Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Domesticity: I've Heard of It. In Books...

Let's cut to the chase - I'm about as domesticated as a pair of bull testicles.

It's true. Sure, my house is mostly clean and there isn't any weird life-forms growing on my kitchen counters (I can't say the same for my refrigerator) but as far as doing... household-y stuff, I'm a bit of a fail.

More or less what my fridge looks like. The mold is somewhere in there...

Take cooking, for example. I have these awesome cookbooks that just kind of gather dust on a high shelf in the kitchen because I can't be bothered to cook. If ML didn't frown upon having spoonfuls of peanut butter for dinner every night, I probably would never prepare a meal.

That being said, I'm actually trying to change my mentality about cooking these days. I've discovered that pretty much anything tastes good if you throw it in some chicken broth and call it a soup. I no longer dry heave the entire time I'm handling raw chicken and I've learned that hot sauce is a bad chef's best friend, especially if you're totally fine with your food searing off layers of your mouth with every bite.

 The only spice I need.

Frankly, with some of the meals I've made lately, taste buds are definitely not necessary. Possibly even detrimental.

This year I'm hosting Christmas dinner for my family, which means I have to actually cook something reasonably edible. Deciding to embrace this fact--and realizing that corn chips and salsa is not considered "dinner" food-- I've been poring over recipes online. I found this one and decided to give it a try, because it seemed so unusual. I mean, slow-cooked ham? I've never heard of cooking an eight pound slab of ham in a crock pot! There may have been a good reason for this...

I also had the wherewithal to realize there was a high potential of the recipe tasting absolutely fucking disgusting. Rather than unleash the possible tastebud-murdering recipe on my family, I decided to invite my friends over for a little dinner guinea-pigging session.

In my defense, I did warn my test subjects that the ham they would be served could possibly taste like utter shit. Nevertheless, for some reason they were game. Eager, even.


The day of the meal, I knew I was in over my head the moment I began to wrestle the ham into the crock pot and fill it up with apple cider. It became immediately apparent that removing the ham once it was cooked without sending a tidal wave of boiling hot apple cider all over myself and the counter would be... tricky.


Things took a turn for the worse when ML announced that the ham smelled like "mulled wine or potpourri." I halfheartedly defended my ham and insisted that cinnamon, cloves and pig was an awesome, flavorful combination.

Ten minutes before everyone showed up, I finally tasted my ham.

It wasn't good. I served it anyway.

Even the Full-Size Edwards look totally fucking disgusted.

I managed to swallow down a few bites of the ham before I surrendered and admitted it was akin to chewing on a piece of leather potpourri. Snarkier Than You agreed with me, but in a much more mature and polite fashion. Ironically, Mr. Snarky and OPattz were eating it with great gusto, which was a bit surprising to me.

ML was just thankful he's a vegetarian.

Despite the total fail of the meal, it was still great to have an excuse to get a bunch of people together on a Sunday night. Yes, the ham tasted like fruity shoe leather but no one threw up on my floor so I'll consider a success.

 It tasted like this but smothered with cinnamon and grossness.

I've decided that I'm just going to serve a boring old ham for my holiday dinner. They can be disastrous enough in their own right for the cooking-challenged. But better to be safe than sorry. At least, in this instance.

Have you ever had any meal disasters? Served half-cooked turkey? Set the ziti on fire when someone important is coming to dinner? Or do you play it safe and just order in?

Also, anyone have a good spiral ham recipe? Preferably one that doesn't involve a slow-cooker and a bouquet of fragrant spices?


  1. Find a good glaze recipe on Google. Follow those instructions, but add a can of 7UP (or similar soda) to the pan in which you cook the ham before you put it in the oven.

  2. That picture of the ham potpourri (hampourri) in the crockpot really almost made me toss my cookies. Let us never, ever speak of this again.

  3. Brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon mixed in pineapple juice. Nom Nom

  4. I can't cook meat..unless it comes in the shape of a nugget. I make amazing cookies, so if cookies take over dinner as the main dish, I'm your girl.

  5. Stud the ham with whole cloves (like a dozen or so), Slap on some pineapple slices. Save a bit of the juice, mix brown sugar, some whole grain mustard (make sure it's not hot mustard or too spicy) and the pineapple just until it's like a paste and slap it all over the ham. Cook at erm 325 is for several hours.

    I made a slow cooker cauliflower chickpea curry that smelt like wet socks, so don't feel too bad about a fucked up slow cooker recipe. My best fuck ups in the kitchen always seem to involved sweet potatoes. I burnt a sweet potato soup so badly that there was about 2 inches of carbon on the bottom of the pot. It took 3 days, constant soaking, 2 lbs of baking soda and three scrubbing sponges to get my pot back. And then I did that same thing about 6 months ago. Same soup, same pot.

  6. I used a 1/2 ham (spiral), and put it in the over open slice down w/ a brown sugar/mustard rub. DELICIOUS!! Make sure to tent w/ foil to keep it moist.
    I buy bulk dry spices and mixed up oregano and basil. I put 1/2 cup "basil" in my crocked spaghetti sauce. TOTAL. DISGUSTING. FAIL.

  7. Ah sister! A few spoonfulls of peanut butter. That happens to be what I had for dinner tonight.

    If you want to serve ham, get a HoneyBaked ham, warm it just enough to knock the chill off [don't dry it out by trying to "cook" it again.] It's freakin' ham. It's already been cooked.

