Yesterday I made mini stuffed meatloaf and scalloped potatoes (from our garden) for dinner. These little things are delicious. They are individual meat loaves, stuffed with a sweet pepper that is stuffed with cheese. The outside of each loaf is coated in BBQ sauce and individually wrapped in foil. They are baked at a low temp (325 degrees) for a couple hours.
So to get a grip on my day, I put the foil wrapped loaves in the oven as I’m walking out the door to shuttle the kids to their bowling league. I’m happily chatting away with one of my girlfriends at the bowling alley when my phone plays that familiar ringtone…it’s my husband.
Me: Hi Babe
Hubby: Hi Honey. Ummm….the house smells amazing but those things in the oven are sizzling and dripping all over the bottom of the oven.
Me: It’s ok. Just put a cookie sheet underneath them to catch the drippings.
Hubby: Are you sure? It smells like they are done.
Me: Of course I’m sure! Just put the cookie sheet under them and leave them alone.
Hubby: Ok. Love you.
Me: Love you too. Bye.
I get back to my conversation with my friend and don’t give the meatloaves another thought. We head home and I’m thinking about the delicious dinner slowly cooking in the kitchen. As soon as we walk in the house, the whole evening changed from delight to disaster. The house smelled like burnt drippings at the bottom of the oven. You see..before my husband called, the little loaves had been dripping for a long time. Yes, my husband put a cookie sheet underneath and it was doing its job but there was a lot of burned yuckiness at the bottom of the oven. I open the door and pull one loaf out to check the doneness. The meat is thoroughly cooked and technically, they were ready to eat. But I wanted a little crunch on the outside so I pop them back into the oven, turn up the heat and head out to the garden to harvest the red potatoes for the side dish.
Now, there is one major flaw in the design of my home…our smoke detector…the one closest to the kitchen…is in a closed off hallway with no ventilation. That darn thing goes off pretty much anytime I cook anything. It’s just a design flaw…I swear. So I’m outside, my husband is in the shower, my son is playing on his computer and my daughter is making dessert in the kitchen. The smoke alarm starts to go off. I’m leisurely walking back to the house silently swearing at the flaw of the house design when my daughter comes busting through the door screaming that smoke is coming from the oven and swearing that she saw flames!!!! My daughter is 11…she’s dramatic! I step up my pace but I don’t break into a sprint. I walk in the house and it is filled with smoke. And the smoke alarm triggers our house alarm and my husband comes running down stairs, soaking wet and in just a towel. I turn the oven off (and by the way, I saw flames too so I felt a little guilty about thinking that my daughter was being overly dramatic). I go to the house alarm keypad and of course, I can’t remember the dang code. I hit the smoke detector button with the broom handle (a common occurrence around here) and everything goes silent. Whew! But the oven is still smoking and the kids (and pets) are going nuts. We open all the doors and turn on all the fans and I’m thinking we are ordering pizza for dinner. As I wait for the smoke to clear from the oven, I start on the scalloped potatoes, determined that they will still be a tasty side dish, even if it is with pizza.
Luckily, we have double ovens so I pop the scalloped potatoes in the smokeless oven and, with broomstick in one hand, cautiously use my free hand to open the top oven door to retrieve my disastrous meat loaves. I pull them out and open them up and they look…and smell…surprisingly…delicious! The outside of the aluminum foil is a bit charred but the loaves themselves are cooked to perfection. I let them rest as the scalloped potatoes finished up and called to the family that dinner is ready. We sat down in our stinky, still somewhat smokey kitchen, and had an excellent dinner. I smiled to myself when I realized this truly paid homage to the tagline of my blog: Cooking by Trial and Error!