Sometimes I absolutely love making dough. When I made this babka and the dough felt smooth and elastic as it should and it rose in the pan and then in the oven, I was beyond happy with myself. I felt like a baking goddess when I lifted the three hefty, chocolatey loaves from the oven. And I felt even more impressed with myself when my family ate the babka on Christmas Eve, even when faced with an entire table full of other delicious desserts that also wanted their attention.
Then other times I find myself sitting on my kitchen floor in agony, heart beating rapidly, because I have just tried to make dough – in this case pierogi dough – and it didn’t work. The dough was too dry to roll, so, after cutting out discs with a cookie cutter, I had pierogi shells that were much too thick. I also neglected to cover the dough with a towel, so a lovely flaky film was forming on top, one that felt a lot like dry skin.
It’s true that I tend to get upset in the kitchen, but in this case I had actually dropped to the floor for a reason. We had some plastic containers in our drying rack, and I wanted to put them away to distract myself.
The lower cabinet that holds our plastic containers happened to be overflowing at the time. Around the holidays, when there is plenty of leftover food after family dinners, the containers multiply in the cabinet like Mogwais. We had been throwing our holiday butter and Whipped Cream and yogurt containers on top of the old containers, making terribly skewed towers in the process. This had bothered me for weeks.
So I did what any reasonable person who is upset about their dry, unrollable dough would do. I reached forward from my spot on the floor, grabbed a few containers, and threw them.
Not far, and not at anything breakable. I just threw them at the other containers in the cabinet, which made the entire tower tumble down.
It felt amazing. It was such a release.
It also prompted Kenny to come in the kitchen to check on me. I’m sure I had an irritated comment to make at first. But he just calmly helped me pack up the old food containers into big white trash bags. Inspired by his even-headedness, I neatly stacked our good containers, the plastic ones with blue tops that we actually bought at the store, in the cabinet to keep.
Then I went back to my cooking. I cleaned the many pieces of my food processor, measured out flour and eggs, and started my second batch of dough. I added more water this time so the dough would be moist enough to roll and covered my dough circles with a towel to prevent them from drying out.
And because I rose up from my dejected position on the kitchen floor, all thanks to a few plastic containers, Kenny and I didn’t have to eat cereal for dinner that night. We had sweet farmer’s cheese pierogi instead.
How do you persevere through kitchen disaster? Do you try to salvage what you made? Do you have to regroup before attempting the recipe again, or do you calmly move on to your next batch? Please share your experiences with us.