The bathrooms are cleaned, the rugs have been vacuumed, and I’ve counted out plates and napkins. So far I’ve made cheeseball, lemon squares, chocolate mousse, and vegetarian gravy. Between us, we’ve made three trips to the grocery store, just today. But it’s coming along. I’m a little bit worried that we’re not on our “A” game. On Sunday we had a favorite soup, Hearty White Bean and Pasta Soup, for dinner, and it seemed tasty enough, but possibly missing some je ne sais quoi. J took some in a thermos for lunch, and it was only when she got home that Cute W and I found out what the problem was: we’d forgotten the beans. You know: the “hearty white beans” that give the soup its name? So, I’m not sure we’re doing so great.
Just writing this reminded me that the bean-less bean soup was really just one of our culinary missteps lately. On Monday I decided to make pickled pumpkins for the first time, which I’ve been meaning to do since they made me a security risk almost a year ago. So I was following the recipe, but then I decided that I needed to boil the pumpkins for a little bit longer, since the recipe had called for the pumpkins to be chopped, but mine were more chunked, to mimic how my sister had done it. And then I forgot about it for a little while and the pumpkin pickling liquid turned into a veritable vinegar syrup that mysteriously overflowed itself (since I’d forgotten about it, I wasn’t there to witness this part, hence the mystery) all over my stove. Which would be okay–sticky and messy but okay–except that the stovetop then overflowed and I had pumpkin pickling syrup running down into my oven and onto the floor.
I felt like I was going to be needing my oven over the next few days, so this was a problem. I yanked out that drawer underneath the oven in order to access all of the oozy bits, and the terrible thing about moving something that is hardly ever moved is that, next thing you know, you end up finding all sorts of grotesqueness. Which I typed in thinking that I would get a spell-check, because “grotesqueness” sounds slightly too awkward to actually be a word, but if you are wondering what it means, just look under your well-used appliances and you’ll have your answer. Anyway, an hour after I’d finished my comprehensive cleaning, I found about two tablespoons of syrupy stuff that had made its way through some cranny of my oven at a more leisurely pace, and that’s when I knew that I’d have to do a more comprehensive cleaning, which involved purchasing some kind of cleaner that was clearly produced with absolutely no consideration for the next seven generations. It involved gloves and breath-holding.
Today I baked lemon bars. Or, I started to bake lemon bars, and then as I preheated the oven to 350 degrees, I realized that the stupid oven still smelled like chemicals. The smell would screw up the lemon bars. I decided to jack up the heat to 400 degrees and put a pan of juice into the oven in an effort to exorcise the chemical smell. It actually worked. Things started to smell like delicious juice. Hooray. I popped in the lemon bars. When the time was up, I removed the lemon bars and realized that I’d never re-adjusted the temperature. They looked edible but unsatisfactory. This was happening just as J arrived home from school. I let her taste the stuff and she yelped, “You’re not throwing it all away, are you?” The girls have since assured me that they can choke down the sub-standard lemon bars, but I made a new batch, anyway.
We’ll see how tomorrow goes.