I filled the house with smoke!

I was feeling in the mood for trying a new recipe on Sunday. The paper had a lovely sounding cake from Jamie Oliver. Ginger and Rum orange. Yum. Having sent himself to the shop for some missing ingredients, I set about getting myself organised.

First, I prepared the meat and veg for a slow cook dinner in my newly purchased crock pot. Didn’t need a recipe, I thought. I can wing this. After all, I have made slow cook stews probably hundreds of times. In went the veg.Then the herbs and spices, meat and a touch of red wine. Turned the pot on and left it to work its magic, thinking dinner tonight will be sooo good.

By the time that was done the missing ingredients had arrived – soft brown sugar, a nub of fresh ginger and a small can of pineapple rings in natural juice. Having a retired husband to run errands is so handy at times. Although I did have to describe what fresh ginger looked like and where to find it. The carrot of course was the promise of a delicious cake for supper.

However, it was not one of those recipes you just whip up and shove in the oven. Oh no, not at all. I had chosen one that required many steps in many containers. Had I realised just how much work it was, I probably would not have made it. Serves me right for just scanning the recipe and drooling at the pretty picture.

I combined the molasses, brown sugar, butter and honey in a pot, brought it to boil and took it off the heat to let it cool down. In the meantime, into another bowl went the dry ingredients and a couple of teaspoons of freshly grated ginger. That should give it a nice zing, I thought.

Having whisked all the ingredients into a lovely smelling cake batter, I poured it into the greased cake tin. I still use mum’s trusted trick of using semolina instead of flour when preparing cake tins. Gives a lovely little crunch to the cake. And into the oven it went.

Next step was to make the syrup. More sugar, brandy and some juice reduced to a syrupy consistency in which I dipped the pineapple rings. The rest of the syrup was to continue reducing till it was much thicker. For pouring over the cake. This little treat was a full on sugar hit. But then, what cakes aren’t!

And it is at this point, dearest reader, that things took a sharp turn. Although there had already been one of those. I just didn’t know.

You see, as is my practice, I washed the dishes. And then, given it was going to be another hour before the cake was ready, I headed off to my office for a bit of blogging.  It was probably some half an hour later that I noticed a slight smell of gingery burning. Uh-oh. Cake must be on the brink of ruination I thought. Not a pleasant thought given the intense labour that had gone into its birthing.

Off I went to investigate. As I stepped into the dining area I was greeted with a room full of smoke. Damn! I rushed into the kitchen thinking it was the cake. Oh how wrong I was.The cake was still merrily baking away with no sign of blackness. However, my saucepan of reducing syrup was billowing smoke like it was about to catch on fire. Eyes stinging and lungs burning, I turned off the gas. Grabbed the saucepan and filled it with cold water. The syrup had turned into a lump of black coal glued to the bottom of the pan.  It was way beyond being a gooey burnt mess.

But I didn’t stop to investigate it any further. I had more important things to take care of. The stove fan got cranked to top speed. The windows and doors were opened to let in the chilly night air. It’s winter here. And it’s a cold one. Especially after the sun goes down. And it had. It was black outside too.  Walking through the house fanning the air with a tea towel to encourage the smoke to disperse quicker, I headed to the bathroom to turn that fan on too.

And there, in his office, absorbed in YouTube, was himself. I asked –

Didn’t you smell the burning?

What burning? I thought it was the cake cooking.

No, the house is full of smoke! I burnt the syrup.

He could not have been less interested. Apparently me burning the house down was of less interest than whatever latest woodwork instruction he was absorbed in watching.

Having cleared enough smoke out to be able to see my way, I ventured back to the kitchen. It wasn’t long before the air had cleared enough so  I could shut windows and doors. And turn the heater on. It was freezing. I know, because the tip of my nose was cold and my hands were close to suffering  frostbite.

Because an integral part of the cake was dousing it in syrup when serving, I quickly made a short cut version in the fry pan, melting some brown sugar in brandy and bringing it to the boil. Then threw in the pineapple rings to soak in some more flavour.

It was at this point that I checked the slow cooker. This was the first sharp turn in the kitchen I had not seen coming.The crock pot was cool to the touch. I looked at the dial. As far as I was concerned it was at the highest setting. Something is wrong with this thing, I thought. Damn it!  I called himself.

Something’s wrong. we won’t be eating slow cooked stew tonight, I said.

Why not?

Because the food hasn’t even started to cook. And I put it on at two o’clock.

Well, that’s what you get for buying cheap shit.

I bit my tongue. Just maybe he was right. It had only cost me $50 at Costco. But it was a good brand. I reached into the cupboard and pulled out the information brochures. I had read them when I first opened it up. But not bothered again because it is, after all, a very simple machine to operate.

It is at this point I  must digress. When things go wrong with machines in the Man Cave, my immediate reaction is Have you read the instructions?  

I have to confess that this time I had not checked the instructions. It took no time at all for him to discover that I had put the crock pot on Keep Warm.

It was with surprising good grace, without complaint, that he headed off to McDonalds to get us dinner.

But I am sorry to say this is not the end of the story. I had done the skewer trick for checking if the cake was done. It was. Turning the oven off, I  left it in to keep warm for later.

Later came. I cut the cake. It was underdone in the middle!  I said to him-

Guess what? The cake is done just the way you like it. Gooey in the middle.

It did taste good. But I will never make that cake again. The recipe is in the bin.  As for that slow cooked stew? We had it the next night. I should have used a recipe. Tess loves it.

Raili Tanska

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15 thoughts on “I filled the house with smoke!

  1. Isn’t it strange how, when one thing goes wrong, lots of other things go wrong, too? I love looking at photos in recipe books …. they rarely keep their promise!

  2. Par for the course!
    That picture reminds me of when Liz is cooking. I am certain that her ambition in life is to find a recipe that will use every single utensil, bowl, dish and plate that we possess.

  3. Omgosh. At least you caught it before it caught fire! Holy smokes! I would’ve thrown that pan away along with that recipe. BUT, you did get McDonalds and stew the next night so it’s all good. 🙂 Still, poor you. I don’t think there’s a woman on the planet who hasn’t had to open all the windows n’ doors and turn on the fans for a cooking mishap. – Great post.

  4. What a dreadful day, don’t you just hate days like that. We’re all so hard on ourselves when things go wrong, but if when it happens to someone else we re-assure that it’s a minor error in judgement in easily rectified (Maccas). And you know what – in the scheme of things that can go wrong it is a very minor thing. Doesn’t help me to stop beating up on myself though when it happens to me. And don’t you just hate those complicated cake recipes.

    1. Ditto to all of that. I can usually tweak taste in recipes not quite right, but do you think I could with this one? No way! It hated me as much as I did it 🤣 and was not gonna budge. But himself worked magic on it and made it quite edible in the end.

  5. That cake would have looked like a piece of cake to make if you’d watched Jamie make that cake on TV, and you’d have been really keen to bake that cake and eat a piece of that cake… phew 🙂

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