Culinary Disasters

Cookie Jar

Something Awful [warning - the name is an entirely appropriate description of the site] invites their readers to write about their most disastrous culinary experiences.
I accidentally greased a glass baking dish for ham loaf with Pledge instead of Pam. We all wondered why the ham loaf tasted so odd, and it wasn't until after dinner when I was putting everything away that I realized what I did.

[another account:]

I was home from school sick one day, and was getting hungry, so I started some ramen. I had a headache at the time, and came up with the bright idea of advil ramen. I figured, "I like ramen, and I could use some advil. How can this go wrong?" Needless to say, dissolving advil tablets let off terrible fumes which are not the least bit appetizing. This wasn't one of my brighter moments.
It got me thinking about my kitchen and thankfully, apart from a few instances of dough flying across the room, my culinary failures have been few. That said, I do recall two of my worst moments in the kitchen.

The first episode occurred in my teen years, and is not exactly an example of a culinary disaster, but rather an instance of stupidity. After frying some eggs, I proceeded to place a loaf of bread, housed in a plastic bag, on the still warm element. Melted plastic and bread are not a tasty combination.

The other memory I have of failed food is alas once again a matter of stupidity and distraction. The result: a new soup pot and pizza for dinner instead of charred black beans. I don't use canned beans, and so instead opt to soak the beans the night before and boil them in preparation for the dish I plan to make. On this particular occasion, I prepared to bring the beans to a boil by setting the heat to high. Problem being, I *forgot* to adjust the heat to low before heading off to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for the recipe. On the way to the store, I suddenly instructed my driver to return home immediately. Oh no! I think I forgot to adjust the heat! Upon pulling into the driveway, a burning smell was immediately evident, and the kitchen was indeed filled with smoke. Thankfully, this blunder occurred in the last decade and has not been repeated since.

See also Lileks' Gallery of Regrettable Food.

Leave your own culinary misadventures in comments. Regular programming will commence tomorrow.


MapMaster said...

I've had a few upsets, like leaving utensils on elements and upending spice jars with loose caps over food, but my biggest disaster happened when I was a teenager and my parents brought home several gallons of maple sap to make maple syrup.

Thinking that I was being very smart and helpful, I thought I'd give them a surprise one day while they were out and boil it down for them. They had a huge pot that I filled with the sap and proceeded to boil it on the stove element. Figuring it would take a while, I left it unattended and forgot all about it for a few hours while I went outside.

Billowing clouds of thick, black smoke and a smoke alarm that wouldn't stop was what I found when I got inside. The syrup had been cooked right into hard charcoal, and though I tried valiantly for another hour or so to scrape out the charcoal in a bathtub filled with hot water and bleach, there was no hope. The kitchen stank for days, and I wasn't nearly as popular as I'd hoped when my parents got home. They never brought home any more maple sap either.

Chef Jules said...

Hey, Lisa! Most of my misadventures occured when I was in university. I would put something on the stove, or in the oven, become so engrossed in what I was reading, and forget about it. Yes, I had some burnt offerings as a result, and complaints from dorm mates.

Other mishaps have to do with pyrex! Those were very rude awakenings.

It's been years since I've had major mishaps. Cooking takes precendece now, and other than the occasional burn (Aloe is my friend), it's been uneventful on that front.

Fun feature -- I enjoyed reading ours.

Padma said...

Was wondering how can pledge be placed next to pam...LOL now I will be careful while arranging the cleaners in my kitchen....blunders do happen in successful kitchen, imagine me making tea with 3 spoonful of salt instead of sugar..

Sharmi said...

that was funny indeed!!

Anonymous said...

Your popcorn recipe reminded me of my biggest mishap. In my early years, my friend and I were rattling around the house and decided to make popcorn on the stove. We didn't know you were supposed to shake it and had an inch of char on my mother's brand new stainless steel, waterless kettles. My dad and grandpa came in from the shop and found the pot and immediately set about with every different kind of cleanser and even mechanical solvents to try and fix it before Mom came home.

It only recently dawned on me they felt as concerned about Mom's reaction as I did -- theoretically they had been "watching" us that afternoon.

Lisa Turner said...

Thanks for sharing folks! Wonderful tales of culinary woes. Keep them coming.

The Curly Cook said...

Hi Lisa,
What a great idea for a blog! I've had my share of culinary disasters, most of which involved flaming toasters, lol.
Great recipes and pictures