One of my readers recently asked me "How do you do all this cooking? Are you super human? I'm beginning to wonder if you are lying about the Lyme!"
Uh, no. I'm not super human, nor am I lying about the Lyme. I need to eat, so I cook. And I definitely have some Lyme brain issues that plague me from time to time. Lyme eats your brain, causing brainfog and dementia and ADD and emotional disturbances and forgetfulness. People with severe Neuro Lyme have immense challenges with even simple tasks. I'm extremely lucky in that my brain hasn't been affected as much as other systems in my body. Thankfully, I've only experienced some minor cognitive delay and some memory loss, but nothing that renders me incapable of functioning. If I lay off the sugar, take my meds, and get enough sleep, I can keep it together darn well (better than many totally healthy people, I'm told). But when I deviate, I'm a foggy mess. I get a little twitchy and very clumsy. My body hurts and I have a rough time. So, I try not to deviate. I've already noticed improvements since starting antibiotics a couple months ago. I'm extremely lucky.
Spaciness and clumsiness has, however, led to a lot disasters. For example, I've lit toaster ovens on fire and made them explode (note the use of the plural). I've destroyed really nice pots by not turning off the flame. I've fallen asleep with the oven on. I've risked explosion by letting the gas run without flame. I've broken multiple dishes in one day on more than one occasion. I've found things in my microwave that I've forgotten about and cooked days before. I've left broth cook for multiple days in the crock pot because I forgot I had made it. I drop stuff alot, spill things often, and cut my finger tips fairy frequently (I have a healing finger as I type).
Combine this with the countless challenges of working outside the realm of "regular" recipes, with all those gluten free, dairy free, egg free, etc etc etc substitutions and tweaks and changes? We have more potential for disaster. I've created frostings that are more like wallpaper paste than food (see below). I've made baked goods ranging in texture from hockey puck to sponge to gerbil cage bedding. I've begrudgingly thrown away disturbing amounts of money in failed baked goods. I've sheepishly fed strange desserts to obliging friends. Ah yes, such is the life of an experimental cook.
But let's be real: Lyme or no Lyme, kitchen disasters happen to everyone. The more you cook, the more opportunity you have to screw up, because the more time you spend doing it. It's like driving. If you're driving all day long, you have more opportunity to get hit by another driver, because you're simply on the road more and in contact with more drivers! But when you add a twist of forgetfulness/brain fog, twitchy clumsiness, and the challenges of a restricted diet, you have a formula for wildly amusing (and sometimes dangerous) kitchen follies.
No, not everything is a victory. I screw stuff up like anybody else.
Inspired by this post from Gina at Gluten Free Gourmand, I started documenting some of my favorite follies. Here are a handful of my most memorable kitchen disasters from the last 6 months. I think these photos probably speak for themselves, but never one to be short on commentary, I'll share a little about each one. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I wish I had taken more photos of all my disasters and culinary shenanigans!
DISASTER #1: COCONUT FROSTING A.K.A. WALLPAPER PASTE/CAULK/SILLY PUTTY
Don't try thickening coconut milk and blended cashews with a ton of tapioca starch and think you'll ever get usable frosting. What resulted was a thick, greasy paste that reminded me of the bastard child of Silly Putty and Gak, and I had to play with it. Then it wouldn't wash off my hands or out of the pot - it took intense scrubbing. I think it could have been used to caulk a bathtub, adhere wallpaper, or lay bricks. My entire family, myself included, experienced both awe and horror. This stuff was unreal.
DISASTER #2: PUMPKIN WAFFLES
Chasing a dream for spicy and sweet pumpkin waffles, I strayed from my failure-proof waffle formula, and was punished. Yikes. Thankfully, the rest of the batter made excellent pancakes, so it was kind of a blessing in disguise. But the clean up from this disaster was horrible. Thank god for a waffle iron with removable plates, my goodness.
DISASTER #3: CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
The batter was amazing, rich and flavorful. They looked beautiful cooling in the muffin tin. Then I tried removing one, and it crumbled on contact. I managed to keep a few of them in one piece from the tin, but they crumbled when I tried to transfer them from the cooling rack to the storage container. Dust. It was insane, they couldn't be moved without absolutely falling apart.
What happened? I got a little cocky, and neglected to add binder of any kind to this recipe. Foolish.
Disaster #4: Baked Baby Bok Choy
Mistake 1: thinking that baking bok choy with basil was a good idea. It is not.
Mistake 2: going all Lyme brain and leaving it cook for about 1 1/2 hours, despite setting a timer.
This was terrible. Wilty, floppy, grey, watery. The basil took on this terrible sharp, bitter flavor, and the water reminded me of a putrid swamp. Vegetables prepared like this is what make people afraid of eating vegetables. Blech. I felt terrible for making such an absolute waste of such beautiful baby bok choy!
AND FINALLY, THE ULTIMATE DISASTER, WHAT WE'VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR...
DISASTER #5: SUNFLOWER COCONUT FLOUR MUFFINS, A.K.A THE INCREDIBLE COLOR-CHANGING POISONOUS MUFFINS OF DOOM
See that green color? That was not intentional.
This was a failure on so many levels. I was trying to make something high-protein and low-carb like Elena does with almond flour and coconut flour, but using sunflower seed meal and no eggs. Good idea, terrible execution. I had such hope for them, but upon removing them from the muffin tin knew it was a failure. Still curious, I ate one, and my suspicions were completely confirmed. There was WAY too much flax, they had a weird flavor, and a horrible texture that never set up.
I was even more disappointed when I started feeling kind of sick about 15 minutes later - itchy eyes, headache, congested sinuses, queasy stomach, sore throat. Yuck, I felt awful. What was going on? When I returned to the kitchen a short time later to throw away the failed muffins, I was greeted by a disturbing and mysterious DARK GREEN color. Baked goods should never be this color. Ever. It was the most bizarre thing I'd ever seen, they had literally changed color within an hour of being removed from the oven.
My theory? My coconut flour was probably rancid, and the heat of the oven made some kind of mold bloom. In my hasty curiosity, I ate one of my fresh muffins before this strange chemical reaction showed itself; the deceptive little jerk of a muffin tricked me.
I irrationally contemplated making myself throw up upon discovering the disturbing color change, but decided to let the moldy muffin run its course through my body instead. And consequently, felt ill all night. Gross. Totally creepy. I couldn't make muffins for WEEKS.
Okay, so that's all for now. More kitchen disasters to come in the future, I'm sure. Happy cooking!
In regards to the color changing muffins -
One of my readers shared an interesting link with me that explains why sunflowers turn your baked goods GREEN! This article relates specifically to Sunbutter, but I imagine the same holds true for any cookies containing large quantities of sunflower. Apparently, when the naturally occurring chlorophyll in sunflower seeds is exposed to baking soda, a reaction occurs that makes it turn green! Amazing! Here is the link: http://www.ochef.com/1267.htm
This also explains why my Sunflower Butter Coconut Cookies turned green quickly! I thought it was so strange that they turned green when they still tasted good - this explains why!
So, bakers, beware: sunflower seeds react with baking soda, and can turn your baked goods green!
A big thanks to Kathy for this awesome information!