Having owned a weekly paper in Montana for over a decade, there is certainly a routine in everyday life. There are always the same deadlines to be met, and while sometimes it might feel like the movie “Groundhog Day,” I enjoy what I do for a living and the structure it provides.
The same can be said when I am in the kitchen, I have a routine, and because of this, we often eat many of the same things. I don’t necessarily think this is bad because everyone at the house seems to enjoy the rotation of meals.
Every once in a while, I will get a little tired of the same menu and try mixing things up. There are times when a new recipe or something we don’t have a lot of is a success, and others when I just want to throw away my food and eat a Hostess Cupcake.
The other day was a perfect example of things going wrong when I step out of my wheelhouse.
On what turned out to be the hottest day of the year, I decided it would be a marvelous idea to attempt chicken fried steak. This is something I will often eat at restaurants but don’t usually do at home because I’m awful at a dredging station. I spent a lot of the day researching different chicken fried steak recipes and felt comfortable as I went into the kitchen. Within a few minutes, I discovered I probably should have just made spaghetti.
I planned on having mashed potatoes, so I cut up some spuds and got some water boiling. I figured it was a little bit too early to start the oven, so I planned on doing this in about 15 to 20 minutes so the kitchen was not overwhelming. It would have been easier to buy ready-to-eat rolls, but I wanted something fresh to go with what was supposed to be a wonderful Sunday dinner. We have a skylight in the kitchen which is excellent in the winter but a pain when the temperature is near 90, so even a few minutes without the oven helps.
When it came time to dredge the steak, I seasoned the flour like a pro and got the egg ready. When it came time to put the steak into the flour, things started to turn sour.
As soon as I put the meat into the flour, I could tell it might fall apart. As soon as I put it into the egg, it did. I did my best to salvage both steaks after the egg so they could return to the flour, but they both fell apart.
When it came time to fry these tiny chunks of steak, I had the oil too hot and ended up burning my foot with splashing oil. I’ve done many stupid things cooking, but burning my feet with lava was a first. I sometimes move too fast in the kitchen, and bad things happen, like nearly chopping off my finger. On one occasion, when waiting tables, I was in such a hurry as I entered the kitchen to get some dishes to the dishwasher that I hit a freshly mopped floor and went skidding about 20 feet with dishes flying everywhere. I thought I would get in a lot of trouble, but the owner and cooks just laughed.
When I’ve burned or cut myself in the past, I usually let out a screech similar to a three-year-old who just dropped their ice cream cone on the floor, but I didn’t want to alarm Melissa. I always wondered what she would think of the chicken fried steak.
When it came time for the rolls, I realized I never turned on the oven. Wonderful, another fail for this Sunday dinner.
It turns out the chicken fried steak “nuggets” tasted good, but they looked very unappetizing, and I tend to eat with my eyes first, so that was not a positive.
I think the next time I eat chicken fried steak, I will eat it at a restaurant. If I want to dredge something, I might do Chicken Parm; at least the bird won’t fall apart in the egg. I do plan on covering my feet, just in case.