Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf Published in the Albert Lea Tribune, January 20, 2014
I am hooked. I am hooked on cooking shows. My son made me watch “Chopped” on the Food Channel, and now I watch “Chopped” and any other cooking show that I can find while my eyes are still open as I lounge on my couch. HGTV does not have exclusive rights to my eyes anymore.
The problem with watching these cooking shows is that at times I think I can do some of the crazy things that they do, such as coming up with my own recipes from weird ingredients.
I identify most with the sloppy cooks that have ingredients flying all over. I remember watching “I Love Lucy” when I was younger and laughing at her kitchen antics especially with flour. In my old age I think I am the “Lucy” of my household. The past week was a perfect example of my Luciness.
My family loves hot chocolate. For some strange reason I decided that for our Christmas this past month I was going to gift the kids and my son in law with homemade marshmallows. I bought the ingredients and set them out on my kitchen counter to start creating my fluffy creations.
I love my big stand mixer. Am I challenged by it? Absolutely! You should see how my potatoes whip around the room when I have the spin cycle on high. I put the gelatin and water in my mixer and mixed them up.
I needed to boil my other ingredients. The first oops was dropping the open bottle of corn syrup on my kitchen floor. It flew out of my hands. I had to grab my cats and give them a time out in the bathroom before I could clean up the corn syrup or they would have been sticky icky. With that out of the way I wiped up the corn syrup, but of course my slippers wanted to stick to the floor so I had to scrub that part of the floor.
I melted my corn syrup, water and sugar on the stove and kept stirring with a spoon. I propped the spoon on the stove to get my thermometer to measure the heat. I didn’t have a clip-on one so I used a different one. As I put the thermometer in the liquid, my spoon knocked out onto the floor.
As I picked up the spoon my thermometer fell out of the pan and rolled against the flame. You guessed it, it cracked. As all of this was happening I thought perhaps it was a sign from up above that I wasn’t supposed to do this. But I persevered and got the ingredients into the mixer and mixed. There were no problems this time with the mixture.
The recipe called for lining the pan with cornstarch and powdered sugar. I love using my hands to sprinkle this. As I was reaching for something else the powdered sugar bag fell onto the floor and sprinkled powdered sugar all over the wood floor. At that point I hollered to my husband, “Don’t come in here.” I knew he was planning on doing this because he was hearing the plops and I knew he would be appalled as he is a neat cook. This time I swept the floor and then scrubbed it because the crevices were filled with white. I must admit I looked like Lucy covered in flour but the difference was the powdered sugar. If you lick it off your face it tastes better than flour.
I am happy to say my marshmallows were a hit with my family.
Fast forward to the next week where salad was my contribution to the meal at a Bible study. I decided to try a new recipe that I could substitute mayonnaise for a gluten-free kind. I haven’t mentioned that I am having trouble with arthritis in my right hand and holding something tightly or slicing with a knife is hard. Since my better half was not here to help me I pulled out the knives and started chopping away at the cabbage. This time I had not yet given my cat’s time out. They were very interested in what I was doing at the table and tried climbing on the stools to see. Some of the cabbage flew on the floor as I quickly tried to drop the knife and grab the cats to put them in a bathroom time out. I didn’t want to have sliced or diced cats. I left the fallen cabbage on the floor as I knew I would make more of a mess while creating, and I could clean it up later. My theory is to clean it up once.
It was time to julienne the carrots. Remember that I watch all the cooking shows so I think I am a chef too. I positioned my carrots and started chopping. It was going well until I got a little to close to the tip of my thumb which shouldn’t have been there and I tried julienning my thumb. The color red would have added some color to the salad but I didn’t think the others would be fooled if I said it was strawberry juice since there were no strawberries in the salad. I bandaged myself up, finished the salad. adding a couple of ingredients that were not in the recipe. That was in honor of The Food Channel cooks. I looked at the floor and thought I must live in a garden as it was so green.
After I cleaned everything up I thought about my messiness. I had such a good time making the marshmallows and the coleslaw. They both turned out great and so I forgave myself for my messiness. After all, I made sure everything was sanitary as I was doing it. It was the aftermath that didn’t look so good. but I am a creative person and I felt that creativity while I was cooking. I realized I can’t create in any orderly place. I thrive in the chaos of messy. It makes me happy because out of chaos many times comes a creative product.
The moral of this story is: Try something new, be yourself and let it be OK to do things the way that works for you. Your creative messiness might be the gateway to happiness for you or someone else.“>”>