Waiting for my book deal

20 05 2012

How is it that my blog never got picked for a book deal or movie rights?  Oh yeah, because nobody reads it.  Their loss, this stuff is hysterical.  I was going to send this story in an email to my sister but it’s so awesome I’ve got to tell everybody.

The CSA started  back up a couple weeks ago and we’ve got turnips.  Not a whole lot, but there’s turnips.  Honestly I don’t know what to do with turnips at all, so I went hunting.  I found a few interesting recipes on Cooking Light, so I chose this one:

Turnip-Parsnip Gratin

We had no parsnips, so Karen went to the store and bought the sorriest looking parsnips I’ve ever seen.  You make do with what you’ve got, right?  So Sunday comes and it’s time for some barbecue.  We’re going to make some steaks, some chicken thighs, potatoes, and the gratin.  While the coals are heating up I get out the turnips and parsnips and begin peeling them.  Karen asks “What should I use to slice the veggies?”  and my answer should have been THE KNIFE.  But the recipe says to use the mandoline, and we’ve got a mandoline, and we haven’t used the mandoline for several years so I say “Use the Mandoline.”

What happens when someone uses a mandoline for the first time in three years?  They go to the emergency room, that’s what.  Almost immediately Karen slices off a large part of her thumb.  It’s still attached, but she needs stitches.  She needs to drive herself so I can stay home with the kids, reassuring them that Mommy’s okay.    So she goes into the bathroom to rinse her hand and get ready to go.  In the meantime I grab the parsnips and say to myself “I’ll finish the job, but I’ll be careful.  Not like Karen.”  Almost immediately I slice off a piece of the palm of my hand.  You know, the meaty part by your thumb?  Yeah, sliced it right off, no flap or anything.  I grab the towel recently put down by Karen and apply pressure.  It’s not bleeding too bad, unless I, you know, release the pressure.

At this point Karen comes out of the bathroom and sees me sitting there with a sheepish look on my face.  I show her the wound.  There is nothing to stitch; mine sliced clean off.  So Karen goes to the ER.  I have the presence of mind to tell her not to drive the new car, so she doesn’t drip blood all over it. From my first aid training and I know that you’re supposed to apply pressure to a wound to stop bleeding.  So I grab a rag and a ace bandage and wrap my thumb/hand/wrist as tight as I can and still move my fingers.

While Karen is gone I finish the gratin; it’s already cost us a pound of flesh, I’m making it for dinner dammit.  The potatoes were already in the oven and the coals were hot by this point so I put the steaks on the grill and finished making the gratin.  For the kids I ordered a pizza.  Karen came home with a very professional looking bandage.  Mine, not so much.

Karen told me “The doctor poked the flap with a needle to see if it was still viable.”  After several convulsions I asked her WHY DID YOU TELL ME THAT?

The gratin was excellent.  In case you’re wondering (and I know you are) we used fontanella cheese.

 





Doing the impossible

27 01 2011

My annual Super Bowl post is coming very soon.  For an opening act I thought I’d showcase once again why this blog is called Mark Ruins Dinner.

If you’re like me (and why wouldn’t you be?) you purchase convenience food at the grocery store because it’s quick and impossible to ruin.  You may have even asked yourself “How could you possibly wreck a frozen pizza?”  Here’s your answer.

The boys had some friends over so I thought getting a couple frozen pizzas would be an easy dinner that everyone would eat.  So I got one cheese and one pepperoni and put them in the oven at the same time.  After 17 minutes we checked on them.  At this point Karen said to me “Why did you put one right above the other?  You’re supposed to stagger them so the crusts cook properly.”  She couldn’t have told me that at the beginning.  Besides, I’m the homemade pizza guy now.  Anyway, we moved them apart so that the top pizza crust would cook, but it wasn’t that easy.  You see, the crust on the top one had started sagging through the oven rack.  But we did our best and moved it over.  But then Karen decided it would be a good idea to turn it, so that it would stop sagging.  In the process she ripped a hole in the middle of the pizza:

That’s the cheese dripping through the middle of the pizza.  I quickly got it out before it opened up like a black hole.  We had a heck of a time getting it out of the oven, but the boys ate it just fine.  Karen said it looked like a belly button.  I don’t think that’s a good thing for a pizza.

