EXPAT FOODIE: STUPID IN THE KITCHEN

by missfootloose on December 10, 2010 · 22 comments

in And So It Goes, Expat foodie, Food

Have you ever done something so dangerous, that afterward you are stunned by the stupidity of what you have done? I like to think of myself as a person of normal intelligence, but unfortunately there have been a few humbling occasions when this conviction was proven to be wrong. One such an event took place in Indonesia where for a couple of years I lived the happy expat life with my man and our two daughters. Let me serve up the story of what I did:

~*~

VERY EXPENSIVE PUMPKIN BREAD

The food in Indonesia is scrumptious, and we enjoy lovely seafood and luscious tropical fruits all year around. But as every expat knows, sometimes you hanker after something you can’t buy or cook in your new environment.

So when the holiday season comes around, I want pumpkin bread, which is a traditional American confection I have come to adore. There are many such breads in the USA with fruits and vegetables as part of their ingredients: Applesauce bread, banana bread, zucchini bread, date bread, cranberry bread, and so on. These breads are not actually bread as we normally think of bread — the yeasty variety. They are sweet loafs and have a cake-like texture. In my native Holland we would call them koek.

My very own pumpkin bread with raisins

I manage to obtain a can of pureed pumpkin from the American commissary in Jakarta. This was easier said than done since we don’t live in Jakarta, but in the provincial town of Semarang, sometimes referred to as the armpit of Java (because of the sweaty tropical weather). The canned pumpkin and my precious whole wheat flour arrived by plane, carried by my loving husband who on occasion visits the capital for business reasons and then goes shopping for me.

All the above is just a set-up to prepare you for the drama of the story to follow, and possibly as a psychological excuse for my bird-brain stupidity.

So here goes: In a joyful Christmassy mood (in spite of the tropical weather), I put together the batter for my pumpkin bread, adding the ginger, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the cloves — spices that always put me in a holiday high. Who needs drugs, really?

I pour the finished batter in the buttered baking pan, put it in the pre-heated oven and set the timer for the requisite 1 hour baking time. Then I go back to my office where I have a very unfortunate glass desk top. When I look down it reflects my face with everything drooping down, meaning I know exactly what I will look like twenty years from now, and it’s not pretty. This, of course, has nothing to do with pumpkin bread, but I thought you might want to know. Onward.

Soon the house smells heavenly, the air fragrant with the scent of spices. About half-way through the baking time I go back to the kitchen to get an even better sniff up my nostrils and to peek through the oven window at how beautiful it’s starting to look. If you are a baker, you will know what I mean.  You will know the satisfaction of creating a masterpiece.

So I go down on my haunches and look in the oven.  The bread is rising energetically, but horrors of horrors, the gas flames have gone out.  This cannot be!  The gas tank has only recently been replaced.  I know it is not empty.

I panic.  My precious pumpkin bread is going to perish, collapse from lack of heat.  I grab the matches, open the door and relight the oven.

Which explodes in my face.

I’m left with no eyelashes and no eyebrows and I have burned cheeks, hands and shins.

I slam the door closed. The oven goes merrily on burning, saving my pumpkin bread.

Me?  Well, I’m spending a sleepless night with ice packs on my shins and hands.  The god of gas had mercy and I have no serious burns, but I sure look funny without eyebrows.

NOTE: The shame of it is that I grew up with gas, was lectured by my mother and the entire nation of Holland about the proper way to handle gas.  And still I did this utterly stupid thing.  Scariest of all is the thought that if I can be this idiotic, what other dangerous things might I do in a moment of insanity?

* * *

Do you have the guts to fess up to a stupid deed you’ve committed?  You’ve never done anything idiotic or dangerous?  I am so impressed, but I’m not sure we can be friends now.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Mara December 10, 2010 at 3:40 am

I have learned to use a timer whenever I am cooking. Once upon a time (when I didn’t use one obviously) I was only going to heat up the meat, let it cool and then put it in the cellar. So, I turned up the gas (again this gas), lit it and set the pan on top.

About an hour later someone is ringing my doorbell as if the house is on fire. As soon as I opened the living room door I realised he wasn’t far off: I couldn’t see a thing anymore. I had forgotten to set the timer and once the ‘jus’ had started boiling, it had kept on boiling and boiling and boiling. I felt my way to the kitchen (which wasn’t far off, only three steps), turned off the gas and opened the window.

My upstairs neighbour had had smoke coming up through the floorboards and while he at first thought the smoke came from his computer, he quickly realised it came from downstairs.

The meat of course didn’t make it: there was only a small outline of charcoal left in the pan. So I tossed both of them in the wheelie bin. I then had to start cleaning. Which took me the rest of the day. The smell lingered for about six months! I remember that timer now!

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missfootloose December 22, 2010 at 8:16 am

That was a very smelly experience, for you and your neighbors. Let’s hope you don’t forget the timer again. 😉 Thanks for sharing!

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Laural Out Loud December 10, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I don’t have any crazy kitchen stories about ME cooking, but I did end up in someone’s kitchen in a rather stupid move on my part. Pisa, Italy, age 18. Made some friends on the lawn in front of the Leaning Tower and WENT HOME WITH THEM to watch a World Cup game. Where they cooked dinner for me and we had a grand time drinking wine. Luckily I was returned in one piece. This is why I will never let my daughter travel alone, lol.

