My Kitchen Non-Success Story

After college, I served for a time as a substitute teacher at my church’s pre-school. One morning, I made conversation with the children while they colored. One little boy soberly confessed to me, “My cubby hole is a juraster.” I pondered this for a moment and realized he was admitting that his cubby was a disaster. This was not long after the movie Jurassic Park had hit theaters, so I understood his confusion. The term “jurassic” describes a time period characterized by an abundance of dinosaurs. A disaster of Jurassic proportions, I thought. What a description.

“Juraster” became part of my family’s lexicon. Now, almost twenty years later, I still say this word; my husband has picked up on it, too.

Once in a while, I create a juraster of my own. This week, for instance:  I tried my hand at making homemade cough drops. I’d pinned a recipe for this long ago but had hesitated attempting it because the idea of getting the concoction to reach a certain, exact temperature sounded too–well, exact. As in, no room for error.

But then my friend Sara posted about her homemade cough drops on Facebook. “It’s just boiling tea and honey together. No big deal.” She downplayed the recipe–and her own accomplishment–to the point that I thought, I’ll give it a try!

I DID try. I used the recipe from Sara as a guideline–I didn’t have fresh herbs, but I had herbal tea, plenty of honey, essential oils. And a candy thermometer. So I started cooking the mixture–water, honey, mint tea bag. Bedtime for my boys arrived, so I turned the temperature down low but let it keep cooking. This was when that “abundance of dinosaurs” came trampling in.

It ended up cooking on low for about a half hour before I came back downstairs and increased the heat so I could get it to boil. I kept checking with the candy thermometer but never saw the temp rise to “hard crack stage.” All of a sudden, the mixture went from golden bubbly to brown stinky. I had burned the honey.

cough drops in a Mason jar. Trying to make them look pretty doesn't change the taste, FYI.
cough drops in a Mason jar. Trying to make them look pretty doesn’t change the taste, FYI.

I kept going with the recipe–in for a penny, in for a pound, right? The optimist in me kept thinking, I can make this work. I let it cool, rolled it into little lozenge shapes. They looked a little dark but, on the whole, perfectly adequate.

And then I tasted one. Burned honey? Worse than burned sugar. Or scorched beans. Not even a Jurassic dinosaur would want one of these. But I soldiered on, putting some in a glass jar and then some in a bag for my purse. It’s still honey, which is good for you. Plus the essential oils…I bet the boys will still eat them. Maybe they can be an all-natural breath mint or something, I rationalized.

In a bowl from Spain. Again, pretty container does not equal pretty taste.
In a bowl from Spain. Again, pretty container does not equal pretty taste. Plus, see how they stuck together?

The next day, my older son tried one, made a scared face, and took it out of his mouth. Younger brother wouldn’t even attempt it. I ate one later in the day, and younger son told me he didn’t like my breath.

In a bag for my purse...my son might call them bad-breath mints.
In a bag for my purse…my son might call them bad-breath mints.

I didn’t throw them out (I’m kind of morally opposed to food waste, which is not to say I never waste food–I just don’t like wasting food.) and feel sure I’ll keep eating them. Because even if a juraster can’t be repaired, it CAN be endured. And learned from, so that the next batch will be appealing to my sons. And maybe even to a dinosaur or two.

**I’m not a health professional, so I’m not sharing about cough drops or essential oils in order to recommend them. I have no sage advice to offer about the best cough drops. Or, apparently, about how not to burn honey.

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