The One About Unexpectedly Making A Noteworthy Mess In The Kitchen

Don’t do this.

I can’t say for certain that I created my worst kitchen mess ever, but I can say that what I did was so far beyond my usual kitchen messes that it is worthy of note.

And belongs on my Top Five Biggest Kitchen Messes Ever List.

If I had such a list.  But I don’t.

Here’s what I did. 

I got the wok out and put it on the cooktop because I was getting ready to stir-fry some vegetables for dinner. 

Then I grabbed the canola oil from the shelf and opened a new 32 fl.oz. bottle.  

Made of flimsy plastic.

I went to pour some oil into the wok but I lost control of the lightweight, squishy, poorly designed, this-is-really-not-my-fault bottle.  Thus I ended up pouring canola oil:

  • into the wok; 
  • onto the cooktop; 
  • onto the granite counter beside the cooktop; 
  • into the utensil crock filled with spoons and spatulas sitting on the granite counter; and last but not least 
  • onto and into the wooden knife holder, filled with knives, sitting beside the utensil crock filled with spoons and spatulas sitting on the granite counter beside the cooktop.

Say good-bye to half a bottle of oil.

As you can imagine the spilled 16 fl. oz. of oil immediately began to spread across the cooktop and the granite counter, dribbling down the front of the cabinets, leaving puddles of oil on the floor.  

This, you expect.

And, of course, the oil got inside the utensil crock, pooling in the bottom, where it stayed until I washed the crock and everything in it.  

Again, this is what you expect. 

But the big surprise is that once the oil covered the outside of wooden knife holder, it quickly oozed into the knife slots.  There, in an instant, the oil was absorbed into those slots in such a way as to make the wooden knife holder, that suddenly had begun to smell like mold, about as un-washable and un-usable as anything I’ve ever seen destroyed in a kitchen.

This sort of mess I did not expect.

So there you have it, another story in which my life is not as idyllic as one might hope.  A story, in fact, that lends itself to me asking you a question, my gentle readers:

What’s the biggest cooking &/or baking mess you’ve made in the kitchen?

It Was A Jammies Day, Meant For Bookworms

Dear Diary,

We never got the predicted deep snow, but we did get the frigid temps.  And because we could, Zen-Den and I spent Sunday at home going nowhere.

He watched football on TV.

I read.

In fact, I finished one novel, The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn.

[I don’t do book reviews on this blog.  Instead I’ll tell you that I enjoyed this historical fiction novel because it had unique characters, a predictable but interesting plot, and explained the history of women spies during WWI, something I knew nothing about.]

Then I pulled out an Agatha Raisin mystery by M.C. Beaton because I wanted a lightweight British cozy mystery to while away the rest of the day.

As one does when one is me.

I admit I looked outside and contemplated walking into the screened-in porch to brush off the snow from the winter furniture, but that seemed like too. much. effort. for a woman in her jammies all day.

[Plus, that furniture is teak which is supposed to weather the elements so that it can develop a rich gray patina and show a little character.]  

And that, Dear Diary, is about all there is to say about Sunday instant.

I’m hoping that the temps will get up into the 20s today so I can comfortably go for a walk outside, but if not I’ll keep reading.

Up next in my TBR stack is Beartown by Fredrik Backman, so you know I’ll be enjoying the book in front of me.  Thus I say fear not, for I shall keep myself entertained while avoiding inclement weather.

Yours truly,

Ally Bean

The One About The Neighbors: What Will Be, What Isn’t Anymore, And What Is

Neighbor’s dead tree with turkey vultures [or turkey buzzards, pick your nomenclature]: I don’t like this.
WHAT WILL BE:

“Come and listen to my story bout a man named Jed, Poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed…”  

Remember The Beverly Hillbillies? And remember their theme song?

Of course you do.

Well, that’s the song that’s been stuck in brain this past weekend.

Why?

I know not for sure other than Thanksgiving is about hospitality– and somehow seeing turkey vultures lounging above our property on the neighbor’s dead tree, that leans precariously in the direction of our screened-in porch, put the tune in my mind.

I don’t know that Jed Clampett shot turkey vultures, but it seems like something he’d have done.  I do know that the dead tree will eventually fall.  Fingers crossed, not on our roof.

So there’s that.

• • •

Neighbor’s empty backyard: I like this.

WHAT ISN’T ANYMORE:

“Well the first thing you know Jed’s a millionaire, Kinfolk said Jed move away from there…”

And speaking of neighbors I’ve taken the liberty of sharing with you, my gentle readers, a photograph of their empty backyard.  A backyard that is free from a huge, formerly well-used, swing set that is no longer there.

While I admit that the kids playing on the swing set were hilarious and the squirrels frolicking on the swing set were total goofballs, I’m happy that it’s gone from my view.

The neighbor kids are old enough to drive now and the swing set has disappeared, presumably to some other backyard where it’ll be loved as much as it was here.

