Warning! If you are looking for happiness, inspiration and utopia, click here.
Because trust me, you won't find that below. All you will get here is a series of unfortunate events, sans Count Olaf. If you keep reading, I trust you have a good reason, though I have no idea what that might be. I can only hope that a little glimmer of good will come from it. I think....as usually happens with tragedy... there are valuable lessons to be learned....
...like never let Ms. Fish into your kitchen!
You see, I do what I can to make you feel good about your own skillz. I like to call it: feeling capable by comparison.
Now....here is the story:
I planned this party with as much detail as a space shuttle take-off. Many of the preparations would be done in advance, including making the rolls and desserts the day before. So...on Thursday, the day before the party, I woke up early and took out my Bosch mixer to begin the rolls.
Now I need to stop right here and interject a side note. I only do this because it is important to the unfolding chain of events. Or maybe I am simply stalling in having to confess what happens next. Anyway, over the last month, I have been cleaning every nook and cranny of my house, so I was excited to cook and bake and create in my sparkly clean / organized kitchen. My stove and oven hadn't been so clean since they were in the appliance womb.
Ok, now back to the rolls. Actually, the rolls rolled along without a hitch. The dough was put into the fridge to raise overnight. For the rest of the day, I roasted, peeled and sliced beets, toasted pecans with sea salt and pepper, made Roquefort dressing, reduced balsamic vinegar to a glaze, fried bacon, made magical Buttercream frosting (a long process), cut butter slices into shapes of leaves, washed water spots off my crystal, made mashed sweet potatoes, whipped up honey butter, and attempted to make candied orange slices (to garnish the cake). The candied orange slices, which I had babied along for over 30 minutes, were going really well until the last 2 minutes when the sugar, without any warning, progressed very quickly through various shades of brown, ending with a brown-black color that attached itself with such fervor to my pan that it took 30 minutes of hard scrubbing to get it clean.
Throwing away the hardened sticky mess, I added gumdrop orange slices onto my grocery list.
By 8:00 pm, I was ready to start baking the chocolate cake. By now, I had a pile of both clean, washed dishes on my sideboard, and a stack of dirty dishes on the other side of the sink...so things were a little crowded. Reaching for my measuring spoons among a pile of clean dishes, I knocked my plastic 4-cup measuring cup off the counter and it split open. I had to chuck it. Next, I grabbed my 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. It slipped from my hands and crashed to the tile floor that always wins in a war against glass. The Pyrex shattered and sprayed glass everywhere like a sprinkler. I wouldn't be surprised if my neighbors find tiny glass shards in their house. I picked up a large piece of glass and it sliced open my finger. I spent the next 20 minutes bleeding, applying pressure, sweeping and vacuuming, finding glass in the most unlikely places.
After dumping what I hoped was the last dusting of glass into the garbage, I added measuring cup onto my grocery list.
Finished with the batter, I placed the 2 round cake pans into the oven, and finally plopped down to eat some cucumbers and cottage cheese... the first time I had eaten anything or sat down all day. "Hmmm," I thought, gratefully crunching away....."these cucumbers have a little smoky flavor".... "Wait a minute...cucumbers aren't supposed to be smoky." What??? SMOKY!!!
I looked over to see smoke dancing from the oven. I ran over, opened the door and saw black batter drippings glowing like lit charcoal all over the racks and the bottom of the oven. I turned on the fan, opened all the windows and doors, and braced myself for the fire alarm. What could I do but let the cakes finish baking... and gasp for air in the London smog.
My pristine oven now looked and smelled like the inside of a boxcar. So after the cakes were done baking, I turned on the oven's self-cleaning mechanism, which takes 2 hours, and gives our home the hazy atmosphere of a 70's nightclub. Added to that, my kitchen was now buzzing with flies. (Remember...the open doors). Great! Now my house is like a dingy club. In Tijuana. A club in Tijuana with a sink full of dirty dishes. A club in Tijuana with a sink full of dirty dishes and tiny specks of glass hiding in nooks and crannies. A club in Tijuana with a sink full of dirty dishes, specks of glass hiding, and a party in less than 24 hours.
Since my oven was now out of commission, I would have to make the cheesecake tomorrow, the actual day of the party, which was pushing it because cheesecakes need time to sit and firm up and percolate and meld flavors and all that sort of stuff. Although it was late and I was battered, I decided to squeeze in one more task: making caramelized onions for the appetizer. (This process takes at least 30-40 minutes to reach a good caramelization.)
Reaching down into the drawer under the oven to get the frying pan, I didn't think about it being of the same piece of metal CONNECTED to the oven which was blasting away at 500 degrees....
Cut, coughing, choking for air, exhausted AND now burned, I finished caramelizing the onions, and added liquor to my grocery list.
Stay tuned for the worsening conclusion!