Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Valentine's Dinner Debacle

I am never, ever eating crab-stuffed mushrooms again. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me backtrack to Thursday night, Feb. 14. My husband and I thought we'd crack open the Swank Diet book, which has a section on "The Cocktail Party," and pick out a few tasty-sounding items to have our own mini cocktail party (minus the cocktails, which was Mistake #1).

We chose the crab-stuffed mushrooms and shrimp balls (hahahahaha), and I secretly bought some heart-shaped aluminum pans to make, yes, heart-shaped cornbread. I also planned a reprise of the cupcakes. (You can read about my first experience with the cupcakes here: Something Looks Very, Very Wrong.)

Sounds adorable, right? Well, not so much. I made the cupcakes first. That is to say, I tried to make the cupcakes first. The batter was stiff and unyielding. I could barely stir it. Foolishly, I crammed the thick wad into our food processor. The machine made some alarming groaning noises while I stood and stared at it. Yes, it occurred to me that I should hit the "off" switch, but somehow I kept thinking if I let the processor noisily grind on, the clump of cupcake batter would start to liquefy. Instead, I noticed a smell, followed very quickly by smoke. "Huh," I thought. "That is bad."

I laboriously scraped out the heavy wad of dough, which in no way resembled anything I could cram into the 12 small hollows in the cupcake pan. I eyed the heart-shaped aluminum pans. A ha! I could use one of them for the cupcakes, which I had now decided would be more like a large brownie. Problem solved! I spread the dough into the tray and popped it in the oven and turned my attention to the cornbread. This recipe has quickly become a favorite, so I had no problems with it. The brownie took a long time to bake. Like, twice as long as the recipe said it would take. When the center was finally not raw, the edges had stiffened to a rock-like consistency. I was hopeful that a liberal application of fat-free frozen yogurt would help.

"Hey, this isn't fat free!"
Except, as Wee Squeaky helpfully points out above, I had neglected to BUY fat-free frozen yogurt, so excited was I at the prospect of the peanut butter cups and graham cracker bits. Blast!! So much for rescuing the rock-like brownie with yummy yogurt.

Let's move on to the main courses: the shrimp balls and crab-stuffed mushrooms. My husband and I made these together, which was fun. We turned on some music and chopped and sauteed away, enjoying the experience and the smells of what was sure to be a delightful dinner. Well. The shrimp balls were a bit bland, but with a heavy dose of seasoned salt, they were edible. The mushrooms were an altogether different story. Maybe the crab was off. Whatever the case, they made a rapid trip down the garbage disposal. It is important at this part of the story to note that they were large mushrooms I had bought. Like, golf-ball size. In my haste to be rid of the sight and smell of them, I crammed about 15 into the disposal and turned it on. (I should have learned a lesson after ruining the food processor.) But all seemed well. Until this morning.

I had noticed a vague odor in the basement, but that's where we keep the litterboxes, so I assumed one of the cats had recently paid a visit. I did my daily scoop, but the smell was still there. It was quite gross.

"Did one of the cats refuse to use the box?" I wondered. I followed the bad smell into the bathroom. The scene that followed is as horrible as the shower scene from Psycho. You've been warned. I pulled back the shower curtain to reveal THIS:

Something smelly exploded in the shower.
Capt. Nap? Squeaky? Who is responsible for this? More importantly, who is going to clean it?
I shrieked and called over my husband. We stared in appalled horror. Naturally, I thought one of the cats might have crept into the shower and, well, vomited, but whatever was all over the shower floor had a familiar smell. Like CRAB AND MUSHROOMS. I reported this to my husband, who then asked what had happened to the remains of our dinner. I told him about jamming the entire mess into the garbage disposal. He sighed. Apparently, there was some kind of backup and it's bad to do what I did. Ugh. He left to get some drain cleaner and I just left the house. No, not really (although I was sorely tempted). I hauled out a sponge, some gloves, and some Comet and began scrubbing.

This episode was as revolting as you probably are imagining. And that's why I am never, ever eating crab-stuffed mushrooms again. Ever.


  1. That is WEIRD! It really looks like cat litter. So that stuff is mashed up crab & mushrooms, regurgitated into your shower?? (I INSIST on being upgraded to the unfouled shower next visit, btw, Ms. CP!!). How ick-y. Well, I hope the REST (wink-wink) of your Val Day was truly romantic and made up for this sad, sad dinner. BTW: how did the cupcake brownie taste? You did not address this. Was it edible at all? MK

    1. Yep, it really is mashed up crab-n-mushrooms. Nauseating. Haha, okay on the shower upgrade (for a small fee).

      The REST of our Val Day was much better. The brownie -- the part that we could saw into with forks/knives -- was edible.

