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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
How my day has been. 
13th-Oct-2011 04:09 pm
Boondock/can't believe
So I decided that, in order to de-stress, I would make rosemary polenta muffins. Greased my muffin tin (that sounds dirty!), poured the polenta, flour, salt, and sugar into my mixing bowl...

...we have no baking powder.

How the hell do we have no baking powder?

I checked the pantry, spice cabinet, gluten-free cabinet, nothing. No baking powder. What is this I don't even.

I throttled down my stress, took some deep breaths, and said fine. Chocolate-chip muffins. I have a muffin mix, just need eggs, milk, butter, vanilla, and chocolate chips, and of course I have all of those. (I stockpile the only soy-free gluten-free chocolate chips known to man. I have four bags of them. You would too.) I opened the box of muffin mix, grabbed a bowl, went to grab the butter..

...we have no butter.

This is the part where I primal-screamed.

We have a stub of butter; that's what I used to grease the tins. But I needed half a stick of butter. No dice. No butter. I tore the damn fridge apart. No. Butter.


I fired off a tense e-mail to the guys indicating that somebody I don't care who needs to bring some goddamn baking powder and butter home when they get here. Sat down to read for about half an hour and got up at 2:30 to cut up the veg to go in the slow cooker at 3.




Okay, for one, butternut squash do not want you to cut them. Or peel them. They actively resist. Vehemently. Butternut squash is like "fuck you." The potatoes were fine; the carrots and parsnips were fine. The beets did not want to be peeled. The chopping took, all told, an hour and a half.


I am supposed to toss the vegetables in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and you guys, I do not know how this is going to turn out, because I did not have a bowl big enough. This is a lot of veg. I had to climb up and get the large crockpot from the cabinet over the fridge - which had apparently not been washed before being put away, so add in the damn washing of that - and still the pile of cubed vegetables o'ertops the crock. I mixed the oil and salt and pepper in as best I could, but this is by no means an even distribution. And it hit the crock an hour late. So. WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS. I think that next, fuckit, I'm just eyeballing the veg. Screw the recipe.

So my hands are cramping, my back is killing me, I want to scream, and I still don't get any rosemary polenta muffins, so fuck today right in the ear.
(Deleted comment)
13th-Oct-2011 08:45 pm (UTC) - It's not easy, but:
I have found that if you buy a whole butternut squash, the way to deal with it is:

Cut it into slices, then peel the slices. Take it in maybe 2 inch pieces; it's a LOT easier to get through it that way instead of trying long-wise. Once you have it like that, lay each slice flat and take the rind off in little chunks.

(Perhaps this is common sense, but perhaps not.)
13th-Oct-2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
Seconded on how to deal with butternut squash.

Likewise, with yams or sweet potatoes, do not try to peel first.

Beets, also the same. Cook a while, the skins will just slide off.
13th-Oct-2011 08:42 pm (UTC) - Arrrrrrgh!
I also have felt the woe of missing key ingredients! Verily, it sucks! Buying these things in bulk is good, but then you forget when you run out again because you're stuck in thinking "I have lots of that!" without realizing quite how many lots you've used.

Good luck with the rest of your day. I also have a cooking thing I want to do, but I also want to do other things... priorities, mine are confused. Meat will go bad, so therefore cooking wins.
13th-Oct-2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
Butternut squash is a little f*cker...this is my m.o. when dealing with it:

13th-Oct-2011 08:47 pm (UTC) - Okay...
That sounds a lot better than my method, as long as you can get the knife all the way through and down the sucker.
14th-Oct-2011 01:38 pm (UTC)
That's how I deal with them, too. I used to try it with a long, serrated knife, but I discovered that a 9" chef's knife works way better.
14th-Oct-2011 01:41 pm (UTC)
Yep, I'm not a big fan of serrated knives - so the serious jobs get tackled with the 9" long Shun knife of DOOOOOM! :)
13th-Oct-2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
I have had some luck with briefly microwaving butternut squash to soften them for peeling and cutting - poke some holes with a fork or a knife tip (you don't need many, just to make sure it won't asplode) and try a minute on high.

Also, sometimes a serrated knife will cut them more easily than a straight blade.
13th-Oct-2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
*empathizes completely* Been there, bloody t-shirt... and fingers from failing at chopping butternut squash.

Currently glad to have eaten out today at PF Changs (ordered from gluten-free menu) and not having to wrestle control of the oven from roommates.
13th-Oct-2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
So it was a combination of the universe and various foodstuffs mocking you AND several bouts of yak-shaving.

