I’VE BEEN EXPERIMENTING lately.
Not in a lab, but perhaps in an even more unstable environment … my kitchen.
It started innocently enough. I got a craving for Mexican seafood.
I have a limited budget, though, and had just gone grocery shopping, so I decided to try to make Mexican shrimp.
That’s what I’m calling it because I used the spices from a recipe I found a while back to make Mexican chicken.
I still had the spices and had just bought a bag of frozen shrimp, so I was in business.
The best part about this meal was that it was a lot easier — and cheaper — than going out to a restaurant.
I didn’t bother pre-heating the pan, instead I just sprayed cooking spray on it, tossed in the shrimp and turned the temperature to low (things tend to cook quite quickly on my burners, not sure why).
I added lemon juice to the pan for more moisture. The sauce turned out quite liquid as a result, but it tasted amazing.
I’m definitely making that again, possibly with more types of seafood. And I think I’ll also experiment with thickening the sauce. I’ll need to read up on it, but I believe that’s done by stirring in small amounts of corn starch very slowly.
And so, with my confidence bolstered by my dinner triumph, the next night, I tried making a new variety of cookies.
I used the recipe I printed in May except I didn’t have shortening so I used a stick of butter.
Then I discovered I didn’t have chocolate chips, so I used a bag of Reese’s Pieces.
Finally, I recently bought a bag of almond flour so I figured I’d use that instead of the regular stuff.
Things went badly and they went badly fast.
I did some reading online, trying to find the correct conversion for the almond flour.
What I found said to use a quarter of the amount of regular flour when using almond flour.
Lesson learned. Don’t trust the internet.
But I hadn’t yet realized what an unreliable cookbook the internet is, so I read on to see that butter makes baked goods spread more.
This part was DEFINITELY true, for these cookies spread far and wide.
If I’d used enough dough, they probably would have taken over the oven.
Finally, I read that almond flour burns quicker than regular flour, so I should cover the cookies with a tent of aluminum foil.
Another true bit of advice and here’s how I know.
I apparently don’t know how to tent aluminum foil, so it rested rather close to the first batch of cookies … OK, it rested ON the cookies.
And the first batch spread across the cookie sheet and was entirely liquid when I took it out after five minutes. The edges were browning, though, so I figured they were as solid as they were going to get.
For the second batch, I added another quarter cup of almond flour, which makes the total a half cup now.
These cookies — and I use that word lightly — were still fairly liquid and with browning edges, so those didn’t work either.
For the final batch (there was only enough dough for three sheets of six) I added another quarter cup of the almond flour.
After five minutes, while still spreading, these cookies were at least puffing up.
Three minutes later, they were still puffy but a bit liquid, so I figured why not try it without the tent?
And that’s how I learned how quickly almond flour burns. Three minutes later, I had a cookie sheet covered with a layer of flat-as-paper, burned … stuff.
I have no word for what I made.
So, lesson learned, do more research when experimenting.
When things go right, you get a surprisingly tasty dinner.
When things go wrong, you don’t get dessert.
And remember, when things go completely awry, you can burn your kitchen down, so be careful and check your fire alarms.
Emily Hanson is a copy editor/paginator for the Peninsula Daily News. She is also a beginning baker and clumsy cook. She can be reached at 360-452-2345 ext. 560-50 or [email protected] dailynews.com.