Friday, February 18, 2011

Cooking under the influence.

Red was away for work this week, so once again I was left to entertain myself. I didn’t burn the house down, but I did decide to combine two activities that are usually better done solo: cooking and boozing.

On the menu was Appetite for Reduction’s Potato-Spinach Curry. But first, allow me to issue a brief PSA: Finish all your chopping before you start drinking. Safety first, darlings.

What was I drinking, you ask? Oh, I had a few bottles of Sam Adams in the fridge. My girl Liz came over the other night, and we went out for sushi and then came back for some frosty adult beverages. West Coast, do you have the deliciousness that is Sam Adams? You probably do, but I don’t want to fall into the East-Coast trap of thinking we’re the center of the known universe. Anyway, it’s mighty fine beer and I enjoyed it as I cooked.

This is a delicious curry that comes together very easily. As Isa notes, it’s extra-fun because you get to pop the mustard seeds at the beginning. Dodging the little bastards as they tried to escape the pot challenged my coordination, but it does that even without an assist from my friend Sam. Once you manage to corral your mustard seeds (now toasty and even more delicious), the rest is a snap. What am I telling you this for? You’ve probably made hundreds of curries.

I did tweak the recipe a little. It called for a pound of frozen spinach, but we only had a 10-oz. bag in the freezer. So I used that, then added a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach. The hippie grocery only had russet potatoes (no Yukon gold), but I couldn’t tell the difference. And I have an irrational dislike of chopping tomatoes, so I used a 14-oz. can instead of the two fresh tomatoes listed. Also, I had a few scraps of tofu hanging around from another recipe, so I added those too. Still, for all that, I think the finished product was pretty close to the original.

While the curry was simmering, it occurred to me that what I really wanted was chocolate. I wanted chocolate bad. I started scouring cookbooks and cupboards to see if I had enough of anything to make brownies, or half-assed cookies, or anything. Surprise: I didn’t. No chocolate chips, and only a measly quarter-cup of cocoa powder. Oh, the humanity. I had a fresh chocolate bar in the fridge, but I wasn’t feeling creative enough to smash it into chips or grind it into powder—besides, we all know that would have been a really bad idea. And I was psyched to get baking.

I did, however, have plenty of peanut butter. Jars full of it. Therefore, I would have peanut butter cookies. Red called me at that point, and I (drunkenly) hollered that there would be peanut butter cookies when he came home. I imagine that his dining companions were amused.

I ate a little bit of the curry (trying to save room for the cookies-to-be), then switched to wine. It seemed classier. I gathered the ingredients for Vegan with a Vengeance’s Crispy Peanut Butter Cookies and got to work. With only eight ingredients, how hard could it be? Clearly, this recipe was made with drunk bakers in mind.

I’m gonna cut to the chase: Sweet God Almighty, what a horrible failure these cookies were. I know you’re thinking, “Of course they sucked, you stupid lush. You probably added vinegar instead of oil.” No, I swear to you, it wasn’t me. I did everything right. I hopped on the PPK to check it out, and I am far from the only person to have had piss-poor results with these cookies.

After 12 minutes in the oven, I checked them. Too soft. Three more minutes. Still too soft. Three more. Not working. Grumpily, I set the timer for a final five minutes, determining that those cookies would be done or there would be hell to pay. After a grand total of twice the recommended baking time, they were still mushy and crumbly—the mere touch of a spatula made them fall apart. Their bottoms were also mildly scorched. I didn’t bother transferring them to the rack to cool, but after a few minutes, I took a nibble of one anyway.

It wasn’t good. Still, my anticipation had been building for a few hours, and I really wanted dessert. I placed three of the misbegotten cookies into a bowl, then poured chocolate syrup over them in an attempt to salvage a sugar high.

It will not surprise you to learn that the chocolate syrup resented being dragged into this atrocity, and refused to help the cookies taste better. I sadly sipped my wine and texted Red to say that both Leonard Nimoy and Stephen Root had cameos on TNG that evening. (Aside: I adore them both, and I think Nimoy looks like he’d give an excellent hug, but I find myself channeling Root’s Office Space character Milton more often than I do Mr. Spock. I’m working on it.)

In a last gasp at optimism, I put the cookies in the fridge, hoping that they’d firm up overnight and that my taste buds would recover from any booze-related trauma. When I woke up, the cookies would be magically delicious.

They weren’t. They found their end in the compost bin. I was crestfallen.

However, this weekend I plan to indulge in a fit of brownie baking like no other. I will not be denied again! I think I’ll bake sober this time, though.


  1. Mmmmm curry looks GOOD! An awesome pal just mailed us a copy of AFR, and I'm so ashamed that we've been too busy to try cooking anything new and fun. This weekend, we're totally gonna do it (minus the booze) :)

  2. Ha! I love your story! Sorry about the cookies, but now I need to go and make some curry.

  3. 1. I am a total curry-lover.. that dish looks amazing.
    2. I've been-there-done-that SOBER with peanut butter cookies.. sometimes, they just do not want to be made.
    3. I love the way you write :)

  4. How about 5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake for the next time you need some chocolate in a hurry? :)

    We have Appetite For Reduction on it's way to us and I'm really looking forward to trying out the recipes. All of the ones you've posted about look awesome!

    I loved this post all around. It made me laugh. :)

  5. Thanks, everyone! Curry love all around! :)

    b: When you get AFR, tell me how much you love it!
    Cheryl: I hope your curry is amazing!
    Kallan: Thank you so much! I always get a happy buzz when someone digs my style.
    Flower: I am TOTALLY taping that recipe to the fridge for the next time I need a chocolate fix! Mmmmmmm.

  6. Cookies and wine is so good, bummer your cookies didn't turn out.

  7. Curry looks divine and thank you for the TNG reference. Love you like whoa!

  8. I just made these cookies and they were a complete flop. Ugh. Wish I'd researched first. Crumbly all to hell.

  9. Oh, no! So sorry. They are really a disaster no matter what. It's a pity because Isa's recipes are usually foolproof. I hope you still had dessert! BTW, that bread you made looks ahhhh-mazing.