04 September 2008

Chef BoyarDeb. (oh boy, oh boy!)

What a day! I taught three people how to use crutches (but half of that time included fitting the crutches . . . which entailed running back and forth to the shop to have extra holes drilled or to borrow a wrench -- during which time I had a very interesting conversation on marriage with the guys in the shop . . . but that will be a post for another day, as I've been invited to a wedding on Saturday, and I have the bubble gum to prove it!), learned a few colors in Hausa, helped a 15 month old weight bear for the first time in six weeks (bilateral femoral fractures means six weeks of "traction" when there is no ortho around . . . but that's also another story for another day), and (drum roll please) I had company for dinner!!

Now, when I'm home, this would be no great feat. In fact, I typically have at least one dinner party a month, some times two or three. They always take preparation and planning . . . but nothing like today. At home trying out new recipes is an enjoyable process . . . I usually come across one at my leisure and think, "hmm, I'll have to try this out on a few people." But for tonight, recipe hunting was a premeditated, very intentional mission.

Tonight's menu: Meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, peas, and key lime pie. Simple. Not in Niger.

Rewind to last Friday. A vegetable seller came by with the potatoes and onions (keep in mind, it's now the following THURSDAY). Skip ahead to yesterday . . . Wednesday is the co-op day, which means I could purchase flour, butter, mince, canned peas, and a loaf of frozen bread. But I forgot to get mince, and had to go back later. Last night: leave the mince to thaw in the fridge, and two slices of bread out on the counter to harden to make bread crumbs for the meatloaf.

I woke up this morning ready to go! Made yogurt (from powdered milk), then off to the hospital (see above). Did a "load" of laundry in the sink during morning break, followed by more crutch training. My lunch time/siesta were spent in the following manner:

  1. Light stove to toast semi-stale bread for breadcrumbs, as it was really humid today and the slices weren't crispy enough to crumb.
  2. Squeeze a dozen limes to get 1/4 cup of lime juice for pie.
  3. Make pie crust.
  4. Light oven to bake pie crust.
  5. Bake pie crust.
  6. Burn one side of the pre-breadcrumb toast.
  7. Relight oven due to unknown cause of extinguishing in order to finish cooking pie crust.
  8. Whip up key lime custard.
  9. Make make meringue . . . by hand . . . without an electric mixer.
  10. Clean up meringue splotches off floor (I'm a messy enough cook to begin with!).
  11. Slice up one-side-is-now-burnt-half-stale toast to retoast to make breadcrumbs.
  12. Continue attempting "stiff peaks." (in this heat and humidity, there's no such thing!)
  13. Put down bowl and walk away.
  14. Put pie in oven until meringue tips turn golden brown.
  15. Relight stove.
  16. Avoid second burning of breadcrumbs.
  17. Relight oven.
  18. Peal and slice potatoes.
  19. Make two cups of milk from powder.
  20. Chop onions.
  21. Season mince.
  22. Shape loaf.
  23. Put pie in fridge so that it doesn't melt.
  24. Boil water x3 for dishes .
  25. Return to the hospital one hour late.

Since the prep work was done, I figured it would be smooth sailing from there. Before a quick shower to wash away my Galmi-tan, I lit the oven and popped in the meat loaf -- it's a small oven, with only one rack -- not enough room for the meat and the potatoes at the same time.
Once the meat was done, I popped the potatoes in -- the recipe was for scalloped potatoes without cheese, as it is really hard to come by in these parts, and it said it would only take about 3-4 minutes for the milk to boil, and then I was to lower the oven temperature so that they would simmer. Twenty minutes later, still no boil. Thirty minutes . . . and nothing. Forty . . . my guests were getting hungry. WAIT . . . what's that?? THE OVEN WENT OUT AGAIN! Where are the matches??

By the time the potatoes were done, the meat was cold. Too bad. I don't have a microwave. We sat down to eat, and I realized, OH NO! I FORGOT THE PEAS!!! Oy. But I wanted peas. So, I went to quick make peas while they started to eat. But the pot was dirty from something else, and I didn't want to fill the kettle, light the stove, and wait for water to boil. So, no peas.
The meat looked done, but was a bit soggy in places . . . but that would be the "breadcrumbs" as I burnt one side trying to toast it on the gas stove (no toaster) so I had to chop little pieces instead. HA! And the potatoes were still crunchy. But that's not all . . . .

Refrigerating toasted meringue is a bad idea. It broke, collapsed, and the custard got really runny. So I reasoned that a few extra minutes in the oven would do the trick. But the oven is unreliable and I don't have a timer. Next thing I know, Auntie Cindy said "Um, is your pie still in the oven?" The top of the meringue tasted like a crisply toasted marshmallow. HA!! So much for that idea!

Needless to say, Uncle James, Auntie Cindy and I had some really good laughs throughout dinner!


Robin said...

Dear ChefBoyarDeb: If the OT doesn't cut it, or the coffee shop, then you can open a cooking school! xoxoxo Mom

Cindy said...

Everything tasted great!!
We look forward to another ChefBoyarDeb!.....Honest...

Deborah said...

James is making you say that because I made him a pie!! :)

Andria said...

I bet it all tasted good anyway. Some people wouldn't be at all disappointed about the missing peas, either:) Have fun at the wedding.

Aleciana said...

Deb, seriously...I can't hack making key lime pie with the conveniences and technology of the western world..you most certainly deserve an a blue ribbon for your pie! Or at least an "A" for Effort! Well done! haha!

Deborah said...

James is making you say that because I made him a pie!! :)

Robin said...

Dear ChefBoyarDeb: If the OT doesn't cut it, or the coffee shop, then you can open a cooking school! xoxoxo Mom