Thursday, October 15, 2009

I would not survive Hell's Kitchen.

I love Gordon Ramsay. I will watch anything that involves him yelling at people. I love the horrific conditions on the US version of Kitchen Nightmares. I love when he throws shit on Hell's Kitchen. I love his constant need to show nipple on UK Kitchen Nightmares. I am a glutton for his insanity. And he's kind of old guy hot, too:

I'd wreck that shit.

As my best friend puts it, everything with Ramsay is to an extreme. It's either THE GREATEST MEAT THAT HE HAS EVER SEEN COOKED IN ALL OF HIS YEARS OF FOOD CONSUMPTION, or A DISGUSTING PIECE OF EXCREMENT, YOU DONKEY! And I can totally get into that - I'm all about a person with passion, no matter what direction it goes in. People that are on a monotonous, even keel just grate on me. Get excited! Show you care! Live your life with a little zest!

So, needless to say, I follow Hell's Kitchen with zeal. I used to run to work on Wednesday mornings full of glee because I could talk to one of my students about last night's episode. I was always amazed by how absolutely terrible everyone seemed to be, a stark contrast to my former favorite chef show, Top Chef, a show I discovered during my morning medication ritual when I had mono. I was thrilled that the newest season of HK started so soon after the last one ended. Of course, it had the audacity to conflict with baseball, so I ended up watching every episode on Hulu. This gave me something extra to look forward to, and let me sit at the computer with simple knitting and engross myself in the show. Then I could finally talk about it with a friend who had DVR'ed it, for a reason I also prefer Hulu, skipping the commercials and the insane amount of time that's devoted to what will happen after the break/what happened just before the break.

Tuesday night was the season finale. Goddamn. I finally decided to set aside the two hours to watch it today, after I got home from subbing. I also felt compelled to make cookies. I managed to get a ride home today, so I was back much earlier than expected. I made use of the time by taking out the butter to soften.

Butter in front of the heater. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

This softened it up a tiny bit. I still had to microwave it. Damn. I was hoping this would be a moment of sheer brilliance. Oh, no, that was still to come. Tenfold.

I'm looking at my cookie recipe, and I'm suddenly overcome with a desire to make cupcakes. OH MY GOD I HAVE A MINI CUPCAKE PAN YES YES THAT'S WHAT I'M GONNA DO. I look in the drawer under the oven and don't see the pan. Well, that makes sense. I've used this thing maybe once ever. I have a vague recollection of it being in the cabinet over the fridge. Which I can't reach by any means. So I unfold the step stool. Push aside the Bailey's, the cookie press, the Taster's Choice jar I covered in paper mache at my babysitters' in fourth grade that my grandmother will not let go of, all that random shit that ends up on top of a fridge or in a cabinet you will never put the effort into getting at. No cupcake pan.

Motherfucker. This means I need to go into the shed. This would be less horrific if the shed wasn't padlocked and an obstacle course of shit. I get the key, undo two locks, move a random 2x4, and open it up. There's two glue traps in the middle of the only floor space I could put my feet on, because my grandmother is obsessed with the notion that there may be chipmunks running amongst our fake Christmas tree and beach chairs. I can only imagine the reaction should she actually find one stuck there. Now, I'm forced to unstack a vast degree of shit that we threw in there a year ago, will never use, but cannot part with. First, a big plastic bag with pots, pans, silverware, and an iron. Some of my old college supplies. In theory, I will one day be on my own again and need to iron. I will continue to hate doing it. Next, a massive plastic storage bin with more crap. Gotta figure out somewhere to put that, as, like I said, there's no space inside the shed. A beach chair falls on me. AWESOME. And the damn pan isn't in my storage bin. So now I have to move that. An awkward giant bin full of cookware. That's fun. The bin below it is just sentimental stuff, like my gavels from debate team, or porcelain statues of Piglet. Shut up. But that's the end of my packed stuff. Which means.

1. The pan isn't in the shed.
2. I moved all this shit for nothing.
3. Now I have to put it all back.
4. My foot may be stuck to a glue trap.
5. If the pan isn't in the shed...

I think we know how this story ends. Yeah, it was in the drawer. I didn't look well enough.

In the process of putting everything back in the shed, I managed to get a crappy old doormat stuck to the glue trap. Then I had the pleasure of separating the two. And then the only reasonable thing, getting my hand stuck to it. I'd be the worst chipmunk ever. Thank God, it wasn't the full palm or anything and I managed to pull it off.

Jesus Christ, we're 20 minutes into this adventure and I finally get to start the damn recipe. I have a fool proof chocolate cupcake recipe. No issue here. I had all the ingredients I needed, plenty of butter, used up the last of my almost-empty jar of cocoa powder. All is right in the world. I had also brought my laptop into the kitchen so I could watch the finale of Hell's Kitchen on Hulu. It was a very nice time.


