Monday, October 02, 2006

Dangers in the Kitchen

Dangers in the Kitchen

I have decided that the kitchen and I should take a break from one another. We seem to be in a battle of sorts at the moment, and I am not on the winning end. How, one might ask, does a kitchen declare war against it tenants. Kitchen’s are clever and cunning when given the right weapons. The ammunition has grown exponentially since Kyle and I announced our engagement, therefore I blame YOU, the givers of all these gifts for the kitchen’s increased power!

These stories may be distressing and should not be read by the faint of heart.

The attack of the grater

Our tale begins in the evening before our first dinner party as a married couple. The party was to start at 6, but at 4 we realized we had forgotten a key ingredient to our bourbon-glazed chicken, the bourbon! We jumped in our, beautiful, and trusty white corolla, Toyota to buy our necessary item. After driving around for half an hour to three different closed liquor stores, we realized with horror that liquor stores are closed on Sundays! I quickly morphed from curly hair, happy, girl next door Vanessa, to red skin, scaly, pointed nails and teeth, fire-spitting unrecognizable Vanessa. Ok, so that is a bit of an exaggeration, but I did start to stress out, and unfortunate Kyle was caught in the cross- fire. At our return home, we discussed how we might remedy this situation, Rum, which we already possessed, was the solution. But because of this set back, we were running late. I quickly hurled all of the ingredients out of the fridge and cabinet across the kitchen towards my newly wed husband. Luckily for him, I have terrible aim. We delegated tasks, and got to work. My first mission was grating the parmesan. I moved at a lightening speed, the grater, unhappy with speedy Gonzales approach, pulled out it’s longest prong and stabbed my unsuspecting thumb with the weapon. The gash was deeper than I expected and really lingered longer than necessary in the bleeding process. My thumb was saved with the aid of a band aide and we continued on with our cooking. The food fell into place nicely without too many hiccups. Natalie, one of our guests, had told me that she would be a little late, but when it came almost 7 I started to worry. Dana and Danny didn’t have their phones, and Kyle had hid my purse in our forbidden room. I found my phone, 12 missed calls, all from Natalie. She had been wondering around the complex with melting ice cream for nearly 30 minutes, unable to get a hold of any of us. After they were found, all was settled, the food turned out terrific and the company even better; the kitchen for a moment had been tamed.

The Knife’s assault

We were given a new set of knives for our wedding which we were incredibly excited about. We love to cook, and a good set of knives is an essential tool for the kitchen. Our old knives, which are obviously inferior to the replacements, we placed in a drawer with the silverware. Since the onset of our recent new-fangled toys we have ignored the substandard knives causing what I believe was an inferiority complex of the unemployed knives. Mass hysteria caused by the unequivocal rights in the work place spawned a mobilization and uprising of the minority. Muffled motivational and aggressive speeches were heard from the drawers, but the banter quieted when I entered the kitchen so I paid it no mind. One day, I, being the unsuspecting victim pulled out one of the old knives to cut an apple for lunch. As soon as I wrapped my fingers around the black handle, it leaped up into the air, yelling “On Guard!” and stabbed my thumb. Before he could take another stab, I wrestled it to the floor and threw him back to his prison, where he belonged. The revolt was luckily short lived, but now I know to keep a special eye on those folk.

