I’m starting to wonder if I’ve taken too much on.
Part time work, full time parenting, this food blog, and my challenge to master every technique in Leith’s Technique Bible. What was I thinking when I chose to do something with the word “challenge” in its name? My whole life as a working mother is a challenge!
In any case, the wheels are clearly starting to come off.
That’s because last night I not only failed to make ravioli – I failed to rescue anything resembling a meal from the fiery wreckage.
While the first of those things has been known to happen on occasion (ravioli are hard, people), the second is a bit more unusual. In fact, I pride myself on being a quick-thinking cook who can take something to the table each night. Even if that something doesn’t bear much of a resemblance on the original dish. I am the queen of Plan B.
But last night, I tore through plans A to D, and ended up collapsed in a heap somewhere around W.
The ravioli started to go wrong when I made the filling. And yes, I’m aware that’s the first part of the recipe. As soon as I’d mixed the pumpkin, bread crumbs and egg together, I knew the proportions were out. The filling was obviously too wet. Did I stop to adjust? No, not I! I forged ahead, and in doing so sowed the seeds of my own doom.
The next set of alarm bells I chose to ignore began to clang when I was making the pasta dough. I could make pasta dough in my sleep, but apparently, not this Wednesday. I added too much flour to the dough, and thought “I’ll just use the leftover flour when I’m rolling it out”. Instead, I spent a long time trying to force the dough to take the excess flour. So now I had a wet filling and preternaturally stiff pasta.
Of course I decided to try my new ravioli wheel. This unwise experiment naturally ended with rhombus-shaped ravioli that refused to stick together and oozed filling.
Instead of calling it quits, I decided to try making larger ravioli. And then I decided to try making tortellini. And then I decided to fry the oozing ravioli rhombuses, because hadn’t I seen fried ravioli on an episode of Kitchen Nightmares once?
At this point, I can almost hear you yelling, “Why doesn’t she just stop?” We’ll get to that in a moment.
But first, I need to tell you that I burnt the fried ravioli. While they were on the stove I wandered off to help MJ locate her lost phone. I returned to a scene out of a public-service announcement. Smoke billowed from the pan, and the singed-pumpkin tang of failure hung in the air.
So I wiped out the pan, and put on another batch of fried ravioli.
Ten minutes later, MJ and Zool sat down to eat dinner. On each of their plates was four fried ravioli and some of my mother’s green tomato relish. Possibly sensing that now was not the time to play food critic, MJ made positive noises and ate the snack-sized meal without complaint.
I was left with two questions. What were we actually going to eat for dinner? and, Why had I kept going with the dish when, deep down, I knew it wasn’t going to work?
The first problem was solved by an emergency dash to the supermarket, to procure what Michael Pollan would call “a food-like substance”.
The second question was a bit trickier. It’s the sort of question that easily spawns others. Why did I keep marching grimly down the path to ravioli failure? Why did I ignore so many red flags that the dish was a dud? Why did I decide to make ravioli from scratch on a weeknight? I could go on.
There are many reasons I kept cooking the ravioli. A fear of wastefulness; a desire to find refuge in cooking a consumingly complex dish; the brain-frying exhaustion of being a working mother. But I think the main reason is that I am stubborn. And that’s a good thing. Stubborn is the flip-side of determined, and determined the reason I’m writing this blog post at 11PM afer a long, long day, while my toddler snores softly next to me.
I might be going a bit nuts, but if my default setting is to push through, then I think I’ll make it through everything. Even this crazy self-imposed challenge.
Have you ever persevered with a meal long past the point of common sense? Did you end up congratulating yourself for your determination, or cursing your stubbornness?