Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Instead of jumping right into cleaning house today, I wasted a bit of time on this site: Tacky Living. The recipe for Tic-Tac Pie™ is enough to make one run screaming into the night. Or at least to the den with the vacuum cleaner.
What makes people come up with these recipes? And, I wouldn't put it past someone to have actually brought said Tic-Tac™ pie to a pot luck dinner. I have a friend who tells me horror stories of holiday dinners with her father's family, where the sweet potato casserole has candied orange slices in it. Candied. Orange. Slices.
Ooh, you might think--candied oranges don't sound so very awful, it's sounds sort of Continental...until you realize it's not really oranges that have been candied, but those nasty jelly-like orange-flavored candies coated in sugar. Ack! Who in their right minds would want to eat those, much less include them in food you serve to other people? What did those poor sweet potatoes ever do to deserve such a fate? To top it off, the relative that brings this "delight" was a home economics teacher! As The Man always says, when confronted by someone who claims lots of experience with something, "that doesn't mean you're any good at it!"
My very own grandmother would make this gag-awful asparagus casserole and drag it to every family food event, where it would languish and languish. It involved canned asparagus tips, boiled eggs, cream of mushroom soup (you knew that was coming), and cheese...a waste of perfectly good ingredients, much like tuna casserole is a waste of good noodles and cheese.
My Mother, also known as She Who Didn't Even Want to Put an Oven in her Newly Remodeled Kitchen But Did So Only for the Resale Value of the House and Only After 47 People Pointed This Fact Out to Her, used to make this thing called "Million Dollar Pie" when she had to drag something to work for potluck. It seemed to have consisted of a ready-made graham cracker crust, Mandarin Oranges, Cool Whip, and nuts of some sort. That's it. All of it. I know...I have no idea where my cooking genes came from. I'm just amazed it didn't involve a can of cream of something soup.
Granted, I am a Southerner, and as such, I have a great guilty fondness for things like congealed salads (Jell-o with fruit and stuff but never vegetables!), and (sometimes--depending on the thing!) things made with Coca-Cola. Then, there's Spam, which is only consumed once a year at the birthday party, and only after being charred on the grill and washed down with a large quantity of whatever strange libation that we came up with to fit the theme. (The Purple Rain punch, anyone? Anyone? Chickens.)
And, I've had my share of recipes that have gone horribly awry. Never ever try to feed The Man anything that resembles strawberries soaked in balsamic vinegar. It sounded tasty...that sort of sweet-tart thing...and touted as being "elegant" and "divine"; alas, it was neither. The Man berated me for destroying defenseless strawberries. Then, there was the "Carmelized Strawberries" faux paux. (It seems that strawberries and I don't get along, doesn't it?) I was assured if I spread a layer of sour cream over a layer of slices strawberries and covered the entire thing with brown sugar, the brown sugar and sour cream would magically react and sort of become a "carmelized" glaze over the strawberries, which would then be just yummy over vanilla ice cream. Not. No magic. You don't even want to know what it looked and tasted like. (Didn't even show it to The Man.) Damned Innernet recipes.
The first time I ever used cornstarch to thicken soup turned my chicken noodle soup into chicken lump soup...no one had quite explained to me that I needed to make a little slurry of the corn starch and water before adding it. Gotta love the ol' trial and error method! I put in the cornstarch and stirred the soup until I realized that everything in the soup had congealed into one giant chicken-noodle mass...it was like an old Star Trek the original series space monster...something done on a limited budget and with whatever materials were at hand.
As the old Virginia Slims ad said, "you've come a long way, baby," and I'd like to think that I really have. Even if I have a weakness for things made with Jell-O. And Spam. And the torture of innocent strawberries.