Weekend Question Thread

What was your worst kitchen fail? Recipe gone wrong, gave a party food poisoning, what? 

We had just bought a new oven when I was having friends over for dinner and I was toasting pine nuts in a pan. Got distracted doing something else and totally forgot about them, so when I smelled them burning I grabbed the pan. Spilled them everywhere inside the oven and they burst into flames. 

Luckily, these were old friends, so when they arrived they merely asked politely when I’d purchased a smoker for the chicken we were about to eat. 


13 thoughts on “Weekend Question Thread

  1. Could mention plenth, buf most recent one is from wanting to learn breadmaking. Baguettes came out ok, but the pita bread was way too salty…because I forgot to reduce the amount when recalculating everything else for a smaller batch.

  2. Oh, easy. I was a military brat, so a lot of what we had in the kitchen was GI issue. My parents were away, and I decided I wanted some butterscotch pudding, which we had on the shelves. And, I was lazy and didn’t want to cut the recipe on the box–too much time wasted, so… I mixed up the entire box, which took about two and a half gallons of milk and which filled up just about every single piece of crockery in the house. Nah, no problem. I had enough dishes to put it all in to cool. Everybody would have pudding when they got home! `Ray! Stuffed it all in the fridge and then forgot about it. Wasn’t hungry after all.
    The family came home, and a few minutes later, there was a shudder, like an earthquake. My mother, for some reason, opened the refrigerator, and about thirty pounds of broken dishes and pudding fell on the floor. All the refrigerator shelves had given way.
    I haven’t made pudding since then, I don’t think.

  3. Yesterday’s mozzarella from from scratch. Botched it up real good but I did rescue a nice ricotta from the whey.

  4. I make muffins with the pulp from our juicer, and my very first batch was an absolute embarrassment. I’ve gotten better though. Practice makes perfect.

  5. In college, first time I attempted a Thanksgiving turkey dinner.
    Used one of those foil “roasters” they sell in the grocery stores.
    When it came time to remove the bird from the oven,
    I attempted to lift the “pan” by the sides.
    It folded, and the turkey went onto the kitchen floor,
    followed by all the boiling-hot drippings.

  6. Not a horrifying mess but I remember it. I started doing the cooking for my family when I was 11 and my mother went back to school for her MA. I cooked dinner every night, pretty much, and taught myself chinese cooking as well as all the dishes I learned from my mother. I burned plenty of them because I’d start things on the stove and then start reading a book and get distracted so I learned to skim the non burned parts off the top and add water to stretch it.
    The very first chinese meal I made involved an all new wok. I cracked open the cookbook we were testing for some friends and I choose the single most complicated dish for a novice: mapo dofu. You have to be very precise about how and when you add the ingredients or it will be too soupy since the liquid won’t have time to evaporate. Not only was I not prepared for this level of precision but I also did not realize (I was really young, ok?) that the wok had been treated with machine oil and needed to be specially cleaned and seasoned before you started using it. When my father came him for dinner what we had was a hot, soupy, mess of machine oil tasting glop. He was so sweet–he just swept us all out to dinner (which in those days was a really big deal).
    Another time I cooked an entire Thanksgiving dinner to be taken up to New Hampshire where my mother was at a writer’s colony. I made a chocolate nut torte for dessert but I wasn’t much of a baker and all the eggs, which I had improperly treated, sank to the bottom of the cake and made a leathery mass. There was no time to do anything about it so I ripped the egg off the bottom of the cake, leaving a light sponge on top, and iced it. No one noticed.

  7. worst? usually just not on time. and accidents can be good. i made a pot of pretty sloppy mashed potatoes, but boy were they tasty + reruns even better.
    tho i did learn ketchup is not a good base.

  8. Let’s not talk about the time I didn’t know a pilot light needed a match and blew the door off mom’s oven, OK?

  9. I’ve had a few!
    WAY back then, sometime in my 20’s, I was making a big batch of baked stuffed shells for dinner with friends. Can’t exactly remember the details…guess it took 2 jars of sphagetti sauce…the first one was in and as I was adding the second one, somehow the jar shattered and there was glass shards all over my beautiful dinner. I tried picking them out, but it didn’t work and had to throw out the whole thing…I don’t remember what we had.
    Speaking of oil, vegetable oil…I don’t use it that much, usually only for baking at the holidays and didn’t know that vegetable oil would go bad. Once made a rum cake for a Christmas party with it. Worst tasting cake ever. Now, I just throw out my vegetable oil in December and get a small bottle for the season’s baking!

  10. (Best thread ever. I don’t remember when I’ve had so much fun reading comments.)
    I was over at a relative’s house for Thanksgiving. It’s a big family. A huge turkey was in the oven, but what with all the talking and carrying on it hadn’t been basted enough. The hostess and I were in the kitchen and noticed the burning smell as the juices reached the totally evaporated stage. The turkey was in a pyrex glass pan.
    “Just add a bit of water before it gets more scorched,” I said efficiently. “and it’ll be fine. The pan is pyrex, so there won’t be a problem,” says the scientist who deals with heatproof lab glassware all the time.
    She pours on a cup of water, the glass shatters with a crack like an explosion, and we’re picking shards out of the bottom of a turkey you can barely lift.
    She was really nice about it. We got the skin off on the underside. Put it in a new, greased (metal!) pan, and finished roasting it. No emergency room visits at dinner and nobody found out. Two of the relatives are lawyers.

  11. Interesting how many of us have Thanksgiving disasters to relate. The very first Thanksgiving dinner I ever prepared was for 13 in our tiny apartment in Santa Monica. It all went well, except that when we set the dishes in the kitchen after the meal, they were immediately attacked by ants. (And the fridge did not have room for everything, that’s why so much was still sitting out.) A few days later I was baking something and a horrible burnt smell came from the oven. Turns out I had left a pan of butterflake rolls in there and forgotten all about them.
    Many years later, we had friends over for Thanksgiving dinner, and the turkey was just taking FOREVER to roast. Turns out the heating element in the bottom of the oven had given up the ghost, so the bird cooked on top only. We somehow managed to extract enough cooked meat to serve the four people eating that day. Yikes.

  12. Newly married, had a couple of my husband’s colleagues for dinner. After dinner tried out our espresso machine for the first time. Just great until it exploded, sending coffee grounds all over our kitchen wall and ceiling. Ceiling grounds were still there when we moved six months later.

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