This doesn’t bode well for my Super Bowl pick.





So THAT’S why your blog is called that….

8 11 2010

I get asked a lot “Your cooking looks really good, why is your blog called Mark Ruins Dinner?”  Here’s your answer.

I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post.  There are barely any words to describe what happened today, let alone pictures.  I shall do my best.

We’ve been busy lately.  Like, too busy to cook.  So Karen’s been going crazy on the weekends to make enough food for us to eat all week.  This weekend she asked if I would help her out on Sunday morning while she got caught up at work.  I obliged, of course, for who in the world can mess up a pot roast?

Karen even gave me a recipe as a starting point.  “This looks really good,” she says.  “Just follow the instructions and it will be great!”  I admit, it looked like a great meal.  A sirloin tip roast braised slowly in the Crock-Pot.  Some nice root veggies in there and everything.  And Guinness.

I gotta be honest.  We’re not beer drinkers.  We don’t have any Guinness in the house.  We still had a Coors Light in our cupboards from two Thanksgivings ago, when we had company.  We still had some Miller Light from last Thanksgiving.  Karen had bought a six-pack of Bud this summer to make beer can chicken with.  That’s all we had in the house.

The recipe was called Beef and Guinness Stew and it’s from Cooking Light magazine.  I think.  Karen told me all about it, but I guess I wasn’t listening.  She left it on her computer and I glanced at it, but only to look at the list of ingredients.  I did look briefly at the instructions, but only to see when to add the beer, and how much.  How about I just go through the instructions and tell you what I did instead?

Step 1: Cut the beef into 1-inch cubes. Wow.  I never even saw this bit.  I ignored it completely, leaving the roast as one big lump of meat.

Step 2: Use 1 bottle of Guinness Draught. As stated before, we didn’t have any.  In fact, I even forgot about the Budweiser and used the year-old Miller Light instead.

Step 3: Use 4 cups of beef broth. Really?  Where did this come from?  I just saw that right now for the first time.  Maybe I didn’t look at the ingredients as well as I’d thought.

Stop laughing.

Step 4: After sautéing the onions, stir in the tomato paste. I knew this was coming, I just plum forgot about it.  You ever have one of those days?  Yeah, my mind really was somewhere else this morning.

At this point I chopped up some celery, carrots, and potatoes and put everything into the Crock-Pot.  I switched it on, blew it a kiss, and went about my day.  Later that evening I’m at the store and I get a call from Karen.  “Did you reduce the heat on the Crock-Pot to Warm just now?”

No.  I hadn’t.  I had put everything in the slow cooker and turned the dial one click to the left.  Once again, I wasn’t paying attention.  Now, from my food handling class all those years ago I am aware that for 8 hours my beef roast had been lovingly kept at just the right temperature to encourage bacteria to grow.  I didn’t put dinner in the slow cooker; I put an agar in an incubator.  So yeah, after 8 hours it was still raw.  Karen told me “I tasted it, so why don’t we wait until tomorrow and see if I get sick before we throw it away?”

Uh huh.

The best part is this.  It was a pot roast.  That’s dinner for three days in our house.  So I didn’t just ruin dinner.  I ruined dinner for the week.

So, after a lengthy hiatus, it’s good to be back.





An embarrassment

23 02 2010

When I’m cooking I talk like my favorite TV food personalities.  My top three are Padma Alton Brown, Mario Batali, and Gordon Ramsay.  So I’m one part food science, one part food history, and one part swearing.  This time it was mostly swearing.

I love soup.  Soup in the winter is an absolute must, and we tend to do it a lot.  Karen got me some soup cookbooks and we’d done a good bit of experimenting, but as is our habit we developed some favorites tended to stick with them.  One such dish is a cream of broccoli soup that even the kids like.  I’ve made it so much that I don’t even need the cookbook any more.  But this time I decided to make some changes to it.

