To steal brazenly (and to paraphrase) from Jean Shepherd, who wrote (and narrated) the classic seasonal movie A Christmas Story: "In the heat of battle, I wove a tapestry of obscenity, that as far as we know, is still hanging in space over the Civic Center lagoon."
I was making the black-eyed pea soup yesterday, fortified with chopped chard and shredded leftover Kentucky country ham. (For some reason, I just cannot cut ham into cubes; I have to shred it into succulent chunks.)
First disaster: I salted the onions as they cooked in oil. Forgetting that I'd be adding a can of commercial chicken broth (don't ask), sodium and all. Forgetting that the Kentucky ham is freakin' SALTY. Cranky tasted the simmering liquid (I had added something like three times as much plain H2O to the chicken broth), pronounced it salty, and then added diplomatically, "It's nice." I tasted it. It was not nice.
We fetched a clean colander and a large bowl, grabbed the potholders, and dumped at least two-thirds of the super-salinated solution out of the pot. Returned the solids to the pot, added more pure water, and tasted. Full recovery! Huzzah.
Second disaster: The beans and chard are cooked, the ham has relinquished its residual salt (but not too much) to the broth, and we taste for seasoning. TOO HOT. Tongue-burn. Entire umami region of taste buds scalded. Ruins rest of flavor experience for the rest of the night. Except for:
Third disaster: I had read a recipe that suggested throwing some of the ham rind into the pot for extra flavor. Not that we needed extra flavor with this incredible (but freakin' SALTY) ham. But I did it anyway. Of course, I pulled them out of the soup the instant we detected the oversaltiness. But some of the shreds of ham must still have had microscopic remnants of rind attached. And as we all know but sometimes don't bother to remember, country ham can be moldy on the outside. You may recall that I have zero tolerance for the taste of unwanted mold (most cheeses are fine with me, but even there I can get a little spooked). Not every mouthful had a moldy taste; only one or two bites did. Overall, the soup was very good — Cranky adored it. But damn, those moldy mouthfuls just about wrecked it for me.
And this was supposed to be a good-luck-in-the-new-year meal.
Well, I did have good luck with the tripod and the adorable little yellow lotus bowl that Jen (Life Begins at 30) gave me just for photographing difficult food. It got a real workout, Jen.