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Worst kitchen screwup.

If you haven't screwed up a recipe or cooking process then you may not have cooked much. Tell me yours I'll tell you mine.

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  1. It was last night. I preheated the oven. Had the chicken ready to go. Then forgot to put the ^$#@^*(% chicken IN the oven!!!! Oh, the shame....

    1 Reply
    1. re: fauchon

      I always have the opposite problem, I leave something out to cool and find it on the kitchen counter the next morning waiting for me!

    2. How about no marsala for the chicken marsala? I used vermouth. Not even close. Don't know if the client knew the difference, they never complained.

      One time, when I used to cook at the client's, (thank GAWD those days are over), I brought everything for the cornbread, but I forgot the cornmeal.

      1 Reply
      1. re: personalcheffie

        Oh, I like vermouth with that sort of thing. It's not Marsala, of course, but I still think it's good.

      2. Made bread a couple days ago, and I swore I had put the oven temp at 425 F and well lets just say that it wasn't ready for lunch...*sigh*

        1. Mine had a happy ending....

          My first time making muffins (for 200 - cooked for a retreat center a while back) they didn't set properly and we had 'Bread Pudding'

          This led to a new kitchen motto - "we don't make mistakes - we just change the name!"

          The best part was people coming into the kitchen to say they loved the bread pudding!

          Almost hard to keep a straight face..

          1 Reply
          1. re: jbyoga

            I was having a Moroccan-themed dinner party and the soup I made burned on the bottom. It was a lentil and lamb soup made in a HUGE pot so that burnt flavor ended up being throughout the entire soup. So, when we served it, we told each guest that they'd detect a delicate "smokey" flavor. I had 30 guests, and almost EVERYONE asked for seconds!!! Hee, hee, hee!!

          2. Not a cooking or recipe error, but definitely my worst kitchen screwup.

            I took a 9" by 9" Pyrex casserole dish full of enchiladas out of the oven. I set them down on the stove top and thought "these will be nuclear hot -- I'll just let it sit here for a second to cool off." I went into the next room to check my email.

            By the way, did I mention that one of my cast-iron burners on my electric stove was on high? I had planned to boil some water for rice or something, then changed my mind. And that the burners never had any light or glow-y indicator to say they were on high? Oh -- and that I set the casserole on that burner?

            I heard a weird noise, smelled a weird smell, then a very loud CRACK-BOOM. When I went into the kitchen, there was tempered glass and enchilada on all exposed surfaces.

            This was two years ago, and I am still finding little pieces of glass in odd places. And the stove has been replaced with one that gives some indication when a burner is on (other than checking the knobs).

            4 Replies
            1. re: heatherkay

              Good thing you were in the other room!!!

                1. re: heatherkay

                  I'm glad you weren't hurt. That is a great story - I LOVE kitchen disaster stories. Thank maude for e-mail! :-)

                2. Made a recipe I had found on CH for Thanksgiving--involving sweet potatoes and chipotles. Unfortunately, I read the recipe as "one can chipotles" instead of "1 canned chipotle". Even the bravest among us could only choke down 2 bites!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Marion Morgenthal

                    Get out....I thought it was 1 can too, no wonder it was so hot! (I still have most of it in the freezer for next time someone with a fireproof mouth comes over)

                    1. re: coll

                      Thank You!! That makes me feel much better. I haven't had the opportunity to try the recipe with the correct proportion--I'll bet I could even bear to taste that one. My nephew made a valiant attempt at mine, but he couldn't choke down more than about 2 spoonsful.

                  2. I was using a new pressure cooker for the first time on St Patrick's Day a few years ago and found that the corned beef brisket I had bought was too large for the new cooker. I kinda smashed it down and after some time cooking a geyser erupted from the pressure release valve, shooting yellow fat and juice all over the ceiling. Our guests were highly entertained, and after climbing on top of the counter to clean the fat off the ceiling (and all the lower places it consquently dripped onto), the corned beef was very tasty.

                    1. When making baked apples, instead of cinnamon I grabbed the cumin. Unsalvageable!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: grampart

                        Same story, but used cayenne. woops.

                      2. My story is a lemons to lemonade variety.
                        I baked an applesauce cake to take to a church luncheon with warm browned butter icing to be poured over the warmish cake. Running late and I turned the cake out of the bundt pan too soon, and it fell completely apart.
                        We had 2 19 year old foreign exchange students living with us at the time. I called DH, our 2 teenagers and the exchange students into the kitchen to watch me pour the icing over the cake pieces. Then I gave them each a fork and said "Dig in".
                        Never made it to the church luncheon, but sure had a great time eating cake in the kitchen. For the rest of the year the exchange students were always hanging out in the kitchen when I plated a cake. Wonder why?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Pampatz

                          Ha. My dh's colleagues just lucked out this way when my first stab at a chocolate dinosaur cake was undercooked. It was all fudgy and fabulous in the center, but aesthetically it didn't work as a dinosaur. Dinosaur #2 was a far more respectable specimen.

                          dino cake pan: http://fantes.com/cake-pans-shapes.ht...
                          recipe: Devil's Food Cake from Joy

                        2. Bought one of those big outdoor propane fired burner deals with a big deep fry pot. 90,000 btu.
                          Had been making french frys outside a few times went really well.
                          Left the pot of oil outside, lid on but no additional cover. Big rain came. Not noticing the water layer when I removed the lid I put the pot on.
                          A few minutes later the entire contents of the pot were firing out in a very violent/dangerous fashion everywhere in a 20 foot radius. You could not even think to get near it to shut it off until the pot was virtually empty.
                          Oh did I mention this was on top of my brand new unfinished wood deck?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Magnapro

                            Whoa! Did anything on the deck catch fire???

