The church I’ve been attending is having a potluck-ish type of get together tomorrow and rather than bring drinks or potato chips (my first thought,) I decided to be all fancy and make our family’s favorite dish – my mom’s hashbrown casserole.
:::cue ominous music:::
See, I have this thing with cooking. Cooking and I have an understanding. I will somehow manage to incorrectly follow the directions of every recipe I try, and in exchange for my continuing efforts, I will create somewhat edible dishes that my family will eat anyway. They’re not fancy or savory or really even good, per say, but they’re… digestible (see any number of links in the “cooking… not so much” section of this blog.)
Tonight’s attempt at a potluck meal proved no exception to the rule. First of all, when we copied the recipe we accidentally left out part of the directions for the topping. It’s just crackers and butter, but if you think that wouldn’t prove difficult for me, you have obviously never spent time with me in the kitchen. We’ve made it twice and have yet to figure out how much of each ingredient is the right amount, because we so obviously keep using the wrong amounts (yes, it is possible to mess up something containing only two ingredients, and yes, there is such a thing as too much butter.) I’d forgotten about our missing instructions until we’d already bought everything and, of course, I couldn’t reach my mom to ask her. So we did what we always do and guessed. Again.
Secondly, our little store didn’t have the right kind of hashbrowns. We’re supposed to use the little frozen square ones, so we did the next best thing… we bought the frozen hashbrown patties and Jon came up with a fun, no-fail method for chopping them quickly and (almost) effortlessly. And I did what I always do in these situations and grabbed my camera:
Rest assured, dear church family, those were for our own personal use. We used a slightly more subdued (and sanitary) method for the potluck dish. It wasn’t nearly as fun, and took twice as long. You’re welcome.
Thirdly, I didn’t consider how difficult casserole baking might be at our house. We have two ovens and they’re both broken in ways that don’t really affect us (frozen pizza and brownies are the only thing cooked in them 90% of the time and I happen to like my crust doughy and my brownies gooey in the middle.) Only the top heating element works downstairs, and the upstairs oven has only a working bottom element. Furthermore, the oven upstairs likes to stop working at random times, making real cooking a bit of a challenge (which, again, doesn’t actually affect our family in the slightest.) Two guesses as to which oven I used to cook my hashbrown casserole…
(Actually, I’m using both, thinking to start it in the upstairs oven and the finish it in the downstairs oven to, you know, balance things out. That makes perfect sense, right? Right?)
To add insult to injury, not only did the upstairs oven turn itself off halfway through our cook time, one of the kids also turned off the downstairs oven after we transferred them over. I am not making this up. I don’t even know how long they should be in there, now.
And finally, the coup de grâce: it didn’t even occur to me (until after we started cooking it) that hashbrown casserole would be a horrible dish to bring to a potluck taking place an hour from my home. Nor did it occur to me to wait until morning to actually cook it. Have you ever eaten cold hashbrown casserole? (Okay, well I like cold hashbrown casserole, but I also like cold meatloaf and creamed corn right out of the can, so that hardly counts.)
Maybe I’ll pick up a pizza on the way to church. Then again, maybe I wont. Maybe I’ll bring my nasty, cold, improperly chopped, inadequately baked hashbrown casserole right through those doors and expect to be loved, anyway.