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Friday, February 27, 2004

It's 9:15 pm and the smoke is mostly gone now, so I can close the front door. The welts on my right forearm aren't getting any worse, and the pain has eased a bit. Will I ever be a real cook? What do you think?

The recipe was for turkey-mushroom meatloaf patties. With pan gravy. That's pretty ambitious for someone who has tried meatloaf four or five times now with very little success. So why meatloaf patties? Well, Rachael did it in less than thirty minutes, so I figured if I gave myself the whole evening I might be able to turn something out that was halfway edible.

I guess "halfway edible" isn't all that ambitious after all. But I had a few things going for me. I've cooked with mushrooms a lot, and I like them. I had a whole can of Italian bread crumbs, so I could keep adding until I had the right consistency. And the ground turkey was on sale this week, buy one-get one. It was almost as if I had no choice but to try this recipe.

It didn't go well, though, at least at first. The little one-inch sample patty I cooked up to check for seasoning was awful. I added more of this and that, and definitely more bread crumbs, so I'll never know exactly how I came up with what I came up with. I didn't think that would be a problem, though. I don't need to duplicate a disaster, because I can always dream up a new one.

The worst moment was when I was putting the patties in the skillet and hot oil splattered on my arm. I was even wearing long sleeves, but I had them rolled up. It probably wouldn't have happened if the burners on my stove top were even, but they're all kind of tilted in different directions, so that the oil (and everything else) ends up at one end of the pan. That's where I dropped my second (or was it third?) patty.

The pain wasn't excruciating. In fact, I didn't even feel it at first, so I had no idea it would leave marks. It's a good thing it happened that way, or I might have just turned off the stove and eaten stale bread for dinner. Since you're supposed to leave the patties on medium high heat for six minutes on each side, I had time to gather my wits (that didn't take long) and clean up the mess I'd made (that did).

When I turned the patties after six minutes, I was dismayed to see how black they were on the side that had been on the heat. "I'm destroying four dollars worth of ground turkey," I said to myself (forgetting the half-price deal that made it worth only two dollars). "I'm never going to be able to eat this. And look at all that smoke."

Well, I said something like that, with a few descriptive words and phrases added. But I stuck to the recipe. I mean, what would be the point of turning back now that the worst of the damage was done? I did turn the heat down a smidge and cut maybe thirty seconds off the six minutes for side two. I wasn't trying to make charcoal, now matter how much it might have seemed that way.

Here's the kicker, though. I went ahead and made the gravy. I've never made gravy in my life, and I never expected to because I've always heard how hard it was. But I wanted to see what would happen (just like when I was three and found the matches, or when I was six and painted my scooter pink).

The gravy looked good enough to eat, so I went ahead and poured it over the meatloaf patties. I didn't think I had much to lose by this point in the adventure. Nobody could be more surprised than I was to find that the meatloaf was not only edible, it was excellent! Very tasty indeed, and the gravy was perfect.

I might never be able to do it again (I might never want to try), but it was almost worth the red splotches on my skin and the smoky haze all through the house. I'm quite pleased with myself, actually.

27 February 2004

Today's cloudy sky.

And I do have leftovers. I made four patties, and I have three left. They're in plastic containers in the fridge, waiting for another night. (Tomorrow night, not a doubt in my mind about that.) The kitchen is clean now, too. I'll never be a real cook, but I can hold my own in the rookie league, I guess.

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I bought green beans at the store today, too. I've never cooked green beans, and I didn't want to press my luck by trying them tonight while I was so busy with the meatloaf patties. But Rachael has this recipe for green beans with lemon and toasted almonds. I'll have them tomorrow night with my leftovers.

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You are a refugee
From a wealthy family
You gave up all the golden factories
To see who in the world you might be