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02/06/2011 / melgardener

My Kitchen Fail

In this era of MasterChef, My Kitchen Rules, Ready Steady Cook etc… it’s almost uncool to actually admit there is any cooking activity at which you fail. We have Jamie and Nigella urging us to make 30-Minute Meals and Express cook because you can (apparently) do healthy and tasty without it taking hours. We are bombarded with more foodie magazines than ever before and the rise of food blogs is seemingly unstoppable.

Couples and families compete to ‘whip up’ a gourmet something that, in reality, took the planning and preparation of a military campaign but is passed off with a casual “oh, we just had it in the pantry and,I really had to use up the [insert name of hard-to-locate gourmet ingredient here]”.

In the face of such competence, is it any wonder that most of us (no matter how reasonable we are at cooking) simply can’t come to terms with our own kitchen fail?

I am a baker by preference – I love to make cakes, pies, muffins, desserts…you name it. I can also do dinners – soups, stews, stir fries and curries. If the mood hits, I can take on some fancier items and I love doing short-order meals on a weekend. I’m certainly not in the class of the contestants on MasterChef but I can hold my own when it counts.

But here’s my own kitchen fail: I cannot make rice via the absorption method. I just can’t.

I have tried every method I can find, in every cookbook or recipe site I’ve seen. The weak link is obviously me but, for all my experience in other types of cooking, I just can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. And what really gets me is that this is not complicated cooking. I’m not trying for a thrice-cooked soufflé here. Yet every time I either find that the rice is completely stuck on the bottom of the pan, or the water has all been absorbed but the rice is not cooked, or the rice is over cooked, or (sometimes) all of the above.

I grew up with rice cooked in boiling, salted water then drained and served. It’s what I know. But it does get a bit gluggy and I always feel like I’m wasting water when I drain the rice. I’m enticed by how fluffy absorption-rice appears in all the photos I see and I want that, dammit!

I’m determined to keep trying until I get it right but I’m finding it so frustrating that something so simple is eluding me.

What’s your kitchen fail? Is there anything you used to fail at but you now succeed?


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