We all have them, we dread them, and sometimes we stay out of the kitchen to avoid them. Kitchen disasters are part of what cooking is all about and even the greatest chefs make mistakes in the kitchen.
My first kitchen disaster happened when I was 8 years old. I wanted to surprise my mom with breakfast in bed, so I whipped up bread pudding in a tupperware bowl. The directions said to bake at 350, so I placed the tupperware bowl carefully into the oven and snuck back to make sure mom was still in bed.
Eager for her to catch the delicious scent of cinnamon and sugar, you can imagine my dismay when she jumped and screamed, "what is that burning smell?"
Apparently tupperware is not oven proof.
I wish I could say I learned my lesson in cooking plastics, but my learning curve is more like 2-3 mistakes, at least.
When I became a new mom, I felt like a baby octopus in the kitchen with no control over my limbs. I gave up cooking for a few months, until one day when my daughter was unexpectedly marathon sleeping. I decided to cook a gourmet meal to surprise my husband.
In New York, we wore our babies in wraps, everywhere. I carried my daughter downstairs from our apartment and down a few blocks to the market. I bought only what I could carry around a sleeping infant for this one meal. My mom's meatloaf, a cherished recipe, seemed nourishing. I picked up the highest quality grass-fed beef, organic sausage, organic veggies, and sorry, I cannot disclose the rest of her secret recipe.
I walked back and whipped up a gorgeous meatloaf and finally my precious girl woke up to eat. She was a screamer, so I had to act fast. I was afraid the cats may enjoy my meatloaf too, so I covered it in plastic wrap. Baby's screaming was escalating and I was nervous the cats may get through the plastic. I hastily threw the meatloaf in the oven and snuggled down to breastfeed. It was not long before new mommy brain set in and I had forgotten all about dinner.
Walking back into the kitchen for water, I glanced at the time, and realized my meatloaf needed to cook for an hour. I threw on the oven and sat down to play with baby, feeling so triumphant that we were going to have a real family dinner.
When my husband arrived, you should have seen the look on his face. Intoxicating smells were emanating from the kitchen, I was playing with baby, and nobody in the house was crying, it was a miracle. The timer went off and I was glowing, I raised my eyebrows in cocky anticipation offering him the honors of removing our dinner.
My husband sat there inspecting my work of art. He peered closer, and closer, and then started to peel back a burnt film that could only be one thing. "Did you wrap this in plastic?" I was in shock; so embarrassed I couldn't cry; I couldn't laugh. I just sat there trying to remember how I could have made such a disastrous mistake.
My dear husband said, "grab your coat, its my turn to cook," which meant we were going out to eat. I had a very difficult time throwing out that dish I worked so hard on and spent so much money on, but I learned a valuable lesson.
I don't buy plastic wrap anymore so that will never happen again.
These were not my only mistakes; I've made pumpkin ravioli hockey pucks and peanut brittle that looked more like peanut gravel. I've made lemonade gummy candies my kids swore were medicine, and a fruit tart swamp.
Instead of suffering from perfectionism and feeling grief as I used to, I remind my family that everyone makes mistakes. It's the mistakes that become our funny stories. My kids LOVE to hear the stories of mom's disasters when they make a little spill.
The important part is that nobody's hurt, we chuckle about it later, and remember that it's just food.
Now, when I go away for the weekend and my husband sends me this photo, I can laugh and feel his pain. Nobody's perfect and nobody should have to live up to that standard. It's the harmless mistakes that makes us so endearing.
Please share your kitchen disasters in the comments below; I would love to hear your story!