                          2. For a dinner party, prepared (for the first time) a Portuguese dish of Cod with a olive tapenade over saffron rice with chorizo. Pre-ordered the cod from my local market. When I picked it up, the fish was already wrapped in butcher paper; I thought nothing of it since it was special ordered. Spent hours preparing the meal and presented it with great fanfare, only to see my very polite guests struggling to choke it down. When I tasted it, I realized the market had given me salt cod (cured in the way of 17th Century sailors). The salt destroyed the taste of anything that came within a two foot radius (including the safron rice on top of which it had been plated). Truly awful - but I am not sure anyone would have mentioned it had I not discovered my screw-up. We all drank much wine and ate dessert. The recipe sounded so good but I haven't had the nerve to try it again.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Bluehound

                              Hahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!! That is a great one. Not just the saltiness, but the texture would be all wrong, too, since soaking makes it re-hydrate.

                              It really does sound like a great recipe -- was it that you were supposed to use fresh cod, or were you supposed to use salt cod that had been soaked?

                              Don't be scared of trying to work with salt cod. Just plan on several days preparation to soak and rinse the cod. And thank you for sharing your story!

                              1. re: Bluehound

                                I had a very similar disaster. I made an African stew that had meat and also dried fish. I was happy to find the dried fish in our regular supermarket that has a big international section, but I had no idea the fish was salted and not just dried. There were not instructions on it. I rinsed the fish off but didn't soak it overnight. That stew was so saltly we couldn't eat it. My kids still laugh about it.

                              2. My biggest screwup was when I worked as a croissant baker. I got really good at making the dough, folding it with the butter, and forming the croissants. The only thing I didn't master was not getting spaced out, working my graveyard shift, 10 til 6 in the morning. There were about 3 weekends in a row when I left pans of croissants in the convection oven - cleaned up my station and left. The pans would be in 2, 3 hours. Perfectly formed hard-as-a-brick black croissants. Fortunately, the bakery owners let me go, just as the carpal tunnel syndrome I had developed was starting to really bother me.

                                At home, the biggest screwups were overextending myself when just learning to cook - inviting someone over, telling them I was a good cook, and then totally botching the meal - chewy meat, lumpy potatoes, overcooked vegies. Thank heaven for polite guests!

                                Magnapro - you got very lucky there was not more damage to your deck!!!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Seldomsated

                                  I 'm not a night person and worked graveyard (10PM-8AM) for a year. I can so sympathize with you! "Spacing out" was common during my days off. I'd often wake up not knowing if it was 7Am or 7PM.

                                2. I don't know if this was my screw-up or my husbands, but I"ll blame him.
                                  There was a time when he would take all my knives and have them sharpened, and then fail to tell me.
                                  One night, alone at home, I was washing up pots and pans and stuff and putting them away. I grabbed what I thought was a handle of a pot (ya know absent mindedly) and couldn't figure out why the pot wasn't coming up. So I really grabbed and pulled hard. It wsa only after I saw all the blood that I realized what I was doing. (Being a real chicken when I cut myself) I quickly grabbed an tea towel and wrapped it so hard around my fingers on my left hand and without even looking at it ran screaming down the back alley to my mothers and then to the hospital (luckily only a short distance away).
                                  I never took the tea towel off my hand, but amazingly enough I wrapped it so tight that the doctor preparing to stitch me up was doughtful that it was even cut. Everytime I wash pot and pans I am immediatly brought back to this day. And my husband isn't allowed to sharpen anything anymore.

                                  1. Your right I could have burned the house down. Mostly I was embarrassed by my stupidity as I had guests. Not to mention the delay and stressing of the wanna be cook.

                                    1. 8 years old. My mother making a "freezer" batch of mac and cheese (so we could make our own dinner). I decide to add some spice and go for the most colorful thing in the rack.

                                      The mint extract.

                                      My mother made me eat a serving before she threw it all out. To this day brushing my teeth reminds me of velveeta.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Foureyes137

                                        Okay, I have a similar story, except I was 15. I decided to try to make some nachos in the microwave, and thought a little tomatoey salsa would be a good edition. We didn't have any Pace, but we did have a little bottle of Louisiana hot sauce, which I assumed was pretty much the same thing. I used nearly the whole bottle. Imagine our surprise when we chomped down on my concoction. My mom was hotter than the salsa!

                                        1. re: Foureyes137

                                          When I was a kid I made mac and cheese from a box for the first time and put the pasta in cold water and then brought it to a boil. I still hear about it to this day.

                                          1. re: sarahcooks

                                            My 40-some year old brother did this when I was staying with him. He apparently doesn't cook much. (He was trying to make dinner for the kids--mom had fled for the evening.)

                                            1. re: sarahcooks

                                              What effect does this have? it all clumps together?

                                          2. Years ago,had a date over for dinner. Made a chicken pepper pot invention/concoction that had quite a few new fresh peppers which I had not used before.
                                            This dish was way beyond inedible. Needless to say dinner was not the romantic event I had hoped for. The dish was so over powering and I love heat.

                                            1. At the moment my biggest disaster was shattering my cooktop on New Year's Eve. It has just been one of those years. A slight tap and the whole thing shattered and looks like a broken TV screen. It was glass fatigue after 16 years of very hard use but I was sure my DH could hear me screaming Oh %#$* while he was downstairs in the garage. New glass has arrived and our appliance repair person has ordered some replacement drip pans for some that were chipped, it is gas but with a glass surface around the gas burners. It may be another week before I have a cooktop. OH #$&*!!!!!!!!!!

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Candy

                                                Hey Candy I have been shopping for a gas cooktop. I think that I will avoid gas on glass after your story.What exactly is a DH I can think of many things.

                                                1. re: Magnapro

                                                  In my case DH is dear husband. Some others have another word for D.

