Agent 86 Alive And Well In Kaos - WELCOME TO MY LABORATORY Blog at - 156447


Agent 86 Alive and Well in KAOS 
Feb. 9, 2010 6:42 pm 
Updated: Feb. 21, 2010 3:06 pm
I used to love the television show "Get Smart" (yep, first-runs).  I identified with Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 of Control, a government agency created to protect the world against an organization known as KAOS that was out to overthrow Control and rule the world.  (A chicken or the egg-type of dichotomy, which I never figured out.)  Max was cool -- and not so smart.  He would see an opportunity and, armed with latest contraptions and gizmos from the Control Lab, he would jump in where Angels Fear to Tread.   When things went wrong, he always had a snappy (usually corny) comeback and I loved his spunk.  I often felt like Max (only with snappier comeback lines).
When it comes to recipes and knowing my limitations in the kitchen, I am Smart -- Maxwell Smart. I see a recipe or a beauiful picture of one and get sucked in -- almost every time. Mention a recipe, and it goes into my recipe box to try. I have several recipes (some very similar) that I have lined up ready to try. My recipe box now scares me. So many recipes -- so little time; however, I am comforted in the knowledge that I am probably not the only one. Come on, 'fess up! I've seen the "Haven't tried, but want to" posts. :D

When I returned to the gluten-free food plan (a mere five weeks ago) I figured that, as long as I was armed with my newly purchased (and nearly bank-breaking) gluten-free arsenal of sweet white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, real tapioca, potato flour, potato starch, and my lovely little Sourdough Starter, etc., ready for action, I would rule the world -- or at least my kitchen. ("Well, would you believe..." every recipe I tried?) ("Ma-a-ax!" "Sorry about that, Chief!")

Ten days ago, I was much bolder (just as Smart, but definitely no less challenged) than before. After all, with a couple of amazing (both gluten and gluten-free) successes under my belt, I thought my days of Multiple-Failures-in-a-Row were over. Nuh-unh!

A week ago Saturday started well. I tried my hand at Gluten-Free "Norwegian" pancakes -- a recipe that I, myself, adapted from the old Family Recipe. WOW! They were awesome! Even Hubby liked them (couldn't tell they were gluten-free). I was "Queen of the Lab"! (I now relate to Hodgins of "Bones".)  My gluten-free bread with the Sourdough Starter (made according to the recipe with the exception of being adapted for the starter and the bread machine) was in the breadmaker. I Ruled the World (or at least my little corner of it)! Until the end of the baking cycle. It looked beautiful -- if you overlooked its 2" height. It was difficult to cut because of the globby, pasty uncooked mix inside. Failure #1 -- and the Fall had started. Much like being at the top of mountain, with your back to the descent -- taking a step back and ... (with a very similar result to the "Turkeys Can Fly, Can't They?" episode of "WKRP in Cinncinnati".)

I was not intimidated. It was, of course, only one failure. So I tried my maternal Grandmother's (my "Momma"'s) Potato Soup, but my potatos were bad -- so bad I couldn't use any of them, so I used up the last of the potato flakes. Same difference. Right? Of course, Right! Wrong! Failure #2.

That was Saturday. Hubby had sandwiches for lunch (I had salad), and for dinner, we polished off the last of the Norwegian pancakes and Hubby filled up on jam sandwiches.

Sunday was a total bust! Tried the bread again with yeast (as the recipe stated) instead of the starter ... Yet another bust! I tried three more recipes (which I forget now) and everything was horrible! We have no dogs (and I'm sure if they did even they wouldn't have touched any of the sludge I churned out and wasted good ingredients, money, time and energy on these endeavours!)

Both Hubby and I come from financially handicapped backgrounds where throwing food away just was NOT an option, but we had to admit that most of this stuff was worse than some of our worst childhood culinary nightmares. At the end of Sunday, when my final foray of "gourmet" cooking (recipe-followed meatloaf of all things!) ended up in the trash, I burst into deep, wracking, uncontrollable sobs. Yep, I have to admit, I became a messy, slobbering, sobbing, emotionally unstable female for one of the first times in my whole entire existence. The mother of my childhood was right. I was a failure. Everything I touch turns to dust. And, to top it off, I have no funny stories of dumping half a bag of bulk onion mix into the mixing bowl filled with ingredients, adding ketchup to Beef Stroganoff Hamburger Helper, or the top falling off the salt and/or pepper shaker that I could share with friends and family. No giggling recounting of misreading 2-1/2 cups of flour as two 1/2 cups of flour for me. No human error -- that I could trace back. I was a total and complete failure. With no redeeming qualities. I had not phhhhttt this badly for ages! ("Stalkah! We do not Phhhhhttt in Kaos")

So, I was back to where I was pre-AllRecipes end-November/early December -- at the bottom of the slippery slope we know as Culinary Expertise. I am culinarily cursed and back to being a firm believer in the "wing it" or "experimental" way of cooking. Aren't recipes supposed to turn out when you follow them to the letter?