    Also, I've had great success with the Purdue turkeys that have already been cooked. (Ask at the deli counter at the Acme - only available around the holidays.) You have to heat them up, but then you take off the inner wrapper and it's really juicy. Just follow the directions in the box. You can even get your entire dinner - turkey, rolls, vegetables, & pie - all comes in one box. And it's actually quite good. It might not be what your mother would serve, but it certainly won't make people sick!

  8. I've gotta admit that I've been around a lot of cooking all of my life and all of my long term boyfriends/husbands (and most of their mothers) have liked to cook so I'm a bit spoiled that way. Pair that with an obsession for watching FoodTV and picking up tips and I've decided I can hold my own in the kitchen (although a certain carbonized port wine reduction comes to mind as one of my most memorable failures that I had to redo on the fly). I even catch my kids (10 and 11) watching FoodTV when I'm not in the room and sometimes dinner is more like an episode of Chopped with my kids stepping in for Ted Allen.

    That being said there is a lot you can do with very little cullinary skill.

    If you can't cook, forget the glaze. Buy a pre-cooked honey baked spiral cut ham and heat it up and call it a day and it will taste fabulous.

    Make Turkey flavored Stove Top exactly as it calls for from the box (basically just boil water and add the contents of the box) it will taste so good everyone will rave about it (Bill Cosby has a great bit about just this very thing).

    Buy a frozen Mrs. Smith's dutch apple pie and cook it to the directions (vanilla ice cream is a nice touch here). Trader Joes has an amazing frozen pumpkin pie that I've bought 5 of so far this year (yeah we seriously have a pumpkin pie problem at our house). Pair it with a can of whip cream (and who can resist a "whip it" off of the top of the pressurized can to make spirits a little brighter).

    I have to admit I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to veggies and I do them all fresh, but at the grocery story they sell these frozen green beans with almonds that come in a little box that I'm actually not opposed to eating (I keep a couple of boxes of them in the freezer when I'm in a pinch). I usually add olive oil and a bit of salt after they come out of the microwave.

    If you want more green in your meal add a tossed salad. Bread? Hawaiian sweet rolls (sold in the bakery section not the bread isle) are really good and you just need to warm them up.

    There you go! A fabulous and easy meal that tastes great.

  9. I love to cook, but poor Mr. XKR was the helpless guinea pig I tested 30 Minute Meals recipes on while I learned to cook the first year we were married. He never commented when I served a burned, undercooked, over-salted, etc. dinner. The man is a saint, I tell you.

    Go buy a cooked spiral ham, heat it up the day of, and then douse it in melted butter mixed with brown sugar. Throw the package away before guests arrive. Lie and say you made it yourself.

  10. You would have been better to do just a 1/4 cup water. Ham is flavorful enough that it doesn't need any more. 'flavor.' That said, it did make for a witty post, so there is that

  11. No help here, I'm a terrible cook. I can mix and chop and stuff, but let me near a heat source and I WILL fuck it up. My mom says practice makes perfect with cooking. I say constant failure makes me pissed off. I make a mean salad though :D

  12. I love to cook. Preparing and eating good food is one of the greatest joys. Go with a fresh ham shank, bone in of course. These are so easy to cook as you can just throw it in the oven, set the timer and Bob's your uncle.

    I made the mistake once of trying a new cake recipe and then bringing it to a friend's house since I'd volunteered to do dessert. OMG that thing could have been used to brick a house. Funnily enough those friends got divorced after that and we never got another invite.

  13. MyHeartGoesPitterPattinsonDecember 14, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    Forget the "holiday" ham and make a lasagna. What? It's red. Like Christmas. And the sweet baby Jesus' rosy cheeks. Then the only side you have to worry about is cheesy bread and a salad.

    I'm an "a for the effort, alone" type in the kitchen too. Once I tried to make a feta and spinach meatloaf in the crockpot. I thought three things I loved combined was a sure thing. No sir. That's the night I learned I liked my feta cold. Although the S.O. loved it so it wasn't a complete waste.

  14. Don't they come with the sugar packet attached to it and you pour it over after you bake it (in the oven, not the slow cooker)? Order one from the honey ham company. I fried a turkey one year, which came out great, however, the coconut shrimp were not so lucky. After cooking the turkey I dumped them in the oil and watched a 30 foot high mushroom cloud of fire burst from the pot. I am lucky I still have eyebrows. Will not do that again.

  15. That's totally something my husband would have made. He's been going nuts lately cooking all of these crazy recipes every weekend. He did just make an amazing smoked ham on our grill/smoker. SO GOOD. I have barely made anything recently, but I usually do pretty well. Although, I did just totally mess up some banana bread (that I've made just fine every time before) the other day. The center was not baked all of the way through, but I couldn't bake it any longer because it was already getting hard on the outside and was very dense!

  16. JJ didn't you ever see that after school PSA that told you 'Don't drown your food'? :P Much of the advice here is sound. Go with what works my friend. xo

  17. Thanks all for the advice and recipes!! I'm going to a potluck tonight and decided to play it safe - made a 3-bean salad. No one can fuck up beans, oil & vinegar and salt & pepper... I think.


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