I've just thrown out my largest stockpot. It just had to go, no two ways about it.
This afternoon I braved the rain and took a walk down to the local supermarket, where I picked up a leek, some celery, button mushrooms in a punnet, a chicken breast fillet on special, arborio rice and (much as I hate to admit it) one of those cartons of ready made chicken stock. Oh and some hydroponically grown Italian parsley - because it was there. All up, it came to a little under $16.00.
Once home, I took the old enamelled stock pot, poured a generous slug of olive oil into it and started work on a mise-en-place. I trimmed the ratty bits off the leek, sliced it in half lengthwise and washed it under the tap. Some quick chop, chop, chop with my kitchen knife and then on to the celery. That done I stripped the skin and fatty bits off the chicken breasts and finished up by measuring two cups of rice into a bowl. I took the jars of minced garlic and chopped chilli out of the fridge. Now I was ready to start cooking.
The stock pot went onto the heat and, after a couple of minutes, the chopped leek went into the oil. Followed, a little later by a generous teaspoon of minced garlic, a level teaspoon of chilli and the bowl of rice. I stirred it around until the rice was translucent and then set it aside, on an idle burner. The chicken should have gone in before this, but I forgot.
With the pot sitting off the heat, I measured out a cup of the chicken stock and poured it in with the rice. This is when I realised I'd forgotten to sear the chicken. Oops. But it wasn't a big deal; chicken's a white meat anyway, so cooking it by poaching it in something resembling its own stock is acceptable. You don't lose anything by it. So in went another cup of stock, and two cups of that Queen Adelaide reisling that's been sitting around the house for the past month or so. Then some chopped hydroponic parsley, and all the mushrooms - I stripped the plastic off the punnet, thought about what would happen to the any mushrooms I put aside in the fridge for a later that would never come and thought, to hell with it. In went the lot. I put the pot back on the heat, turned the electric element down to its lowest setting and went off to check e-mails and stuff.
About half an hour later I came back to the kitchen to check what was going on in the pot. When I lifted the lid, something was wrong. The contents were definitely a bit whiffy. Not pleasantly whiffy, smelling of wine, leek, garlic and chilli but with a nasty bacterial smell. After a little thought, I transferred the whole lot to a smaller stainless steel pot (which was barely big enough to hold everything) and took the old stockpot out to the bin.
I've just paid it another visit and that whiff is still there. It's not so strong now but it's still noticeable. Which means I've just spent sixteen dollars (plus electricity costs and preparation time) on cooking up a batch of potentially toxic risotto. So much for cookery as occupational therapy.