Hubby lived on sandwiches and toast Monday and Tuesday, because he said that I needed a rest from cooking on the weekend -- but he giggled when I asked if he needed a rest from being Guinea Pig. (He is so easy to read *lol*)

Oh, and then I "whoopsied" off the gluten-free wagon. Wednesday, I made Hubby spaghetti. We both figured, surprisingly correctly, that I was up to that. I usually make regular noodles for him and gluten-free for me, but I was so tired and hungry after work that I just dumped the noodles onto a plate and dug in. Also, being the day before payday, we were at the end of the pantry/fridge offerings and the gluten-free ingredients had been used up on the weekend fiascos. There were lots of noodles leftover and I brought them for lunch on Thursday and Friday, and Hubby had a break from sanwiches and toast for dinner. Never has spaghetti tasted so good!

I have been feeling so-o-o-o much better since going gluten-free. With only one Grilled Cheese Sandwich on Rye Bread three days into this venture (when I forgot my lunch), the head was almost free of that "cottonball" feel. Thoughts were clearer and more rational. Constant cramps, nausea, diarrhea, with occasional vomiting had ceased. Life was good (healthwise) until Wednesday night, when the nausea returned, and I started running in the middle of the night. (No, I don't mean jogging!) I was sick again! And did not clue in until Friday afternoon when a co-worker said, "What have you eaten? You've gone gluten again, haven't you?"
"No. I have been really, really goo ... oh, !@#$!"
"I've had regular spaghetti three days in a row!"
She crowed, "I knew it! You've been looking good for the last few weeks and since yesterday, you look 90 again. You were funny again. Since yesterday, you've been stressed. You were more energetic, and since yesterday you've fallen asleep at least four times. The only thing that brings you down like that is gluten." And this from a young, self-absorbed co-worker I thought had less observation skills than a gnat! (Thanks, Monica!)

So, again, a New Beginning. I went for groceries on Saturday and bought enough to last (I hope) for a month (but the cynic in me doubts it)!  It's always interesting starting the long trudge back up the mountain, but oddly stimulating.  I spent the rest of Saturday sleeping. Sunday, I made the worst pancakes EVER! But, my bread rose, but tasted "meh! Not so bad". I proceeded to cook up the pork, hamburger, chicken, linguine, and rice, package them all, label them, and toss them in the freezer so I can just take them out, toss whatever together, and heat and eat when I get home.

Most of the "over-the-budget", unnecessary stuff was chocolate and goodies. Valentine's Day is on Sunday and I have at least 15 Knock 'Em Dead "Nothing Says I Love You Like Chocolate" recipes I want to try on Hubby. I'll be lucky if I get five of them done and edible ... "Well, would you believe a" ... store-bought chocolate bar and a home-made computer card? ("Ma-a-ax!"  "Sorry about that!")

Do you have any culinary, and/or dietary challenges?  What do you find most difficult when cooking or menu-planning?

I'll keep you posted.

