I offer this post as a corrective for all those readers who think that food bloggers never fail in the kitchen. Or so it would seem when you read around on the blogs and other food sites. Of course the truth is that only the successes get written up.
So let me tell you about my major FAIL a couple of nights ago.
I'd decided to make eggdrop soup, chicken fried rice, and napa cabbage salad with Asian dressing. I had leftover chicken and I hadn't made fried rice in ages. The last time I'd made eggdrop soup was in our old house, and we've lived in our current home for 14 years. The salad was new, something I'd not made before.
All in all, I was really looking forward to this meal. But, well, the best-laid plans . . .
First, I'd postponed the meal by one night, which meant that I didn't trust the leftover chicken to still be safe to eat. I threw it out and got a boneless, skinless chicken breast out of the freezer. So far, so good.
I meant to cook the rice early in the day so it would have time to chill. Chilled is best for fried rice. Alas, I forgot about it until late afternoon. When I did get the rice on, it simply wouldn't get tender. I kept adding water and letting it simmer a little longer, until I'd spent about 40 minutes and still ended up with some hardness in the center of each grain. Not crunchy, exactly, but not tender, either.
In desperation, I filled the pot with water and boiled the rice. Unfortunately, it came out as a lump of mush. Nonetheless I drained it and hoped for the best. What a relief when it came out better (somewhat) than it initially looked.
On to the soup. Back in the day, I'd made this soup countless times, effortlessly and perfectly. Even the first time I made it, the soup came out great. So it was with confidence that I began. I had my little bowl of sesame oil and cornstarch-and-water, and my bowl of beaten egg and vegetable oil. The chicken stock was simmering away on the stove. Too bad I got confused and put the egg in first, rather than the cornstarch mixture.
I threw that batch away and started over. Judging by the taste, I used a tablespoon rather than a teaspoon of sesame oil in the cornstarch mixture, which gave the eventual "soup," if it could be dignified by that name, a rather overwhelming sesame taste. At least I got the mixture into the pot first.
I thought the stock was plenty hot and removed the pot from the heat in order to add in the egg. The egg should sort of flash cook, and then as it does, one draws a spoon or chopsticks through the floaty stuff and lovely chiffony ribbons of egg should appear.
This did not happen. The only thing I can figure out is that either I hadn't let the stock thicken enough before adding the egg, or the stock wasn't actually as hot as I thought it was. My husband liked the soup anyway, but I dumped my portion down the drain.
The only thing that turned out really well was the salad, and really, who can mess up a salad?
It's been a while since I turned out such a major disappointment of a meal, but I guess it can happen to anybody once in a while. So take heart if this sort of thing has happened to you. One day perhaps I'll write about the days of trying a macrobiotic diet and the disaster that was oat soup . . .