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.


kate o. said...

hilarious. i'm loving that you actually continued to eat it for days and days. that is dedication and a thrifty spirit if there ever was one!

and while i don't mind mushrooms in dishes, i'm with denis that the idea of food squeaking on teeth is a turn-off.

Micah said...

that is so funny. gave me a good chuckle this morning. i will come eat mushrooms with you any day, any way...I love them

Margie Haack said...

Kate, I like that you elevate it thrift and dedication. Thank you.
And Micah, please do. I'll remember this and we WILL eat them together!

Denis Haack said...

Now, the fact that this is GREATLY exaggerated should be obvious.

It is true that I dislike mushrooms when cooked, since they become slimy and feel like little slugs in your mouth. I do realize they add depth to some dishes, flavor wise, and am happy to set the huge chunks aside as I eat.

The fact that they grow, in fact flourish, on dead things SHOULD tell us something.

Still, my wife is a delightful cook, and I love her and happily proclaim that for all the world to hear.

Debbie said...

I read several lovely blogs with pretty photos and an idealized view of homemaking--but I love yours, Margie, because you are so honest and laugh at yourself and make me laugh too.

Margie Haack said...

Debbie, I love the pretty cooking blogs, too. Those of us who can't manage to maintain that kind of image or lifestyle have a better grip on reality, don't you think?

Katy Bowser said...

I love the commentary afterward as much as I loved the blog.

Denis: I had a mushroom thing for years because I was sauteeing them when the flu came back in force. Thankfully, hypnotherapy helped.

All of those little unlabeled spices...I can relate. I was really hoping the story was ending up with a revelatory "accident" in which you create some new gourmet wonder. But I am thankful for the morning giggles.

Kidding about hypnotherapy.

Margie Haack said...

Ah, dear Katy, no I wouldn't have guessed you were kidding about hypnotherapy. Isn't that how you write lyrics?