My batter is all mixed up and tastes GREAT. But it needs something. I wish I had some peppermint extract. I remember there were Andes mints leftover from my rocky road cupcakes. I take out my tiny cutting board and chop them up in the small amount of available counter space, eyes on my laptop. I mix the shards into the batter and grease the pan with non-stick spray. This will be important later. There's roughly 700 cups on the mini muffin pan (or maybe not), so it takes me goddamn forever to fill. I finally have a good idea and use a tablespoon-sized measuring spoon to pour out batter evenly. Glorious! Get your ass in the oven, muffins!

I'm hanging out in the kitchen, watching the episode. Awesome, the final two is going to be the two guys I've liked all season. Test the cupcakes, not ready yet. Make some tea. Test the cakes. Drink some tea. Everything's great. Decide the cupcakes are ready to come out. Rock.

Go figure, I only have one mini muffin pan, so I can't do the whole "get another tray ready while the first is cooking, then into the oven right away" thing. It also bears mentioning that I have no patience and am fanatical about electricity usage. So I'm getting more and more agitated waiting for them to cool while the oven is running at 350. I move them over in front of the window. The window is closed; I don't know what the fuck I was trying to achieve. I end up putting them in the fridge. COOL OFF JESUS CHRIST I HATE YOU.

Okay. Fuck it. They're coming out of the pan.

Oh. No they're not. They're stuck to the pan.




Remember that part about how I used non-stick spray? FUCK YOU, PAM. YOU'RE A LIAR. Although honestly, there was no damn way I would have greased every cup with butter even if I'd known this was going to crit-fail on me.

Okay. Maybe if they cool longer. Back in the fridge.

No. Still stuck.

Okay. I'll cut between the sides and the cake with a knife and coax 'em out.

Well. That doesn't change the fact that the bottom is stuck.

This is where I hit the point of self-satisfaction and fall in love with my own "genius" enough to start IMing people about what a brilliant mind I am. The top of the cupcake looks fine, but the bottom is all garbled and doesn't sit flat. SO TURN THEM UPSIDE DOWN. TA FUCKING DA. I even came up with a name for this miracle of cookery: "chocolate top hats." Jesus Christ, it hurts to be such an intellectual. I'll frost the crappy broken parts so that you won't even be able to see that something's wrong. Suck on that, Kerry Vincent, bitchy cake show judge. They'll look like little frosting bullets. It'll be great. I win. I'm a genius. I am the ace of cakes.

And then my laptop battery dies JUST before the dramatic moment in Hell's Kitchen. Of course. It takes me an amazingly long time to figure out that this is the issue, after I spend several minutes swearing and pressing the escape key, trying to figure out what the problem is that's preventing the sleep screen from going away. It's the fact that your computer isn't even on, dumbass. So now I have to carry it out to the living room and get it plugged in. I am, of course, covered in chocolate. Then it keeps giving me some bullshit about "plugged in, not charging." WELL WHY THE FUCK NOT?! I have no idea how to remedy this. I opt to go with my usual method of dealing with this things, avoidance. Eventually, it seems to be charging. See, I was right.

It takes forever to get the cupcakes all out of the pan, and my "how much money is this costing me" vein is throbbing knowing that the oven is still on. I get out a small bowl and scrape all the stuff that stuck to the pan, but is still perfectly edible, into it. I figure I'll put a big ol' dollop of frosting on it and call it a disassembled cupcake. I scrape out enough remaining batter to fill 10 or so mini cups and stick it back in. I didn't even do a thorough job getting all the extra crumbs out. Whatever. Why clean twice. I'm also reaching the point where I want this OVER.

I've brought the laptop back into the kitchen because I figure it's charged up enough that I can finish out the episode. It isn't. Battery goes just as Chef Ramsey is about to announce the winner. Because that's how things roll for me right now.

I get the second batch out of the oven and directly into the fridge (I'm not fucking around now) and start planning out my frosting. I could use a recipe, or I could just throw shit at random into the mixer. You know me, you know what I chose. But I've made this recipe so many times that my arrogance is actually deserved. I felt, briefly, like a real pastry chef, tasting the frosting and deciding what it needed more of, that it wasn't "rich" enough, etc. I got it totally 100% perfect, and then decided I didn't have enough. I had to add more powdered sugar and milk, and couldn't get the ratio perfectly enough to keep it as good as it was before. It was still pretty good, though. Now, to frost.

I don't own a pastry bag. So, how should I deal with this?