The Wrath of The Boiling Water

Breakfast, lunch and dinner; events our lives revolve around. Everyday, it’s the same thing, “what’s for lunch? What’s for dinner? What do we have to eat?” It’s a good thing that I love food so much because all of this thinking and planning tires my brain. How is it that we buy and have so much food in our fridge and pantry, but hardly have anything to eat? Why does this phenomenon occur? This particular evening, I felt inspired by my thrifty grandmother, to use the food at our disposal despite the feeling of hopelessness. I looked in the fridge and started naming off groceries. “We have cooked pasta, but no pasta sauce, eggs, bacon, potato salad, cheese, B-B-Q sauce, preserves. We could make ‘toad in a hole’.” “No!” was Kyle’s response. At Kyle’s rejection, I was struck with a moment of brilliance. “How about Carbonara?” This was one of our favorite dishes in Italy and we seemed to have the correct ingredients, but I had to make sure. I signed on the food network page and typed in Carbonara. Twenty-nine listings came up. I clicked on the easy five star recipe. “Yes! Well.. maybe, can we do it?” I asked Kyle.
Famous for her substitutions and waste-not want not attitude, my grandmother could make anything in her fridge into a meal, whether it was edible or appetizing was an entirely different question! But, like my grandmother, I was determined to make a meal out of nothing. The things we had; onion, white wine, spaghetti, eggs, salt and pepper. The things we had to substitute for: For pancetta we used bacon, because we didn’t have enough spaghetti we added some left over spirals, grated and aged Parmesion instead of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and cheddar cheese for the Pecorino Romano. Apprehensive about so many substitutions, we slowly put our meal together. As I said before, we didn’t have enough spaghetti, so we added a different pasta to the mix in order to meet our pound quota. Spirals were all I could find in our overstocked pantry. I found a pan, filled it three-fourth of the way with hot water, and covered it with a lid. When the water began to boil, I released the spirals into the bubbling oasis of tap water. So routine and elementary, a monkey could make spaghetti, but could a monkey learn efficiency; maybe yes, maybe no, but I for sure could! Still sipping on my glass of brilliance, I realized that I could use the boiling water to warm the already cooked and refrigerated spaghetti to the appropriate temperature. How ingenious am I? I would save the boiling water and use it for the left overs. I was proud of my resourcefulness and waste-not-want not aptitude. I drained the scalding water into a bowl over the sink, leaving the spirals in the pan. The water had filled all the way to the top of the bowl. I hadn’t really thought about the transferring of water dilemma in my original mastermind plan, but nevertheless this strategy would be followed through. I wanted so badly for my idea to succeed that I forgot to fully prepare. I vertically lifted the small bowl, filled to the rim with blistering hot water, out of the sink, and began my track horizontally. This is where my tactic began to deteriorate. Not only should I have considered the risks of carrying boiling hot water in a small and overflowing container, but I should have moved the container of cold spaghetti closer to the dangerous liquid. I did neither. I heard the water snicker at my ignorance, and delight in the forthcoming pain of it’s arrogant wielder. As I should have predicted the water spilled over the brim of the left side, causing what felt like burning hot magma make contact with my skin. As I tried to rectify my spillage, I overcorrected and caused yet another slop of what can only be described as liquid fire to crash into my sensitive and ever increasingly angry fingers. Still holding onto hope, I corrected again causing an undulating ripple through the malicious liquid causing more burning and excruciating pain. Finally, I dropped the bowl back into the sink and screamed into the night at my good intentioned, misleadingly brilliant, ignorant and reckless plan. My fingers were red and on fire, the spaghetti still cold, and the boiling water down the drain, my ruins evidence of the losing battle. After soaking my fingers in boiling water’s archenemies, ice water, the meal came together and was incredibly enjoyable. The evening wasn’t a total disaster after all, delicious food made from ingredients we had on hand, and wonderful company. The battlefield, for the time, had been abandoned, but this war is not over, I may have lost several battles, but I learn from my mistakes and they wont be made again (hopefully)!

P.s. this is the reciepe we used. Enjoy!

Carbonara

5 ounces pancetta
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 pound spaghetti
3 large eggs*
1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (3/4 cup)
3/4 ounces Pecorino Romano, finely grated (1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cut pancetta into 1/3-inch dice, then cook in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until fat begins to render, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 10 minutes. Add wine and boil until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes.

Cook spaghetti in a 6 to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
While pasta is cooking, whisk together eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano (1/3 cup), 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.

Drain spaghetti in a colander and add to onion mixture, then toss with tongs over moderate heat until coated. Remove from heat and add egg mixture, tossing to combine. Serve immediately.

Cook's note: The eggs in this recipe will not be fully cooked, which may be of concern if there is a problem with salmonella in your area.

*RAW EGG WARNING
Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs due to the slight risk of Salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

1 comment:

Xeared said...

Nessa! I hope you got my wedding gift it was sent awhile ago.. let me know.