Monday, 18 January 2010

Thumbing my nose

Tonight's meal is leftovers again for me: always dull to write about. So here's last night's meal described.

I had bubble and squeak (recipe earlier) and made what CJBS called "corned beef hash" for him. This wasn't what I would've called a hash, but he loved it as it replicated a school dinner of the 1960s for him. From that, I therefore understand that his school dinners looked like, and smelled of, cat sick. But there we go.

If you're insane enough to want cat sick for dinner, here's how it's done: boil and then mash or rice enough potato. Mince, blend or otherwise pulverise a tin of corned beef. Dice a carrot and boil it. Combine, sprinkle with a little grated cheese and bake for half an hour in a medium oven. Serve, then leave the room. As a starter, we had the last of the mushroom soup and the winter salad on the side.

In the meantime, two other culinary events have occurred. First, on opening the tin of corned beef (one of those wind-a-key-around jobs), the beef got stuck in the tin. I attempted to prize it out, and quickly and efficiently severed the tip of my thumb. This was painful, messy and is now disabling (you'd be amazed at the number of things having two opposable thumbs lets you do; and consequently the number of things that having just one on the "wrong" hand prevents you from doing).

In all the drama, I forgot to boil my stock pots. This evening, I went to boil them and lifted the lids first. Now, a useful thing when you're cooking is to trust your nose. Fundamentally, we're born able to tell when food is off. It's innate, a survival-of-the-fittest hereditary thing. Modern processed foods contain chemicals to inhibit mould and bacteria growth, but they also inhibit the smell of these things as the food goes off. Artificial flavourings also help mask the smell of bad food.

My stock pots contained nothing artificial. And they didn't smell "bad", just "wrong". There was the usual vegetable-soupy aroma to one and the slightly nastier meaty smell to the other. But underneath that was something else. Sweet? Sickly? A sugary note, of sorts. It was just something, not unpleasant, but... well, "wrong". That's all the clue I needed: both are now gone and I'll wash out the pans on the dishwasher's hottest, scrubbiest setting. And start again with new stock tomorrow.

1 comment:

rushworth said...

Your poor thumb! Hope it's healing okay x