Foodie failure happens.

February 13, 2013

Did you hear that thud?  That is the sound of me throwing myself under the food blogging bus.

As much as I would like you to believe that everything in my kitchen goes as planned, I have more than my fair share of epic failures.

And sometimes they even go public.

Like, at my husband’s office, for example.

On Monday, he asks me if I can make something for their charity bake sale that is happening tomorrow.

Of course, I say.

I have made chocolate peanut pretzel squares, a recipe that is so good and so popular on this site, that I have actually posted it twice, with this holiday post, called Chocolate Peanut Pretzel Squares – Back by Popular Demand.

Who wouldn’t love to buy one of these little beauties?  Mmm…chocolate, peanuts, pretzels all on a cookie dough base.

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A nagging little voice was concerned that there was no room for error, as being 40 minutes from the nearest grocery store, I was going to be cutting this close…  

I had to buy the ingredients Tuesday, bake and chill them Tuesday night, and cut pack them Wednesday morning (today) at 3:30 a.m. so that my husband could take them to Toronto.

Here’s what happened when I cut the squares this morning.  The chocolate layer popped off the cookie layer with each cut.

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Imagine this:

  • It’s 3:30 a.m., and I’m cutting up the pieces, while the coffee maker starts over-flowing (it was a rougher than normal start this morning).
  • My husband’s incredulous look, as cut by cut, the chocolate tops are popping off, and like the famous I Love Lucy episode where Lucy starts eating the chocolates to keep up with the mass production on the conveyor belt, I find myself desperately trying to forget about the busted bits by quietly eating them.

Until I realize that I if I don’t stop, I’ll be eating half the batch.  (Yes, it only happened to half the batch.)

The recipe even addresses this potential issue, saying to poke the cookie base with a paring knife so that the chocolate layer will stick.

It usually works.

Didn’t this time.

No problem if you’re okay with snacking on bits (in fact, there may even be a packaged snack idea here as the peanuts, pretzels, chocolate and cookie dough all make a fine taste sensation), but it’s a real problem if you’re planning to sell them.  As squares.

Especially when it is now 4 a.m., and they need to leave the house at 5 a.m.

Prior to baking the square base, I roasted a chicken, so perhaps the oven was still a bit too hot when I baked the squares.

Or, perhaps I over-heated the chocolate, so that it didn’t set properly.

So my husband will be running out and buying emergency baked goods in Toronto tonight.

Unfortunately, this isn’t my first culinary failure with my husband’s co-workers.

Last year, they were having an office pot luck.  Office pot lucks have always been out of my comfort zone, because my contributions are usually something that is heated in the oven.

So I decided to make a Napa Cabbage Salad.  Our friend Sue brings this salad to the annual corn roast pot luck each year, and everyone wants the recipe – savoy cabbage, buttery toasted almonds and ramen noodles, and a lovely sweet and sour dressing.

It was probably a sign that I should have by-passed this recipe when I wound up searching all over the Greater Toronto Area to find the very last head of savoy cabbage.  No back-up heads available.

No room for error…

I did not have Sue’s recipe in Toronto, as it was at the lake, so I went online and found another version, which said to shred the cabbage.

To save time, I used the food processor.

A nagging little voice told me that it seemed a bit too shredded, but I told myself that the shredded cabbage would better absorb the dressing…

In short, my husband’s food blogger wife sent him to the office pot luck with a nasty, soupy mess, as the cabbage had completely disintegrated in what now seemed like a large vat of dressing.

In short, the cabbage should be shredded by hand, and not finely.

But happily, my kitchen failures are not always public.  A couple of weeks ago, I made what would have been a magnificent vegan quinoa chili – the textures were wonderful and the flavour was wonderful too, until I decided to try chipotle chili powder for extra kick, and used it as liberally as I use regular chili powder.

That nagging voice again as I poured on the chipotle chili powder…

We both sat eating that chili, so insanely hot, that it was inedible.  We quietly ate our chili, tearing up as if we were ten year olds watching Old Yeller for the first time.

And in case you’re thinking that I should listen to my nagging little voice more…unfortunately, she doesn’t start nagging until it’s too late to do anything about it.

She’s very annoying that way.

So now it’s out there.  I fail in the kitchen.  And I do it well.  And sometimes publicly.

And while failure in the kitchen can be disappointing, embarrassing and expensive, that’s how we learn and become better at cooking.

Although I would really like to stop doing it in front of my husband’s co-workers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Brudy February 13, 2013 at 10:57 am

Hahaha… The Brudy Luck curse strikes another. I still like the throw and throw hard fix it method. The impact helps it stick together. Plus cleaning the targeted wall keeps your mind off of the earlier stress. :)
P.S. I take no responsibility for people in the line of fire or objects that may get broken in the process. This is merely a suggestion that increases endorphin release while trying to blend ingredients on the pallet of frustration.

Have a great day. JB

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One Cook, Two Kitchens February 13, 2013 at 11:11 am

I suspected it was genetic. Now I know for sure. Thanks for clarifying. :)

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Doug February 13, 2013 at 11:51 am

Can you say “potroast shawarma”? How about “Lebanese meatloaf”? I’ve had mistakes so bad even my dogs wouldn’t touch ‘em…

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One Cook, Two Kitchens February 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Potroast Shawarma – awesome! I think I made that in the slow cooker once.

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Linda February 13, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Sounds like a typical day chez Linda! it’s AWAYS 50/50 with me – maybe more tilting towards 60/40 [to the dissaster side] Thanks for another fantastic post – my friend Lee’s former husband reknown for his culinary skills (NOT!) ignored his inner voice while making a salad to go with their main – iceberg lettuce + catalina dressing + pulse setting on the blender !? So your mishap is NOTHING! He’s been out of the picture for years, but “blender salad” still pops into conversation more often than you’d think – so this post had me literally laughing out loud.

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One Cook, Two Kitchens February 13, 2013 at 8:40 pm

That is hilarious Linda! That blender salad sounds like the Napa Cabbage salad disaster…

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Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator March 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

I think it’s so important to share posts like this! I just heard someone say that “readers want to know that they’re better than you or worse than you, not the same as you.” What she meant was that middle-of-the-road isn’t interesting. We can all relate to kitchen failures… like me taking 8 tries to get my cashew yogurt right. I put that in the post, because I want people to know things don’t always work out… and people commented on that too.

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One Cook, Two Kitchens March 4, 2013 at 8:13 am

Thanks Stephanie. You are absolutely right! And I still think that there may be a great trail/snack mix idea out of that little bomb. I froze the broken pieces, and we happily snacked on that over (ahem) a weekend.

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