Being fifty-something, I have identified some of my strengths.
Baking is not one of them.
It’s not like I haven’t tried to be a kitchen goddess. I’m still trying … I’m just not expecting too much. Why?
You know those road intersections labelled as blackspots? They usually have signs on their approach warning drivers they are entering a zone of past carnage.
My kitchen deserves just such a sign given its history of culinary carnage. Yes, I am declaring my kitchen a blackspot zone.
This is how the latest incident unfolded.
I opened my inbox to an email from Sandra at the $120 Food Challenge blog. Today’s offering was Lemon Ricotta Tart.
I’ve been following Sandra’s blog for some time now, getting uber-inspired by her brilliant recipes and well-crafted story-telling. Her Lemon Ricotta Tart recipe was the the nudge I needed. Just take a look at it:
This evening would be for baking!
After dinner, I checked my supplies. I’d flung out my rusty old excuse for a flan tin a few months ago and my tin of baking powder looked tired. “Use by Nov 2005.” (That might explain some of the earlier carnage.) I flung that, too, and headed off to the supermarket.
Flan pans were 30% off, a saving that more than covered my $2.29 investment for a new tin of baking powder. I took that as a positive sign: perhaps this was meant to be.
Back home, I preheated the oven, buttered and floured my new flan pan and worked my way through the recipe steps.
So far so good. I could sniff the finish line.
Time to sift the dry ingredients into the mixture.
Sifting can be kind of therapeutic … that small repetitive hand movement as you watch the snowy peaks of flour sprinkle out over the mixture you’ve created (cue panpipes).
Until you look down into the powdery sieve and see movement, that is.
What the …?
Are they weevils? You’re damned straight they’re weevils.
I hadn’t seen weevils since my Year 9 Home Economics class when I lifted the lid on a large flour bin to find a wriggling mass.
I’m still traumatised.
Like then, I couldn’t believe what I was looking at (but like a car crash, I couldn’t divert my eyes).
I checked the flour packet (which I’d opened new tonight) – despite its use-by-date being more than 6 months away, it was definitely the culprit.
I had no choice … the mixture (I had such high hopes for!), the flour packet and all the nasty wrigglies were wrapped in plastic and binned ( not just the kitchen bin, outside to the big wheelie bin of permanent death).
I don’t mind telling you I felt dirty.
I washed my virgin, buttered and floured flan pan (and every other item of kitchen equipment in sight) in super hot water, checked my other pantry items, wiped down my benches and cupboard walls with a vinegar solution (over the top, I know).
Close, but no cigar.
By the time I finally sat down to tell Mr P my sad tale, I could see the funny side of it. So could he.
We toasted the demise of my Lemon Ricotta Tart with a wicked cab sav and laughed about sourcing a “Culinary Blackspot” sign.
Yes, we’ve been in this zone before.
That’s why I don’t bake (much).
*****UPDATE 1st APRIL******
Today I climbed back on that culinary horse and rode it straight through the blackspot zone without a hitch. This time I owned that Lemon Ricotta Tart.
I needed another trip to the supermarket to restock the pantry, but here’s what I managed to create:
And here’s another pic (just because I can):
Woohoot! Very proud of myself and ridiculously grateful to Sandra Reynolds for the recipe.
Now lusting after her book.