Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Just another great meal at Toad Hall
Not long ago I got a craving for a simple supper. A favorite easy is baked chicken breasts drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika and grated Parmesan. Pop in the oven at 400 degrees and they’re done in about 20 minutes. I wanted wild rice to go with them and since Denis was gone, and he HATES mushrooms or anything that squeaks on your teeth, slimes or could POTENTIALLY slime - he abhors, and with his usual unassailable logic designed to convince all of creation he says that if God had intended us to eat mushrooms they wouldn’t be called FUNG-GUS. Yes, well, he doesn’t know I chop FUNG-GUS all the time and put them in LOTS of things, because they deepen and intensify flavors especially in soups and meat dishes. I sautéd half a pound of them to add to the rice. I was happily stirring when Anita came into the kitchen. I should add that since she’s been a part of our life for awhile now, I expect little packets of spice, some of them unlabeled, to proliferate in our cupboard - she often picks them up in the bulk section of the Good Food Store. So I was talking to her as I cooked and idly grabbed what I THOUGHT was a bit of Celtic salt in a little baggie from the shelf and sprinkled it on the mushrooms. For good measure I tossed several generous pinches in the simmering rice. The mushrooms nicely browned just like Julia Child’s and were added to the rice along with some chopped onion.
All dished up everything looked tasty, especially the mushrooms, eat your heart out, Denis. But the first bite made my eyeballs water and my salivary glands spurt. I almost dropped my plate. Dang. (Okay, yes, we were standing in the kitchen eating.) I COULD NOT figure out WHAT the!? Who was trying to punish me? On a hunch I grabbed the bag with the salt. It was clearly, disappointingly labeled: ASCORBIC ACID. Which is like pure vinegar only powdered and concentrated. Accidents happen all the time and I’d like to think they are someone else’s fault and I just don’t have the evidence.
The only good thing about this dish was that it seemed curiously preserved from rot and I ate the rice as leftovers for about ten days, not in a row you understand. The acid must have had a pickling effect. That was a challenge, but I hate to waste good wild rice and mushrooms. I also hope, please God, I do not have to do this again. And to make sure for now I’ve hidden the ascorbic acid.