If you’ve been reading along for the last few days, I posted a comic earlier this week that tried to find a bit of humour in some recent… um… less-than-perfect cooking efforts.
Thinking about funny ideas for future comic strips means I’ve also been thinking of all the fails I’ve had over the years. Not all of them are funny or even comic-strip fodder. But, some of them would make for short anecdotes that could make for some light Friday blog writing. In other words, I might have a new recurring topic on my hands: Fail Up Fridays, because if you don’t learn from your fails you’re doing it wrong.
We had some down time last night, and the YouTube auto-play was flipping through random videos on the tv in the background. One of the chefs I watch on the regular had posted a new video inventorying some of the techniques she applies to her baking.
Half way down her list was how to make whipping cream by hand.
She measured out the cream into an appropriately-sized bowl, she grasped said bowl firmly by the rim in one hand and with the other took up a whisk. Arm extended and bowl down by her hip she expertly demonstrated the long but successful grind of beating some air into the cream to form lovely stiff peaks and create tasty whipped cream.
Simple, right? Well…
Rewind Twenty-five Years
I lived with my younger brother in university. We shared a basement suite a few blocks away from campus where various friends would stop by to hang out. We were also both dating young women at the time (the same young women who would both eventually become our wives) and being two young guys eager to impress our girlfriends with our cooking prowess (just like sitcom characters) we tried to teach ourselves some basic culinary skills, something neither of us had picked up much of along the way prior to those years.
The lesson I’ve taken away since is that sometimes it’s better to attempt and succeed magnificently at something simple, than to try something complex and fall flat on your face.
One night we tried something complex.
At least it was complex for two guys who owned four plates, a set of cutlery, and an aluminum frying pan between them both.
We tried to make a lemon pie. Y’know… to impress our girlfriends.
My Kingdom for a Whisk
Into a frozen pie shell we poured a lemon custard (a’la powder-from-a-box) and baked.
Into our one and only plastic mixing bowl we poured a cup of heavy whipping cream.
We did not own a whisk. We certainly did not own a stand mixer with a whisking attachment. We did own a fork… and a fork is exactly how we tried to turn the whipping cream into whipped cream.
I remember taking turns. I remember getting frustrated. I remember making a mess.
There was no whipped cream on our pie.
Instead, after an hour of effort, there was a slightly-greyish puddle that we’d defeatedly poured atop our lemon pie filling and that despite our efforts to bake and salvage, was not impressing anyone… especially not our girlfriends.
Many years later when we bought ourselves a magnificent red stand mixer, one of the first things I did was spin up a batch of whipped cream to accompany a batch of breakfast crepes. It took less than ten minutes. No one questioned my choice, least of all my wife, but had she inquired I would have simply replied with… “remember that lemon pie we tried to make?”