By Pamela Denholm
I am not afraid. In the kitchen, my philosophy is: just cook it! This makes my husband a little afraid, and my kids sometimes terrified. But I ignore them, blissfully, and turn the music up while I crush garlic. My efforts are broadly successful, blog-worthy even. And then, there are those other times . . .
It all started with the buttermilk. I had made a successful batch of buttermilk rusks – a farmhouse style of biscotti. I wanted to use up the leftover buttermilk before it turned and found this recipe for Buttermilk Ranch Potato & Turnip Gratin. I had at least 2lbs of scarlet turnips in the fridge. And instead of the ranch, some shallots, garlic, Parmesan, and fresh thyme would be a noble buttermilk pairing. Oh, but no potatoes! No problem. Just the turnips would do.
I whipped out the Mandolin, put all the ingredients in the baking dish, padded out to the garden for some fresh thyme, yum! Covered it up and into the oven it went. I was so gosh darn proud of myself for being creative and making something delicious out of things I had in the fridge, I phoned my husband to brag. In hindsight, this was a mistake. If you are married, you’ll know what I mean.
What came out of the oven an hour and a half later was not pretty. The buttermilk had separated and curdled. The pink skin of the turnips had turned the clear runny separated buttermilk pink too. The pale fleshed turnips were swimming in a clear pink soup, with a generous sprinkling of curdled sour cottage cheese lumps. NOT photograph worthy. Sorry. It reminded me of my home economics class in high school, when my teacher had to taste my luminous pink coconut ice cookies by drinking them out of a glass in order to assign a grade. Pink is the color of failure in my kitchen, it seems.
I could not get my family to eat it. I ate it, just to prove my constitution is just as strong (and stubborn) as my (inflated) sense of pride. Besides, my husband had remembered my braggart call from earlier and was having a field day ordering pizza, sans turnips, and I was damned if I was going to have any.
There was a mutiny. Pamela ‘Queen of the Turnips’ was dethroned. Stripped of her title but not defeated, she resigned herself to the kitchen to hatch a new plan to rule the veggie kingdom. Perhaps this time, as Queen of the Beet. She turned the music up, and destroyed all evidence of her demise. She shall rise to cook again!