                                                  My cooktop is a GE Monogram. It has been very good and after 16 years of hard use, I do cook a lot...probably more than the people at GE ever imagined the glass deeveloped glass fatigue. It took only the slighest bump to shatter it. DH ordered new glass on Monday. It arrived yesterday. After talking with a friend who has a friend whose father is an engineer with another appliance company she told me that the glass cooktops are really prone to that. I guess I was lucky and if I can get through the next 5 years without sahttering theg new one I will go to something else. I definitely do not want stainless so I may be stuck. The cooktop is in an island with a down draft so we were looking for trhe least expensive way to replace it and salvage the downdraft...boy those things are expensive. Still I love the glass for the ease of cleaning. I can put the grids and burner discs in my oven on self clean and they come ouot like new. I love the 5 burners with one dedicated to simmer. It is sleek and attractive. But let me tell you I have been really stymied for almost 2 weeks trying to keep to my routine in cooking. I did buy a single electric burner today at Target and it has helped me get back to a bit more normal cooking. Hopefully a week to go before I am fully functional again.

                                                  Photo is before shattering the poodle in the photo is one of my 3 standards. She is my Chowhound, everything is potential food and
                                                  when I am cooking she is just right there.


                                              2. When I was 10 and didn't know the difference between baking powder and baking SODA...you can imagine the taste! Ewww! I heard that those bread sticks served well for indisgestion!! (or did they cause it?!?!?)

                                                Again, when I was young...hmmm, 14? We had a very oooolllllldddd pressure cooker. I guess I didn't secure the top very tightly, because later on my Mom and I heard a loud "POP!" and "whoosh!!". Uh-oh! The liquid and bird inside decided to explode! What a mess! The first time I saw "Breakfast at Tiffany's" I thought of that incident. ("Quelle mess!") Thank goodness it wasn't mole!

                                                1. About 10 years old and trying to be helpful so decided to cook dinner - a pot roast in the slowcooker. Managed to turn it into something still with a meaty taste but the approximate texture of mashed potatoes. And we're talking instant mashed or school lunch whipped potatoes, not the heartier bodied real thing. Grab a fork and fluff - who knew a tough old chuck roast could become fluffy? Lemons/Lemonade - made some very good tasting, albeit a bit soft textured, hash with the results so not a total disaster.

                                                  1. My most infelicitous escapade in the kitchen came about eight years ago when I was broiling salmon and the grease caught fire in the oven. What followed was a textbook example of what NOT to do: First, after somehow taking the salmon flambe out of the oven, flames shooting all around and swirling around the pan, I stuck the contents in the sink and promptly turned on the water. It was a small-ish sink, and the broiling pan did not fit all the way in. When the water hit the grease-fed flames, it created a rather impressive stream of fire across my adjacent counter, and then the flames caught the bottom of the cabinetry above. After the impromptu fire show, it finally occurred to me that SALT, not water, is the better retardant.

                                                    I cleaned for the better part of an hour after that, and then we called for some takeout. All I can say is that I'm glad I had some good wine nearby for consolation!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: 280 Ninth

                                                      Baking soda is even better at snuffling out fires.

                                                      My weirdest was when we first moved to California from Georgia nearly 20 years ago and I decided to make a recipe for some weird thing called "pesto." (C'mon, I was from Atlanta. ) Anyway, I brought all of the ingredients home from the health food store, and proceeded to whir them all together in my food processor. Both my husband and I agreed that it tasted great, but that the texture was unappealing.

                                                      Turns out I had bought pinenuts that were still in their little hulls/shells. I have only seen them this way one time since. It was similar to almond skin, but a little thicker. Now that I have made pesto about a billion times since, it makes me smile to think about that first time.

                                                    2. Mine was pretty recent. I was co-hosting a dinner party at a friends house and I planned on making a HUGE amount of Coq au Vin. We trippled the recipe which meant trippling the cognac...which is to be flambeed. Uh..oh. The oversight was made worse when the pan turned into a screaming column of flames and my fist instinct was to BLOW ON IT! You can imagine the effect. (Have you seen backdraft?) I certainly know better, but I think I was nervous about damaging her kitchen and I just reacted quicker than I could think. She later pointed out that I should have been more worried about my face than about her stove hood. It's been long enough to grow my eyebrows and eyelashes back, but There's an annoying fringe of hair around my forehead that's about 1 inch long at the moment.

                                                      The real kicker is that I was ostensibly there to teach my friend how to cook. I bet she won't forget that lesson!

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: mellycooks

                                                        We are a liberated household: the girl does the cooking, barbecuing and home renos and the boy does the cleaning, dusting and laundry. Last week, my brother-in-law came over for dinner and felt compelled to help the "inexpert" girl barbecue the steaks, so when I lifted the lid of the 500 degree 'cue to add the steaks, he popped his head closer to "help" and managed to singe off the fringe of his hair, and half of his eyelashes and eyebrows! We were giggling all during dinner as we smelled burnt hair...that'll learn him!

                                                        1. re: AmandaEd

                                                          I was probably just old enough to drive, but had been cooking for a while. My parents were going out for the evening and left us three kids to fend for themselves. I'd decided we'd have grilled chicken/steaks/pork chops, and went to light the gas grill shortly after the parental units had taken off. Did it just like I always did - opened the propane valve, came back in about five minutes to push the "ignite" button. Man, I don't know how I survived the countless previous times, but that night I finally got what I deserved - a moderate fireball the heated my forearm and seared my bangs, brows, and eyelashes. I think we probably ordered pizza for dinner.

                                                      2. When I was about 12 my dad was in the hospital. I decided I was going to make dinner for my mom and brothers. I took out my mom's Betty Crocker cookbook and was going to make scalloped potatoes. The recipe called for 1/2 cup minced onions. Well guess what I saw in the cabinet...minced onions. Didn't realize then they were different then fresh minced onions. Till this day I hate dried anything. Always reminds me of those gross potatoes!

                                                        1. Once I by accident left a spoon in the blender when I was making milkshakes. Oops. Another time I didn't put the blender together correctly and everything came spilling out the bottom.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: AnjLM

                                                            I had a blender problem the other day-- made a parsnip and cauliflower puree and added some stock that was reinforced w/ portabello mushrooms. A bunch of the mushrooms wound up in with the parsnip and cauliflower, but I was in a hurry and before I knew it I was using the immersion blender to puree it all. Oops. The whole thing turned this really gross dark grey because of the 'shrooms. Delicious, but wholly unappetizing looking.

