Kitchen Failures — Sometimes They’re Delicious

This weekend, the Son and Heir was indescribably excited about making Gjetost (yay-toast), a Norwegian “cheese” produced by simmering whey for 12 hours until it reduces to a creamy, caramelized concoction. Norwegian children apparently eat it spread it on their breakfast toast.

Gjetost is a warm, rich, gold color -- along the lines of the hues in this painting, Break in the Weather by Steve Henderson. Available as an original or limited edition print.

Gjetost is a warm, rich, gold color — along the lines of the hues in this painting, Break in the Weather by Steve Henderson. Available as an original or limited edition print.

Maybe it was the terms “creamy” and “caramelized” that fooled the Son and Heir into thinking that this highly ethnic dish — which the recipe mentioned one acquires a taste for (that’s always a warning sign) — would be delectably different.

Well, it was different all right, and our first thought upon tasting it was, “Those poor Norwegian children,” and the second thought, mine, was,

“All that time and anticipation is not going to waste. We are eating this stuff — not on toast! — somehow.” (You mothers understand this, I know. Our children are always our little cherubs, and their sad faces — even when they’re covered with beard stubble — spur us to action.)

“I don’t know, Mom,” the Son and Heir dejectedly replied. “This looks like a failure to me.”

“Kitchen failures are opportunities, son,” I replied. “And this is a greater opportunity than most.”

It doesn't matter what age they get, our kids pretty much stay this size in our minds. Bold Innocence -- available as a print and poster -- at Steve Henderson Fine Art

It doesn’t matter what age they get, our kids pretty much stay this size in our minds. Bold Innocence — available as a print and poster — at Steve Henderson Fine Art

I made pizza, topping a Kamut flour crust with mozzarella cheese, roasted bell pepper, caramelized onions, garlic, and — shredded Gjetost. Even Small Person, our three-year-old grandchild, ate her portion, although, admittedly, that was after we told her she couldn’t have dessert until she did. But it was excellent pizza, really, and the unique salty flavor of the Norwegian product complemented the rest of the toppings. (By the way, the Norwegian Artist had no choice about eating the pizza, whether or not he wanted dessert, because he’s Norwegian after all, and this is in his heritage. If he has a problem with that, he can always take it up with his mother.)

The next day, Gjetost transformed dull, boring bean soup into Wow! This is really Norwegian! fare with its husky, deep, complex personality, and we all agreed that we’ll make it through the rest of the stuff yet, especially since it looks like it has a shelf life of 25 years.

The point of all this is not to urge you to flip past the page about Gjetost in your new cheese book — although I would encourage you to consider doing so — but rather, to reassure you that seemingly failed kitchen experiments can rise up out of the ashes (sometimes, if you’ve baked something too long, there are literal ashes, by the way) to a new, different, intriguing, and mildly edible concoction.

The garden is always there -- awaiting our visit, or a truly failed kitchen experiment for the compost pile. Promenade -- available as an original painting and signed print -- at Steve Henderson Fine Art

The garden is always there — awaiting our visit, or a truly failed kitchen experiment for the compost pile. Promenade — available as an original painting and signed print — at Steve Henderson Fine Art

The very worst thing that can happen is that the dog will get an extra portion at dinner. Well, okay, the very worst thing is that the dog will refuse the extra portion and the compost pile will be enhanced, but worms eat anything, don’t they?

But the best thing that can happen is that you will have experimented — several times — and wound up with something edible, maybe even tasty, and you will have survived. And you’ll keep experimenting and trying new things, and each time you do, you’ll get more and more adventurous, and better and better about what you create, and increasingly versatile about what you eat.

You may not be invited to a lot of potlucks, but you’ll be able to eat anything at any of them once you get there.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, we have a fairly large chunk of Gjetost in the refrigerator, and I need to figure out what to do with it. Toast, anyone?

Grammar Despair brings out the fun in writing.

Grammar Despair brings out the fun in writing.

One area, outside of the kitchen, where many people feel like failures is their writing — they have bad, bad memories of too many English essay papers spattered with red ink. If you are one of these people, and yet you want or need to write, consider purchasing my book, Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say him and me or he and I?” It’s fun, user-friendly, and inexpensive — $8.99 for the paperback, $5.99 for Kindle, through Amazon or directly from the Steve Henderson Fine Art website.

Advertisements

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
This entry was posted in Art, blogging, children, cooking, Culture, Current Events, Daily Life, Encouragement, Family, Food, frugal living, gardening, Green, Growth, home, homeschooling, Humor, inspirational, Life, Lifestyle, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal, Random, success, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Kitchen Failures — Sometimes They’re Delicious

  1. Jana Botkin says:

    Wow, how much whey and where did it all come from? When I make a batch of yogurt using 1/2 gallon of milk, it might produce 2 cups of whey at the very most. I’m dying to try this – in spite of your description, I’m still captivated by the words “creamy and caramelized”.

  2. Jana — two gallons of whey (they say from whole goat milk). Yep, that “creamy and caramalized” part is tempting, I agree. Would it help if I mentioned that we still have half of the product still in the fridge? I’m thinking not. When you make it, let me know the various things you’re doing with it — I’m running out of ideas!

    Oh, the two gallons of whey — well, 1 3/4 gallons, came from a two-pound round of cheese, which The Son and Heir used two gallons of milk for. When you make yogurt, there’s less whey, because it’s actually still in the yogurt. Hard cheese is dryer and more solid because it retains less whey.

    • cabinart says:

      Lasagna!! Is it sort of the consistency of cottage cheese, or ricotta?

      Or, is it somewhat like cream cheese? Cheesecake!

      (are you gagging yet?)

      2 gallons of milk make 2 lbs. of cheese and 1-3/4 gallons of whey? That is simply amazing!

  3. Oh, Jana — I forgot to mention that the book we are using for making cheese is Making Great Cheese at Home by Barbara Ciletti. It’s a beautiful, well written book, and the recipes (even the Gjetost) are amazing — clear, easy to understand, and resulting in some great cheeses. The Son and Heir is having success after success with the Cheddar, and I assure you that there’s never anything of it left. The book has lots of beautiful photos, which almost turn it into a paperback coffee table book. I highly recommend it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s