and had work done on the chimney — last year.

So, life goes on. There’s a moth in the office and the cat. I’m going to shut off my monitor and the light — hopefully nothing will get broken!

 

J

 

Dining Room Progress and Not

The bookcase next to the table has been completely emptied, culled, cleaned, pulled away from the wall, the wall/floor cleaned and everything replaced, newly cleaned and organized.

The china cabinet has been reorganized and its contents are clean, but the cabinet itself needs to be cleaned.

Sounds great, right? Yes, it is, but it’s crunch time.

In/around the dining room area were/are boxes o’ stuff. Things to keep, things to sell, things to toss.

Just overwhelming.

Some of that was dealt with yesterday (a box of papers for example, a box of clothes too) but there is still the other entire side of the room to do: the room divider boxes, the storage under the counter, and all the STUFF stacked up near there.

Ug.

I have clothes to sell, stuff to give away, things to donate, the dump bins are full, and there’s cardboard to recycle. Lots of things to go away in one form or the other, but it’s a disaster.

The other big problem? The box of clothing made a mess of the laundry room too.

laundry pile

So, I now have 1/2 the dining room to get back to clean, the other half to clean/cull, etc. and the laundry room to return to its previous clean state.

Sigh.

Should Have Stood in Bed

Okay, I picked up food at the farm. Small share this time, as it’s the beginning of the season:

I got radishes, spinach, 2 lettuces, and rhubarb.

I stopped at the market (go right by it) on the way home and bought

2 avocados

1 small watermelon

The plan was my favorite hot weather meal, requires no cooking:

spinach, lemon, avocado soup (served cold)

with salad:

watermelon, chives (original recipe had onions, but I have chives in the yard), mint and an oil & vinegar dressing.

Both things I’ve made many, many times  before. No cooking. Easy.

The best laid plans.

Except I forgot that I don’t use the food processor for the soup. I forgot (somehow) how to pick out avocadoes (a skill I’ve prided myself in since oh, high school?), and I forgot that although the soup requires no cooking, it can be messy, if you’re not careful.

Disaster on disaster.

First, I couldn’t remember how to use the food processor attachment. My brilliant spouse fixed that.

Okay. Put the washed spinach in, and get chopped spinach. Hm. Not what I had in mind.

Add lemon juice, one avocado, run some more, nope. I have a little guacamole, with lots of roughage. Nope. Okay. Put it all in the blender.

Soup — at the bottom of the jar, underneath most of the 1 lb of chopped, not liquified spinach.

Decide I should add the 2nd avocado. I CAN’T get it to separate? After a lot of work, I get the rock-hard flesh outta the shell.

Take all the “almost soup” out of the blender, add the avocado rock stuff and a little water. Buzz.Still hard. Small pieces, but hard.

Okay. Scoop that out. ( I tossed it, would you want to eat crunchy avocado “sand”?) Put the guac + 1 pile shredded spinach back into the blender . Buzz. Add a little water. Repeat until very thick soup/liquidy guac is all that’s in the bottom of the blender. Add salt & pepper. Call DH to come and get his ‘soup.’

The watermelon was cut in half and we ate it plain.

Are you kidding after the disaster of my 5 ingredient soup which is supposed to take 10 minutes or less to make? After spending an hour on the “easy” soup, I was afraid to pick up a knife, much less make watermelon salad.! [DH must have agreed; he cut the watermelon, served it and did the dishes, all without saying a word.]

Recipe: For two adult/main course servings. (Original recipe from 10 minute cooking book, I’ll have to dig it out for the source, sorry, can’t find it online right now.)

2 avocados, juice of 1 -2 lemons (you need at least one), 1 lb spinach, salt & pepper to taste, water as req’d. (I think the original recipe has Tabasco in it too?)

I use the stems and all of the spinach, omitting any brown or nasty bits. To do this in an organized fashion (not like my disaster above).

Clean the spinach, cut the stems off the leaves. Cut the lemon in 1/2 and remove the seeds (I zap them in the micro for 10 seconds then cut in 1/2 and squeeze over a small strainer.) Cut the avocado in 1/2, take out the pit, chunk the flesh.

Put the lemon juice in first, then add the spinach in batches. Add the avocado. Add  a very little water if needed. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Then I decided I wanted a little ice cream before bed. I have bad wrists, I zap my ice cream 10 seconds too. Started to wipe down the counters. .  . the micro is still going? My ice cream is *boiling*??? Tastes fine, it’s coffee ice cream after all, but. After tonight? I’m going to be afraid to even pour myself  a cup of coffee tomorrow morning.

 

 

 

Changes

I have an acquaintance, a friend of a friend, who needs some work, not heavy and not a lot at once. I have too many things to do/get rid of, and the house is still a disaster.

So, I put 2 and 2 together and today we worked on the books. Took 2 boxes, 150 books to the donation bin in the next town.Yesterday I gave a friend a book she said she’d like, and she enjoyed it (Yay!) and there’s 2 more boxes of books in my car to go to the antique store, tomorrow a.m.

After years and years of slowly, methodically deducting books from the data base, I am FINALLY done. My inventory started as my collection, the books I bought for customers they didn’t want, and my Dad’s collection. Over the years people gave me books, sometimes a LOT of them. Many came to me on consignment.

Too many books.

I’m done. My inventory as of the end of 2015 is < $2,000. I don’t have to renew the data base software. But I do of course track the antiques and few books here and there I buy and sell.

You see, as the store was closing, I had a young person building me a data base, an online store. And, because I was focused on moving the store, setting up the new store and the 5,000 details attached to those two decisions, I hadn’t done backups. (You can see where this is going, yes?)

The separate disk the shop’s data was on, the old and the new, died. I lost almost all my data. So? So, for the past 12 years I’ve been culling, donating, selling books. Putting them in a new data base as I went, so I can deduct the $ amount from what I had when the store closed.

Still too many books, but I don’t have to do the data entry any more.Huzzah!

I will NOT miss all that typing, you think? Now I only have to track the new stuff coming in and I’ve got a notebook for that. Nearly losing my computer again last year cured me of wanting my inventory on a computer. One data loss like that was plenty — thanks!

J