                                                            1. re: BackyardChef

                                                              Ah yes, the blender. One of the Spouse's specialties is pastrami cured salmon. The recipe involves pureeing up a bunch of stuff, the primary two ingredients being cilantro and parsley. Back in the early days of the marriage we had an ancient Waring blender that had somehow lost its lid. We usually substituted tightly wrapped tinfoil and kept an eye on the thing. I guess Spouse wasn't thinking to hard and walked away with the blender running. Within moments an emerald green geyser shot up and spattered itself on the ceiling of our grad student rental apartment. Oh, and did I mention that the smell of cilantro makes me sick to my stomach?

                                                              My "How-could-you-be-so-stupid?" moment involves my dislike of cooking caramels. I burnt a pan of sugar in my mother-in-law's kitchen and thought I had better dispose of the potential napalm safely. What's safer than pouring it down the toilet? D'oh. Hot sugar + cold water = blocked toilet. Fortunately sugar eventually dissoves in water.

                                                          2. One Christmas my Dear Granny had a housefull of us for the big meal. Granny had read about freshening buns in a paper bag in the oven. She had done it before with no problem. Poor granny had a nice size fireball coming out of the oven a few minutes later. Several good hearted relatives still tried to consume the buns and of course said they were fine. She handled it in stride and a good meal was still had with a little excitement.
                                                            So I come by it honestly

                                                            1. I can sympathize with the poster who didn't realize the electric burner was on. I have quite a collection of semi-ruined pans due to this. Gas stove coming soon, though!

                                                              BUT, my worst cooking trauma was when I was a caterer years ago. My partner and I were doing a wedding dinner for about 60 people at the Women's Faculty Club on the UC Berkeley campus. We had the brilliant idea to serve sukiyaki made on the spot with electric frying pans. We had a line of about 6 pans going at once and it looked like it was going to be a great success. Just as we started out, though....

                                                              Well, the faculty club is an old building and, when the electric klezmer band started playing while the pans were frying, the power went out. The band was told to stop playing until the cooking was done and we started up again. It was then we realized that we'd forgotten to cook rice.

                                                              There were quite a few tense and upsetting moments, but we got the band to start up again, served more apps until the rice was cooked and it all turned out quite nicely.

                                                              That was our first big job. We made about $1.50 an hour and had so much food left over our friends ate like kings for a week.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                Watch out for gas stoves, too... A couple of years ago, my then-boyfriend, who was an absent-minded type of person, made a frisee aux lardons with a poached egg. He poached the eggs, drained them, etc. and when putting everything together, somehow managed to set the plastic salad-spinner lid on the still-lit gas burner. It was on low, at least... But the smell of melting plastic had me running into the kitchen.

                                                                Had to buy a new salad spinner...

                                                                1. re: sjb7501

                                                                  That kinda reminded me of our trip to Maine a few years back. My best friend and her b'friend decided to bake a ham for our dinner. Well her DH wanted to show off his cooking skills....He forgot to take the wrapper off the ham..LOL It was fine after we peeled it off and glazed it but that was almost 7 years ago and we picked on him something awful. Well he got me back the next time they came down here for Thanksgiving. I left all the innards inside the turkey and I know better...Needless to say I don't say a word about his cooking now!

                                                                  1. re: Smileelisa

                                                                    I've done that - cooked a bird with plastic (gag) -wrapped innards inside. Hasn't everyone done that at least once?

                                                                    I just recently ordred pizza from this special place where they give it to you raw and you cook in your oven. The plastic wrap was pulled so tight I didn't realize it was there until I'd put the pizza in the hot oven. I removed it immediately, but I sure felt clueless.

                                                                  2. re: sjb7501

                                                                    Years ago in a small apartment with a small kitchen I tried to make pancakes. We had an electric cooktop. I had a frying pan on one electric burner and the tupperware bowl of pancake batter resting on the other electric burner. Instead of turning on the burner under the skillet, I turned on the one under the bowl of batter. When I noticed smoke coming from the bottom of the plastic bowl, I snatched it off the burner. Unfortunately, at that point, the bottom of the bowl had stuck to the burner coil and the rest of the bowl came away. Pancake batter spilled out all over the cooktop. What a mess. After cleaning up the pancake batter I found that the bowl bottom had fused onto the electric burner coil. Later, I finally removed the fused bowl bottom by turning the burner on low and scraping the melted plastic off with a metal spatula. Always make sure which burner is on and which one if off. ;-)

                                                                2. I'm an inattentive cook. It's a wonder I don't burn my house down, and a wonder I can actually produce decent & edible meals most of the time.

                                                                  I once made a big batch of chili from my great-grandpa's recipe, not my first time, but misread the recipe and put in 3 tablespoons of salt instead of 3 teaspoons. I simmered it for a whole day in two pots with a potato in each one, and then it was at least edible.

                                                                  Many, many times when I've had an electric stove I've turned on the wrong burner and done damage. I melted the plastic cover for a 13x9 baking pan and burned a nice pattern in the back cover of a cookbook I'd checked out from the public library. Lots of pans with a little grease or something that are still sitting on the stove later when I go to boil water for tea or something get stuff well cooked on.

                                                                  Early in the morning is the worst. I once got everything ready for coffee (in a percolator), plugged it in, then went to take a shower. When I got out of the shower there was coffee everywhere. I had not gotten the lid on tight, and the first perk knocked it off, after which coffee went on the ceiling, the cabinets, the counter, the floor.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: revsharkie

                                                                    This morning I dumped out the old coffee grounds, put in whole beans but failed to put fresh water into the coffee maker...I'll just blame the time change and losing an hour of sleep :)

                                                                    1. re: Barbara76137

                                                                      I've done the reverse, and was greeted with a lovely pot of hot water in the morning. The grounds were still in the grinder.