Respectfully submitted.
Feb. 9, 2010 9:53 pm
Great blog. It must be difficult trying to be gluten free. I can't imagine trying to find replacement for flour, it is vital in so many things. Congrats on your successes though and keep at it, it will get better!!
Feb. 10, 2010 3:23 am
Thanks, Grannygigi! The hard thing about going gluten-free is 1. The expense; 2. Re-training the tastebuds; and 3. Finding a flour combo that works. There is lots of advice about what to use. Some work better than others, and the ones that work best seem to taste disgusting or leave an aftertaste.
Feb. 10, 2010 9:58 am
Okay, Sparkytoo, you've visited my blogs and have given some PDG advice. Now the tables have turned. Gluten free is difficult at best. (Since reading your blogs, I've done some investigating.) My assessment is that, you have a wealth of information, great attitude and the necessary desire to make GF work for you. If I may venture a guess, I think you may be trying too hard for a respectable recipe. Try this. When you begin your preparation, set out all the ingredients and measuring tools. This allows time to think about what you are about to do. Then review the directions of the recipe and get all the mixing equipment out. Again, you're thinking about the recipe. Then, before you start, take a deep breath and relax. Think about the rewards of success. Make it fun, too. (ie:When you crack an egg, make it represent the skull of someone that recently got under your skin.)
Feb. 10, 2010 2:10 pm
Hey, Mike! Thanks for stopping by! Things have been so crazy for the last week, I haven't visited your blogs for the latest update, but I hope to before the week (night) is out. I already prepare the ingredients ahead of time :D ... I work with a spoon, fork, egg beater (manual), pots and pans and the convection oven, which is already on the countertop. When cracking eggs, I do the "One, two, three, *craq* ... New egg" from the Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn version of "Sabrina". I don't think I could ever make the skull of my boss, although it's worth a try. Thanks for the tips! You probably are right. I tend to be Type A and feel I have to be perfect at everything. But MAN! Those recipes 10 days ago were Baaaaa-aaaa-aaad! :D I am slowly getting over the trauma and will aim for the sky with trying my hand at "Chocolate Eruption Cheesecake". Nice to hear from you. And thanks again!
Feb. 12, 2010 7:30 pm
It's so hard to recover from multiple failure, never mind the diet restrictions! Lately I have been doing the same thing. It must be a Jan/Feb curse. All of my experiments have ended in disaster (Spinach risotto tonight, it was AWFUL, and my baked chicken didn't cook through. How do you screw up BAKED CHICKEN?!). I am retreating into my comfort zone of TNT recipes until I can recover, which at my current state may be a few weeks! I hope you get back on the bandwagon soon! Type A's Unite!!!
Feb. 13, 2010 4:29 am
Miss Ivy! I have screwed up everything imaginable -- even when adhering to TNT's :D (Thanks to Evin's blog earlier this week, I now know what it stands for. *YAY*!). Anything chicken. Anything meat, for that matter. For some reason, after cooking three really wonderful chicken meals to perfection when I first got it, my little convection oven decided that chicken, pork, and beef should take Five Hours MINIMUM! Even on Broil! No, the oven works fine. Everything else turns out browned to perfection and done through (they might taste horrible, but they cook well). But meat? I think the oven has decided it is vegetarian. :D Oh, Let's hear it for Type A's! :D
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About Me
Live with my SoulMate Hubby (a.k.a. "The Most Wonderful Man In the World") in a teeny, tiny apartment with two psycho cats.
My favorite things to cook
Still in progress, but the list includes (from this site): Scandinavian Almond Bars; Serbian Beef and Vegetables; Scandinavian Almond Bars; Black Russian Bread; Scandinavian Almond Bars; Roasted Red Potatoes; Norwegian Meat Balls; Scandinavian Almond Bars; Norwegian Soft Cake; Milk-Braised Pork Loin!
My favorite family cooking traditions
Blot Kake (Norwegian Soft "Cake"); Sur Kal (Norwegian "Sour Cabbage"); Russian Peas; Scandinavian Almond Bars; Norwegian Meat Balls; (started by me) Milk-Braised Pork Loin
My cooking triumphs
My first loaf of bread (assisted by my very first breadmaker) Making the Scandinavian Almond Bars -- and they worked FIRST TIME Norwegian Meat Balls - HURRAY for me! Blot Kaker (even though it was a little tough due to using brown instead of white sugar) (Hokey Phinokey! I should upgrade my level as THE BEST EXPERT - WORLD AMAZING! Just because of this little cake)!! And, the recipe that boosted my rating from beginning to Intermediate: Milk-Braised Pork Loin!!!!!
My cooking tragedies
Never, EVER ... under any circumstance: 1. Add ketchup to Beef Stroganoff Hamburger Helper!! (We ordered Pizza that night.) 2. Pour onion soup mix from a bulk bag directly into what you are cooking ... *GAG* (Jam Sandwiches are a great replacement!) 3. When making Russian Peas, make sure they do NOT boil dry. That was Christmas Eve dinner (the Big Disaster) December 2009. 4. NOTE TO SELF: Although Hubby adds ketchup to EVERYTHING -- DO NOT add to anything while cooking (He's usually right!)-- Reminder: Easy Fettuccine Fiasco. *Sigh*
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