Friday, September 9, 2011

Will Sustain Life #1

My mother (hi Mom!!) liked to experiment with food, trying new recipes and sometimes making things up.  Whenever she did that, at meal time she would announce that we were eating An Experiment.  This declaration would elicit groans and gasps from my seester and I, while Dad would stoically gird himself to eat pretty much the whole meal on the chance that the rest of us declared it unfit for our consumption.  If the Experiment was actually good, it would go into regular rotation.  Then there was an in-between category that Mom called "Will Sustain Life" - it wouldn't poison us, and would sustain us until the next meal, but she was not under any circumstances going to make it again.  She was not under any illusions about the tastiness of her Experiments, and it was more about the exercise of trying new things that excited her I think.

Cut to Wednesday - I had grand plans of making a Banana Cake (my first recipe from Allyson Gofton's Bake) for this month's Sweet NZ entry, parmesian pork chops, and roasted kumara and peas.  The only success out of those four were the peas.  Total fail.

For some reason, I thought doing the Banana Cake first was the smart thing - then I could easily make dinner while it was baking.  What I failed to notice was that it would take at least 35 minutes in the over, which is way more than enough time for me to crumb some pork chops and chop some kumara.  I could have roasted a turkey in the time I lost waiting for the damn Banana Cake to bake. 

I'll just list all of my fails, shall I?  Let's get it all out there.  Cooking Therapy!

Second: soggy, non-flavorful porkchops.  Now, I thought since I had bought the Apple-Somethingorother flavored porkshops, they would be great with a crumb coating.  Pulled them out of the freezer, defrosted them but (Pork Chop Mistake #1) clearly not long enough, dunked them in olive oil and them coated them with half bread crumbs, half parmesian cheese (Mom's Never-Fail Coating Formula which failed, but due to Operator Error). 

Next: we got a bag of what I thought we just small orange kumaras from a roadside market on the way back from the snow last weekend, and I thought that roasting them might be a nice change from the usual baked (let's face it - microwaved) kumara that I do.  So I chopped them up into chunks, coated with olive oil, a splash of balsamic (this is the Experiment part), salt, pepper, and basil.  Into a casserole dish and time for Pork Chop Mistake #2 - I put them on the top shelf, so they got the direct heat and proceeded to defrost/melt/liquify while the kumara barely got any and therefore didn't actually roast.

The Kumara Experiment - could be a cool band name?

I figured out my oven configuration mistake about 20 minutes into the baking process, and swapped the dishes around, and while that did serve to kind of roast the kumara, it didn't do anything to my poor dead pork chops.  RIP pork chops.  You tried, you tried to be a good dinner, but in the end, you were just soggy.

So the final result of dinner was: wet (hey at least they were moist!) porkchops with no flavor, kind of roasted but too sweet allegedly-kumara, and the aforementioned successful peas.  Have I told you that we can actually screw up frozen peas in our house?  I didn't know it was possible!  But lo and behold, we have done it. 

The most hilarious part of all this was that by taking so long to actually make dinner, I had starved poor Husband all night, so that at that point ANY food would have tasted like the proverbial manna from heaven to him.  Sure enough, after a few bites and my proclamation of this being an Experiment, Jonno said, "honey,  you can experiment like this anytime!"  To which I cringed, because to me, this meal fell squarely in the category of Will Sustain Life.  But boy did we eat those peas! 

After dinner I whipped up some chocolate icing from Alexa Johnston's very important Kiwi cookbook Ladies, A Plate and promptly frosted my slightly pitted-looking banana cake.  Said cake, aka The Bane Of My Wednesday Night Existence Other Than The Pork Chops, was apparently still too warm for my lovely frosting, making it melt and run away from the heat.  I put the whole shebang out in the conservatory hoping to cool it down and stop the madness, but it was Too Late.  The dreaded frosting runs had already created carnage on my cake. 
Mr. Banana Cake - I am so disappointed in you.
Not to be deterred from something with chocolate on it however, I cut myself a nice chunk of cake, poured a big glass of milk (the mandatory bedfellow of anything chocolate), and prepared for Redemption and Glory as I took a bite, only to taste Defeat.  Bland, over-chocolated, over-sweetened frosting, stringy banana chunks.  Hmm, seems I missed the part of the directions that said to "mash bananas" - I merely mushed them up into chunky pieces.  The banana never got the chance to mingle with the other ingredients and spread its flavor tentacles into the cake, and I think they were a bit bland; definitely brown from being smushed in the car over the ski trip weekend but not over-ripe like a real banana cake needs. 

Disclaimer: before moving to New Zealand, I didn't know such a thing as a banana cake existed.  I'm serious.  I come from the Land of Boxed Cake Mixes!  So I guess I am still in the teenage years of being a Foodie in New Zealand, not being able to bake a proper cake from scratch and all.  But I'm working on it!  I will make another banana cake, and another, and another until I get it right, or my pancreas explodes in protest. 

But for now, it's the Rugby World Cup!!!!!

*Random capitalization done on purpose!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Choey, you won some chocolate in my blog birthday giveaway - can you drop me a line or DM me on twitter so I can get it to you please? Am afraid I am going to eat it...


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