One of my favorite sitcoms is Melissa & Joey, which was on Freeform (née ABC Family) and in an episode of their very first season, Mel and Joe–oh yeah, her name is weird because the character’s full name is Melanie, not Melissa–go to a fancy restaurant and their funny scene happens. Then the very last line is of Melissa Joan Hart smiling and saying, “You know the best thing about this whole ordeal? Untouched crab cakes.” She takes a forkful from the plate in front of her and sniffs it.
Ever since I saw that, I’ve wanted to make crab cakes, but when I saw the recipes, I thought, Yeah, I’m not ready for this yet. Well, I read the most popular recipe on the Food Network app and regained my faith in Paula Deen. (Those of you who’ve read my Southern Fried Chicken attempt know what I’m talking about. That was a really bad day.)
The recipe isn’t too complicated. In fact, the hardest part would probably be finding the right ingredients. I remember combining the garlic powder ingredient with salt because I wanted to use garlic salt instead. I was aware that there would be more garlic than the recipe wants, but it’s definitely a personal preference decision.
As I watched my hands chopping the green onions, my eyes started tearing up, which reminded me of the onion-dicing portion of my knife skills class. I learned from a classmate that it helps significantly if you breathe through your mouth as you do it. Because I prefer to breathe through my nose (I think it’s the singer in me), I have to constantly take breaks to use my mouth and remind myself to do it.
I had no idea what Worcestershire sauce was, but based on my brief research at the store, it is most commonly used as a salad dressing. I even checked the entire aisle, but nothing resembled it, so I looked up substitutions and Google said that BBQ sauce and soy sauce were good ones to use instead. We had both, but I chose to use BBQ sauce and went my way. Except…when I reached for the BBQ sauce in the fridge, guess what it was: Worcestershire sauce. So that was a good five to ten minutes wasted at the grocery store.
As far as the crabmeat went, I thought I had to ask someone for it and I get very anxious when I talk to other people. That’s why I looked up what it looks like online and searched under “shopping” when I couldn’t find it at the window of the meat department. It turns out that they come in cans, so I went straight to the canned foods section and clear as day, right at the center of the aisle were multiple cans of crabmeat. I had to do some math because I needed one pound. I’m still working on memorizing weights and measurements, so I had to look up how many oz. go into a pound. The cans held 4 oz., so I needed 16 to get what I needed. I grabbed four cans and went on my way.
I think the hardest part of actually cooking it was keeping it together. It was so moist and juicy that I had to drain it whenever I saw white liquid (which I assumed was the mayo, but it also could have been from the crabmeat since I didn’t drain it all that well). The recipe doesn’t specify how much flour you need, but rather “for dusting”, which implies you use just a little bit, right? A handful at most? Personally, I used the flour to keep the patties together.
I managed to form and cook eight…and then drop one, so I ended up with seven cakes. The recipe says it takes four to five minutes each for both sides to cook, but I thought it took longer, even at medium heat. You need to keep adding oil in order to keep it moist though, especially if you’re going to cook them in batches. My pan wasn’t too big, so I had to cook them four at a time.
When I told my mom, she said she’d eat one so the rest of us (Dad, sister who’s visiting for one night, and myself) could each have two. Mom and I ate first and since Dad is working 24 hours, we had to take dinner to him, especially since that would be the one of the only opportunities he and my sister would have to see each other. Mom said it was really good, which made my sister excited.
Once we got to Dad’s work, my sister took the food she was going to eat like a buffet because we had to combine the two servings and bring them together in a plastic container. She knew that he was probably starving, so she only took one patty and waited to see if he’d eat the third one.
He did. So I guess he was that hungry. We talked, laughed, they shared stories about their vacation to the Grand Canyon, and then we left about half an hour later. They both said it was really good, so that’s awesome.
So by now, I’m sure you notice my pattern: rice or garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, and my meat of choice. That’s my go-to meal, I suppose, even if I need to improvise. In fact, I think I’ve said this before, but if I were on Death Row, this would be my last meal: rice, green beans, and my mood-based meat.
Something I forgot to mention a few days ago is what I noticed with the pen markings on my jacket after the washer when I accidentally left my pens on my chef’s jacket. The pink color wasn’t pink after all; it was red. That was because the red pen was a click pen, so even if it isn’t technically open, the tip is still exposed so the ink could be sucked out. That’s why the pens with the caps didn’t open.
Speaking of pen trouble, during PCB (which my Sanitation & Safety professor was subbing), my pen started bleeding during the lecture, so it got all over my hands. Because this was an actual cooking course, I was worried that because it wouldn’t come off easily after a few attempts in the sink, I would end up wearing gloves in the kitchen. I asked my Sani & Safety professor, Chef Christine, if it was okay for me to work in the kitchen without gloves and she said it was fine as long as I washed my hands regularly while cooking. She specifically told me that at that point, the ink was already embedded into my skin so it wouldn’t affect the food. I was like, “Okay, good to know.”
And also, I cut myself again while chopping a tomato. Same place as the more serious time, but it was very minor–a paper cut at best. I took care of it myself: washed my hands with soap, put on a bandage, placed a cot over my finger (which is, let’s face it, a finger condom), trashed the tomato, and then washed the board and knife. When I got a fresh bandaid later right before Sani & Safety, Chef Christine ended up having to let me into the kitchen next door to the classroom since there wasn’t a first aid kit in the classroom. I told her that I had cut myself in the previous class and then taken care of it without telling anyone.
She didn’t find it too big a deal, so she let me slide, but she told me that I still should have told her so they could fill out an accident report. Honestly, I don’t think it was that serious, especially since I took care of it myself. It wasn’t like I saw a bit of bone peeking through.
On that note, break an egg!