The ADD Kitchen Chapter 2: Cooking Calamities

I often disable this before I even start.  There is a good reason for this.

I often disable this before I even start. There is a good reason for this.

There’s a reason why I don’t bake stuff for people during the holidays.  Or any time of the year.  It’s because with the exception of the apple crisp I made once that turned out awesome and the banana bread I make, I suck at it.  I’m not much better at cooking regular stuff, you know, like dinner.

When you are ADD, there are things that just happen because we people miss stuff.  Important stuff.  Ok, often REALLY important stuff.  Certain things go wrong due to:

1)  Ingredients-Either a) I had it the last time I looked (in April) b)  Didn’t look to see if we had it at all or c) Missed something entirely (Oh, I needed THAT for the recipe?)  This sometimes calls for interesting substitutions, or a phone call to Mom for help.

Aw dang it, this recipe is for TIGER soup!  I only have leopards.

Aw dang it, this recipe is for TIGER soup! I only have leopards.

2)  Directions-Inevitably I will miss some really important part of the recipe.  Case in point-Mexican Stuffed Shells.  This is a very favorite in our house.  For some reason, we haven’t made it in a very long time.  Since we had leftover french fried onions from Thanksgiving, this is a great recipe to use the rest in.  I’ve personally never made it, because the one with the talent in the kitchen department is my husband.  I attempted it this time and as usual, only paid attention to part of the directions.  I mixed up the ingredients and just threw them all together.  Then I read the instructions again.  I was only supposed to mix a HALF cup of the stuff together.  Oops.  So to fix it, I just added extra of everything.  That works, right?  I threw in what was left of the salsa in the fridge, I opened another can of tomato sauce.  It came out ok.  Of course, you really can’t screw up that kind of cooking.  By all means try it though, just because I can’t follow directions doesn’t mean it’s not awesome.  We use ground turkey in ours, because I don’t eat red meat.

3)  Containers-I don’t often look at whether or not there is an insert in spices and extracts.  I just dump, assuming that there are a whole lot of holes to keep the whole container from going in there.  I was making a new recipe the other night, Turkey Pasta Soup.  First let me point out that I had already met criteria #1 because I needed the Italian stewed tomatoes, and I only had regular diced.  Damn Fareway, why do all of their cans look alike?  I figured I would just add extra “Italian” spices.  It needed basil.  I took the spice container and just started shaking it in there.  PLOOP!  A half container of basil.  Yup, I have no idea where the little shaker hole thing went.  “Man, that is a LOT of basil,” Evil Genius remarked in passing.

Today we attempted some holiday treats. Mostly because I want to do stuff for people so I don’t look like a total douche this holiday.  And also because Princess Christmas has been begging me since the day after Thanksgiving to do it.

So first we spent part of the day making sure we had everything we needed.  Then I settled on doing white chocolate covered pretzels with crushed candy cane and holiday sprinkles.  Easy, right?  I read online that “Chocolate covered pretzels are one of the easiest treats to make on the face of the earth.”  Whoever said that LIED!

This is what I was TRYING to make.  Something tells me they wouldn't look this pretty.  Image from

This is what I was TRYING to make. Something tells me they wouldn’t look this pretty. Image from

I try to be all organized and whatnot.  First I lay out everything I need.  While I do this, I set my daughter loose on the floor working on making graham cracker crumbs for another project.  I give her a bag of broken graham crackers and a hammer.  She loved this task almost too much.

Then I tried to melt the chocolate.  As I was gathering my recipes, on one website it said it was easier and better to melt the chocolate in the microwave than on the stove.  Since I’m always looking for ways to make stuff go faster (mainly because I lose interest quickly) I pour half the package of white chocolate in the microwave and started to zap it.  Meanwhile, I switch my daughter to saltine cracker crumbs.  My we will have plenty of crumbs to make stuff with!

All of a sudden I smell something NOT GOOD.  I look in the microwave and see a big black spot in the middle of the white chocolate.  I burned it!  Noooo!  I stop the microwave and try to yank the bowl out.  OUCH!  The bowl is hot.  A hot, stinky gooey mess.

I could very well go on a spree after some of the calamaties I've had.

