Sunday, December 7, 2008

The scientist in the kitchen

I must admit to approaching my kitchen counter as I do the lab bench: I have a detailed plan to follow and a hypothesis in mind. And just like in the lab, things don't always turn out how you want them to do.

Saturday's experiment was chicken pot pie. (How can I call myself a Southern woman without knowing how to make this, the very epitome of comfort food?) I had a yummy-sounding recipe (, all the ingredients, but no pie plate. I decided to try breaking the recipe up into individual pies. I scrounged up the best containers I could find: four heart-shaped ramekins from Valentine's Day. I knew they looked kind of small, but I figured it didn't matter, because they were all I had.

With my ramekins ready, I went to work making the crusts. (Wow, what a time-consuming step! Next time I will try using a food processor like others do.) With the crusts finally rolled out and chilling in the fridge, I started chopping vegetables for the filling. When I cut into the onion I had just bought from Kroger that morning, it was completely rotten inside! I was so disgusted and frustrated. There goes one ingredient. (Thank goodness I had minced onion and onion powder to substitute.)

It seemed to take forever, but I finally got the filling ready to go. I got the crusts out, and began laying them in the ramekins...and recognized a rookie mistake: I had made the crusts all the same size instead of making some large enough to cover the bottom AND sides! Rats. I did the best I could to stretch them, but finally had to give up and move along. So I poured in the filling, and noticed that I would have a lot of unused filling if I didn't top them off as high as possible. With the ramekins almost overflowing (and that's with filling left over!), I topped them with more crust, pricked the tops, and put them in the oven on a baking sheet.

Forty minutes later, I pulled out some nicely browned pot pies...which sat in a pool of filling. Oh, well. As messy as they were, they actually tasted pretty good, if I do say so myself. Lance was happy. And the portion was just right. I still think I'll check the thrift stores for some larger (10 ounce) round ramekins for next time I give this a whirl.

That said, I'd say this experiment was successful. I filled our bellies with some good comfort food and learned some lessons. The scientist in me is pleased.

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