Dropping the Ball

3 Jan

On New Year’s Eve this year lots of my friends were joking on Facebook about how old and lame they had become.  Whether it was watching a pay-per-view movie or going to bed at 10pm…or both…many of the exhausted parents in my group of friends were ruefully lamenting how this generally adult-oriented night had turned into yet another bedraggled and sleepy event — devoid of sparkle.

New Baby, New Year - 2006

Never mind that I rarely had a fun New Year’s Eve when I was single.  In fact, my very worst New Year’s Eves were from my seven years living in Manhattan.  Everyone thinks it’s such the fab place to be on that night of nights.  But the truths are as follows:

1) No New Yorker in his or her right mind goes within confetti-throwing distance of the odious ball-drop and its gajillion out-of-town spectators.

2) Every bar or restaurant in New York is charging a massive cover, and you have to go to one of them, because nobody’s apartment is big enough for a party.

3) You will arrive at said bar, get sloshed, hit on a stranger-who-knows-your-friends and then end up coming home alone and drunk and disappointed that another year has passed and you have utterly failed to change your personal life.

4) You will not (I repeat WILL NOT) get a cab.  Sorry.  Also, it will be freezing cold while you don’t get a cab.

5) Hangover.

So let me say that I do realize my New Year’s Eve situation was never that glamorous to begin with.  However, being home in your flannel PJs with cheerios on your floor does somehow feel…unfestive.

Dan and I have tried, in the past, to juice up New Year’s Eve by finding a new movie rental and planning a special dinner.  Usually it’s something that is a little fancy (like crabcakes) but which can be prepared very quickly after the kids are in bed.  We are too tired to make a production out of it.  This year we ended up landing on an appropriately swanky-sounding menu: scallops in champagne and shiitake mushroom sauce, with broccoli rabe on the side.  Good, right?  Scallops…CHAMPAGNE…fancy green vegetable.

Oh, people.  Did we mess it up.  I followed the instructions I found online for broccoli rabe.  These instructions said to boil the veggie for 6 minutes and then drain and saute in olive oil and garlic and lemon juice.  I thought I should cut the stems off because they would boil slower than the leaves.  So I boiled the stems for about 6 minutes and threw in the leaves for only a few minutes.  But only one or two minutes in the saute pan and the whole thing turned mushy and brown.  Furthermore, I put WAY too much lemon juice on it.  So it was mushy, brown, BITTER, and also sour.  Yes.  Also sour.  Inedible.

Meanwhile, Dan was sauteing the scallops, which is not a new skill for him.  For whatever reason, though, the cooking Gods had been angered. The wee sea creatures wouldn’t brown.  What they DID do was start to stick and fall to pieces.  We finally gave up on much color and figured they were cooked. Removed them.  Made the sauce, which was sort of a sour-cream and champagne with a touch of mustard – like a creamy mushroom sauce with kick.  We made twice the required amount of sauce because we feel like we never have enough sauce.

As Dan is doing the sauce, I throw out the disgusting brown-and-green barfoli rabe and dump half a box of baby spinach in the same pan with a new slosh of lemon juice.  Another mistake.  The baby spinach drowns in lemon juice and becomes limp, mushy and…YES…SOUR.  What the heck was wrong with me?  I refused to admit defeat, so I plated it, Dan plated the scallops and drowned them in what rapidly appeared to be too much sauce, and we sat down.

It was like eating scallops in swedish meatball sauce.  I found it pretty revolting.  And the spinach was TERRIBLE.  I fished out and ate just the scallops and swallowed down my sour spinach.  Then I walked into the kitchen and ate a piece of chocolate chip banana bread just to get the taste out of my mouth.

A most inauspicious ending to 2010.  Culinary catastrophe.

You will feel lucky when I tell you I did NOT take any pictures of this meal.  I shudder just thinking about it.  The recipe for the scallops has been thrown in the trash.

If anyone out there has a broccoli rabe recipe they really love, please share it.  No Swedish-scallop-mushroom-ball-with-champagne recipes will be entertained, however.  I’m permanently scarred.

Dan and I adjourned to our cozy bed with a glass of champagne after that and watched Easy A from the Redbox rental.  We were asleep by 11pm.  But, hey, I didn’t have to chase down any cabs.

May 2011 bring you perfectly cooked scallops and edible vegetables.  Onward!

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14 Responses to “Dropping the Ball”

  1. Rachel Roland January 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    Oh no! I hate when I plan a meal and it gets turned upside down. Sorry it was a bummer – at least you had champagne, right?

    • frazzledfoodie January 3, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

      Yes – what was not wasted on the swedish scallop debacle was employed as an anti-depressant after dinner.

  2. Kris January 3, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    Hey, I had culinary disaster, too! I had planned to make hot wings, which I normally put on the grill, but it was dark by the time I got started and I didn’t trust my ability to correctly judge doneness in the dark, so I put them in the oven.

    Yeah, don’t do that. Oven-baked wings, even on the broiler pan, are nasty, mushy, greasy things. In retrospect I probably should have, you know, broiled them, but that would have involved moving my oven stone to put the rack up high and I was lazy.

    The worst of it was – I was committed to take them to the neighbors’ house. I made a quick batch of queso and opened some chips and hoped that no one would notice the wings too much. They didn’t – everyone had one to be polite and they sat there untouched the rest of the evening. In the trash later on.

    The neighbor had said he was grilling burgers, but it turned out they were venison burgers. Bambi meat doesn’t agree with me. So between that and the bad wings I was pretty hungry and scarfing down the queso. Great dinner there.

