Proudly, on Saturday, I acquired a handmixer. (I'm finally starting to accumulate all the basic household appliances - well, it's only been seven years since I left home, and one shouldn't rush these things). So I decided to fulfill a long standing ambition, and make a cheesecake...well heck, aim low, reach your goals and avoid disappointment, I say!
So with great enthusiasm I bought all the ingredients, set up all the equipment and got to work. The crumb crust was easy enough, and I happily set it in the fridge to chill whilst I prepared the filling. That was where the trouble started. Although I'd taken the stuff out of the fridge an hour before, due to the cold weather the cream cheese was still rock-hard. What to do? I don't have a microwave (though at this stage, I do hope to purchase one sometime around 2009) so I decided to try very gently softening it on the cooktop.
Let me tell you right now, you can't "soften" cream cheese this way, just make it very sticky...and still hard. Sighing, I moved the stuff to a mixing bowl (dirty dish Count #1: saucepan) and added the eggs. To make the further discovery that there was too much mixture to fit in the bowl, and I had to add the remainder to cereal bowls (dirty dish count #2: three bowls). Still largely undaunted, I put my hand mixer into the bowl, switched it on...and nothing happened. Well, nothing happened to the cheesecake mixture. The handmixer is useless and my electric toothbrush has more action. However, plenty of mixture ended up on the walls.
I gave up on the handmixer (dirty dish count #3: the handmixer, all it's attachments, and one kitchen bench and backsplash) and attempted to get the stuff into the blender. This proved very difficult. The blender has nasty blades down the bottom which have to be avoided to get things in or out. Plus the blender is next to the kettle on a different kitchen bench. By the time I'd finished sort-of blending the stuff, the dirty dish count #4 was the blender and all it's attachments, the kettle, the other kitchen bench, and now the carpet which acquired a great deal of cheesecake mix on the way.
By now, me vs cheesecake: it was personal. I was determined to get this damn
thing cooked. Desperately, I retrieved the crust from the fridge, and attempted to pour what was left of the mixture into the shell (dirty dish count #5: more mess on the original bench, dirty dish count #6: any number of spoons I'd used to get the stuff in and out of bowls, blenders etc) before getting the pie plate into the oven, in the process slopping god-knows how much mix on the oven wall and floor (dirty dish count...oh, forget it), setting the timer, and turning to survey the kitchen.
Well all I could say about my kitchen at 1pm yesterday was how nice it is in downtown Fallujah. I'm not a great fan of mess it must be said, but this was a doozy. The only consolation was that I didn't have Xander underfoot to get in the way; terrifed by the loud and constant string of profanities I'd vocalised for the past hour, he was very sensibly hiding under my bed.
Which were only increased when I realised that I'd forgotten to add the lemon juice, so the cake would be sickly sweet.
Normally I'm a very good cook. I cook from memory not from recipes, and I've never had a cooking disaster before. So this was perplexing and eerie, like seeing Shane Warne preaching marital fidelity, or George W. Bush reading and enjoying Finnegan's Wake. With a heavy heart I began to clean the kitchen, although it took me so long and was so depressing that I considered instead setting fire to the house and throwing myself on the mercy of the court.
After all that time, effort and expense, many hours later when the cake cooled down, I was left with a bland, sugary concoction I didn't like at all. Not to mention vaguely homicidal urges. So next time...well, I really do remember why I like dining out!
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