Here is an entirely fictitious example*:
My husband has a craving for a home-cooked Italian meal. No problem. I can whip that up easily. Except that I'm out of garlic. Which means a quick trip to the store, because who ever heard of Italian food without garlic? But it would be a waste of gas to go to the store for just one bulb of garlic. So I need to write out a shopping list. And to do that I need to do a little menu planning for the next couple of days.
Thinking about what I want to make for dinners, I remember that my daughter has been begging me to make the fabulous dish we saw in the Gourmet magazine that came last week. I add that to the menu, and then recall that I can't add the ingredients to my shopping list as I loaned that magazine to my neighbor, Gladys, to read the amusing article about shopping for truffles in Paris.
I can't go ask for the magazine back unless I take back to her the little slugger baseball cake pan that I borrowed from her 2 months ago, saying I needed to make that cake for one of my son's baseball games. And tomorrow is his last baseball game. And if I'm going to take it tomorrow, I'd better make it today so I'll have time to frost and decorate it. So I spend the rest of the afternoon baking the cake and serve boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner.
The best of intentions defeated by sequencing.
Now to the real life example. In one of the multitude of cookbooks I've looked through in the last 3 months I saw a recipe for cookies with white chocolate and macadamia nuts. It looked yummy, but I never have macadamia nuts on hand. So I tucked that into my brain - "buy macadamia nuts!" It sat there dormant in the back of my brain until I was walking through the produce section at the grocery store and spotted bins of bulk nuts. Aha - they had macadamia nuts! Even though I sucked wind at the price, I bought a largish bagful because "It's for the blog."
So I brought my nuts home and tucked them away in my baking drawer, nestled between the flour and the sugar where they would be safe from little snackers. There they languished as I moved on to the next item in the sequence - white chocolate. That required a special trip. Of course I couldn't make a trip just for white chocolate, so I had to wait for the next time I was making a Trader Joe's run to pick up a chunk of Ghirradelli white chocolate.
And home to make the cookies! Or not. Where was that recipe??? I scoured my cookbooks to no avail. I went to the library and looked through books I'd recently checked out. What's the deal? Why does no one have a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie recipe? So I adapted one that I'd found for a white chocolate pecan cookie. Close enough.
I got all the ingredients together, measured, chopped, mixed, and just before adding the nuts realized that they were salted. Aaack! Were my cookies going to be too salty? They should post these things on the bins! "Roasted, SALTED macadamia nuts." Too late now. I figured that white chocolate is quite sweet and maybe the flavors would balance out. Maybe they would be wonderful together. Or not.
As I scooped out the cookie dough I tasted a macadamia nut. It was bad. Bad like rancid, seriously old and stale. I don't know if it was bad when I bought it or went bad while I was waiting to make the cookies but this was the kind of bad that takes over every other flavor. I had hopes the white chocolate would mask the rancid taste - it didn't.
So today I give you a wonderful recipe for cookies which will taste fabulous - if you don't use bad nuts! Buy your nuts in a sealed package. Store them in the freezer. Taste before stirring them into your dough. Because, aside from tasting foul, these are wonderful cookies.
White Chocolate Chunk Macadamia Nut Cookies (adapted from Mrs Fields Best Ever Cookie Book)
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 sticks salted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz macadamia nuts, chopped (about 1 cup)
8 oz. good white chocolate bar, coarsely chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
1- Preheat oven to 300 deg. F, with the racks dividing the oven into thirds.
2- Into a medium bowl sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Set aside.
3- In a large mixing bowl mix together butter and sugars. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as it forms a grainy paste. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
4- Add the flour mixture, macadamia nuts (quick taste test for freshness first), and white chocolate, and blend at low speed until just combined. Do not overmix.
5- Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between dough mounds. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets top to bottom halfway through baking. Take out when the cookie edges just begin to turn golden brown. Use a spatula to transfer cookies immediately to a cool, flat surface (like a clean countertop). This keeps the cookies moist on the underside.
Makes about 3 dozen
* (Disclaimer: My husband does not, nor has he ever, to the best of my knowledge craved Italian food. I do not have a subscription to Gourmet magazine. I do not have a neighbor named Gladys. I do not have a son that is currently playing baseball. While I have been known to make boxed macaroni and cheese, I would never admit it.)