Thursday, October 22, 2009

Failure is NOT an Option's not optional because it's already here!

But do you know what the great thing about failure is? Failure is one hell of a teacher!

Thomas Edison reportedly said in response to the number of failures he went through to create a functional light bulb, "I didn't fail. I just discovered ten thousand ways NOT to make a light bulb." [Andy Andrews pg 11]

This is what I wanted to make, Apple Smoked Apple Dumplings.

Jeanie made the one above over at Cowgirl's Country Life. I've been a huge fan of her blog for several months. If you haven't seen her blog you just have to go look at it. She is the ultimate "from scratch" cook. She even RAISES HER OWN SHRIMP for St. Jimmy's sake! I challenge you to read her blog and not be envious of the cowgirl's life she is living. It's literally home, home on the range. No conference calls, no meetings, and no suburbs.

So things started off well, I cored the apples

and peeled and sliced them into 4 thick slices each

I rolled out a refrigerated pie dough (a family recipe....if your family name is Pilsbury!) and reassembled the apple slices with a cinnamon/brown sugar mix (1 T cinnamon/half cup brown sugar) between the layers.

Then I wrapped it up snug as a bug with the pie dough.

I gave it a little egg wash, sprinkled some more cinnamon sugar, topped with a pat of butter, and then put them on the Big Green Egg at 300f with some apple wood chips.

While the dumplings were smoking, I made a caramel sauce from scratch from Joy of Cooking. One cup of sugar topped with 1/4 cup water-

Swirled gently over medium heat until the sugar fully dissolves and the mixture is clear like this-

Then I raised the heat and covered for 2 minutes. Uncover and let boil. When the color goes from this

to this

Swirl the mix again and remove from heat. (I love how I caught the liquid still swirling after I put the pan down here.)

Pour in 1/3 cup water, carefully as it will steam and splatter. Stir together until smooth. It didn't look like the light brown caramel sauce you buy for ice cream but the flavor was amazing.

Meanwhile, Alexis was making whipped cream so I went to check on our apples, since they were almost done. I opened the Egg and......OH SNAP, EPIC FAIL!

Most of the pie dough fell off. The post mortem analysis came back to two things. First, we used fuji apples, not the best for baking. Second and more importantly, I didn't want the apple slices to oxidize or brown while I got everything ready so I put them in ice water. DOH! Or should I say DOUGH! The moisture leaching out from the soaked apples during the cooking made the dough fall apart. (Quit snickering Greg. Just because you can do a full week of apple recipes and nail it, yet I can't even make it through one day...)

So it wasn't pretty at all but it still tasted GREAT! The crisp texture of the dough, the cinnamony sweet apple, the bite of the caramel sauce, and the kiss of whipped cream were phenomenal.

If this had gone perfectly smooth, I wouldn't have learned as much as I did through my partial failure.

The exact conversation Alexis and I had went like this:

"I'm not mad, I know what went wrong." I said, dining on the apple crumble mess, "We have more right?"

"Four granny smith apples and four crusts," she confirmed and then added, "Two more times to mess up!"

"That's the spirit!"

So share a "failure" you had in the kitchen and do you think you learned more from it than initial success would have taught you?