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missfootloose December 22, 2010 at 8:19 am

Maybe your instincts about those strangers inviting you to their homefor food was correct: They were nice people. Of course, they were Italians. They like to eat and they’re all nice 😉

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Bianca December 11, 2010 at 2:33 am

Sorry, can’t top this one…
Still shaking with laughter imagining you without facial hair (very efficient).
Though hang on… maybe my sister can:
When I come home after a lovely two weeks in El Andalus I immediately smell smth has burnt in my house. I get on the phone with my sister who stayed there, though AT THE BEGINNING of my absence. She reacts startled: how can I still smell she tried to finish off pre-baked croissants in my micro-wave? Oh well. If that wouldn’t have been the case, my neighbours couldn’t wait to tell me either.

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missfootloose December 22, 2010 at 8:21 am

Smell just lingers and lingers. I spent a few days at the house of a cigar and sigaret smoking couple in Europe. I came home to the US, opened my suitcase and all I could smell was smoke.

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Aysegul December 11, 2010 at 6:54 am

OMG!! this is a rather scary story. I am glad that you did not hurt yourself badly..Kitchens are always dangerous places arent they. Lots of cuts, burns, head bumps etc during our life time..It never ends..

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missfootloose December 22, 2010 at 8:24 am

I heard that looking at fingerprints it is often obvious they’re from a female because of all the cuts and knicks and burns on them. You think you’re safe from the big bad world in you own house, but not so. Your own carelessness is king there.

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edj December 12, 2010 at 3:02 am

What? No I’ve never done anything stupid in the kitchen. No, you can’t double-check this with my husband…

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missfootloose December 22, 2010 at 8:24 am

Of course, dear.

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Kate Wilson December 12, 2010 at 9:43 am

How nice to find you and your blog again – it is looking great so i imagine the changeover went well. Scary thing to do! I’d worry about losing all. But, talking about scary things I am so glad you are ok after this accident – I once tried to relight the gas grill at the same time as looking inside and was blown backwards with the blast – but not burnt. It was quite frightening enough so I hate to think what you went through. Talking of stupid things to do – I once decided to photocopy my face – with my eyes open!!! As the light flashed by my retinas I had a horrible feeling of ‘what have I done?’ And stood up – couldn’t see. Vision came back after a few minutes but it made me realise how in a split second you can do something stupid and potentially disastrous and that is rather scary. All best wishes Kate

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missfootloose December 22, 2010 at 8:27 am

Thank you for telling that story! It gave me a good laugh, but only after I realized you’d not blinded yourself!

It truly is scary how stupid we can be in an unguarded moment!

Glad you found me again! Iost tons of subscribers in my move to WordPress, sigh.

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Kate Wilson December 12, 2010 at 9:44 am

And….the pumpkin bread looks scrumptious! Is there a recipe?

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missfootloose December 22, 2010 at 8:28 am

Yes, I have a recipe. I’ll make a recipe page in my sidebar soon and put it there.

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MaryWitzl December 13, 2010 at 1:15 pm

We can be friends! I’m pretty sure I’ve told you about the time I accidentally dropped the foil top of a packet of sour cream into a blender, then hurriedly scooped blended cheese, sugar, eggs, fruit, etc. into a graham cracker pie shell and baked it. Guests were pulling little shards of aluminum out of their pie for ages. I had an oven-proof gas lid on a casserole once and picked it up by its boiling-hot glass handle just seconds after I’d taken it out of the oven, resulting in blistered fingers. Burning the bottoms off pots is another of my specialties.

And if I ever got started on some of my husband’s culinary exploits, I’d rack up thousands of words in no time.

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missfootloose December 22, 2010 at 8:30 am

Your stories are more fodder for your blog! Very brave to offer your guess aluminum pie!

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carolina December 13, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Scary! You’re lucky that you’re able to make us laugh with that story
😉

About two years ago I thought I smelled gas in our larder, which adjoins the kitchen. But I could only smell it (very faintly) in the larder. Not in the kitchen. I asked hubs if he could smell it too. He couldn’t.
But I kept smelling it. The next day and the day after that and the day after that and so on. So after a week I still smelled gas. And hubs didn’t.
A couple of weeks later, hubs removed the cooker – I can’t remember why – from it’s snug place between the kitchen cupboards. And he discovered a loose connection in the gaspipes, which had been sending tiny amounts of gas towards the larder. Where I smelled it and he didn’t. Couldn’t smell it in the kitchen, because that room is too big and the amount of gas escaping was just too small (fortunately).
And I thought I was losing my mind. Turns out, my nose is working so much better than his. Proof of what I already knew. I’m always right! We like to live life on the edge in our family. (Sending granddaughters off in the train holding a jam-bomb ;-))

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missfootloose December 22, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Oh, yes, the jam-bomb! Living on the edge is an art; the talent is in not falling off. Gas is creepy stuff and now that you know your nose’s power, you have a defense.

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GutsyWriter December 14, 2010 at 12:34 am

You have to stop making me laugh so much. So are your eyebrows the “bushy” kind?
Just had to ask.

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missfootloose December 22, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Not the bushy kind, fortunately, but living without them was not pretty anyway.

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guyana gyal December 16, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I know someone who did that :-O

I can’t top this one, honest.

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missfootloose December 22, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Just as well!

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