Menu Mishaps

I believe that without failure one cannot achieve success. Lose that ball game, wreck your souffle, get a broken heart. Rise above it.

My first was the EZ-Bake Oven. Pretzels was the first packet they wanted me to make at age six and put through the 120 watt light bulb cooker. It was so sticky I threw it out and spent five minutes getting the goo off my hands. Now I make pizza dough every week with Italian 00 flour and it is gorgeous, easy to work with as was my last mix with 2/3 AP flour and 1/3 whole wheat.

Inspiration. I made a chicken chili for my family years ago and had bought a pepper plant at the farmers’ market that day so decided to use 1/3 of what the recipe suggested. It was a Thai chile plant. The chili was inedible. I added everything but the kitchen sink to it and it was not ready to eat.

Now, due to my familiarity with Texas, its chili and Lady Bird Johnson from a recipe in 1962 for 5,000 at the Ranch in Pedernalaes, TX including JFK, I’ve my riff on her chili with pure spices and scorched chiles and not just powders. My Swedish neighbor taught me how to make meatballs, so I taught him how to make Texas chili.

Way back my cousin visited and I wanted to cook a chicken. I placed it in a small apartment stove and it browned on the outside, then the pilot light went off. After cooking time was done I sliced into it and it was raw inside.

He said I was trying to kill him! We re-lit the pilot light and I broke down and sauteed the chicken sauteed the pieces and he enjoyed his meal. Years later, he makes fun of me for the debacle. I can cook a chicken, even spent an inordinate amount of time finding a capon which we had for Christmas dinner. You’ll see my capon blogs as I had a bit of a problem with Whole Foods Market but farmers came to the rescue, as they always do. will get you a capon. You can even buy it cooked but I prefer to do it myself, and not in a faulty apartment oven!

As cooks, we make mistakes. That makes us better at home or even in a restaurant. I didn’t put enough salt in this. It was undercooked so I had to place it back in the oven. I just saw a retrospective on Dan Barber and he is a revolutionary chef. With French training, his brigade just says “YES” and not Yes, Chef. He makes me want to go back to the earth to teach us that just because when rock-hard avocados arrive from another country, they’re not what we should be eating today.

Unfortunately, where we live now has a very small window for farmers’ markets and I cannot grow a garden from our current home.

Lately I’ve been roasting the heirloom carrots in all colors and they are delicious. Tonight I’ll make a pasta with pesto and a chicken breast, sliced to fill two plates.

The secret is learning, reading, wanting to do your best as a cook especially for family and friends. There are no mistakes, only learning opportunities. Dee


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