The great thing about cooking is that it is a great equalizer. Even the mighty sometimes fall as flat as a soufle taken from the oven too soon.Of course, that’s where the great stories and memories come in.
My mother-in-law, or one of the family members, recounts the same story of one of her fiascos every Thanksgiving.
She only cooked Thanksgiving dinner once, when her mother could no longer do it. After spending an entire day prepping, she made the pies — beautiful pumpkin pies, glistening and appealing. That night, she sat bolt upright in bed, realizing that she forgot to put sugar in them. Disaster averted.
I’ve forgotten to remove the paper-wrapped giblets from a Thanksgiving turkey; set fire to the kitchen curtains from a cheap wok that got too hot; forgotten about cakes in the oven until they became charcoal, and — I’ll never figure this one out — put pumpkin pie spice in a slow cooker pot roast.You’d think the whiff of cinnamon and allspice would have alerted me, but no.
Anyhoos, the other great thing about cooking disasters is that they rarely are life threatening. They could even save lives. We realized that we needed a new battery for our smoke alarm when it failed to go off even though those kitchen curtains were burning merrily.
What I’m getting at is, the holidays are here. You will be cooking more than usual, and maybe trying new things. Don’t sweat it. If it doesn’t turn out, or the video game diverts your attention just a few minutes too long, or the main course is a bigger disaster than the Charlies’ Angels reboot, just eat more sides or desserts. And chalk it up to experience. But go out and get a fire extinguisher, just in case…
Foolproof (99 percent) Pineapple Casserole
I thought everyone knew how to make this old standy. But at recent potlucks, it was devoured and people demanded the recipe. It’s perfectly easy and rich enough to suit any holiday buffet. I’ve been making this for 15 years and have adjusted the ingredients to this consistent standard recipe:
2 20-ounce cans pineapple chunks, drained
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
1 stick (8 Tbsp.) butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a 9×13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
Spread pineapple chunks in bottom of dish.
In a bowl, combine sugar and flour. Sprinkle evenly over pineapple.
Top with cheese.
(At this point, you can refrigerate the dish if you need to cook it later.)
Cover evenly with cracker crumbs and drizzle melted butter over top.
Bake 25 minutes, uncovered, until bubbling.