Archive for February, 2010

Cooking with Steve

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Funds for groceries are getting a little tight, so my girlfriend recommended I supplement my frozen Lean Cuisines with…what is the word for food that isn’t in your freezer or fridge?  I don’t even know, but she has stockpiled enough of these food type products to last us ten years.

The problem is that requires me to use the big white thingy in the kitchen.  I think they call it a stove.  My first attempt was oatmeal.  Not the oatmeal that comes out of a paper packet, requiring just a little water and one minute in the life support machine, also known as a microwave.  No, I’m talking real deal serious in your face steel cut Irish oatmeal.  The kind of oatmeal you wash down with whiskey and a pint of Guinness.

The directions read: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, slowly stir in 1 cup of steel cut oats, wait 5 minutes for oatmeal to thicken and then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.  I’ve always struggled with the word “simmer”.  Simmer on what?  There are 9 numbers on the stove dial, can’t you just pick one?  Simmer on 3.  I could work with that.  But no, it’s just “simmer”.  That’s like giving someone the directions “Drive down that road for a while, then turn right.”  Simmer is cooking with no GPS.

I opted to simmer on 5.  Seemed like a good compromise between 9 and 1.  Unfortunately I was too slow pouring in the oats and my 4 cups of water had boiled down to 2.  Ten minutes into “simmering” I smelled something burning.  The water had boiled off completely leaving my oatmeal black on the bottom and undercooked on the top.  I still ate all of it over the course of the next three miserable mornings.

When I told my girlfriend what happened, she bit her tongue, took a deep breath and said, “You know you can add more water right?”  Seriously?  That’s genius!  It wasn’t long before I put this gem of wisdom to use.  Tonight’s dinner was Stove Top Stuffing.

Step 1: Boil 1.5 cups of water and a tablespoon of butter.  Check.

Step 2: Pour in contents of package and stir.  Check.

Step 3: After five minutes, fluff with a fork and serve.

It didn’t actually say to “simmer” but come on, I know the drill now.  Two minutes into simmering my stuffing there was a familiar smell.  The smell of burning non-frozen non refrigerated food product.  Again, the water had boiled off completely, but this time I was prepared.  I poured in another 1.5 cups of water to compensate.  I waited for the infused water to gradually cook off, leaving a pile light fluffy stuffing goodness.

This did not happen.  The end result was a paste like substance chemically bonded to charcoal.  I should have saved it for the next time I need to use my caulk gun.  Instead I ate it for dinner.  Quite filling actually.

When I told my girlfriend what happened, she was stunned.  “There’s only three steps!!”  She reviewed them with me.  Steps 1 and 2 checked out fine.  However I missed three little words on Step 3.  “Remove from heat.”  Ok so first I’m supposed to be psychic in determining how to simmer, and now I’m expected to read every word on the directions?  Sorry, but I think I’m going to reserve my cooking talents for Lean Cuisines in the life support machine.

Freakin simmer.