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Friday, January 23, 2015

Do you scrape burnt toast?

Okay all of you frugal divas out there, when you burn the toast, do you scrape off the burnt portion, but consume the rest? Or if you burn the bottoms of a batch of cookies, slightly, do you scrape the cookie bottoms, then place the cleaned-up cookies in with the rest of the batch?

How about scorching a pot of something, on the stove? Do you try to salvage that, as well? I suspect many of us do these things.

after I picked out the burnt pieces

Yesterday afternoon, while resting on the sofa after a morning of playing with a 4 year old for several hours, I was "multi-tasking" (hardly so, as I was technically on. the. couch.) with a batch of candied orange peel cooking on the stove. "Mmmm, what's that delicious, savory smelling thing cooking in the kitchen," I thought to myself. I leapt off the sofa, into the kitchen, to find the bottom of the pan of candied orange a bit scorched. I quickly dumped the whole batch onto a sheet of waxed paper, leaving the scorched mess in the pan. Tasting it, all but the burnt pieces tasted just fine.

I use the same technique my mother always employed, when scorching a sauce or custard. Here are her "rules":

  • stop stirring!! You want to minimize the incorporation of scorched matter into the non-scorched. If you catch it early enough, the scorched flavors have not yet mingled with the fresh flavors.
  • empty the contents of the pot into a fresh container, without disturbing the scorched matter left in the pot. (In other words, this one time, do not try to scrape everything out of the pot.)
  • taste
  • if there remains a hint of smokiness to the sauce, you can try "fixing" it. If it is a sweet item, such as a custard, an additional 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, or a sprinkling of nutmeg, plus a spoonful of sugar will often mask any lingering scorched flavor. If it is a savory item, a bit more crushed herbs, some minced garlic or onions, or a spoonful of ketchup, will often cover up any tell-tale flavor. But I'd like to share with you one savory item that I left just as it was, after a bit of scorching. It was a batch of salsa. The hint of smokiness, I thought, enhanced the resulting flavor, and I left it just as is. It wasn't badly scorched, and I "attributed" the smokiness to the "chipotle peppers" (there weren't any chipotles).

Most of the time, as the cook, we're hyper-sensitive to any imperfections in the finished product. I've found that my family either has no taste buds whatsoever, or else they're very forgiving. For this little mishap, I simply won't mention the scorching of the candied orange peel. They'll devour it all, even so.

And as for the few pieces of orange peel that were actually burnt, I was still in desperate need of either rest or caffeine. I brewed myself a cup of tea, adding those slightly burned pieces of orange peel to my cup. And I tried to convince myself that I was sipping a nice cup of Lapsang Souchong (smoky-flavored tea).

Have a lovely weekend.



Kris said...

Burnt toast I might toss ... but I try to salvage what I can from burned meals. I think the key is to avoid panic--panic leads me to scraping up burned bits from the bottom of the pan, staying calm helps me to avoid doing that.

Lili said...

Hi Kris,
Very wise! Panic in the kitchen is never a good thing.

Do you know, in my head, I can still hear the sound of my mom scraping toast with a table knife, standing over the kitchen sink.

ruthie said...

When I burn toast, I give it to my husband. He loves well done toast. As for other items, I try to scrape and salvage what I can.

Anonymous said...

Yes to the toast, yes to the cookies, yes to attempting to salvage scorched pot contents!
Thanks for sharing your mom's rules.
I love your creativeness with the 'chipotle' salsa and the 'Lapsang Souchong'!
Jo Ann

Lili said...

Hi Ruthie,
hmmm, now there's another way to look at the burnt toast -- "well done", not burnt! I guess some folks like their toast "rare". I think I'm a "medium" done toast person.

Lili said...

Hi Jo Ann,
Yea for another salvager!
Once I got over the fact that I'd put burnt pieces of orange peel into my tea, my "Lapsang Souchong" was actually quite enjoyable!

Anonymous said...

Yes to all - it's very ingrained - I can't help it!

Lili said...

Hi Dar,
yes, ingrained! I understand that, totally!

EcoCatLady said...

Ha! I always salvage what I can. My most common disaster is overdoing it with roasted veggies. More than once I have cut the burnt bits off of a pan of roasted cauliflower! And I'm totally with you on the smoky flavor - if it was a savory dish, my tendency would be to enhance it with a few shakes of liquid smoke - just like it was meant to be that way!