I could very well go on a spree after some of the calamaties I’ve had.

I go back to the computer and google it.  Ohhhhh, you should do it in twenty second intervals until it’s almost all melted.  And stir, and all of that stuff.  In other words I have to monitor it.  Sigh… Ok, at least I have a half package left.  So I pour that into another bowl and stick it back in for the first of probably a million twenty second intervals.  While this is going, I eat what didn’t burn of the other chocolate (and I wonder why I’ve gained weight??)

If only I could say it turned out perfectly and the pretzels were awesome.  Oh no, you’re talking about something I’m cooking.  While I did earn the title “She Who Microwaves” from a coworker because of my love for taking shortcuts with a microwave any way I could, this does not make me an expert in any way.  l After microwaving several times at 20 second intervals, I wound up with a hard lump of white chocolate.

After consulting Google again, I discover that apparently you can overcook the stuff.  This is when I gave up for the day.  Not because I give up easily, but because I had a 2nd grade Christmas concert that evening and had to move on to other things…

In summary, research your desserts completely, because you never know when they’re going to turn on you!  If you want good baking, go over and visit my friend Karen at Baking In A Tornado.  She bakes great stuff!

Oh, and burnt white chocolate doesn’t taste bad at all.

I always do...

I always do…

Culinary Adventures With the ADD Mom (I Am NOT Cat Cora)

I’m not that bad of a cook…

I’m a fabulous cook.  Every night my family gathers around the table, anxiously awaiting what culinary delight I’ve prepared.  They gobble it up every night, raving about how delicious it is.

What a load of crap!  You didn’t believe that, did you?

It goes something a little more like this… at 5:35 I realize that it’s suppertime.  If Evil Genius has arrived home, I ask him what sounds good for supper.  He never knows.  I ask him what sounds offensive for supper-sometimes he can actually answer that.  So once I decide on my own what we are having, I spend more time looking to make sure we have the ingredients.  Or even more common, I start making the supper and realize that I’m one or two ingredients short.  THAT always makes the meal all the more awesome.  NOT.

While I’m cooking, I tend to be distracted because this is when the children decide to start to act up.  They jump on furniture, they wrestle on the living room floor, they do everything they are not supposed to do because I am too distracted to notice.  When I do and tell them to stop, they resume.  This pattern of me yelling and them resuming happens about three times until my husband yells and send them both to their rooms.  Because we are really good parents, can you tell?

Once the meal is ready, I put it on the table and the Professor proceeds to make some sort of weird face, if it’s not pizza or something fried.  Princess Ranch Dressing either a) takes three bites and says she’s full or b) eats her food, her brothers food, and is begging for fruit.  My husband eats it regardless, which is good, because someone has to besides me.

“It tastes like FEET!” This could be an actual reaction from my son in my house…

The Professor looks like he has never eaten anything in his life.   We have threatened several times to send him to “Skinny Camp” to put some meat on his bones.  The dog weighs more than he does.  We do not keep him locked in a closet under the stairs and feed him crumbs.  People tell me, “Oh, he’ll eat when he’s hungry.”  This is not true.  He would rather starve than consume such dietary staples such as pasta, rice, most fruits, most vegetables, anything that ends in y, you get the picture…  I’ve seen him go for days hardly consuming a thing.  We leave the house and he’ll make sure he’ll say within earshot of people “Wow, my stomach is rumbling, I’m REALLY hungry.”  I get lots of dirty looks from strangers.  He’s only saying that because we had pasta that day, and he didn’t eat it.  He also consumes food one atom at a time.  He takes teeny weeny itty bitty bites.  He puts microscopic particles of the food on his fork and would take three hours to eat if we didn’t set a time limit.  This is unless it is a breaded meat, some form of fried food, or pizza.  Then it is gone in six seconds.  We have done the “try one bite” route with him when it comes to the 75% of food he doesn’t like.  His reaction is a)  I like it, then doesn’t touch it b)  gags and makes himself throw up or c)  see the picture above.

