If I am to be honest I would have to say that real, honest-to-goodness, that-kind-of-ludicrosity-could-only-happen-to-you-Jenn, Jenn stories have been kind of thin on the ground here at the Jenn Stories, lately. (Yes, I think I might have just made up ludicrosity.) There’ve been all these big ideas, and stuff about writing, and bragging (or just lazy posting of a free blog post) about mediocre blogging statistics, but not so many of those misadventures I promised you.
Well, sigh no more, Fans of Other People’s Faux Pas. Have I got a Jenn story for you.
Tonight, before my first class of my third attempt at a seminary education, there is a dinner for students and faculty and their spouses, and this dinner involves chili and cornbread contests. I signed up to bring cornbread. Five minutes ago, I sent the Centre Director an email running thus:
I am bringing cornbread tonight, but can it please NOT be entered in the contest? On account of I didn’t have time to buy cornmeal so it’s made from a mix, and also, I was having some oven issues today? Heh. Thanks.
If only it were as simple as that.
Not having time to buy cornmeal was only the teeniest of tiny problems, although it was also true, and was a problem. But fortunately we did have a box of cornbread mix on hand already, so all was not lost. The oven issues, however, started last night when I was attempting to make quiche–and forgot to put a cookie sheet under the pie plate to catch the overflow. There was a lot of smoke.
There was so much smoke that I thought surely all the overflow that had overflowed onto the bottom of the oven would have burnt off after all that, and plus our stove is new (to us) and I wasn’t sure how to clean it apart from the self-cleaning option which I was pretty certain was going to take more time than I had. So this morning when it occurred to me that, limited time regardless, I would have more time to make cornbread before work than after it, I turned the oven on again and mixed up the box of Jiffy cornbread mix.
You know what? Jiffy is a good name for that company, because mixing that stuff up took less than 30 seconds, and baking it would have been pretty quick and painless, too, except that I was wrong about all the quiche leavings having burnt off the bottom of the oven. The oven, when I opened it, became completely obscured by the billowing, acrid eruption of smoke into the rest of the house, which proceeded to smell like the oven for most of the rest of the morning. I did not feel I could safely, or appetisingly, put cornbread in there, so after all that (which included two extended rounds of flapping a seed catalogue at the smoke alarm, opening the kitchen window, opening the kitchen door, and Shemp’s running outside to escape the madness), I turned the oven off. I wasn’t defeated though. I work in a church. Churches have kitchens. I cling-filmed that raw cornbread and threw it in the back seat of the car, along with my computer and purse and lunch.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m going to say the cornbread spilled out of the clingfilm and got on my computer or all over the backseat or something. It didn’t. It did slide over to one side of the pan, however, and get stuck to the clingfilm, so that even after I let it sit for a few hours to sort itself out, quite a bit of it still got lost when I took the clingfilm off. I baked it anyway.
Only–have you ever actually tried to cook anything in a church kitchen? It can be done, but usually the equipment is archaic and has idiosyncrasies which only the most frequent of church cooks knows how to navigate. I am not entirely sure what the church oven quirks are. The cornbread was not done in the middle when I took it out. It looked like probably the edges were, though. I left it in for another minute and a half, and was then afraid we might have a church-version of what had happened in my house this morning, so I took it out.
I guess it might be a little dense and not totally cooked, but it’s probably also going to be simultaneously dried out (i.e. really thick leather), because of course, since so much of the batter had stuck to the clingfilm, I had had to throw that piece out. Therefore, I had no clingfilm easily accessible. I unrolled about three paper towels and wrapped them around the bread in the pan. Now it looks like this:
It might still be edible.
There’s nothing like a first impression.