                                                                  2. Here's one for ya - I am Canadian and when I first moved to the US I was invited to a large dinner party. The family kept Kosher and was having a BBQ, so I offered to bring a Kosher dessert. I immediately thought of my Apple Crumble, b/c I could make it with margarine and was always a crowd pleaser. I was running late, so brought it assembled to cook at the hosts' house. The topping slowly gelled into a gloppy, sticky mess! It was like baked mushy, jello oatmeal -ugh! The culprit - the margarine! This had never , ever happened to me in Canada and then I found out that US margarine in the plastic tub is processed differently than that in Canada. I thought I would die of embarrassment and the hosts insisted on serving it anyway. After that, I found "Canolio" - a Canadian made margarine at Trader Joe's and never bought a US brand again! No more margarine surprises for me!!!!!!

                                                                    1. I made creamed mushroom soup for Christmas dinner and used my hand blender to puree it but kept lifting up so the purreed soup went all over. Frustrated I ran next door and borrowed my neighbor's blender and purreed the now cooled soup to perfection. Before I returned the blender I thought I'd make another batch of mushroom soup. However, I forgot that filling a blender with hot food will cause it to spew it's contents. This was messier than using the immersion blender and it looked as if I tossed my cookies all over the place. Worse it took me forever to clean the blender and its parts because the soup got into every little crevice. I should have skipped the second batch of soup, my neighbor would have got her blender back sooner.

                                                                      1. After our marriage, my husband and I spent some time in Canada where is family lives. For our first dinner together in our apt there, I decided to make chicken piccata. The day before I had a tough time shopping for the ingredients b/c I didn't know the markets well.

                                                                        Fast forward to an hour before the guests arrive. I was making the sauce, and went to measure the capers into the bowl that held my chopped parsley. The moment they hit the bowl, I knew they looked funny. I picked up the bottle and discovered I'd purchased pickled green peppercorns instead of capers! (i'd never seen these in the States.) I quickly picked out the peppercorns, and sent my DH running to find a store with capers. But I can still picture how that dinner would have gone if I didn't notice the error!!

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: diablita FL

                                                                          I did the same thing with the green peppercorns, but didn't notice until I took a bite of the chicken. Not at all what I expected, but very good! For some reason, I had thought they would be very peppery, but they don't taste anything like black pepper. I use them all the time now, and would have never thought to buy before the mishap. Not so crazy about the dried ones, though.

                                                                          1. re: diablita FL

                                                                            Isn't it amazing how different the stuff on the grocery store shelves can be between the US and Canada??? Other things I've noted that are not the same:
                                                                            1) yogurt - aside from FAGE, I couldn't get yogurt in the US that didn't have gelatin in it!
                                                                            2) buttermilk powder - can't for the life of me find this back in Canada!
                                                                            3) Coffee pot cleaner - ditto from #2!
                                                                            I'm sure there are a host of other things I have forgotten. Now that I'm back in Canada , I am lost in the grocery stores again!!

                                                                            1. re: jcanncuk

                                                                              We cross-border shop exclusively for King Arthur flour and Formula 409 cleaner...the most amazing cleaner in the world!

                                                                              1. re: AmandaEd

                                                                                Agreed! Last time, I think we bought 8 bottles.

                                                                                1. re: AmandaEd

                                                                                  We live in NY State, and have family members who buy American All-Bran whenever they're here. Apparently it has a lower sodium content than the American. And a friend of mine buys her children's vitamins here--some difference in the iron content, I think. We, on the other hand, have a list of things to buy whenever we're in Canada.

                                                                              2. re: diablita FL

                                                                                I did that when I tried to cook dinner for my husband's family in Bosnia. I couldn't read any of the labels, but they sure LOOKED like capers!

                                                                              3. My most memorable screwup was actually my roommate's doing, some years back in my first apartment after college. He announced he was going to make a citrus-glazed leg of lamb, like his mother made. He touted this for a week, and blew most of our meager household food budget on the supplies.

                                                                                Turns out he didn't actually have a recipe, he just knew it involved lots of lemons and oranges - but DIDN'T know that a glaze involves some kind of sweetener as well! After marinating the leg in tons of lemon and orange rind, then basting with the same, the resulting meat was so bitter that even the dog wouldn't eat it - literally!

                                                                                1. I was probably about 10 years old and decided to bake cookies while home alone. While creaming the butter with a hand mixer, I shoved my fingers into the bowl, while the mixer was on, to get the cold, hard butter into the beaters. Instead, my fingers got tangled into the running beaters. I ran to the neighbor's with the entire mixer hanging off of my hand. She couldn't get the beaters to release from the mixer. She (a nurse) was pretty sure my fingers were broken so she took me, mixer and all, to the emergency room. When they got my hand out, nothig was broken and I suffered only from bruises and embarrasment.

                                                                                  1. I would love to take credit for this one, but my non-domesticated girlfriend's first attempt at making a Duncan Hines chocolate cake resulted in screwup when she, diligently following the recipe, added olive oil to the pre-bake mix. She only realized the quickly-cooking disaster when she caught the distict whiff of garlic-infused chocolate cake whafting from the oven...she had used roasted garlic olive oil!

                                                                                    Can't really think of a grosser smell combo!

                                                                                    1. I was once a dessert chef at a nice restaurant on the Outer Banks of NC. One night, while mixing a huge batch of chocolate cake, I accidentally dropped a large 5 gallon tub of cocoa powder. The lid popped off and, of course, the exhaust fans over the stove sucked the cocoa up and settled it all over the the back kitchen. I was completely covered in cocoa (the only white space on my entire person was my eyes, as I'd shut them against the chocolate cloud). I'll never forget the looks on the faces of the assorted staff as they came to the back kitchen to see my latest disaster. It took me hours to clean up and it's been 10 years and whenever I smell cocoa, it brings back a messy, but hilarious memory.

