Sunday, January 6, 2013

You Ruined my Day, Applesauce Muffins

Cooking disasters are just part of the deal. You cannot do wonderful things with food without sometimes doing disastrous things with food, and it is important to our sense of accomplishment as cooks (amateur or professional) to screw up a bit sometimes.

Unless you are me, and then you screw up a lot of the time. Nothing I cook ever looks pretty enough to eat, and sometimes only marginally tastes good. I brown scrambled eggs, never cut the onions small enough, and occasionally bake things that are only easy to chew if they are toasted and doused with butter. I am never going to be a Pinterest phenomenon.

Usually it does not bother me much. My kids do not care what the food looks like and Chef Matt will eat just about anything I make. But sometimes a cooking disaster explodes in your face. And other times it explodes in your face when you are already having a rotten day, and suddenly you are sulking in a corner, ignoring everyone and wishing you could have a stiff drink.

Yesterday was not a good day. The main floor bathroom flooded, dripping through the floor and soaking the basement carpet. As I stewed over that, and another wrong cable bill, I decided to channel my anger into efficient domesticity and use precious afternoon nap time to cook some things for the week. In particular, I thought I would be Fun Mommy and bake a batch of applesauce muffins.

My daughter insisted on helping, which generally means that she eats the sugar and does not actually help much. Sure enough, half of the applesauce ended up on the cookbook and not one drop of the egg made it into the bowl. But the disaster part came at my hands, and I do not have the excuse of being five.

As I lifted the muffin tin to put it into the high wall oven, the tin hit the oven door, and in ridiculous slow motion, tumbled to the floor, flinging muffin batter in all directions. I gazed at it stupidly for a minute. It was a spectacular, gloppy mess, seeping between floorboards and coating our kitchen rug that I am pretty sure is unwashable. For one wild second, I wondered if it would be possible to just scoop it back into the tins. I had just cleaned the floors; no one would actually know.

Then I just lost it completely, spitting out a string of profanity that I am sure startled my poor daughter and scandalized the neighbors. I scraped muffin batter off the floor and walls, furious at the waste and the mess, and started all over again. I was determined not to let applesauce muffins get the better of me.

I finally baked a batch and calmed down a bit. I reasoned with myself that I still managed to make homemade muffins for my kids. The disaster was overcome (except for the blasted rug) and I would stand to bake another day.

But in the end, the muffins did get the better of me: for all that, they do not even remotely taste good.

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