1. Cut a corner off a ziploc bag
2. Use a butter knife to spread it on
3. Awkwardly cram as much frosting as possible into a turkey baster


So, how did I get the frosting into the turkey baster in the first place? Why, I globbed it over the hole with a spatula, of course! So I covered myself and the baster in frosting and got none in. This should have been my first sign that this was not going to end well. But no, when I get an idea, I commit to it. I see it through to completion, no matter how much agony and aggravation it's going to cause me and no matter how strong the odds are that it'll end in trichotillomania.

I succeed in squeezing out about a gram of frosting.

Now I have a turkey baster full of chocolate frosting and a big problem. Maybe the reason it isn't moving is that there's not enough in there to push on it. So I'll jam more frosting in!

Now I have more frosting that's stuck in a turkey baster.

And this is when shit just starts getting ridiculous. I end up taking the bulb off the baster and blowing as hard as my weak, pathetic lungs will allow, trying to force the frosting out. Of course, this happened over the counter, not the cupcakes, so my efforts were for naught.

Fuck it. I end up just grabbing fingerfulls of frosting and rubbing them onto the cupcakes. Don't ever eat anything I bake. And I'm not going to have enough. You know, since half my frosting is stuck inside a goddamn turkey baster. Chances are, you've never wondered how to get chocolate buttercream out of a turkey baster. Thank God you found this blog, or googled that phrase to get here. The answer, of course, is to take off the bulb and jam the handle of a wooden spoon as far down as you can. Bonus if the spoon is also burnt because your mother once managed to set it on fire. This will get out more frosting than simply blowing, but only once. You gotta keep ramming it up and down, in a horrifically obscene display. It'll also spill frosting out of the wrong hole. I hope someone also googles that to get here. So now my hand is covered in giant globs of frosting. Note that my goal is to get the frosting out of the baster. Obviously, I took those escaped globs and put them back in, so I may continue wooden-spoon-fucking them out of the tip.

Remember the big bowl of cupcake chunks? Remember how when I get an idea I commit to it? Well, that bowl was sitting there with no frosting on it, once I ran out of buttercream. Unable to let things go/deal with it, I felt the need to make more frosting. I throw in some powdered sugar and milk. Apparently way too much milk. Okay, more powdered sugar. Oh hey chocolate chips! Those are fun! Half the bag falls in. Hmm. No. I start pulling handfuls of chocolate chips out of the bowl. Mixer goes on. Frosting is totally liquid. Well, that's just great. More powdered sugar. WHOA TOO MUCH. Obviously, having the greatest respect for keeping a sanitary kitchen, I just start pulling out handfuls and shoving them back in the bag. Since powdered sugar is really easy to do that with and won't totally go everywhere. Yeah, still pretty much a liquid. TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT. I pour it on anyways. There. There's your fucking frosting. Shut up and like it.

6 hours later, it has just occurred to me that this batch had such a poor consistency because there was no butter in it. As buttercream tends to require.

So, finally, may God have mercy, I'm done. I don't even want to sample this. I've been snacking on leftover batter and frosting all afternoon, anyways. Of course, this means one thing - I have to clean up. Oh God. My kitchen looks like it was hit with some sort of cupcake birdshot. It's not good. Not at all. And this is the point where I just start breaking down. Like I said, I do not have the composure necessary to be yelled at by Gordon Ramsay. I enjoy watching him do it, but if any of that was directed at me, I'd just break down into tears and set my hand on fire. So with all these setbacks, all the cleaning I have to do, and the fact that I got my period that morning, I'd hit my last straw and was totally overwhelmed. This results in me being alone in my kitchen screaming obscenities at a mini muffin pan. Granted, that would be a typical Thursday afternoon, anyways. I just keep cleaning and scraping - it may never end. Hell's Kitchen was over, I was in a daze, and it was time to blast some Electric Six. Nothing fixes a crisis like Gay Bar. Really, I wish I had taken "during" pictures. Between the wooden spoon and the state of the muffin pan, it was just the embodiment of a kitchen's night terror. But I'd already covered my kitchen, the milk, my computer, my left boob, and my phone in chocolate. Adding the camera to that just seemed excessive. So I was in the kitchen, furiously scrubbing away, pondering laying on the fetal position crying, and having completely lost interest in ever eating any of these cupcakes. Somehow, I managed to return my house to a state of cleanliness. It was like I had never tried to make this shit. The next turkey might taste a little sweet, though.

So, the end result, after THREE HOURS (silly me thinking I'd start it at 3:30 and have a nice little afternoon snack)?

I can't frost for shit.

The big bowl of crumbs. With "buttercream."

I think I'm all set on baking for a little while.

1 comment:

Nyssa said...

i found you on ravalry, you were being sane or considerate or something on the forums, anyway love the blog. love, love love!

and i too, could not be yelled at by gordan ramsay. i don't even think i could fake cool enough for anthony bourdain (my older chef crush).