Lesser beings would have found the explosives by now. I salute you.
13th-Oct-2011 09:33 pm (UTC)
Greased my muffin tin

That did set my blood coursing!
14th-Oct-2011 01:22 pm (UTC)
I'm going to have find a way to work that into sexy talk conversation with my sweetheart. :p
13th-Oct-2011 09:41 pm (UTC)
Stupid comestibles spiting you!
13th-Oct-2011 10:01 pm (UTC)
I dunno if you had these things either, but for future reference, you can make baking powder out of 2 parts cream of tartar with 1 part baking soda.

I learned this when I had a similar frustration, texted Adam's housemate to ask if there was any baking powder anywhere, and received the confusing reply: "Not premixed."
13th-Oct-2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
Hnh. Very cool.
17th-Oct-2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
Yes! I was just thinking of this substitution. :)

No substitute for butter, though. Which reminds me, I'm running low myself!!
13th-Oct-2011 10:01 pm (UTC)
Ye ghods.

I've done that running-out-of-key-ingredients thing. Still remember being out of curry powder, discovering that at about 10 pm, and of course the co-op (where I get spices & herbs in bulk, inexpensively) was closed; eensy tin of curry powder at supermarket = horribly expensive. The other memorable one was starting an applesauce cake, and how in hell could I be out of ground cloves? Oh right, had been making & canning apple butter. (And then there was the time when I had the dry ingredients mixed for applesauce cake, and had no applesauce. Which in my kitchen is unimaginable, except it was maybe early fall and hadn't made any yet? Anyway, realized, oh, I've got apple butter, just add more liquid... came out a bit spicy, what with spices in the dry ing. and spices in the apple butter, but nobody seemed to mind.)

If I'd been out of baking powder (or soda) I'd have been on the edge of a meltdown.

I try to keep a spare pound of butter in the freezer (keeps a long, long time); when I take it out, butter goes on the 3rd-of-the-month-is-payday shopping list. That said, I need to get a couple pounds extra for the holiday baklava and cookie baking...

Edited at 2011-10-13 10:06 pm (UTC)
14th-Oct-2011 12:17 am (UTC)
I'm thinking someone needs to invent a kitchen chainsaw for things like butternut squash...

Although my dad, the doctor, says a bone saw works pretty well...[I really hope he's joking!]
14th-Oct-2011 12:52 am (UTC)
Oh honey, I have had kitchen days like that. A couple of weeks ago I was all, "I will make this for dinner! I have these things!" Pull out and prep things... missing a thing. Hm. Suck. Damnit, I wanted that. Okay, I can make this OTHER THING!

Rinse and repeat four times. The third thing, I had thought something else WAS the bag of tortilla shells. By the fourth thing, I already had pizza crusts brushed with olive oil, sauce added, spices... pulled out cheese to layer with toppings, found about 1/4 cup. To do four 6" pizzas with. (I learned to make myself not get the shredded cheese until actually time to use it. If I pull it out early it sits out too long and gets all condensationified and stuff.)

I almost had a meltdown. It was 8:30pm at that point, on a school night.

My husband went to go buy cheese.
14th-Oct-2011 01:25 am (UTC)
Oh, dear...been there, done that, have the stained apron to prove it. When I was a kid and my dad was still growing blue hubbard squashes, he used to have to take an ax to them before my mom could cook them. (I'm suddenly reminded of the Fran Leibowitz line "Bread that needs to be sliced with an ax is bread that is too nourishing," but I don't know if the same applies to squash.)

Hang in there, OK? I'm hoping by now that someone has brought you the requisite ingredients, and you're too busy nomming the muffins to let us know what happened...
14th-Oct-2011 12:43 pm (UTC)
You could substitute peanut butter for butter? Way back when I first moved in to my apartment in Silver Spring. I hadn't yet stocked alot of basic ingredients, like butter. So I was all, "I'm going to make chocolate chip cookies! ...crap, no butter." So I substituted peanut butter instead. And the cookies were yum.

Also, I think you need to post this rosemary polenta muffin recipe.
18th-Oct-2011 02:27 am (UTC)
Baking powder can be faked IF you have baking soda AND cream of tartar.

Yeah, I mostly don't either.

For veg: peeling winter squash and beets raw is just DUMB. Get the seeds out of the squash and scrub the peel. Scrub the beets. Cook them peel on, because once they're cook it's TRIVIAL to remove the peel.

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