Delightful Mistakes..and Some Painful Ones

Chad’s food post the other day got me thinking. Last year, some family from Tennessee visited and my parents decided it was a good idea to get absolutely everyone over for steak, mushrooms, asparagus, taters, and I think burgers and brats. Of those, there’re two things I’ll generally eat. The steak and burger. Mushrooms I don’t eat because there’s something weird about eating a fungus, taters I don’t generally eat because they were served here literally with every meal..blah mashed taters.., and asparagus, along with most greens, I don’t eat because they’re bitter unless they’re prepared right (blame my genetics..and also blame them for cilantro being soapy).

Anyways, I was only caring about getting the steaks done right. Anyone can plainly do brats and burgers, but steaks, they take some skill to get done to the desired level and kept moist with a tasty crust. I decided that my seasonings were to be just coarse sea salt and pepper, kind of like steak au poivre, but grilled and without mustard/brandy/cream/sauce. It ended up being absolutely delicious, but the bigger challenge was that I had to be in a couple different places at the same time, keeping an eye on several different things. I had the steak going outside, the taters in the oven, a saute pan for the asparagus, and another pan for the mushrooms.

Now, the mushrooms needed to have shallots sauted in melted butter. So, I started to melt the butter, checked on the steaks and saw that they’d be needing a flip in a couple seconds. I went back in, checked the butter and saw that it was completely melted so I threw in my shallots. In the matter of the time I was outside flipping the meats the butter turned brown and the shallots looked burnt. But, there was no burnt smell, and seeing as how I don’t eat mushrooms, I decided to just throw them in with some salt, pepper, and another pat of butter. All of a sudden they took on this dark meaty color and really smelled good. The shallots went to their slightly caramelized color and just as this was happening, the asparagus turned bright green with just some browning. I honestly thought that I had burnt the shallots though. Afterwards everyone was saying how good the mushrooms were. Out of the evening, I think for the 10 of us, we went through 8 pounds of tenderloin, 2 pounds of tenderloin, 5 pounds of taters, 2 pounds of hamburgers, a pound of brats, and I think a pound of asparagus.

In some of my other dinners though, I’ve done some incredibly horrible tasting mistakes. One of these was when I made beef stew. It was my first attempt and I had a general idea what to do. I was working on getting the seasonings just right, something I’ve yet to perfect since apparently onions and garlic can induce spice, and added quite a bit more Worcestershire sauce than was needed. One of my other dishes that went horribly wrong was chicken with prosciutto. I salted it, peppered it, had the sage in there, placed the prosciutto on top, pan fried it, then ate it. Well, tried to eat it is a better way of saying that. No one here would eat it, and I believe we just ordered out later on. And, lastly, my most recent one, I was lazy and decided to do an orange chicken type thing. It smelled incredibly good, it tasted blah at best and disgusting at worst. Actually..disgusting is probably too nice a term..it made someone gag. Again, we ended up ordering out.

I’ve also come into the recurring problem when I’ve been dicing stuff I’ll normally nail myself with the knife, yet I have my handy dandy nails to stop the blade from going any further. But, I’ve learned to no longer stand above the grill as I try to light it from the little hole, placed just for a match, while I have the gas running. I’ve lost many a hair on my face doing that. I still have my habits of sticking my finger into some sauce that’s boiling to get a taste, and grabbing things barehanded straight from an oven, though that one is only if the thing is like 250 degrees. I’ve come to the point where if I burn myself when the oven is 400 or 500 degrees, it doesn’t phase me; this could just be because I react quicker to when my arm/hand/fingers touch ANYTHING in the oven. I hone my knife with the blade coming straight at me, and I noticed one day, after I cut myself by merely brushing the blade, that the guard on the steel was incredibly small and my hand extended outward of it by at least a couple inches.

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