Change happens, eh?

• • •

Neighbor’s wistful cat: I like him.

WHAT IS:

“You’re all invited back again to this locality, To have a heaping helping of their hospitality…”  

And finally while I’m on the topic of neighbors, here is a photo of their black and white kitty cat as seen on a foggy morning.

I don’t know his name, but he occasionally likes to sit under one of our trees.  He’s a natural, knowing how to pose for the camera– and takes a darned good picture.

He’s not destructive, just inquisitive, and not afraid to hang out in our yard when so moved by his need for a little peace and quiet away from kids and dogs.

I can understand.

• • •

Questions of the Day

{ answer whichever question OR questions strike your fancy }

  1. So what’s up with your neighbors?  Any of their trees poised to fall on your house? Anything missing from their yards? Any of their pets enjoying a respite in your yard?
  2. Can you sing The Beverly Hillbillies theme song from memory like I can?  How about Gilligan’s Island theme song?  Or The Flintstone’s theme song? 
  3. Do you believe I could get any more rambling and random than I have in this post?  And how does that make you feel?

Unexpected Entertainment: A Tale Of Grocery Shopping, One Little Girl, & Live Music

A bit of humor just in time for your holiday grocery shopping…

Imagine you’re a little girl about 7 years old.

It’s Sunday noon after church so you have on your best clothes: dress, tights, Mary Janes.  Your hair is pulled into two pigtails, one of which is higher than the other, and there are bows on your pigtails because… PRETTY.

You and your dad are shopping in Kroger, the new one with the huge 2-story foyer that has dramatic lights and large windows– and amazing acoustics.

As you leave the store, going through the foyer to the parking lot, you’re standing on the back of the wheeled metal shopping cart, being pushed along by your dad.

You have energy.

In spades.

Thus when you and your dad set foot in the foyer on your way to the parking lot you ask him: Now?

With a sheepish look on his face, as he glances at all the other adults in the foyer, he says: Yes.

At which time you, a wiggly little human being, start singing LOUDLY with gusto and joy.  Which one of the following five  songs did you sing?

~ ~ • ~ ~

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A Halloween Review: In The Rain With The Usual Suspects

The Usual Suspects waiting on the deck behind the house before going on stage in front of the house. 

~ ~ ~ ~

IT DRIZZLED THEN RAINED HERE last night, starting at about 6:00 p.m. just in time for the trick-or-treaters.  The temperature was in the 60s, about as warm as I’ve experienced in late October.  The night was in a word, unusual, and our reduced trick-or-treat count proved it.

In years past we’ve had anywhere from 120 to 220 beggars at the door, but this year our head count was only 60 kids.

Unheard of.

Despite the rain and because of the warm temperature, Z-D and I sat outside on our front stoop where we plopped ourselves onto two chairs he’d brought around front from the deck in the back.

There we waited to hand out candy, holding umbrellas over our heads, watching a slow parade of cute, polite kids shuffle their way across our yard, ignoring the precipitation.

Trick or treat!

~ ~ ~ ~

YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING WHY we didn’t stay inside our house, waiting for the kids to ring the doorbell.  And this would be a sensible thing for you, my gentle readers, to wonder.

But the thing is, and in my world there’s always a thinghere in Beanlandia our doorbell, a diva, is broken and has been for a few weeks.

From a distance it glows and looks useful, however if anyone pushes it the middle button thing pops out and dangles down from an electric cord.

Kind of dangerous.

The doorbell has one ring in it before it has to be manually reconfigured and placed back into the wall where it resumes its role as a pretend working doorbell.

Hence, maintaining its integrity is a bother that we avoided by sitting outside under our umbrellas in the rain.

As one does.

~ ~ ~ ~

AND WITH THAT GLIMPSE INTO the life and times of one woman, one husband, one house, I’ll end this wordy post in which I’ve discussed the weather, trick-or-treaters, and doorbells gone bad.

Scintillating, eh?

In fact, should future historians whilst looking through old personal blogs want an example of a blog post that is the epitome of flapdoodle and twaddle, I do hope they find this one.

Because if there was a point to what I said here, I dunno what it is.

Other than to say, Halloween has come and gone.  And we have a lot of leftover candy in this house.

Only 60 kids…

The Great Cobbler Debacle Of 2018 + 12 Fruit-Based Desserts Explained

In the aftermath of the debacle there were questions, reasonable ones.

How could this have happened? What recipe did you use?

I used a recipe I found online from what I thought was from a reliable source.  Fake news, meet fake recipes.  But here’s the thing, I didn’t double-check the recipe, comparing it with other recipes, like a smart person would do.

After the debacle, when I found a wonderful recipe by the Barefoot Contessa, I realized that I had used a recipe with the wrong batter to fruit ratio.

Did you set the oven to the correct temperature?

