I invited Zo to go on a walk by the river for our first date for two reasons:
1. During the winter months the Truckee river can be absolutely stunning.
2. My Town home was right next to the river.
I scheduled our walk right around lunch time in the hope she'd be hungry and I'd be able to invite her in for lunch. I'd planned out what was suppose to be a vegetarian friendly, imported mushroom white cheese sauce over pasta that would impress her.
We walked and I talked getting more and more jittery as we closed in on my place. I just didn't know if I would have the nerve to ask her. I mean wouldn't it be creepy for me to ask a girl to follow me into my place on our first date? What if she said no? What would I do?
Every step the ever pressing need to ask her before it was to late tied my tongue even more. Finally I spurted out, "That's my place over there, want to stop in and get a glass of water or something, maybe I could make is some lunch." I know, super smooth!
She said yes and after getting her a drink I when straight to whipping up lunch. It was all smelling so great, the garlic and onions accompanied by seasonings and 5 different types of mushrooms all sauteed in some white truffle oil. I turned down the heat add some cream and cheese and CLUMP! Everything started to clump together... What was happening? I had the flame just right the cheese should be melting. Shouldn't it? This was about the time I realized I'd purchased fat free cheese. Everyone knows better than to use fat free cheese for most anything other than ruining good food!
I frantically tried to save the dish, frantically failed that is. I gave it up and in the trash lunch went. I heated up some leftovers and kept babbling about how I was an idiot and I was sorry I ruined lunch. But a strange thing happened. She wanted to hang out the next week! And it was the next week that the Cooking for Zo promise was born.
During my early teens I had a few dessert cooking creation successes. My chocolate mousse with a rum whipped topping, cinnamon pumpkin pie and German Chocolate rum balls were all huge hits. I even had some success with New York style cheese cakes of different sorts. I got the bright idea to mix two of my favorite things, Cheesecake and Bananas.
I decided to try pureeing 2 bananas into the cream cheese mixture before baking. Little did I realize that the bananas when surrounded by liquid would turn to goo. And I do not mean caramelized tasted goo but yellow and brown snot goo that made the cheesecake very unstable. I kept testing the cheesecake over and over with a butter knife in the center but it was not hardening. Finally I decided it had to be done!
I took the cheesecake out o the oven popped the spring form pan and the cake oozed out everywhere in a big glob. My dad walked by and said, "Guess we won't be eating that..." and walked away. I decided to brave the snotty goop and taste the monstrosity that was suppose to be a delicious dessert. It tasted... OK. The consistency was so gross though that I had to spit it out in the garbage. I have never tried creating a banana cheesecake again but if I ever do I will be putting banana slices on the top after the cheesecake is mostly baked!
Several years ago, I was house and teenage sister sitting for my parents. I decided to whip up some dinner as my sister watched some TV in the living room. I grabbed a kitchen hand towel (my preferred hot mitt prior to this incident) and laid it next to the stove. I'd not used my parents new gas stove yet and was trying to figure out how it lit?!? I kept turning the gas on but couldn't for the life of me get the thing to light. Finally after filling the kitchen with fumes I pressed the right button and POOF it lit with a big explosion of flame.
I started sauteing some onions and mushrooms for a marinara I had in mind, I picked up the hand towel and folded it in half to move the skillet. Unlike my kitchen towels at home it had two little tassels that were used to tie it onto drawer handles and what knot. As I moved the skillet off the lit burner one of the tassels fell into the flame and caught aflame. This resulted in my thinking some as I tossed the fireball of a hand towel towards the kitchen sink. In my rushed attempt to throw the towel into the kitchen sink I forgot that I've horrible throwing accuracy and the towel went straight towards the curtains above the sink. They too caught fire as I though more (expletive deletedes)!!!
About this time I thought two things; I need to run and my parents are going to kill me. The second thought I knew I had to put the fire out but I also knew I'd better be quiet because there is only one thing worse than setting your parents house on fire. Having your little sister call your parents and report that while watching their home you set it aflame. Thus making you far less responsible than they may have previously tried to believe you were. Almost as importantly you don't want your little sister to have something to hold over your head.
I quickly grabbed another kitchen towel, turned on the kitchen sink water, ran the towel under the water and started flailing away uncontrollably at the fire covered area and pretty much everything else.
I had a brilliant idea about the time same time my sister asked, “Is something burning?”
I yelled back towards the living room, “Oh Its just the mushrooms burning is all,” and grabbed my great idea! The kitchen sink spray nozzle! I started a two pronged flailing of wet towel, random spraying of water attack!
As the flames died away I started feeling rather proud of myself. I had not run away, I had put out the flames with no prior firefighter training, and my sister a mere 15 feet away was totally clueless of it all! I admired my handiwork; the burned kitchen towel, the toasted curtains, the black burned wall around the curtains and a good 1'x3' area on the ceiling. All this could have been worse if this now unofficial firefighter had not been there! I was a hero of the kitchen fire of 2001... Now I just had to figure out how I was going to hide that fact!
I knew two things: I was in trouble if I couldn't keep it a secret and I shouldn't have spent the money my parents left for emergencies (much like this one) on stupid things with my sister.
The rest of the night I treated my sister ever so nice, bringing her food to her, filling her glass, doing her dishes, anything to keep her far away from the kitchen. She FINALLY went to bed and I assessed the damage once more with my check book in hand!
I went to the nearest Wal-Mart, bought some Kilz and the closest paint I could find to match the color of the kitchen. I kilzed and painted the kitchen into the wee morning knowing I only had 24 more hours till my parents return. The problem with fresh paint… the smell!!! I made sure to keep all the windows open with fans running to not only to try to let the room air out but to keep the smell from reaching my sisters room. To better hide the smell and color difference between the kitchen and dinning room area I cleaned all the walls with cleaning solution. Man was the kitchen looking good! It was finally time for sleep... but wait!!! I needed matching curtains but the curtain rod was salvageable!
My sister was up bright and early as always and asked, “Where are the curtains and why does it smells so weird?” I explained that I couldn't sleep, so I decide to clean up the kitchen nice for Mom and Dad. And the curtains? Well I of course was washing them!?! After she headed off, I headed to a few home stores and found curtains that matched my parents pretty well and finished off the kitchen! I sprayed too much smell good spray, cooked some very heavy smelling stir fry and hoped it would all hide the smell of paint.
My parents got home and while they were suspicious of how clean everything was they didn't pry too much. All was well and good, that is until a couple of years ago when I told my parents about the whole incident. My dad said I was smart to lie and my mom said she had thought it was rather strange for me to go so above and beyond cleaning the kitchen for them.
What did I learn from this adventure? Use a hot pad, don't spend the emergency money left by your parents and most of all don't set your parents house on fire!