And the Oscar goes to…

Definitely not the roast chicken I made last night! Last night’s dinner was a clunker. The roast chicken was a little too salty and dry, the gravy was a lumpy disaster, and the garlic mashed potatoes with goat cheese didn’t seem to get anyone excited. I was so underwhelmed with dinner, I found myself struggling to even eat it. Last night also happened to be Oscar night, and as I was watching the drama unfold on the red carpet, I started thinking about how home-cooking is a little bit like the best and worst dressed on Oscar night.

For example, last night’s dinner should have been great. I’ve made it many, many times before, but for some reason last night it fell flat. Yes, it was edible, but no one will be talking about that roast chicken two weeks from now. It reminded me of Angelina Jolie’s dress last night. It wasn’t horrible or anything, because let’s be honest, it’s really hard for Angelina to look bad.

But the leg notwithstanding, who’s really going to remember this dress? When I think of Angelina, I think show-stopper. Remember this?

Yes, I’m comparing Angelina to roast chicken. Because it’s something you expect to always be good, so when it’s not, you feel doubly disappointed.

Not all my kitchen exploits leave such a bitter taste of disappointment. On occasion I can really wow the audience! A few years ago, my mother-in-law was in town for her birthday. So I decided to cook her a celebratory birthday dinner. That night we had pan-roasted salmon with a lemon-rosemary butter sauce, artichoke risotto (with FRESH artichokes, which I only mention because using fresh artichokes is a pain in the ass!) and grilled asparagus. And for dessert, I whipped out a chocolate cake with cinnamon-caramel ganache. I’ll be honest (if not exactly humble) and tell you that the meal was spectacular. And when I say spectacular, I’m talking Michelle Williams spectacular.

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She’s pulled off my two favorite Oscar looks EVER. I’m also partial to Michelle Williams because of my past obsession with Dawson’s Creek. But seriously, there’s no disputing the fact that when it comes to the Oscars, Michelle Williams isn’t just stunning, she’s memorable!

And finally, as it goes with Oscar dresses, so too it goes in the kitchen. Some things are just complete, unmitigated disasters. I will own up to the fact that I have turned out some un-edible eats during my years in the kitchen. They are fewer and farther between than they once were, but still memorable in their own right. You see where I’m going with this, I know you do. Who can forget Bjork’s swan (ostritch?) dress?

Bjork donned this um, ‘memorable’ dress in 2001, and I don’t think anyone has forgotten it! Much like one of the first meals I cooked for Scott soon after we got married (almost 15 years ago). I made chicken picatta that long ago night. There were so many things wrong with that meal, I hardly know where to start. Ultimately though, it boiled down (literally) to the lemons. I was not aware at the time that my husband had a strong aversion to anything citrusy in his food. However, I love all citrus, especially when it makes an appearance in my food. I’ll throw some lemon zest on anything and think it’s delicious. But I digress. This particular recipe seemed to call for an inordinate amount of lemon, sliced whole and added to the sauce. I think there were also some capers involved that I may have forgotten to rinse. And finally, there was the sheer amount of food I cooked. A whole 16oz box of spaghetti. Six whole chicken breasts. I know there were only two of us eating that night but hey… it’s what the recipe called for. When we finally sat down for dinner, we each took a bite and immediately spit it out. That picatta wasn’t just lemony, it was completely bitter. And inedible. So inedible, that six chicken breasts and a whole box of spaghetti ended up in the garbage. Awful, yet very memorable!

Despite what you might think, I’m not always trying to cook up an “Oscar-Worthy” meal. Most nights I’m lucky to get a decent, healthy meal on the table. Like tonight, I’ve been so wrapped up in my Oscar dress metaphors that I forgot to cook dinner completely! So by the time we get home from swim practice tonight, I think the best I’ll be able to do is to trot out old-reliable: breakfast for dinner. It’s not a show-stopper, but I know everyone will like it!

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