    Oh, and I grabbed the wrong bottle of margarita mix at the grocery store – sugar free – so we had nasty diet-flavored margaritas. I drink diet soda like water but margaritas should not, in my opinion, be diet-flavored.

    Fortunately the neighbors are as lame as we are, and we were all done by 10 PM and I was asleep by 10:30.

    It’s really sad, isn’t it? I can remember babysitting my siblings on New Year’s Eve when my parents went out to parties and would have been about the same age I am now. How did they manage?

    • frazzledfoodie January 3, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

      This totally made me laugh – thank you! As we said, at least we weren’t serving them to anyone. Private humiliation…until now.

  3. momfog September 3, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    I spend New Years Eve at church. I don’t recommend it. I love, love, love my church people, but they are not exactly…fun. And zero alcohol, of course. Not that I’m a big drinker, but I like to toast in the New Year. Like Kris, I remember my parents going out to parties on New Year’s Eve. It’s a sad day when you realize your parents are cooler than you.

    • frazzledfoodie September 3, 2011 at 10:26 am #

      Yeah – I remember my parents going to parties and HAVING parties. I used to sneak in before the guests arrived and grab After Eight thin mints out of the candy dish. Alas, I am apparently dweebier than my folks. You hit the nail on the head!

  4. May September 3, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    I am very willing to be a dweeb on New Year’s Eve as is evident by the fact that your night sounds great to me. Laughter with the one I love. A story to tell. Warm and snug in my favorite place…home! May all our New Years be so happy!

  5. Katie September 3, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    Oh, no! And everything sounded like it would so yummy and sophisticated, too…it was a valiant effort; that’s for sure. I’ve never even attempted to cook scallops. For some reason, I have it in my head that they’d be hard to cook just right.

    Oh, and my New Years Eves are spent much the same way, except we don’t have kids. Like you, we enjoy our low-key “party nights” together, watching tv and cooking a fabulous meal…or at least trying to.

    Thanks so much for linking up with us at the Lightning and the Lightning Bug! Loved your story and loving your blog. Hope you’ll join us again. 🙂

  6. Patty September 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    As a native New Yorker, I couldn’t agree more about keeping a very safe distance from New Year’s Eve festivities in Manhattan. People that do head into the city that night all have death wishes, trust me.

    Ahhh…Broccoli Rapini…one of my favs!

    Usually, the Andy Boy brand is a good one to purchase. Too many others are extremely bitter. Rape can be steamed, boiled, stir-fried, sautéed, micro waved and braised, all yielding different textures. Blanching in salted water and shocking in ice water before cooking removes some of the bitterness.

    The prep should involve just this…Wash and spin-dry the broccoli di rape and remove the large tough leaves, leaving just tender leaves and flower buds. Cut off and discard the lower part of the stems, leaving broccoli about 8 inches long. Peel the stems by lifting strips from the stem end and drawing them up toward the bud area.

    Now, from here, you can put the Broccoli Rape into a pot of boiling water and let it simmer gently for about ten minutes; it should keep its green color. Drain it and put aside. Have a saute pan warming with Olive Oil covering the bottom and drop sliced Garlic into the warming oil..do not let the Garlic burn. Once it simmers, put in the Broccoli and let it saute, adding salt to taste. The stems should be fork tender.

    A very easy dish…Wash and trim Rape, as above; cut into 2″ pieces set aside. Boil water for Pasta..use an Orrichette (Bishop’s Caps) or even a Bow Tie pasta. Add to boiling water and, after 3 minutes, drop in the Broccoli, allow all to cook together. When pasta is tender, drain, return to pot, add Olive Oil, Garlic, Shredded Parmesan, some thinly-sliced Sun-Dried Tomatoes and stir over low heat. Serve with a crusty, warm Italian bread. (You can also add cooked, sliced Italian Sausage to this mixture, even cubed Ham.)

    Let me know if you try it again!

  7. Let Me Start By Saying September 3, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    NYE in NYC is, dare I say, rarely fun? The 1st time I ever rode a subway near someone who was in the midst of masturbating was while coming home from a NYE party. Yeah. Good times.

    I can’t believe how awful your dinner sounded. 🙂 Sorry, dear. But there was champagne and choc chip bread…can’t be a total loss of a night!

  8. logyexpress September 4, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Scallops in swedish meatball sauce made me laugh out loud. New Year’s is too high stakes to be fun. At least that’s what I think. My 2010 New Year’s was spent getting over norovirus, or whatever it was that made me and my husband vomit all night on the 30th. We might have been up to crackers and ginger ale by the 31st, I can’t remember!

  9. Allison at Motherhood, WTF? December 31, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    I’ve spent 2 NYEs in NYC. Both bad. Both extremely expensive. Both left me feeling inadequately wealthy, inadequately attractive, inadequately “in the know,” and inadequately coupled. These days ours are a lot like yours. A movie rental and special meal. To save us from having a catastrophe like yours, our meal comes from a restaurant. In fact, it’s 6:29 PM on NYE and I have one kid asleep, one about to go up and sushi and sake waiting for me. Afterwards will come champagne and Crazy, Stupid Love, followed by sleep by 11. Sounds good to me!

    • Naps Happen December 31, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

      Sounds heavenly! Dan and I do actually enjoy cooking – we are doing filet mignon tonight (in mushroom wine sauce) but it’s something we’ve made multiple times. Pairing it with brussels sprouts braised and sauteed with cider, bacon, and shallots and some smashed red potatoes. Bubbly chilling. Cheers to you and to a fabulous 2012! Enjoy your sake…

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