Cooking disasters

We’ve all had them, right?

My first mishap in the kitchen wasn’t exactly a disaster, but my family laughed and teased me about it for years afterwards. I was around 10 or 11 years old and asked my mother if I could try frying some bacon. “Sure,” she said, and handed me a frying pan. “The bacon is in the fridge.” Well, one thing I knew was that there were different ways of cooking things—boiling meant you cooked it in water, and frying was in oil, of course. Any dummy knew that. So I grabbed a bottle of oil and poured some into the pan, and then added the bacon. Just then, my mother walked into the kitchen and…well, you know the rest.images

When I got to college my cooking skills had improved a bit, which was a good thing because my sister Bertie and I lived in the “poor girls” dorm where all the girls had to clean house and cook. Our meals were, shall we say, somewhat uneven in quality, but we had no choice but to eat what was set before us, even if the cook assigned for the day had never boiled water before.

When we had cook’s duty, we were allowed to pick our own menu, so when it was my turn I decided to bake a cake for dessert. All the ingredients came in bulk-sized cans, so I opened the ones I needed—flour, sugar, baking powder—and started scooping the stuff out with a measuring cup. I was pretty proud of myself, because I’d never made a cake from scratch before, only from mixes. I put the eggs, flour, and all the other ingredients into a huge bowl (it had to be a big enough cake so everyone could have a piece) and mixed it with the electric mixer. Then I popped it in the oven and waited, making sure not to open the oven so it wouldn’t fall. After a while I noticed that there seemed to be something pressing against the glass window of the oven door. Strange. I opened the door, and a gigantic blob of dough practically oozed out of the oven onto the floor! What the hell? Then it hit me…I had confused the flour can with the baking powder can…

Another blunder many years later also had my daughters laughing at me for years afterwards. We’d had roast chicken, and I had very carefully picked it to the bone so I could make soup stock. After it had simmered on the stove for hours, I picked up the pot and a big strainer so I could get rid of the bones, and then…I unwittingly poured the stock down the drain. Yes, I did.

The worst (and most disgusting) of all was when I invited a lovely Peruvian family over for dinner. One of their children was in my pre-school class at the time. His mother very nicely offered me a special Peruvian recipe of white fish baked in milk. I had gone to the store and bought some nice filet of sole, and I nestled it in a baking dish with the milk and seasonings, while she and I prepared the other food. When it was time to take the fish out of the oven, I reached in and pulled the pan out, and to my absolute horror, the fish was covered with brown worms that were standing up (I swear!) and wiggling! Needless to say we had to make do with the other food, but by then we’d all lost our appetites, in fact, I didn’t go near any filet of sole for years after that. But at least that one wasn’t my fault!

So what cooking disasters have you had? C’mon, I know you’ve had them, unless you’ve never cooked!



Filed under food

5 responses to “Cooking disasters

  1. Ah yes. I was having company and wanted everything to be perfect.
    Dessert was going to be my no fail homemade cheesecake. This had sour cream, whipped cream, cream cheese, yummy stuff. I had a spring-form pan and everything. Not once had this recipe ever failed me. NOT ONCE. I made it, put it in the fridge, made dinner. Everything was going fine. Until I went to cut the cheesecake. It was runny. Not set up at all. What had gone wrong? Why this one time did it fail? Later after the guests had gone, we backtracked my steps…and sure enough…I had forgotten to put it in the oven to bake! And it did need baking…1 and 1/2 hours! I never made THAT mistake again!

    Not a disaster, but a good cooking story…Years of cooking Thanksgiving turkey…and years later finding out my kids hated it because it was always so dry. Except one year. I was having my brother-in-law and his new wife over for dinner. Fine except she was the food editor for Better Homes and Garden magazine! She asked if she could come and watch. Anxiously I said sure. She watched every move I made preparing and stuffing that turkey. Come to find out she had never ever cooked a turkey!!! Thanks goodness the one I did that day turned out really good.

    • Good ones, Pam! Your cheesecake story reminded me of another time when I made a lemon meringue pie (my specialty) and it came out like soup. Simple mistake: I’d doubled the liquid without realizing it. So funny that the BH&G editor has never cooked a turkey! Ha!

  2. Yeah. She said so much of the food they did for the magazine was trendy or “upscale” or something other than that. I guess she never watched her mom cook either. Turned out I learned a lot from her though.

  3. The worms in the fish story is scary!! Mom taught me to cook by osmosis. I didn’t want to know but she made me hang in the kitchen for “company for her”–I got to chop onions or peel tomatoes or mix the cake ingredients. So glad she did that–she was a wise woman!!

  4. My mom did that with me and Bertie, too, and I’m glad she did!

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