My first change came when I asked myself “If this is a vegetable soup, why am I using chicken stock?”  Now, the answer to that question is simply that the recipe tells me to.  Also we found some very good store brand chicken stocks and we use them with great success.  But I wanted a vegetarian soup for some reason this week so I bought some store brand vegetable stock.  (It was College Inn, in case you were wondering.)

What I didn’t know was that Karen had a quart of homemade veggie stock in the freezer.

I knew I was in trouble the minute I started pouring the stock into the pot.  It seems that in making this stock they use some tomato trimmings or whatnot, giving the stock a red hue.  Doing some math in my head I came up with the following equation:

Red Vegetable Stock + Green Broccoli & Leeks = Brown Soup

I knew that the instant I put the stick blender in this soup I’d be witness to something very unappetizing.  And I wasn’t disappointed.

My next failure came when I went to add the dairy to the soup.  It is a cream soup after all, and the recipe calls for half and half.  And I had bought half and half especially for this soup.  Unfortunately I’d used it all up in my coffee that week.  So in went whole milk.

Yeah.  That’s what I said too.

I’m ashamed to say that I fed it to my kids and told them that it was the same as the nice green soup I usually make, except it’s brown and it’s still good.  They didn’t buy it.  It looked like swamp water and, what’s worse, it was gritty when you did try to eat it.  I still don’t know where all that grit came from; I washed those leeks thoroughly. I could only eat half a bowl, then I decided to strain the rest and “fix” it.  That only made it worse.  After straining it looked more vile than before.  You should be glad I didn’t take any pictures; it would ruin your appetite for days.





My colonoscopy

19 05 2008

If you want to stop now, Karen has a wonderful post about Ben on her blog You’ll probably enjoy that a lot more anyway.

The love of my life has betrayed me. I tried everything, but she won’t stop hurting me, causing me anguish and agony. But since my love knows no bounds, I was willing to endure even more torture and humiliation to save our relationship. Such is my love affair with coffee. It’s like coffee was trying to get rid of me, pawn me off on the toilet or something.

And it wasn’t just coffee. I was developing sensitivities to some of my favorite foods, so I visited the local GI specialist, fearing what he would say. My fears were confirmed. He said two things. “Don’t drink coffee” and “colonoscopy.”

The first thing everyone tells you who’s been through this is that the procedure is the easy part. After that bowel prep you won’t care what else happens to you, it’ll be a walk in the park by comparison. This did little to raise my spirits as I prepared mentally for the task at hand. The torture device that you self-administer is a beverage called HalfLytely, which comes in its own two liter bottle. From what I hear this was a replacement for the old drink called GoLytely (this was 4 liters), which may be the most inaccurately named product ever. There is nothing light about how you go, trust me. So the self torture device comes in three flavors: Yuck, Nasty, and Puke. The good news is that it doesn’t color the liquid any. But everywhere you look you read DRINK THE ENTIRE CONTENTS OF THE BOTTLE!!!!!!!!! If there’s one thing I didn’t want, it was to have to do this again, so I drank the whole thing.

The next morning I went to the doctor’s and I was greeted with the same question by everyone I saw. “How did the bowel prep go?” Shitty, how do you think it went? Does anyone say “Great! I haven’t had a good purge in years. Can I have another one next month?” My loving and supportive wife brought along a camera to preserve this event forever. I’m surprised that she didn’t bring a camcorder.

Go ahead, take another picture

Now that we’re on the flipside, Karen probably wishes that she had brought a camcorder. The procedure itself was nothing to talk about. That is, because I don’t remember a thing. But Karen remembers how much talking I did when I was coming out of it. I’m not sure what was in that white stuff he injected into my veins, but I’m willing to bet it was veritaserum or some other drug that makes you spill your guts and air your laundry. Thank God there was no court stenographer in the room or I’d probably be posting this from a federal prison or something. But I really was in a good mood when I came out of it.

Can I have some more

The doctor said “Mark, I’ve done a lot of endoscopies and nobody talks as much as you did.” Karen was mortified to hear the embarrassing things I was saying in the recovery room with a bunch of old people well within earshot. Maybe this is why my sister tries to get me drunk every time we visit.