Archive for the ‘#cookingdisasters’ Tag

Playing with Fire   8 comments

Jan 9, 2023

Have you or any of your characters experienced cooking disasters?


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Adventures in the Culinary Arts

I tried to give some deep thought about cooking disasters my characters might have had. In Daermad Cycle, it’s a medieval society, so they cook in open fireplaces. In Transformation Project, they’re living through the apocalypse and are grateful for whatever food they can get. In What If Wasn’t, well there’s a kettle of fish there.

In Daermad Cycle’s third book Fount of Wraiths, a blind Tamys prepares a meal for himself and Padraig and he refers to a near cooking disaster. He’s blind and still unused to his condition, but gifted with special psychic abilities. He still nearly fell into the fire.

I haven’t actually written a cooking disaster into Transformation Project. It’s more like adventures in the culinary arts as Jill Delaney attempts to feed a houseful of people with dwindling resources. Shane mentally remarks on it once that the meals are getting “creative” and involves potato slices swimming in a yellow broth. Since Shane doesn’t know, I don’t actually identify what they’re eating, but yes, it’s a thing if one lacked corn starch to thicken the sauce.

It’s not been published yet, but a great deal of it has been written — an episode in What If Wasn’t when Peter is first out of prison and trying to remember how to make himself breakfast. Suffering from culture shock and genereally finding it hard to think, Peter struggles to remember how to adjust the toaster to end up with palatable toast. This is based directly on a friend’s experience of his first morning after being released from prison. Thank you, Bern, for being willing to share that even simple things are a struggle when your whole life changes abruptly.

How about me?

Like everyone, I’ve overcooked a few meals and I once meant to shake a sprinkle of cinnamon in waldorf salad, but the screen wasn’t tight and I ended up putting half a bottle of cinnamon in the salad. Not particularly good eats even after I spooned most of it out.

But the most memorable kitchen disaster I’ve ever had didn’t occur in a kitchen. We go annually to get our winter fish supply to Chitina, Alaska, on the banks of the wild Copper River, where the wind rarely stops blowing. Usually Brad and I subsist off MRE’s or pilot crackers and tuna when we do these trips, but one year we went with our friend Ray, Brad asked me to make breakfast a priority and I knew Ray’s favorite breakfast was pancakes and bacon.

First I built a firepit from the slab rocks that break off the surrounding cliffs and tried to shelter it with the more rounded river rocks on the beach. And then I built a fire. All went pretty well with that and my cast iron skillets are great for campfire cooking. I put the bacon in the high-sided 9″ skillet and started the pancakes on the griddle. The wind gusted violently, sweeping down off the mountains to our west and then a second wind rushing hard along the river to the north, turning the campfire into a blast furnace with flames shooting several feet out the leewind side of the pit. I managed not to set myelf on fire, but it was a near thing a few times and even above the fire and on far side, the fire was HOT! The bacon cooked really fast and was black in some places and raw in others. Fortunately, that’s how Ray likes it. (I swear the man was raised among cavemen).

This cooking technique didn’t work for pancakes however. They were also black in some parts and raw in others — earning them the nickname of glue-cakes. I’ve never attempted to make pancakes over a campfire since, not even in the windless Interior where I’m sure I wouldn’t have to same problem. We now usually stick to cereal or bananas. Way more predictable results and you don’t risk burn injuries.

This is what I mean by adventures in culinary arts.

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