                                                                                      1. When I was in high school I was cooking dinner and decided to make creamy tomato sauce for pasta. I had it in a restaurant and really liked it so I thought I could make it at home, however not really being a recipe follower for cooking (then or now) I just started combining things that I thought would go in the sauce. I cooked some onions in olive oil, added some chopped canned stewed tomatoes, basil, oregano and low-fat milk. The acid in the tomatoes immediated curdled the milk turning the whole thing into a pink, red and weird white chunks mess!

                                                                                        1. While making a pot of salmon chowder that called for 3 cups of fish broth as a base, my lovely-but-not-detail-oriented husband assumed that fish sauce was the same thing. I entered the kitchen just in time to see him shaking the last drops of a very large, brand new bottle of fish sauce into the pot, and calling out "honey, I don't think we have enough." The (poorly-ventilated) apartment stunk like you would not believe for at least 3 days.

                                                                                          (By the way, this is the same husband who discovered at the age of 29 that one is supposed to peel carrots before cooking them. His comment after said discovery: "They taste much better if you peel them, don't they?")

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: DistrictDarling

                                                                                            My good friend's husband made her, on one of their first dates, an apple pie made from scratch. He, too, in his late 20's, hadn't yet figured it out that apples need to be cored and usually peeled for this purpose...

                                                                                          2. I was making shoofly pie a couple of summers ago for a friend and unthinkingly used a smaller-than-I-normally-use pie plate. The filling, for those of you who are unfamiliar with this glorious concoction, is a liquidy mess of boiling water, molasses, baking soda (to make it foam) and crumbles (flour, butter, cinnamon). there was too much filling for the size of pie plate but instead of scooping some out, I just blithely put the whole thing in the oven and figured it would be fine.

                                                                                            Not so much. My husband's shouts of "Fire in the hole" alerted me to the fact that as the pie baked the molasses mixture oozed out and became a FLAMING mess on the bottom of the oven.

                                                                                            It took days for the stench of incinerated sugar to go away.

                                                                                            1. A story from my learning to cook in Mom's kitchen days.

                                                                                              I was making a chicken pie with a lemon/thyme gravy. The recipe called for thickening the gravy with cornstarch. But for some reason the corn starch didn't work to thicken it -- my gravy just kept boiling up when I added it, and stayed thin. I ended up putting like half the canister (you know those decorative tin /hide the ugly box canisters?) into the gravy before it got thickish. Finally I gave up, poured it over the pie, and stuck it in the oven.

                                                                                              Result - inedible mess. Bizarre salty flat taste overpowering everything. I'm about 12, I have no clue why this is like this - I know nothing about cooking. Must be a bad recipe.

                                                                                              Fast forward 3 days, my mother is making biscuits. "Hey Anna, were you baking?" "No, why?" "Cleaning something?" "Uhh.. no? Why?"

                                                                                              "What happened to all my baking soda?"

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: AnnaEA

                                                                                                Ha! Seems like a lot of us when younger made the baking soda mistake!

                                                                                                1. re: Mermazon

                                                                                                  When I was about 10, I thought my mother always topped the brownies with baking soda, instead of powdered sugar.

                                                                                              2. My worst screwup happened when I was about nine - one of my first baking adventures in the kitchen. The recipe called for 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt. Stupid me didn't understand the concept of fractions, and ended up putting in 8 tablesspoons instead.

                                                                                                Oops. Birds didn't like em either.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: rbc

                                                                                                  I did this at age 7 with instant mashed potatoes. I thought the slash in the recipe meant you had the choice between 1 and 4, and since I liked salt, I added 4 teaspoons. My mom made me eat a bunch of it before we threw it out.

                                                                                                  1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                                                    ha! i love this one because it's a perfectly reasonable mistake for a 7-yo to make, and because i'm impressed that at such a young age you mad an executive decision based on your palate :)

                                                                                                    1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                                                      that was sort of mean of your mom -- i mean here you are a SEVEN year old, cooking the instant mashed potatoes. where was she?

                                                                                                  2. Brined turkey for Thanksgiving (serving 15). Brining went well, but the turkey was so big (20 lbs) that it didn't cook all the way. When it took its temp, it read 165. Two hours later it read the same temp! Thankfully there was much food and my neighbor wanted to bring a turkey, so we ate his. That was five years ago.

                                                                                                    This year I was cooking two turkeys (10 lbs each) and everything else, plus trying to entertain and visit. I checked temp on the birds and left the kitchen to announce we would be eating in 10 minutes. When I went to retrieve my instant read thermometer, I couldn't find it. Then it hit me - I left it in the bird! The thermometer was ruined, but the birds were great.

                                                                                                    1. Spent more hours, time, love, and meat cooking down my first ever demi glaze. A beautiful wonderful chicken demi glaze that was about a 1/3 cup in a pan on the back burner, awaiting to be used. When everything had the last 20 min finish to be done. I went to freshen up for the guests. My boyfriend at the time wanted to surprise me and clean up; thought that pan was to be washed.
                                                                                                      When I found out; I cried. It still breaks my heart, and when I have made Demi Glaze since I make it very clear if any one is in the kitchen "No touch!"

                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: nicolaco

                                                                                                        My DH routinely does this sort of thing; last night, he threw out the shallots I had finely chopped and reserved on the cutting board. We've been together 7 years - you would think he would at least ask before he purges!

                                                                                                        1. re: AmandaEd

                                                                                                          The trouble I have is not that Mike throws things out that I was saving, but that if I don't tell him I need something for a meal a day or two down the road he'll just eat it! There have been numerous occasions that I have put up the leftovers of a roast chicken or something to use for soup or something the next day, only to find when I go to the refrigerator to start that supper that IT'S ALL GONE!

                                                                                                          1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                            That is infuriating.

                                                                                                            When I was a teenager, I used to leave notes on things in the fridge that I was saving saying things like, "I licked this", until my bro and dad got wise to my antics and left add-on notes in return: "So did I". That ended that strategy...

