Sunday, September 09, 2007

Business as usual around here

It's been a while since I shared any stories of my domestic shortfalls and culinary ineptitude. Perhaps you thought that was because the bizarre and uncharacteristic cooking streak I somehow fell into last spring had actually stuck and I was now whipping up souffles and ceviches and other things that I'd actually have to Google in order to define. If you thought that, you would be wrong, my friends. In fact, my fridge has looked much like this for the past month or more. This time, however, I don't even have grapes on hand. The closest thing to fruit in my fridge at the moment is the expired strawberry yogurt hanging out on the bottom shelf. I don't really even remember the last time I ate anything that came from the produce department. I'm back to counting on red wine to ward off scurvy. Hello, Internets. My name is Stefanie, and I am a certified grown-up.

That's why I'm so baffled as to just what got into me yesterday. I needed to make a dish to pass for the girls-night-in bachelorette party I was attending, and rather than rely on any of my simple stand-bys (7-layer bars, box of brownie mix, three-ingredient cherry crisp), I went to the Internet for recipes. The guest of honor is trying to ban wheat from her life, so I Googled "wheat-free dessert recipes" looking for something she might like. I have made brownies from scratch before, so I'm not so shocked that I decided on a no-wheat brownie recipe. What shocks me is that I made that recipe without even going to the grocery store. People, I made from-scratch brownies with things I had on hand! Maybe that's not so out-of-the-ordinary to some of you, but a Pioneer woman I am not. I can't even believe I had eggs in my house, much less unsweetened cocoa powder. The cocoa powder, by the way, I substituted for the carob powder that was actually called for. I also substituted some sugar for the 1/4-cup of honey I was short. Oh, and also, I made my own oat flour. I MADE MY OWN OAT FLOUR!! You don't even have to be impressed by that; I'm astonished enough for the both of us. In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that at the bottom of the recipe was a note saying if I didn't have oat flour, I could make it myself by grinding up uncooked oatmeal in a blender or food processor. So that is what I did. I just can't believe it actually worked. Or, rather, that it seemed to have worked. I've never actually seen oat flour before, so I have no idea if mine looked anything like it's supposed to look.

The brownies themselves, actually, might not have looked at all like they're supposed to look. I'm not well-versed in wheat-free ways, and while my wheat-shunning, soon-to-be-married friend Amy said they were delicious and didn't seem put-off by the bizarre bubbly edges and the sunken, gooey middle, my faithful friend Carrie countered with, "I don't know, Stef. They look wheat-free." So the oat flour brownies may not have been as big a hit as the Better Than Sex cake that someone else brought, but I was proud of myself, anyway.

I was also proud of the frugal handiwork I demonstrated in assembling Amy's bag of gifts for the night. As I mentioned on Friday, Carrie and I went to a local sex shoppe (as it's an extra-classy place, it deserves the two-p's-and-an-e spelling) for some fun presents to bring the bachelorette. I almost grabbed a ridiculously overpriced blindfold to go with the feather-on-a-stick toy we had chosen, when Carrie said, "Can't you just make a blindfold?" Why yes. Yes I can, actually. And 47 cents worth of fabric and about a half hour of my time later, I had. I think I'm on a roll, people. What great challenge can I take on next?

Speaking of challenges, my pal Liz recently met one I posed a while ago. Remember my futile attempt to find a tie-on towel for my kitchen? Yesterday, I received this in the mail as a delayed response to that post.

It's a bit less, um, subtle than the one I was looking to replace, but screen-printed cocktails with umbrellas in them always say "Class," don't they? Apparently, Liz agrees.

(Thanks, Liz. I KNEW I told you you rock for a reason! Consider this one more.)


Anonymous said...

I don't know, the oat brownies looked pretty delicious to me. And props to you for whipping up your own oat flour- I think that might have put me off the whole recipe! Maybe we can strike up some sort of trade: I'll send you Chris when you need to buy a new car, and you can send him back with delicious baked goods.


-R- said...

Nice job, Liz!

I am impressed that you made your own flour. And that you had all the ingredients on hand. I do have a relatively well-stocked fridge, but no cocoa (or carob) powder. Do you thing you could substitute a Swiss Miss packet for that?

lizgwiz said...

I KNEW you would appreciate the subtle beauty of the tropical cocktail towel. It was that or a fish and shell motif, and really, how tacky would that be? Hee.

I am impressed with your pantry. I couldn't come close to making any sort of brownie with the current contents of mine. I am good on the produce, however. (Guess that comes with the vegetarian territory.)

Carolyn said...

If I had seen oat flour, I would have run screaming for the hills. Man, I really need to get a blender. Two weeks ago, I made brownies and accidentally used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. They just took twice as long to bake, but still came out kinda okay.

As a comment to your fridge photo, why is it that we go through such great lengths to save paint rollers? I'm sure I have some from a year and a half ago sitting wrapped in plastic somewhere. They are like $1.49 a piece. Why do we keep them?

L Sass said...

Move over, gluten-free Martha Stewart! Yum. Now I want a brownie, too.

That tie-on towel is classy AND useful!

3carnations said...

The towel by mail reminds me of a chain type thing I was sent one time. You send one person a kitchen towel, then take their name off the list, move the first person up, put your name second, send it to 6 people. In theory, you would receive 36 kitchen towels. I received one. I'm not sure what I would have done with 36 of them, but really, it would have been cool to get them in the mail. I could have regifted them or something...Or had enough towels to last forever!

Stefanie said...

NPW--That sounds like a great deal to me! :-)

R--Ha! I was already doing way more substituting than I felt comfortable with, but that definitely would have been an amusing add-on to the experiment.

Liz--I'm definitely more into cocktails than fish and shells. Good call.

Carolyn--It wasn't so much that I was saving the paint roller, but that I saw no point in wasting another one for the last coat of paint. I promise; it's not like I was going to wash and reuse it or something. (Actually, I tried that once. Sorry, Al Gore, but it was totally not worth it.)

L Sass--I know; yay Liz, right? :-)

3Cs--That reminds me... My sister sent me some stupid lottery ticket chain letter the other day. I really should send it back to her, because I have no intention on inflicting it on my friends, and I wouldn't feel right taking the cash if the ticket she sent me was actually a winner.

don't call me MA'AM said...

I, too, am impressed with the cocoa powder. We never have ingredients for fun recipes... always end up with a trip to the grocery store.

Your fridge looks like ours. In fact, ours is only a tiny bit better because the original fridge broke, thus forcing us to clean everything out and transfer to a new fridge. It's amazing, the things one finds way in the back. Amazing. And scary.

Whiskeymarie said...

I, as a "professional" am amazed at your fearlessness with recipes. Seriously. I have students that would curl up into a ball, crying, if I asked them to try and make substitutions, nevermind making something gluten-free.

metalia said...

There are so many things that I want to comment on, but...YOU MADE YOUR OWN OAT FLOUR. I'm so impressed that it's all I can focus on.