Warning: Contains Mold

I can’t do it. The diet, I mean. Or rather, I can do it, I have been doing it, and it’s been radically successful so far, but…it’s killing me. No, not literally. I’m not lying on my deathbed mysteriously whispering the names of odd flowers. I’m just utterly sick to death of vegetables. You can spice them and dice them and dress them up in various diet-compatible condiments, but they’re still vegetables and they’re still not cake. Eating well has, however, persuaded me that indulging in sweets the way I had been up until recently is just not a good idea.

I have decided, therefore, that once I make it through the second cycle of this diet (which starts tomorrow, yay!), I am going to skip ahead to my in-laws’ wise dieting plan of eating well during the work week and letting myself cheat a bit on the weekends. The problem I have historically run into is that once I start baking, I end up with a cake or a pie or three dozen cookies that I then end up eating in quick succession. You know, before they start turning green and fuzzy, like this:

 

When I pulled this picture out, John’s response was: “You actually kept those photos?” I did. It’s a funny story, and a long one. To shorten it: we were newlyweds. I got overexcited about picking apples, lots and lots of them. I thought our stove was broken, so I winged a recipe on steaming apple dumplings. Batch #1 was heavenly. Batch #2 ruined my brand new pan and produced these tough monstrosities which we couldn’t bear to throw away…until they had molded and provided entertainment in the form of a photo shoot.

Anyway, in order to avoid both binge eating of baked goods and moldy piles of ick while allowing myself the occasional weekend indulgence, I have decided to embark on two new kitchen experiments (in about two and a half weeks, that is).

Experiment #1: Freezing Hand-Pies

Hand-pies seem to be coming back into fashion, and I think I know why. Not only can you bake up a delicious bit of fresh, hot pie whenever you feel like it, you can do it without ending up with 7/8ths of a pie begging you to eat it. Moreover, according to these people, freezing hand pies actually makes them better. That means you can whip up a batch, set them up in the freezer, and when you’re ready to bake them, they will end up being at their best. Works for me. I bought rhubarb on Monday to freeze it, just to make sure I don’t miss rhubarb season like I did last year.

Experiment #2: Freezing Cookie Dough

I don’t know if freezing cookie dough improves the cookie. It might, actually, if you don’t like your cookies to spread too much, but that’s only my guess at how nice, cold dough will react. The diet principal is the same as with the pie: mix all together, eat at responsibly paced intervals. I’ve been scratching my head trying to think of the best way to break up the dough. Obviously you accomplish nothing by freezing the thing as one batch, but who wants a half-dozen containers of the same thing eating up valuable freezer space that could be used for hand-pies? I love, love, love this idea: freeze the cookies as individual balls, then toss them in the same bag. Brilliant.

Hopefully these little experiments will be enough to set me on the path to avoiding unsightly kitchen mold and unnecessary waistline gains. We shall see.

Doing the Bad Food Tango

One of these days, I’m going to publish a photo album with all the food-gone-wrong photos that I’ve accumulated over the years. It seems like three or four times every year, I end up with a good story about some disaster of rot or char in my kitchen.

 

Like last fall (2008, not 2009), I was trying to get creative with apples left over from picking season, so I made steamed dumplings. Our oven was, well…not broken. Just so old that I hadn’t yet figured out how to turn it on, but that’s a different story. Thinking the oven was broken, I couldn’t make pie, so I tried steaming dumplings using a big pot full of water and one of my cake pans. It was pretty brilliant, actually. The first batch turned out so well that we ate the whole pan in two sittings, so of course, I made more.

 

This was a mistake. The magic was gone. I messed up the dough, to start, and I don’t know what I different, but I couldn’t get the apples to cook. By the time they were tender, the dough had cooked to rubber. Worse, I got distracted while they were steaming, and I boiled the pan really, really dry, ruining my brand new pot. Literally brand new—this was right after our honeymoon, and our pots and pans were a wedding gift, so I never used that pot for anything but steaming apple dumplings.

 

Worse, we have so thoroughly gorged ourselves on the first pan that the second held no appeal at all, especially considering how badly they turned out. But we hate to waste food, so we didn’t toss them right away. We figured we would be more ready to eat them in a day or two, which we were. But when we picked off the tinfoil, we found that the dumplings had already grown a lovely green-white fuzz.

 

Seriously, it was lovely. John took some pictures and it looks like some ethereal sort of dish. A delicacy for fairies or aliens, perhaps. But we weren’t going to eat it.

 

This week has been a bad one for food too. John made spaghetti sauce on Thursday night (which was delicious), but his hare-brained wife, after going to the trouble to put the leftovers in a plastic container, proceeded to forget the sauce was cooling on the counter until seven the next morning. That was a disappointment—we even researched food safety to see if we could salvage it with microwaving it or something, but the consensus seems to be that more than four hours on the counter renders food like that extremely dangerous.

 

And just now, John went to bite into his first peach of spring. We were both excited about this, because we generally buy fruit when it’s on sale (and hypothetically in season somewhere in the world). Nectarines, peaches, plums, and other such succulent tree fruits seem to have a heartbreakingly short season in New England, so when we saw peaches and nectarines on sale when we went shopping, we jumped on them.

 

Apparently, sometimes fruit is on sale because it’s in season. Sometimes, however, it’s on sale because it’s not in season. The peach he cut open had this interesting sponge-like texture and these very pretty rings of black and deep red running around the pit. It left almost no juice on the paper towel.

 

At least we’ve got more fodder for our future alien banquet photo book.