                                                                                                            1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                              I buy callebaut bittersweet chocolate in bulk, and keep it somewhat hidden in the pantry to keep it out of sight so I don't eat it. I had 5lbs when I bought it, and went to dip a bunch of coconut macaroons and almond biscotti. I found about 1lb of the chocolate in the pantry. It turns out that hubby had been sneaking into the pantry and eating my ($8/lb!!!) chocolate instead of the cheap chocolate chips that I keep on hand for him to keep him out of the "good stuff". Grrrr.

                                                                                                              1. re: LaureltQ

                                                                                                                I have the same problem with my husband! I have to hide all my baking ingredients. When I made chocolate chip cookies recently he said to me, I didn't know we had chocolate chips in the house, my response was I know, that's why we have chocolate chips.

                                                                                                                1. re: zitronenmadchen

                                                                                                                  A friend of mine makes delicious chocolate chip cookies every couple of weeks - so good that she won a local cookie contest. When she was interviewed as the winner, the columnist covering the story asked how she managed to keep chocolate chips in the house, having three teenage sons and a husband. Her newspaper answer: "I can't tell you that." I know the real answer. She keeps them in the bottom of a maxi-pad box in her bathroom.

                                                                                                        2. I've had plenty of them since I'm now 65, and have been cooking since I was 8. When first starting to cook I made a chocolate cake. We didn't have any confectioners' sugar for the frosting so I used granulated. I figured sugar is sugar. (I was 8.) Tasted like sweet sand. I still remember it almost 60 years later. I am a good cook and manage a farmers' market where I do some cooking during the season. A couple of years ago someone said, "Oh I bet you never make mistakes when you cook." I told her that everyone who cooks makes mistakes. I just throw mine away so you never see them.

                                                                                                          1. I recently made a delicious roasted squash soup with lemongrass, onions, fish sauce, coconut milk and other tasty things I can't remember. I used one of those hand-held blender thingies to puree it in the pot, and then tasted it... only to discover I now had shards of lemongrass everywhere in this otherwise lovely soup. Luckily, even a thick soup can be strained with a lot of patience, and only a few bits remained in the final product.

                                                                                                            Other story: when my (older) brother and I were kids, our family got our first microwave. It came with a cookbook which included a brownie recipe, which we decided to make. I'm still not sure how he misread the salt quantity, or how he didn't have the common sense to question his misreading, but somehow he got a *cup* of salt into those brownies. Completely inedible.

                                                                                                            1. I was making a leek and potato soup for a dinner party. But, I had no means to puree it; so I borrowed a friend’s blender. She explained how she spent a while cleaning it because her roommate had made strawberry daiquiris in it and let the mess stick. Since I knew it was clean, I just plugged it in, and filled it with soup. Blended it. Tasted it. Liked it. Went to pour it and guuuuuuuhhu. The entire contents of the pitcher evacuated the vessel and relocated itself on my countertop. You see, the blade was underneath, rather than on top of, the screw on bottom piece.

                                                                                                              1. Chicken 'n Dumplings Extreme:
                                                                                                                Mistake #1: used broiler/fryer, not stewing hen. (Didn't skin it. Uh-oh!)
                                                                                                                Mistake # 2: made a rich, creamy garvy; entirely too rich.
                                                                                                                Mistake # 3: made fluffy dumplings, that soaked up the gravy.
                                                                                                                Result: excessively rich gravy, smothered by wads of rich, fluffy dumplings, over a stew of disintegrating chicken, bones and skin. We tried to eat it, but had to throw it out.

                                                                                                                1. I like to make uncooked cheesecakes, usually with gelatin. One time I found a recipe for such, and made it for a potluck. When I was making it, I got suspicious about it not being firm enough. However after a night in the fridge it seemed to have gelled, and I was it a hurry so brought it along. It turned out to be cheese glop. It did taste good, you just had to eat it with a spoon. Luckily it's for people I know well so we all had a good laugh. From then on I resolved never to try out a new recipe on other people!

                                                                                                                  1. My mom put salt instead of sugar in pies at her bakery once,the customers were almost heaving.Some guy that couldn't read english had put salt in her sugar bin.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: billjriv

                                                                                                                      I did that - but it wasn't anyone else fault, just mine. I had the salt in an unlabeled contianer and thought I'd either remember what it was or have the sense to taste it. Wrong on both counts!

                                                                                                                    2. My screwup was when I bought my dear wife a beautiful glass top stove from sears.
                                                                                                                      the top of the line that year. well she was cleaning cabinets that day and she did`nt
                                                                                                                      use her little three step step ladder to get to the top of the cabinet. so she climbs
                                                                                                                      as high as she could then plants one of her big feet on the corner of the stove,
                                                                                                                      you better believe it. there went a crack all the way accross the stove. it still works
                                                                                                                      great but it sure has a nice crack in it. when I make a mistake nothing is said,.

                                                                                                                      1. I had some dried mushrooms that i dumped into a soup. A few minutes later, there were tons of ants floating in the soup. I guess they were in the mushrooms.

                                                                                                                        and while not cooking, this was still in the kitchen. I put liquid soap in the dishwasher when i was short on detergent. The thing sent bubbles a foot high throughout my kitchen.

                                                                                                                        1. Oh that one is easy! One year for Thanksgiving I was having quite a few of my family over for dinner. Being newly married I wanted to impress everyone with my fab cooking skills..Ha

                                                                                                                          Anway, A fried of mine had given us a HUGE wild turkey to cook. It was so big I had to bathe it in the bathtub. Nobody had a roaster big enough to fit this monster. So somebody picked up an aluminum foil roaster that the bird barely fit in. Well I cooked that bird to golden perfection and was so excited to present him. Well getting him out of the oven seemed to be quite a challenge. He was so heavy and the roasing pan was so skimpy. Well you guessed it. Mr Tom ended up on my kitchen floor with all the drippings that was in the pan. I had an oil slick that didn't clean up properly till I had mopped it 2 or 3 dozen times. It was horrible. I have since learned to get the size bird that doesn't have to be cleaned up in the tub.

