Sunday, October 25, 2009

Never Ask Me To Bake Cornbread

I have had it.

When it comes to kitchen blunders, I top the list. But my biggest and most frequent goof-ups always involve cornbread.

Don't ask me why.

I never, never seem to be able to make my cornbread come out the same way twice. Even when using the same recipe, it ends up being too ... something ... or whatever. I just can't get it right.

But tonight really took the cake (or bread but it really seems like cake to me.) Tonight I made cornbread in two smaller pans in our large toaster oven (yes, it has a bake control). I had a ham going in the big oven so I thought this would be a good idea. And it was. The cornbread looked terrific and baked about the same length of time as it would have in the big oven. I brought them to the table and Todd started cutting the breads to serve. I went back to the kitchen and when I returned, Todd asked me how much cornmeal I had put in the recipe. I about died. That's when I realized I had completely forgotten the cornmeal! As I stood there, speechless, my entire family was looking at me, waiting for my response. I finally admitted that I hadn't put ANY cornmeal in it. You should have seen their faces! Surprise, shock, a bit of fear (my kids REALLY love cornbread and probably were afraid to eat it). While I began to whimper, my dear husband (who is no longer surprised by anything I do or don't do to a recipe) said with a smile, "Mommy made 'Cornless' bread". Every child got up to hug and kiss me and say it was o.k. Talk about an embarrassing/humiliating/frustrating moment. What a dufus I am. (But what sweet kids I have!)

Then I tasted the cornbread (I figured it was only fair to be first). It wasn't bad. Everyone liked it, actually. Whew! I absolutely can't stand to waste time and resources on something that turns out inedible. I'm just not good in the kitchen, at least at cooking. You can read what you want into that sentence.

Now, every Mom kitchen blunder is always followed by my family recounting and retelling every kitchen blunder I have done in the past. What is funny is that several of my blunders have turned out to taste o.k., even to the point of being asked to repeat it. Like the time I had the oven turned to broil when I made pizza. I make homemade pizza weekly but I've only broiled it once and the kids liked it but Todd would have liked the crust a bit more done on the bottom. That blunder is talked about frequently. Omitting an ingredient happens a lot but I also get distracted a lot when I'm cooking. I've taken to telling the kids not to talk to me when I'm in the middle of a recipe.

There are so many, many things I've done wrong, I don't feel like discussing any more right now. I'm still so miffed about the cornmeal thing. I'd like to go back to Jiffy mix cornbread which is what I grew up on but my family prefers from scratch. My Mom used to make it from scratch until she discovered Jiffy. Now I know why. I never liked the way she made it until she started using a mix. Cornbread was a major staple in her house as well as my Dad's when they were young. It was made weekly when I was growing up. You'd think I'd learn a thing or two. But that's part of the problem. My mom didn't teach me a thing about cooking and I never was interested enough to learn (I'm not blaming you mom, it's just the way it was).

When I got married, my husband taught me to cook. But he just can't teach me the essence of cooking. He tries. Tonight he asked what ratio of flour to cornmeal did I have. I just looked at him. He then asked what the consistency of the batter was. I said I didn't really notice. He just shook his head. I feel badly that I don't notice things like that (not often anyway). But that's the difference in a cook and someone who just makes a recipe - attention to detail.

Sigh. My Mom burned a lot of food. My Dad would always say it was just the way he liked it. Now that's love. Still, I am fortunate - my husband continues to eat my blunders. And fortunate that he tries to help me improve. If only I were a better student!


jugglingpaynes said...

Please forgive the chuckling. :o)

You know, my mother in law was not a good cook. My husband likes to tell about the time she made pasta and they tried to choke it down so they wouldn't hurt her feelings. When she sat down to eat, she took one bite and said,"This is terrible! How can you eat it?"

On the plus side, my husband became a wonderful cook because he took over the kitchen duties from her. I used to let him cook more often, but I hate to wash dishes and he uses every pan to cook. :oD

While I've never left cornmeal out of cornbread, I've had my share of forgetting ingredients. Here is a suggestion: Line up the ingredients on the table or counter before you start. As you add what is needed, put it away (or have a child put it away) so that you know you used it. And because you tend to lose track of what you are doing, I would also suggest enlisting on of the kids (they can take turns) as a cooking buddy. They will learn to cook, and you will learn to stay on task. Win-win, in my opinion!

Peace and Laughter,

Cate said...

Oh I hear your pain, being similarly "challenged" in the kitchen!

Just keep reminding your family that if you were an "ordinary" mum who got it right all the time, life would be boring. That's my excuse to my kids anyway :-)

Mama Self said...

Ha ha ha!!! You are so great!:) Thanks for sharing your humanity.

While I've had my share of kitchen mishaps, Trey wins. He forgot the sugar when making cookies a long time agao, and then he tried to make cookies again a couple Sundays ago. For some reason, they tasted stale....I checked the self-rising flour he used and found it had expired in 2006! It had made the trip to CO from NC with us. Poor guy. So I made up another batch for him. I'm going to have him try some more soon, as I don't want him discouraged.

Keep trying, girl!! Don't be discouraged; just keep smiling. Wish I could give you a hug, as our family can SO relate!

Have a great week. :)

appleleaf said...

You ought to think of a name for your corn-free cornbread. As I read your post I was wondering whether a cookbook full of recipes which weren't quite made right but turned out OK would do well. I think I'd buy one. How about you?
I enjoyed reading about your trip too. The way you wrote, it was the next best thing to being there.

Cate said...

Hey Kate,

just dropping in to say hi. Thinking of you & hope that you & the family are all doing well. It must be starting to get cold where you are - looking forward to hearing all about it!