Stress level on a scale from one to ten? Maybe a seven… rising to an eight.
Why was my stress level at a high of seven, you ask? Because the food I was cooking wasn’t just going into my stomach, it was going to be used by the Our Best Bites gals, Sara Wells and Kate Jones, on TV the next morning. No, no pressure. They flew in for some publicity work and they weren't going to have enough time to prepare all the food, so I volunteered. (I’m not sure what I was thinking… I knew I couldn’t really cook.)
But the point of this post is to encourage all you wanna-be-but-don’t-think-you-can chefs. This post is for you, because I am the epitome of the above. I love looking at food blogs, I love eating, I love creating, so why can’t I cook?
I can… sort of. The following are a series of mishaps I made in the kitchen while preparing the food for the TV show.
First, I already mentioned the Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos. I made these to dip in the Creamy Cilantro-Lime Ranch Dressing which Kate and Sara actually made on the show. Both recipes are incredibly good. The dressing tastes like it sprouted legs and walked out of a well known Mexican restaurant in Utah. (Name will stay anonymous, but I think you all know which one I’m talking about.) When I got down to rolling the taquitos, I realized the tortillas I purchased were way too big. So, I improvised and ripped the edges of the tortillas. If I had been thinking, I would have taken a small bowl and traced the edge on the tortilla with a knife. Or, because we live in the 21st century, I could have jumped in my car and driven to the store to pick up new tortillas. But, because I’m new at all this cooking stuff, I had to, or rather, decided to, learn the hard way. (Why do we have to learn the hard way? Can’t there be an easy or intermediate, fun way to learn? No? *Cricket… cricket.*)
Next, the Buttermilk Caramel Syrup. (Insert sound of an angel’s choir here.)I made the caramel syrup to go over the delicious Cookie Sundae Cups, which I also made. I learned that making caramel syrup is an art. A lot of stirring, waiting, and even more butter. Julia Child would be proud of the butter. In the end, the syrup was a success: rich, creamy, and golden-brown. Laaa!
Now my favorite part: this just illustrates how good I am in the kitchen. I purchased these cute ramekins (that word makes me think of rameumptom; random I know) from Orson Gygi and had them all washed and ready to fill. If you don’t know what a ramekin is, it’s a small ceramic cup used for baking. (I didn’t know what those were before this either. We’re newbies, remember?) For the Cookie Sundae Cup recipe, all you do is take cookie dough and stuff it in the ramekins, then bake them. Once they're baked, plop a scoop of ice cream on top and drizzle with the caramel sauce. Darling and delicious. (Excuse me while I wipe up the drool from my keyboard.)
I took the ramekins out of the oven - they were puffy, golden and smelled like heaven. (Heaven smells like cookies, didn't you know?) I turned and was cleaning up some stuff and then I heard my friend say, "Oh no." (Insert dramatic, slow-motion movie scene of me turning and looking at the ramekins.) I turned, cringing, and found this:
My shoulders slumped. I didn't know what to do. Leave them? Fill them in with more cookie dough and try to make it look normal? No. Kate and Sara would know. They always know. They're like the "All-Seeing Eye" of my cooking world. But, I decided that if I was putting a scoop of ice cream on them anyway, who was going to see? The next morning when I revealed the disaster to Kate and Sara, Sara said: "Oh! They're supposed to do that. I should have told you." (I wish you could see my face right now. Smug. Very smug.) Well, that's good. They were supposed to turn out like that. I'll just go home now and make up for the sleep I lost fretting through the night. (Just kidding. No, but really.)
In the end, I had a blast doing this. I realized that cooking truly can be a lot of fun – even if your cookie cup tops sink!
Ashley Jones practices public relations for Deseret Book. She loves writing, emailing her missionary sister, and making/ eating home-made popcorn.