Tuesday, December 28, 2010

HOW THE GRINCH ALMOST STOLE CHRISTMAS....Dinner


"There is no sadder story of cooking woe, than that of Lisa and her kitchen stove."
One of the biggest cooking days of the year would have to be Christmas, right? And this year we had relatives coming and no telling who else walk through our door at any given time, throughout the day. I was on top of my game. Had my menu all made out, the groceries were laid on the counter with care; in hopes that deliciousness soon would be there. Yep, I'd done most of the prep work for our holiday meal a couple of days in advance and was feeling the stress dissipate. One of those days was the entire afternoon dedicated to the baking and structuring of a three layer Red Velvet cake. Wait. What? Three layers? Not 4? That sounds odd, doesn't it? Well, thus began the slowly, but oh so surely, demise of my oven and any chance of keeping and maintaining a temperature of 350 degrees.

350 degrees. The temperature that every cake mix recipe, cookie baking recipe and bird roasting recipe command you to bake with. Even if you get the opportunity to start out high, say 450 or 400, you are eventually going to have to fine tune your entree to 350 degrees.

With my four layers of beautiful, red cake batter in their new parchment lined baking pans, I double checked my oven thermometer and when we hit it straight up on 350, I gently slid in the 4 pans and set my timer for a couple minutes shy of the suggested baking time. Even at this point, because of my tumultuous history with this oven, I knew I had to be on the ball and keep an eye on things. Well, this was the beginning of what was to come in the 3 days ahead, with a turkey breast to roast, a ham we would glaze and bake, 7 pounds of scalloped potatoes and a ridiculous amount of Yankee dressing. All waiting for and counting on the oven from hell not to fail.

After getting through the best 3 out of 4 layers of red velvet cake, held together with 6 bamboo skewers and a bucket full of stucco, I mean cream cheese frosting, I managed to hold the cake together after the initial collapse. You just cannot bake a cake at varying degrees and expect the layers to turn out right. This is baking, folks, Ugh. Getting it close is not an option. Good thing I checked the cake the night before our dinner, cause sure enough, when I brought it in to show Geraldo, it was split open like something out of a Jules Verne movie. More frosting please! And this time it held together long enough for me to make that initial cut and share my baking perils with my guests just in case the house of cards came tumbling down. The cake tasted really good.....but it took a lot of architecture to hold those layers together.

The turkey breast I had brined to ensure it's juicy goodness, ended up baking anywhere from 450 to 250 with no 350 at any time. I didn't think it would ever get done and when it did, my juiciness had dried up like a river bed in death valley. The dressing? Luckily, Geraldo likes drier, crunchy dressing. I did not know that before Christmas Day. (Or maybe he was doing what he does and trying to make me feel better when I fall short in the cooking department.) Now, the potatoes were good. I had par boiled them a bit the day before in order to speed up the cooking time and that turned out to be a foresight of genius. And 5 kinds of cheese, a bechemel sauce and starch is going to taste good, no matter what.

Our family was together and when we sat down to eat, all that angst disappeared and again I learned the lesson that it's not what's on the table...it's who's around it.

I've been online the last couple of days emailing descriptions of various kinds of ranges back and forth and taking home pictures of our new stove. Nope, I don't know for sure what it will be yet, but Convection is most definitely in my very near future and a warranty. A big, fat warranty.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS and HAPPIEST OF NEW YEAR'S








1 comment:

Sandy McLaughlin said...

Hi Lisa, Glad I found you ~ this is great! will be back when I can sit and read more! Talk to you soon! Sandy

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