Anne in the kitchen said...

I thought everyone scraped toast and cut the bottoms off cookies. I salvage what is salvageable. If (when) I overcook a pot of beans I use one of my grandmother's tips ( and it does work unless the beans are charcoal on the bottom) Toast 2 slices of bread until they are dry but not over toasted. Remove the beans from the pot and put into a clean one. (like you and Kris mentioned, be patient and don't scrape up the burned bits) Add fresh liquid and float the toast on top of the beans. Cover and let it set a few minutes. Remove the toast,taste the beans and if they are still too smoky tasting do the toast thing again. It has saved me countless pots of beans.

Anonymous said...

Yes to all the above-cookies, toast, scorched items. (I also do the same with my Earl Grey tea bags) I too use a knife on the toast-just yesterday as a matter of fact! I remember once when my mother scorched a huge pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove..She poured in into another pot and added a couple of slices of raw potato. They absorbed much of the "scorch". She then added a tad of sugar and no one was the wiser, except (as Lili says) the hyper sensitive cook! Thank you for your posts Lili!

Anonymous said...

Oops! The tea bag comment was relevant to your facebook post re: reusing the ginger peach teabags. I'm getting my social media mixed up!

Lili said...

Hi Cat,
Oh now, using a bit of liquid smoke is brilliant! "It was supposed to be smokey!"

Lili said...

Hi Anne,
I've not heard of that before. I will definitely give toasted bread a try! How very clever! Don't it make you wonder what made someone think to put toasted bread into the bean pot, to absorb the burnt flavor, in the first place?

Lili said...

Hi there,
I have heard of using potato in a pot to absorb too much salt, but not with the smokiness of a scorched food. I will give that a try, too! Thank you! I wonder how that would have worked with my scorched batch of salsa? Tomato sauces/salsas seem to scorch so easily.
Thanks for your suggestion!

Lili said...

No worries. I get my own stuff all confused, and I'm the one who posted it! (What does that say about my poor, befuddled, aging brain?!!!)

Anonymous said...

My toaster oven is so ineffective it never burns toast. I use the same method as you when I scorch a sauce, don't stir just dump fast.

Lili said...

Ha, ha, Linda!
So I guess you get very "rare" toast, just barely warmed! Perhaps your toaster oven also uses very little electricity -- which would be a bonus feature!

Live and Learn said...

Interesting. I can salvage almost anything except burnt green beans. To me, they smell worse than any other burned thing. Sometimes all of the techniques used above just don't salvage them and they go out. Far out, so I can't smell them any more.

Lili said...

Hi live and learn,
burnt green beans, I don't know if I've ever smelled that. But I'll take your word for it, that it's bad.
And I just knew, that you, too, would be a salvager!

Everyday Life On A Shoestring said...

Certainly I'm a burnt toast salvager and whatever else I can too! When I was an au pair in Germany one of my parting shots before I returned home was cooking some tomato sauce. When I added the salt, the lid of the container fell off and the entire contents fell 'boss' salvaged the pan of sauce, froze it and used it in small amounts with lots of extra tomatoes. They thought of me for many months to come, every time they ate pasta and sauce!

Lili said...

Hi Sarah,
Oh, no! I'm sure you felt horrible at the time. But you did make a memorable exit! And clever of your "boss" to freeze the sauce in small amounts to use later, just a bit at a time.
Of course, I just knew that you'd be a burnt toast scraper, too!

Belinda said...

I would definitely scrape the bottom off of burnt cookies. Way to many ingredients to "lose" otherwise. Toast? My toaster would have to actually burn it first, lol. Our toaster loves to stop toasting if you use it too long and you have to hold the button down to toast. Such a wonderful toaster (insert sarcasm, lol) ;) I would have done what you did with the candied orange peel and even eaten it too. :) Too much work not to try and rescue it.

Lili said...

You make good points, Belinda. Too many ingredients would be wasted and the time invested already would count for naught, if I just dumped out something that was salvageable.
What is it with toasters?! For several years, we had one which wouldn't pop the toast back up. We had to stand there and watch for the toast to be done, else it would burn. One may not realize, but bread IS flammable!!!

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