It’s been an educational summer for Molly B and Me.
We’ve learned that not all road side vegetable stands sell home-grown tomatoes despite their hand-lettered signs, that kale taste good steamed in pasta, but kohlrabi doesn’t taste very good at all. (Note to the overly enthusiastic earth mother at the farm stand who tried to convince us that her children like raw kohlrabi better than candy, Molly would like to know what kind of candy you’re serving at your house.)
We’ve developed both passable skills with power drills and the obscure arm muscles to operate them. We’ve learned to build camp fires with kindling shaved from dry logs and that coyotes sing loudest at midnight.
And we’ve learned that even the most well-intentioned cooks sometimes mess up.
Here are our top three tips we learned from pretty colossal kitchen mishaps:
1) Oats may not be gluten free. Yikes, we labeled our granola “gluten free” because we knew it only contained oats, honey, canola oil, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and dried fruit. We had no idea that Quaker does not certify its oats as gluten free due to cross-contamination possibilities. The lesson here (and hopefully one we did not learn at the expense of any of our gluten intolerant relatives) is that home cooks like us should be careful how we label our gifts.
2) Check the expiration date on your ingredients. Molly whipped up a batch of baked oatmeal that left our whole house smelling like apple pie. Just after her dad woofed down a big bowl, we discovered that the milk she had used had to make it had expired…nine days earlier. We quickly checked with our friend Hsing-Yi, who knows about these things. Using impressive phrases like “thermo stable,” “pathogens” and “spoilage organisms”, she let us know that our unsuspecting family member would not get sick from the oatmeal. (Of course neither Molly nor I touched the stuff after one whiff of the milk carton. Yuck!)
3) Fresh raspberries can be tricky ingredients. Molly discovered this Saturday night while baking cupcakes with her cousin. She mashed the raspberries, but probably should have strained them as well. While the strawberry cake she made earlier this summer turned out beautifully, her raspberry cupcakes ended up an unappealing blue color with bits of raspberry seeds scattered throughout.
A good cook can fix almost anything, though, and Molly’s crunchy blue raspberry cupcakes turned out to be a big hit with her cousin, which was the whole point of the cooking exercise anyway.
Fortunately, we have plenty of summer left. We intend to eat lots of home-grown tomatoes, and very little raw kohlrabi. We’ll keep you posted on what we learn.