“One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.” –Julia Child
Life has been nuts of late: I’ve been traveling more than I care to, work has been busier than ever, and I’ve been in the throes of dealing with a genetic autoimmune disorder (no, it’s not AIDS) which has decided to flare up after 25 years of being mostly nothing more than a mild nuisance. One effect of this latter issue is that I can’t have any alcohol and I hate to, yet must admit: cooking is not as much fun when I can’t enjoy a glass of wine while cutting an onion and another glass or two while eating the meal. I might have to change the name of this blog to “Chop. Stir.” Maybe “Chop. Cry. Stir.” Hopefully this is a temporary setback, but I’ll keep you posted.
I decided it was a good time to try that buttermint recipe I posted about a few weeks ago. You know buttermints: they are those lightly minty, pillowy nuggets of sweetness often found in pastel colors and served by the spoonful near the cash registers of medium-fancy restaurants or found at wedding receptions. They dissolve almost instantly on the tongue. They are divine. I love them.
I read three different versions of buttermint recipes and decided on the recipe posted on The Splendid Table website, except for two changes: I added 3 additional tablespoons of butter and–after reading dozens of accounts of powdered sugar explosions and the failure of the butter and powdered sugar to incorporate into anything resembling dough–I first melted the butter. This appeared to work out fine and I successfully created a kneadable sugar/butter/mint extract dough to which I added a bit of food coloring, but that was the end of my success.
I next attempted to roll the dough into thin, long “logs” to cut into mints and every attempt yielded the crumbled (pink) mass you see in the photo above.
I was frustrated.
My heart wasn’t into it.
But… I didn’t want to entirely give up, so I flattened a portion of the dough and cut it into tiny squares which I then placed on a cookie sheet to dry overnight.
The end product, the mints themselves, taste ok. They don’t taste great and they don’t look like they’re supposed to. To be honest, my heart wasn’t in it. I am thankful that I can buy these mints at the grocery store.
I have one more week of hotel-living ahead of me and then I’ll hopefully be home for a few weeks or even a month. That will be nice. I’d like to buy ingredients for cooking meals that signify I’m home for a while as opposed to buying take-out because I’m home only long enough to unpack, do laundry, and re-pack.
I’m happy to say that the buttermints (and other recent personal trials) have not killed my kitchen spirit. We all fail sometimes and it’s those failures that make our victories so sweet. Not that I’m Picasso or anything, but I am pretty damn sure he painted some flops. And, hey, the Tower of Pisa leans. Even Julia herself admits to many cooking mishaps. So, dear friends, just don’t give up.
Yours in the kitchen.