  2. Opsy...sounds like a bit of a disaster. But on the bright side, you and hubs spent some quality time together (cooking I mean).

    1. Karen, it was a Valentine's Day for the books, that's for sure. ("Remember when we made those crab-stuffed mushrooms back in 2013?... hahahaha [laughing delightedly at the memory]...")

      Have you ever had problems with the cupcakes? I have been careful about following the recipe both times (especially the second time!).

    2. I have made the cupcakes 3 times, they turned out great, but I must admit, I didn't follow directions. I mix all the dry ingredients together, then all the wet together. Then I add the wet to the dry, and STIR until JUST mixed. Never beat cupcake batter or they will flop! I have been baking for almost 35 years, experience is a great teacher.

    3. Hmmmm, I will try that next time. The flavor has been good, and the first time, with the Crater Cupcakes, they were a nice brownie-like consistency. The second time they came out like a rock. Both times, though, I beat them (until I broke the food processor). I'll report on my next effort, using your tips. Thanks!

  3. Oh dear. Rueful laughter from this corner. We don't have a garbage disposal unit - compost bins and worm farm instead. And I also want to know about the cupcake thingie. That recipe is giving you a LOT of grief isn't it? And I know the search and destroy mission hunting out inappropriately laid UDOs (unidentified disgusting objects) far too well. In this house our UDOs relate to the digestive processes of cats. Urk.

    1. EC, I've thought about the compost/worm farm solution. I'll have to see if our super-strict homeowner's association allows it, as I assume the compost bins go outside. (One has to ask our HOA permission for practically anything.)

      Ha! I think all cat owners can relate to UDOs, but I love that acronym and am stealing it immediately!

  4. Hmm... sounds similar to gluten free baking... yike!

    How weird that it came up in your shower. That's a new one to me. Although we had septic tank problems for a long time. Every once in a while when the laundry was being spun, bad things would suddenly reappear as a gushing fountain in the toilet downstream. If you didn't make it to the washing machine in time to stop it as soon as you heard the first tell-tale "glug-glug" sounds.... you'd be spending a lot of time with a mop in the bathroom and surrounding area. However...this... I think I can actually smell it... :-(

    1. Are you on a gluten-free diet? I've found the baking part of the Swank Diet to yield mixed results. Cupcakes: not so great. Cornbread: DG (damn good).

      Wow, a gushing fountain of bad things sounds amusing in a horrible way (your description is amusing, anyway). The time with the mop does not.

      If you can smell the horror that was in my shower, then I've done my job. I don't think the pictures adequately conveyed it.

  5. Hey Cranky!
    Sounds like you had an interesting Valentine's Day! Bit icky with the shower though.
    Glad to see Wee Squeaky making a guest appearance!
    I don't have garbage disposal, just a little tub on the top of my fridge where all the food slops go, then get decanted into biodegradable bags which the Council collects every week. God knows what they do with it. Why am I telling you this???
    I'd better go off to work - yet another bathroom fit. Meh. If I see one more soil stack, I swear.....

    1. Hi SIF! Yes, the V-Day was...interesting. Actually, it was a holiday we enjoyed for days, since we didn't notice the shower business until yesterday. [shudder]

      I am always a bit suspicious of sending off recycling, as I, too, wonder what *really* happens to it. How interesting that your food remnants are collected, though. (See, I'm interested! That may say something about the quality of my entertainment 'round these parts, though.)

      Hoping you don't see any soil stacks. Meh.


  6. Bless! Yup, we're very forward-looking here. I think/hope.

    Just the one soil stack today, but very stinky. Didn't help that I ate three boiled eggs as we stood looking at it, lol. Gives me protein, but the builder shudders every time I pull out my little foil-wrapped pack of eggs.

    What will I have to talk about once I have a proper job?!

    1. I'd think boiled eggs plus soil stacks (and I'm not entirely clear what those are, actually) might be bad.

      Oh, once you have a proper job you'll have annoying coworkers with their grating habits and a micromanaging boss to talk about (as long as they don't know who you are!), if my experience in the workplace is any guide.