If you’ve ever eaten at my house, you have to forgive me. Being in this profession, I’m always in search of the next best…(fill in the blank). It could be the next best beef tenderloin. Or the next best way to braise something. But in order to achieve the next best anything, you need to do a LOT of product testing. A LOT. Ask Tom. He’s probably eaten something as simple as turkey in six different ways: turkey roulade, roast turkey, turkey breast that had been pounded, turkey breast that had not been pounded, turkey that’s been brined, turkey that hasn’t been brined. You get the picture.
Awhile back, we had friends over. I wanted to test out some new dessert hors d’oeuvres. I wanted to see how much of a difference having a muffin liner would be on my mini devil’s food cupcakes with chocolate ganache. Unfortunately, I forgot to tell my friend. She assumed all of the cupcakes had no liners. I think she probably ate a couple before she wondered why the cupcake tasted waxy. Oops.
In order to test new recipes and different ingredients, I have to shop at multiple grocery stores to get what I need. On any given week, I usually make three different shopping trips to different stores. You think you can get everything you need from one grocer? Think again. And some ingredients have to be special ordered. As time consuming as it can be, there’s nothing like the end result.
The thing that drives me crazy is that you can’t find just a cup of something, or a tablespoon of something else. In my effort to reduce waste, I try to find a way to use up my leftover ingredients. At that point, we have what is called “hodge podge” dinner at our house. Now, hodge podge can be tricky. I basically look in my refrigerator and pantry and make something based on what’s there and what inspires me. Sometimes it can be the best meal ever! And sometimes, it’s…not.
When Tom asks what’s for “dinnah” and I tell him hodge podge, you can cut the pregnant pause on the phone with a professionally sharpened butcher knife. He knows from experience what hodge podge could end up being. At that point, he’ll offer (even beg) to bring home take out. I decline and on we go with the experiment.
Earlier in our marriage, I combined hodge podge with product testing. Probably not a good idea. Imagine walking into a house to the pungent smell of anchovies on the stove. Tom almost fell over. He was so diplomatic and polite that I thought maybe I made a good dish. He didn’t want to hurt my feelings so he had seconds. I knew at that point that he loved it! In fact, I insisted that he take some to work the next day. Imagine the shocking look on his colleagues’ faces when the smell of day old anchovies wafted from the company microwave…
Ah, yes. The day of product testing is still going strong and hodge podge has a long life ahead in the Moore residence. But now when I pack lunches, I try to limit it to a ham sandwich and chips…along with a Caesar salad made with my classic anchovy dressing…