Around the World With a Vagabond

Compensation: A Lesson in Cooking March 5, 2011

Filed under: Compensate: A Lesson in Cooking,Stories For My Brother — christynichols @ 11:33 am
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This is a “How Not To” post in cooking. Usually, when I cook, it’s either because I am trying to please someone else or I am avoiding other tasks.


Some cookbooks or websites offer wanna-be bakers and cooks like me (kinda) possible ways to compensate if one key ingredient from a recipe is missing from the cupboard.  For instance, what to do if a recipe calls for eggs, and there are none in the fridge.


Unfortunately for my food, and those I who I intend to feed, I usually forget to research this when I am short an ingredient, and so I make it up as I go along.  I compensate.


A few years ago, I wanted to reward my brother for changing the oil in my car.  So I made him no-bake cookies, a tasty combination of peanut butter, chocolate, and oats – his favorite!


This should have been fail-safe, as the name of the cookie indicates – no baking is needed: Mix. Set. Serve. Easy.


Except for on this day, I happened to not have as much peanut butter as the recipe called for, so I just doubled up (tripled-up?) up on using regular butter. I compensated.


I remember being in the doorway, my brother walking from the driveway towards the front door, a little greasy and tired, and probably looking forward to a treat.  I was ready with my cookies, very proud to have accomplished another kitchen feat, and that we could come to such a friendly agreement.


Have you ever had a mouthful of butter with oats? Neither had my brother.  He projectile-spat the homemade thank-you cookies all over my mother’s front porch and lawn, while I stood there, the plate of cookies in my hand and dismay on my face.


I don’t know that we’ve ever had the same kind of agreement since.


I still try to cook to please, though.


My roommates have grown gigantasaurus zucchinisaurs in their garden.  So tonight, left all alone, I decided to chop and grate one of the beasts into a yummy, homemade, garden zucchini soup for all of us to enjoy.


Because the zucchini were so large, I tripled the recipe.  Took me a lifetime to grate just one of them.  Then, I added the garlic, and 6 or so cups of stock and waited for the boil.  While I waited, I realized that I had forgotten that with soups, if the recipe is doubled, the amount of stock water isn’t.   Too much water = horrible watery soups.


I looked at the boiling, spattering pot of green.  It was a bubbling swamp – a very watery, bubbling swamp.


I had added far too much water to my grated zucchini.




Instead of boiling for the suggested 7 minutes, I decided that the more it boiled, the thicker the soup would get, so I let the pot boil and plop all over the stove top for 25 minutes while I trawled through Facebook.


What happened after boiling for all that time?   It was still watery. And the flavor seemed to have vaporized.


If I had thick cream, I would have added it to the pot; however, all I had to compensate for the cream was yogurt, and . . . . . I don’t know.  I just didn’t want to do that to my yogurt.


So, scoop by scoop, I added the boiled zucchini to a food processer and spun it into oblivion. I tried to drain the water from the scoops of green as I did so.   I took one of those big spoons that have the holes in them so I could scoop, drain, spin, scoop drain, spin.


This also was taking a lifetime, so I tried to just drain the whole pot into the sink at once so I could get through the scooping and spinning part faster. Instead of using a colander, I used the lid of the pot as I tipped the batch into the sink to drain out the excess water.


It was kind of heavy, but it held . . . . . .it held . . . . . . .. it held . . . . . .and then it slipped.  About half of the remaining batch splashed and spattered down the sink, transforming the sink into steaming green.


I didn’t even care at this point.


A few more scoops and spins of the rest of the boiled garden veg, and  . .tada! I had a hot soupy pot of flavorless green.




To compensate for the flavor that I had boiled out to compensate for the excess stock water I had poured too much of, I then took from the spice rack something labeled “Mixed Herbs”.


I don’t know what herbs are mixed in there, but I added about  . .1/2 cup?  I don’t know. I just opened the cap, and dumped the flavor into my swamp-in-a-pot.


Then, I spooned myself a bowl, and, tada again!!! Zucchini Soup!!!


Tastes just like watery herbs. Dinner?


A before and after picture of my garden zucchini.