Back to the actual meal itself.  I actually attempt to spend time planning meals.  I have made a binder with a list of meals that at least 50% of us will eat on any given night.  I took an old picture frame and made a dry-erase dinner menu calendar.  I cut recipes out of magazines.  I print recipes out from the internet.  Did you know that when you do this that it will self destruct when it’s time to find it?  Or get up and run away, only to reappear a month later.  I’ve done the trying to plan meals around sales that are happening that week so I can save money on grocery shopping.  HA HA HA.  That requires thinking that is on levels that I cannot comprehend.  It involves a) hoping the paper with the grocery flyers actually gets to our mailbox on time b)  me actually LOOKING at the grocery store flyers and c)  me actually thinking about what ingredients we need for dishes.  I employ the method of making a list and making sure we just have lots of stuff on hand.  Until we need it.  Somehow it seems to disappear if I’m counting on it for a meal that week.

Princess Ranch Dressing is much more of a healthy eater than her brother.  At times she would be what would be called an “Adventurous Eater”.  She has actually eaten raw potatoes as well as taken bites of things such as raw onions and hot peppers.  I prefer to call her a “Moody Eater”.  It all depends on what mood she is in.  When her brother is requesting chicken nuggets and potato chips, she prefers carrots and ranch, sliced apples, celery, etc.  Now the vegetables must be accompanied by ranch.  Lots of ranch.  The kid is obsessed with ranch dressing.  However, as I’ve mentioned, she cannot always be counted on to finish anything she’s given.  There have been many days where she has taken one bite of each thing on her plate and announced she’s done.

My husband has been referred to as “The Cast Iron Stomach” in the past, though I think getting older has caught up with him somewhat.  He has been known to eat pretty much anything.  He says I’m a pretty good cook.  He is an amazing cook, because unlike me he’s not afraid to throw stuff together.  I follow recipes, he follows his taste buds.  Must have something to do with being an Evil Genius.  He has actually mocked me for requesting that he follow a recipe from time to time.  Or measure stuff out.  I also call him “Aluminum Chef”-we’ve watched a lot of “Iron Chef America” in our day.  He could easily be a chef.  It’s sickening.  It’s also not too often that he cooks-often on the weekend I just tell him he’s in charge of dinner.  And sometimes it even materializes if there’s not something interesting going on, like a “Double Experience Weekend” on City of Heroes or “Iron Man” on TV.  I can’t talk, because I’m likely to be distracted from making supper until I’m too hungry to cook.

This hasn’t happened because he doesn’t like pancakes. But he could do it…

After dinner, I am responsible for cleaning up and washing dishes.  This sometimes happens.  If we happen to be watching something like NASCAR, it might get put off.  You know only skipping dishes one night makes the number of dishes in the sink triple?  And being ADD, I tend to miss really important stuff, like leaving the bag of shredded cheese on the counter until the next day.  Or forgetting to put the leftovers in the pan on the stove away.  Or forgetting to check to make sure my son actually closed the lid of the freezer downstairs.  Sometimes I try to make cleanup easier by serving stuff on paper plates.  This works with the kids, but my husband has some sort of aversion to paper plates.  He just won’t use them.  Silly, silly man.

My culinary skills have improved significantly since I married my husband.  I’ve never been one who loves to cook.  Despite efforts by my Mom to help me become interested in cooking, I just never really tried all that hard.  The microwave is my friend.  I am a Microwave Master.  I could just cook in the microwave every night and be perfectly happy.  However, when money is an issue, you can’t just pop in a microwave dinner for everyone every night. I’ve tried to serve more healthy fare, and I’ve cut down significantly on the processed stuff that we buy and cook.  There are a few exceptions to this-Jack’s Pizzas, bags of chicken patties and nuggets, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  You just can’t recreate that stuff and make it taste the same.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I must be doing ok.  Despite my son’s malnourished appearance, everyone seems to be healthy.  No one has contracted food poisoning from anything I’ve made.  From time to time I actually DO find a recipe that doesn’t vanish when I need it, and it’s liked well enough to be put into the monthly rotation.  We don’t eat the same thing every week.  I only force leftovers upon them once in awhile.  Enjoy it people.  If I had my way about it, I’d eat Lean Cuisines every night and make you guys fend for yourself…

See it could be worse…