|My beautiful daughter Meg|
(who will say "MOM this is such and OLD picture!!")
but it really isn't - only a year :-P
|case and point...|
this blog post is about NOT being perfect, and well...if I chose a 'normal' picture, that wouldn't help illustrate my point now, would it?
My daughter has turned into quite the accomplished baker. I am so happy and proud she's finally found a passion for cooking. She is a health nut, and eschews oil whenever she can, and happily subs out mashed banana or applesauce for oil/butter without blinking an eye. The majority of the stuff she makes is yummy.
She called me at work the other day in a panic:
"I was making this yummy recipe for chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, and I accidently put 10 ounces of milk in the bowl instead of 1 ounce!!!!!"
"Did you mix it in yet?" (If you catch your error before mixing it in, you could pour it out of the bowl and fix your error)
"Yes! and it's really, really thin!! I don't want to throw it out!"
...thinks....then I have a moment of inspiration
"Add another cup of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, and a teaspoon of baking powder, then put it in a cake pan and bake it for 30-40 minutes, or until it's done"
My rationale for this was as follows: Meg put WAY too much milk in a cookie batter. It was even too thin for a cake batter, so add some flour, a bit more sugar, and some more leavening to make it rise to the occasion. Heck, it was worth a try, and better than throwing out a bunch of good-for-you ingredients that happened to be in the wrong ratio by human error. It couldn't come out THAT bad...
"But...then it won't be cookies!"
"Yeah, but if you wanted cookies, you'd have to add 10x more flour, sugar, etc. etc...do you really feel like baking 50 dozen cookies?"
"no. K' I'll give it a try"
It was in the oven when I got home. The only thing I forgot to tell her to do was lower the heat to 350. She had it at 375. We made that minor adjustment, and I have to tell you, the cake looked pretty darn good. There were hazelnuts and chocolate chips in it - two of my favorite things.
We took it out of the pan, popped it onto a cooling rack, and it looked pretty. I suggested throwing some confectioner's sugar on top in lieu of icing, and when it was cool, we cut a slice, and it looked like this:
Doesn't it look good? Let me tell you, it also TASTED good. It was a chewy cake with chocolate chips and hazelnuts. Meg coined the name "misCAKE", and I loved it.
THIS is the link to the original recipe she wanted to try, and THIS is the link to the "misCake" :-) if you are daring enough to give it a try.
I don't expect you to try the recipe. My point of this blog post is to tell you - almost *anything* is worth salvaging, unless it's really gross and disgusting and you wouldn't eat it in a million years - but if it got to that point, that means you finished it without (as my father in law used to love to say) "doctoring it up a little"
Of course, sometimes that is out of your control. There was only 1 cake in my life that I threw in the garbage, and it was a chocolate buttermilk cake that was dry and tasteless as dirt. After I pitched it though, my friend Tarri pointed out to me that the crumbs would have been perfectly good over ice cream or stirred into vanilla yogurt. You see? another salvage opportunity.
If you mess up in the construction stage, take a deep breath and STOP...then THINK...If you added too much liquid, you could pour it out into a measuring cup, and guesstimate about how much you need to pour back in. If you added too much salt to a sauce, just double the sauce and serve some crusty bread to mop it up with. If you've already stirred in the ingredients (like Meg did) think about what you are making. If you were making cookies, and added WAY too much liquid, well then, make a cake. You know cakes are lighter than cookies, right? So you will probably need more leavening, or something to make it rise. Baking powder should do the trick. About a teaspoon would be fine, because most cookie recipes have baking soda in them already. You will need to thicken up the batter, so add some more flour. If you add flour, you know you are gonna need more sugar to keep it sweet. Start with half cup of flour, and 1/4 cup of sugar, and add until you get a cake batter consistency - usually they are sort of pancake-batter like. Don't be afraid to try it - you may be surprised by the results!
If you mess up in the end stage, don't panic. You can peel off burnt cheese, put some more on and rebroil it. You can scrape the black off garlic bread. You can thin out a tomato sauce that looks like concrete with some water or wine. I would say 90% of the time, there is SOMETHING you can do to save what you are making, if you just stop, think, and don't panic or give up. Too much pasta for your sauce? use the leftovers for pasta salad, or if you've already thrown it in the sauce, pick out as much of the sauce-free pasta you can, then if you need more sauce - throw in a small can of tomato sauce I keep a couple in the pantry for just this reason and a few more spices and garlic. No one will even know the difference. And yes, I *have* picked sauce free pasta out of a serving bowl before!
I have a philosophy in life - I always look at mistakes not as something I did "wrong" to me, "wrong" connotes that I was "bad" sort of like when your dog decides it would be fun to decorate the kitchen floor with garbage, and you discover his artwork and go "BAD DOG!! BAD!!!" but rather as a lesson that I can learn from, and improve "me". Each "mistake" makes you stronger, better, and puts you a step up from where you've been before. I don't care HOW big of a "mistake" you think it is. This applies to life as well as cooking. Looking back on all the mistakes I've made, there's always been an improvement in "me", and that's a good thing.
So...next time you mess up - don't fret - stop, think, then act, and you may be happily surprised with the results! (at least in the kitchen LOL)