"This wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it."  - Dorothy Parker

You've done it.  I've done it.  We all have.  Sitting there, mischievously, gracing your coffee table sits that impish tome of a recipe book winking at you.  You know the one.  It's the extra fancy one you got last Christmas.  You've looked lovingly at the wonderful glossy pictures of perfect menus all winter long, bending a page or 2 for when you'd entertain.

Now, the moment has come; the guests are here, and you're standing in the kitchen with lemon curd from end to end.  Your husband lovingly hands you a full martini glass, while your best friend picks dough out of your hair.  Her husband's rummaging through a take-out menu.  You sip your martini, excuse yourself to hose off in the shower, and vow to burn the frickin' book the moment your guests depart.  As best said by another Dorothy Parker quote, "This [recipe book] novel is not to be tossed lightly aside, but to be hurled with great force."

What went wrong? You followed the directions PRECISELY.  You measured everything PRECISELY.  You had the PRECISE oven temperature, etc.

I really don't have an answer for this.

All I know is that these disappointments have an amnesia-like affect on me.  I unwittingly succumb friends and family to an episode or 2 of Recipes Gone Awry each year.  My secret paranoid thought is that there are published chefs who knowingly leave out 1 key ingredient, or instruction.  But that rationale is just too easy.

Of course there's always the advice to make the recipe once BEFORE you host company.  But really, can your grocery budget gloss over 4 lbs. of scallops vs.. 2?  Ours can't.  But that's mostly because our budget consists of pet food.  But I digress...

Chocolate soup in a pie crust was supposed to be a Chocolate Mousse Torte.  A mummified filet complete with wrappings (string) was formerly Beef Wellington.  And what became a very useful door-stop was originally meant to be an Artisanal Herbed Baguette.

At least what our bellies didn't gain from, our funny bones did.  And, sometimes I get some funny material for my novels. So, maybe these experiences are worth the risk?  Or, maybe for our next dinner party, I should invite our guests to attend an Experiment and issue everyone lab coats? And maybe have a frozen pizza for a backup...

So - what's your kitchen catastrophe?

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06/15/2011 12:47pm

So well said , and so true ! Whom of us has NOT been there !

06/15/2011 1:07pm

I remember a few food snafus while raising my five food-tolerant children. One holiday I decided to cook a whole duck in the microwave. Who knew it would be so dang greasy??? It actually seemed to gain a few pounds with all that grease (causing the thing to become very slippery), which caused me to drop the thing right on the kitchen floor. Oh, the tears I cried over that one...

06/15/2011 1:11pm

Funny stuff!

I live in Switzerland, but don't speak French, so my latest kitchen disaster come from my inability to read food labels. Picture my family happily awaiting the French fries (I finally found in a wayward French store) toasty exit from the oven. Problem is, we discovered all to quickly that they were actually some strange yellow long bean. Can you say 'disappointment'

06/15/2011 3:53pm

I love to cook, and that is a long story. I cannot state that I have been disappointment free.

06/21/2011 12:45pm

I remember one Thanksgiving finding the turkey on the floor with the cat. My mother and I quckly rescued it. She told me not to tell anyone. :D

Mindy Brooks
06/21/2011 2:07pm

amazingly funny and so true, enjoyed good read!! Good luck, my friend!!

06/22/2011 10:37am

I've had too many to count. Two memorable disasters: Making Beef Wellington, and the oven crapped out, leaving the pastry and the meat raw; many moons ago, making THE worst Orange sheet Cake for a Halloween party. It was lopsided, overcooked in parts, undercooked in others, and we really went wrong on the ingredients. Totally inedible. But, a fun story my friend and I still share.

06/24/2011 11:03pm

Ah yes, a very relatable topic! I'm the chef in the house and when resipes go awry, I also become the complaint department! One year we had friends over for Thanksgiving dinner. An hour and half after all the sides were prepared, the turkey was FINALLY done. Yep, I was little off on calculating the time per pound.

07/06/2011 9:55pm

Here's the little diddy my boys created when they were younger re: my cooking talents.

The cooking is done
When the smoke alarm has rung*

From my blog, The Carnival In My Mind, http://bit.ly/kGoPhO

07/07/2011 11:13pm

The most surprising thing for me is how well most recipes work most of the time. My most recent disaster was a Beef Stroganoff that I have made successfully many times before. The culprit I think was not the recipe but a new brand of stock cubes, touted as having a 'real stock flavour'; too salty and too strong.

I hardly ever bother with the trusted old recipe books my mother passed on; when I need a recipe I just Google it. This can be a bit hit & miss; I need to bookmark the good ones!


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