Sunday, January 22, 2012

...a disaster

Don't worry--this disaster was not life-threatening. No, this was the kind of disaster that makes me laugh each time I think of it.  Last week our English department was asked to bring something to share for the Professional Development meeting on Thursday.  The school was providing some of the "hospitality" but more food was needed. Hospitality and generosity are big here, and since we were hosting the meeting for several schools, it was especially important to do it right.

We had a discussion in our office about what each of us would bring, and since it was the end of the work week and we were tired, most of us agreed that we would just be stopping by the store after school to pick up something ready-made. That was my intent as well. I don't have an oven for baking, and use a microwave and a two-burner hot plate for any cooking I do.  And, I haven't accumulated a lot of kitchen "stuff."  (Remember, the place was absolutely empty when I moved in--I have had to buy every single item.) But, I have a saucepan, and a glass tart dish (I had intended to make a blueberry pie at Christmas and the tart pan was the closest thing to a pie plate that I could find.) So, I had the great idea that I would make a flan-like dessert to take to school. (I also bought a tin of cookies as a backup plan--just in case I didn't have the energy to slave over a two-burner hot plate once I got home.)

I got home from the gym Wednesday evening, had some dinner, checked my email, then decided that I would go ahead and make the flan.  So I opened boxes, measured the milk (I now have a measuring cup!), and stirred and stirred.  I spread the packet of carmelized sugar in the bottom of the tart pan, and when the custard came to a boil, poured it in.  I popped it into the fridge, cleaned up the mess, nibbled a few cookies with my tea, and went to bed. 

In the morning I was happy to see that the flan had set up nicely, but realized that I had nothing with which to cover the pan--no plastic wrap, no aluminum foil, not even any wax paper.  Now if this had been a regular custard or pudding, there wouldn't have been a problem.  But, that carmelized sugar at the bottom of the pan made the whole concoction slip and slide whenever it was moved.  How was I going to get it to school?  I grabbed a roll of paper towels (that I had on hand because I mistakenly thought I was buying bathroom tissue) and carefully placed the pan on the floor of the passenger side of the car.  Carefully, carefully, I drove over the umpteen speed humps to get out of my neighborhood, and carefully, carefully pulled out onto the highway.  So far, so good.

As luck would have it, this particular morning was a foggy one.  (What a surprise to have fog in the desert!) This wasn't the first foggy morning I've experienced, so wasn't terribly concerned.  I drove slower than usual, both because of the fog and my wobbly passenger on the floor.  I kept one eye on the flan and was happy to see that while it did jiggle a little, it was still contained in the pan. Then all of a sudden, the fog got worse, and at the worst possible location.  I had just entered the roundabout in Liwa, about ten minutes from school, and realized that I could not see a thing.  Nothing.  Thankfully, other drivers in the roundabout were tapping their horns to let others know they were there.  I made it safely through the roundabout and immediately pulled over to the side of the road to wait for a bit.  There was no need to rush to get to school--everyone would be late this morning. 

But--the fog distracted me.  When it finally appeared safe to forge ahead, I had completely forgotten about the flan.  I was driving along, knuckles white with stress, when I happened to glance down. Liwa is very hilly, and at some point the flan had splooshed out over the edge of the pan, deposited a chunk of itself on the carpet, then settled back down for the ride.  Oh dear.  Well.  I pulled over to the side of the road again, and assessed the damage.  Hmmm, not pretty, but not horrible, either. I cleaned up the carpet, wedged some paper towels under the pan to try to stablize it, and started out again.  Another hill, another "sploosh" and another chunk on the floor.   There was no way I could serve this to the workshop participants.   I wasn't too far out of town, and a turn-around point was coming up, so I did a U-turn and went to the gas station where I bought some chocolates to share. (Why had I opened the cookie tin last night? So much for my backup plan!)

Back on the road, I headed up and over the hills to school.  I glanced down at the flan and saw that things were going from bad to worse, and I realized that there was no way I could even offer it to the ladies in my office.  So, I pulled over to the side of the road again, intending to get rid of the evidence.  I gave that flan the heave-ho...but it had the last word.  As it landed with a resounding PLOP! it sprayed droplets of sugar and sand all over my black slacks.  By this time I was laughing so hard that I'm sure I looked like a crazy woman to anyone passing by. 

(I think I'll just buy cookies the next time and leave them in the car.)


Arlene said...

Excuse me while I run to the bathroom. :)

Janie said...

OMG! Hilarious! I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read this, I would have had it coming out my nose. Perhaps the store-bought cookie idea was the better plan. I knew I shouldn't have called you lazy,