Mastering the Art of Apartment Cooking

I know how to cook. I can cook quite well, actually. I mean, I’m no Julia Child, but I know my way around the kitchen. Tonight, however, I was sincerely off my game.

I was hungry, and decided to make some milchreis. Now, I’ve made this German rice pudding from a pouch so many times, I no longer need my handy sticky note translation of the back of the package. I can do it myself. In fact, I did it myself just last week, perfectly. Tonight, however, I somehow destroyed it. It didn’t set up right, the rice was clumpy and didn’t absorb the milk properly, and it just was all around wrong. I tried to eat it, really, I did. I even ate a good portion of it, before putting the rest in the fridge to finish tomorrow. But it really was not at all the milchreis I’ve come to love.

After a couple of hours, still hungry from my failed attempt at milchreis, I decided I wanted to eat some fish (keep in mind, it was low-mercury, so don’t worry about the baby). The package only had directions for frying it, not baking it, so I decided rather than attempting to bake it, I’d just stick with the directions it had. After all, I didn’t need another failed food attempt tonight. So I got my oil in the pan, and started frying. Properly. I’m actually a really good fryer. I fried chicken last week (okay, so it was frozen and pre-breaded spicy chicken, but hey, it turned out well, and the books said I needed a healthy dose of vegetable oil). So I thought, “eh, this will go well.” And it did! My fish turned out beautifully- fully cooked, but moist and perfectly golden in terms of the breading. It was the perfect piece of chicken. Now, every time I fry, I know to keep my range fan on, so it keeps it from getting too smokey or anything. I turned off the burner, plopped my fish onto a plate, and all of a sudden, ALL THREE of my smoke alarms start blaring! There’s not even a hint of visible smoke! I can’t smell anything that smells like it’s burning, especially from the stove! I run to the back door and open it (this isn’t the first time this has happened), because everytime I panic- my apartment is equipped with a sprinkler system, and if that thing erupts… everything’s going to be ruined. So I panicked, opened the door, opened windows, everything. Thankfully, the beeping stopped, and nothing got wet, but I swear those smoke detectors are going to be the death of me! The two times they’ve gone off, it was while I was cooking, with the range fan on high, and as I’ve made sure to carefully watch- nothing has burned, nothing has steamed, nothing has even smoked. What is really sad is, the one time I did actually burn something… as in, a little fleck of egg got caught in the burner, flamed up enough for me to see it (so just barely), and then fizzled out but continued to smoke, the alarm didn’t go off! At all! I swear… the things are defective.

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