Saturday 9 December 2006

Culinary Catastrophy

I am not a gourmet cook and I don't pretend to be. I read fabulous recipes in magazines and books but rarely can be bothered to find the precise ingredients. Honestly, I saw this recipe the other day that asked for champagne vinegar. I could spend the next week scouring every supermarket between Windsor and London and still not find it. I could order it online perhaps, although even that is dubious. I then read every recipe in the article and realised that every single one needed an obscure (ie not in the normal pantry of a normal household) ingredient so I threw the recipes out rather than try them.

I've got a few trusted cookbooks that I use over and over and always go back to my Betty Crocker cookbook that is over 20 years old. My Grandmother gave it to me when I first moved out on my own and you can find just about anything you need. It is a small paperback version so it can be hard to read and keep open. I once ventured into Borders and thought I would buy the same cookbook (same recipes) in one of those useful ring binders that stay open and you can wipe the pages clean. What I found what the ring binder with a whole bunch of "updated, modern" recipes which are of no use to me and ask for some of those aforementioned ingredients. I will stick with my yellowed, stained paperback version.

Not that the cookbook helped me last was Friday night and typically we get a take-away/delivery (pizza-children's favourite, Chinese-my favourite, curry-Marc's favourite). Since I am not working I was finding the justification of having a really stressful week a bit harder to make so I decided to do a roast chicken which shouldn't be all that hard: 1) put chicken in roasting tin 2) sprinkle with salt/pepper 3) put half lemons and some fresh basil in cavity 4) put in oven. I sliced some potatoes and put them in around the chicken figuring they would be nice and baked after 2 hours with the chicken. Now a whole chicken is a bit much for just the 4 of us so I rang our neighbour, Gill, who was home early and invited her to join us for a simple dinner. She arrived at 18:30 (a full 2 hours after the chicken was placed in said oven).

The table was set, the children were sitting at the table and I went to remove the chicken when to my horror I realised it wasn't even close to being done and the potatoes were raw. I turned up the heat on the over which is one of those Aga thingies which I swore I would replace when we moved in but I have now got this strange competitive attachment to it. I won't let it beat me! Marc suggested we microwave the chicken.....we have one of those combi microwaves that browns but I've never bothered to figure out how to use it. So I let him get on with fixing the chicken, I put the potatoes in another dish and moved the apple crumble to the top shelf of the oven next to the potatoes hoping I could stall the guest and starving children.

After 15 minutes in the microwave, I put the chicken on the table. As Marc cut in we realised the middle was still a bit undercooked. The potatoes were still raw. At least the broccoli was cooked properly and the Red Salad (chopped tomatoes/red onion/red pepper/feta with a vinegar/olive oil dressing) was good. We gave the children the outside cooked part and split the legs and wings amongst ourselves.

I then remembered the crumble in the oven. I figured if the chicken could be in the oven for 2 hours and still be raw, the crumble was fine. I was wrong. The top of the crumble was burnt to a crisp. We sort of scrapped this off, poured on loads of custard (which didn't hide the fact I spilled the nutmeg in the apples and was hoping no one would notice).

Gill went home and no doubt had to cook herself another meal. I've promised to make it up to her. Soup and BLT sandwiches, anyone?


Anonymous said...

by the way...a baked chicken should only need 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours to cook...Yikes what a disaster. slw

LaDawn said...

I am so aware of that. I was having vision of that infamous chicken soup! What is it with me and chicken?

Anonymous said...

My first turkey (for my new inlaws) took 7 hrs to cook as I had the door open every 5 minutes to baste it....

Love your stuff, C