I did, but after the debacle I checked the oven temperature with a thermometer to confirm that the oven was heating like it should.  It is not.

In fact it’s heating about 25º below where it should be so the cobbler baked at the wrong temperature.  Hence, the cobbler remained a soggy mess even when it’d been in the oven for twice the suggested time.

 How much money did you waste on this debacle?

Oh, the shame.  I hang my head as I tell you that I bought raspberries and blackberries and blueberries for this untested recipe, assuming it’d be a wonderful desert.  But it wasn’t, it never even made it to the table– thus my $12.00 worth of berries were lost.

And from a good friend trying to distract me: what are the differences among the various fruit-based desserts? Do you know?

I didn’t know the answer to her question, so I did some research, which was a good way for me, an egghead, to get over the debacle.  This is what I learned.

• • •

BROWN BETTY – fresh fruit [often apples], spiced, then baked under buttered bread crumbs

BUCKLE – single layer cake that rises up around the fruit that is in the middle, making fruit buckle down, while cake forms circle above it

CLAFOUTI – fresh fruit [often cherries] covered with a flan-like batter and baked, usually in a cast iron skillet

COBBLER – fruit sweetened in a way that creates a thick syrup, with dough plopped on top like individual biscuits that when baked looks like a cobblestone street

CRISP – fresh fruit, spiced with cinnamon [+ other spices sometimes], baked with streusel topping

CRUMBLE – buttery crumbs that include oats with sweetened fruit baked between two layers of crumbs

GRUNT – fruit base with sweetened biscuits or dumplings on top, cooked in covered skillet on the stove top, named for the sound the fruit makes while it cooks

PANDOWDY – a baked pie [usually apple] that has a thick crust on top with slits that allow the juices to bubble up onto the top of the pie, then using a spoon one pushes the crust down as it bakes so that the dessert looks dowdy when taken from the oven

PIE – sweetened and thickened fruit as the filling, baked, usually in a round pan, between lower pastry and top pastry or crumb topping

PING – fruit [usually cherries], covered in a sweet sauce, with spoonfuls of dough that form a crust on top that when tapped makes a hollow pinging sound that indicates it’s finished baking

SHORTCAKE – I’m not going down this road again… click here & read what we discussed earlier this year

SLUMP – fruit base with sweetened biscuits or dumplings on top, cooked in covered skillet on the stove top wherein the topping slumps into the fruit

• • •

Sources of general information + a few specific recipes: Serious Eats, Huffington Post, the spruce Eats, FLOURISH, kitchn, Cook’s Country, COOKS.COM.

• • •

I’ve eaten 9 of the 12 desserts defined above.  I’ve not had Brown Betty, nor have I had Grunt or Slump– which some sources say are the same thing.  🤨

In Which Ms. Bean Is An Accessory After The Fact, Maybe

TECHNICALLY I am guilty.

That’s what Zen-Den, Esq, tells me.

That by not reporting what I saw to the authorities I aided in, but was not an accomplice with, someone who stole something;  that I am an accessory after the fact.

Well, so be it, says I.

Sometimes the entertainment value of not doing what you’re supposed to do is worth risking the wrath of the law.  As if this situation would ever involve the police.

You see, I was in the Self-Scan lane at the grocery checking out when I noticed a mother with a baby and a 5 y.o. boy.  The Mom was showing/supervising/focusing on Young Boy as he learned how to use the scanner.

🛒 → 😇 → 👶 ← 😇←🛒

MEANWHILE Baby Brother was sitting like a sweet angelic cherub in the seat part of the basket cart.

Mom had placed on the basket cart one of those quilted blanket-y thingies that attach to the seat part of the cart so that the baby never touches the basket cart itself.  [I have no idea what to call those things.]

Baby Brother, after looking at Mom to make sure she wasn’t paying attention to him, in a calculated and deliberate move, used his pudgy little paw to grab a toothbrush from the basket part of the cart.

I’m assuming that Mom had put the toothbrush in the cart as she was shopping in the store, planning on buying the toothbrush.

🛒→ 😁 → 👶 ← 😁 ←🛒

HOWEVER Baby Brother with the sticky fingers was planning to do something different.

His plan involved him hiding the toothbrush, where no one would see it, in front of himself in the folds of the puffy fabric that surrounded him.

Mine, mine, mine, his smile said!

This was a brazen theft right under everyone’s nose, except me who happened to see what Baby Brother swiped.  I could have, of course, squealed on him to Mr. Man who was in charge of the Self-Scan lane, but I chose not to.

And I cannot for sure say that Mom didn’t find & pay for the toothbrush before she left the store because I was out the door long before she and Young Boy finished scanning their purchases.

But I can say that I don’t know when I’ve laughed so hard leaving a grocery store, my cart filled with items, legally purchased, and my heart filled with the joy that comes from watching babies do what babies do.