Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When Things Go Wrong in the Kitchen

A chocolate espresso cupcake caught Rosebud's eye as she was perusing Pinterest for cupcake inspiration. After printing out the recipe she headed for the kitchen to make them. Even though she followed the recipe to the "T" they didn't turn out anywhere close to the picture that had first caught her eye. Being a bit of a perfectionist who enjoys turning out beautiful things from the kitchen on a regular basis, she wasn't thrilled at all, especially since they had been intended to be enjoyed with friends who were coming over later that day.

As we turned our attention to a tried and true recipe, I assured her that it's perfectly fine to have the occasional cooking disaster. They can easily provide memories you can laugh at for years to come, even handing down through generations, if the disaster was interesting enough.

I then proceeded to share the one "disaster" that has become a family favorite over the years.

My Mom was a young bride, intent on preparing only the best of things, and not be the absent minded cook that her sisters always said she was. Things were going great and a little more than a month had passed without burning anything when the one day they decided they would be going to pick strawberries after the evening chores were done.

There was bread to make that afternoon, and a garden to care for, and then helping with all the chores. After a busy day it was fun hopping on the open buggy and going to the local U-pick strawberry patch.

They picked until dusk and went home armed with lots of berries to be processed the following day. As they stopped in front of the house Mom hopped off the buggy and went inside while Dad continued out to the barn to care for the horse and do one final walk through the barn checking on all the animals before calling it a day.

As Mom entered the house she immediately smelled something bad. "The bread!!" She had forgotten all about it. Opened the oven door she quickly yanked out two charcoal black loaves of bread. She wrapped the bread into kitchen towels and put them on the back of the kitchen counter and then proceeded to open all the windows in hopes of getting the awful smell out of the house before Dad came in.

He came in, and didn't say a word about anything smelling bad. She was relieved, and went ahead and prepared a bedtime snack for them to eat.

As they were sitting there eating, something went "cr..aaaa..ckkk! Followed by more cracking noises. She tried to pretend she didn't hear the noise coming from beneath those towels on the kitchen counter. Dad however asked what that sound was.

She showed him the burnt bread. Even though it was solid black he was sure that they could slice it and eat the middle. Armed with a knife they started sawing and hacking their way through the bread. It was black, as black could be except for in the very middle there was an inch in diameter, round spot of brown bread.

Dad found it incredibly amusing, and Mom has laughed a lot about it over the years as well. It took her a while though before she shared the story with her sisters who had been waiting to hear about all the cooking disasters they knew she would be making once they weren't there to make sure everything was done just right.


  1. How good Rosebud gets encouragement in the kitchen, no matter the expresso exception.
    My disaster, which my mom and sisters never forgot occurred in seventh grade. In home economics class, we had made Niku Dango, a Japanese sponge cake. I wanted to wow my family with it, so my mom let me have free reign in the kitchen for once, and even bought the special supplies for it. Too bad you can't just add lightness and fluffiness. It turned out as flat as a pancake. Luckily it was so bad, it was funny. Mom didn't even complain about the extra expense, but I paid for it in Polly's Niku Dango retellings. That's how I remember the name of it so well.
    I heard a good saying the other day: "There are no mistakes, only adjustments."

  2. Here's my story.

    We were moving. From the upstairs apartment in an old the downstairs apartment in the same house. Dear friends of ours came to help us move. Amy was helping me in the kitchen. She found a clear plastic bag filled with something white and grainy. I told her it was sugar. "Just dump it into the sugar canister." I told her. It really was sugar. While I wasn't paying attention, she found a second clear bag which looked to be filled with the same. Thinking it was more sugar, she dumped it into the sugar canister.

    A few days later, I was all settled into my new kitchen. I decided to surprise my dear husband with a pumpkin pie. I baked it to couldn't have turned out better. (So I thought) Later, Jamie and I each cut a piece. I put the first forkful into my mouth and immediately ran to the sink, spitting and gagging. If I hadn't known better, I would have been sure someone was trying to poison me! Jamie hadn't taken a bite yet. He was just watching me in stunned amazement. Suddenly I knew what had happened. I went over to the sugar canister and took a pinch of its contents and tasted. Salt! My sugar canister was topped off by about a third...with salt!

    I never did tell Amy. She was only trying to help and how could I blame her? I understand perfectly how she had gotten it wrong.

    It is something that I look back and laugh at. I'm also thankful that it happened when it did rather than a week earlier when I baked a pumpkin pie to take to someone's house when we were invited for dinner.

  3. It sounds like your mom picked a good man to marry.

  4. What a great story! How sweet that you are encouraging Rosebud no matter the outcome in the kitchen. No one is perfect and everyone will make mistakes. I've enjoyed reading the stories today.

  5. As long as the cupcakes, tasted good, they were not a failure. Call 'em cookies and keep on going.

    When I was married to the Late and Unlamented, we had a spat which ended up with him doing the grocery shopping for two weeks. (Don't ask, OK?) I made an applesauce cake, and it turned out resembling a bath tub, than any cake you've ever seen. Tasted OK, and it was a recipe I'd used dozens of times, so I made it again. Same results. It wasn't until I made pie crust a few days later that I discovered he'd purchased self-rising flour, which - up to that point - I'd never heard of. Too much leavening makes things fall, not rise!

    When The Squire and I were first married, I went on a health food kick and added brewers yeast to a casserole. We had to toss it out, because it tasted exactly the way dog food smells. Yuck!

  6. Those cupcakes, while "ugly" look like they tasted great - not all dry and crumbly! : )
    These are some great "disaster" stories! That dog food casserole... my kids are laughing with me! Burned bread...? I can't laugh about that one just now. Last weekend we practically duplicated the experience, all because of a timer that didn't go off... TWICE in a row! FOUR pans of hotdog buns burnt! Not quite all the way through, but not usable either!
    My most memorable cooking disater is one my family still loves to tell, 25 years after the fact. I came from a big family and we toasted our breakfast toast under the broiler on a cookie sheet instead of in a toaster. I was on "toast-duty" one morning, but my parents and siblings were having an interesting discussion in the living room. I stood in the doorway between them and the oven, participating in the discussion... until the smoke alarm went off. We cleared out the burned toast, started a new batch and resumed the discussion... with me in the doorway again "watching" the toast, and listening in. The smoke alarm went off again. (The alarm wasn't even in the same room, we are talking BURNED toast.) I once again removed the burned toast, and started a third round... and became ensnared in the discussion AGAIN! Yep, MORE BURNED TOAST. Haha! I have no idea what the terribly fascinating discussion was even about! My brothers still tease me though. : ) One brother says he tells people "My sister is The Best cook, but even she has her days..." and tells my toast story. : ) Bad food can make a great story!

  7. So true! Looks at Loretta Lynn's chocolate pie she accidentally put salt instead of sugar and Doolittle bought it and ate it! A famous cooking disaster story! I found that cooking disasters sometimes only look bad, but still taste good. And I always preferred Mama's pear preserves when they had sugared. She hated it, but I thought they were heavenly!
    Barbara, blogging at Life & Faith in Caneyhead

  8. Such a great story! Kitchen disasters make for great stories but somehow when they happen that can feel like the end of the world.


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