                                                                                                                          1. uh yep. not really much of a baker.
                                                                                                                            One pan. recipe for two loaves. high heat=big fat bread.

                                                                                                                            1. I was making a beef vegetable soup. I wanted to start with a nice broth. I got an assortment of beef bones, simmered them for hours with some veggies. When it came time to strain the broth I was almost done when I realized what I was saving was the bones, and the broth I had labored over was going down the drain.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: ChrisOC

                                                                                                                                ugh. i did that once with shrimp stock. i was *so* upset!

                                                                                                                              2. my best screw up was having a bunch of people for a barbecue on a new propane grill and running out of propane before anything was done (I forgot and left the gas valve on the night before), had to rush into the kitchen to get things finished and heated the whole house so no one could eat inside (the whole point of cooking on a grill out side.)

                                                                                                                                1. A few Christmases ago I roasted a goose. Anyone who's ever cooked a goose will know that there's a LOT of fat. Like, loads.

                                                                                                                                  So I was pouring off the fat as you're meant to so it doesn't overflow into the oven. Suddenly the glass bowl I'm pouring it into cracks, tipping boiling hot fat all over the kitchen floor! Luckily I got out of the way in time. What fun it was cleaning that up, on Christmas Day with a ton of guests in the house!

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                    oh no! hope you salvaged the goose! I love the rich meat of goose and its sauce that it makes. I keep saying I'm going to make it for Christmas, maybe this is the year. I've only had it when other people make it, such a treat!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                                                                      The goose was fine, and there was still plenty of fat left over for roast potatoes later. Still, not a happy experience....!

                                                                                                                                  2. Did you know that it's possible to put an oven rack in so the back end is down one level from the front end? This is about 50 years ago and my mother is baking one of her famous cakes for a PTA function. 9 x 13 pan with batter goes in for a sheet cake, but in juggling the rack to the middle of the oven she managed to get the back end lower than the front. Don't know if you can still do that (my current stove won't let you) but I saw the whole thing when I was a kid.

                                                                                                                                    So out comes a wedge shaped cake -- thin at one end and almost over the top at the other end. My mother lived through the great depression and darned if she'd throw out a perfectly good made-from-scratch cake just because it looked like a giant shingle.

                                                                                                                                    So the clever cheapskate got it out of the pan, cut it in half sideways, flipped the one piece over the other, sticking it together with frosting, frosted the sides and top, and created a perfectly even layer cake -- perfect except if you compared a piece from one end to a piece from the other and wondered why the middle frosting layer varied so much in position.

                                                                                                                                    Of course she couldn't resist telling the tale, and all the ladies (no men dared show up at a PTA function in those days) had a great laugh at how mom saved the cake.

                                                                                                                                    1. My first shot at Thanksgiving dinner was a nightmare. I was 21 or so. I was living in a new apartment with a gas stove. I had always used electric stoves in my youth. I turned the oven on and pre heated it, put in the turkey, so far so good. I came in to check the turkey and baste and what not about a half hour later and the oven was ice cold. Not even warm. I called the land lord to tell him something was wrong with my oven and he said "Oh you're probably out of propane" Propane? I didn't even know what that was much less that it was possible to run out of it.

                                                                                                                                      The entire dinner was transported over to my dad's a couple of towns over.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: juliehouli

                                                                                                                                        Are you me?

                                                                                                                                        I had a nearly identical experience.

                                                                                                                                        We ("we" meaning my now DH & I) had tons of friends over and instead of bringing vegetables they all brought liquid refreshment. I called my mom every twenty minutes to get coaching by phone. Midway through what should have been a normal cooking time for that size bird, we discovered that the oven wasn't on. Because our oven only sometimes worked.

                                                                                                                                        Later that evening my mother revealed that usually you *defrost* the turkey before trying to cook it. Later I discovered that the frozen innards were still in there. It went on and on like that, with similar epiphanies along the way.

                                                                                                                                        Needless to say that by the time everyone got to eat the blessed thing, they were so rip-roaring drunk they were not too particular. And yes, they all still tease me about this my first Thanksgiving dinner. Good times.

                                                                                                                                      2. The most memorable mistake in eating came when my dad mistook the salt for sugar while making sweet and sour something. That's not a taste easy to forget.

                                                                                                                                        However, my most recent mess up happened when I was making my mom's snickerdoodle recipe. And didn't read all that carefully how much butter, and ended up using one stick instead of the the two. It's amazing how using that much less fat can end up creating the greasiest lumps of ick.

                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                          Oh man I put salt in my coffee once by accident and it was the worst taste EVER.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: juliehouli

                                                                                                                                            I don't know, I have a similar snafu that could rival that for ick-factor. I was at a *very* swank wedding. 600+ guests, and by my best estimate the favors alone cost over $30 each. The setting was absolutely exquisite. The flowers, the table settings, everything was martha-stewart immaculate. Dinner was served (both chicken and a nice fillet mignon). I tasted a bite of my fillet, decided I wanted a bit of salt, and looked over the table. A salt cellar! I LOVE salt cellars. I have something of a fetish for them. The lovely containers, the ease with which you can get just the right amount, those freakin adorable little spoons. Love love love. So I was delighted to see salt cellars on the table at such a fancy event. Now these caterers know how to set a table, I thought to myself. I use the little spoon, sprinkle it on my lovely fillet, and take a bite. It was SWEET N LOW! A really wonderful fillet completely ruined by artificial sweetener in a salt cellar. At least I hadn't contaminated the chicken.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: modthyrth

                                                                                                                                              Oy vey! I gagged reading that! How perfectly gross.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                            I did that, too! My grandmother was visiting, and one of her favorite things (and mine) is poundcake. 5 ingredients...what could be easier? But somehow, I got it into my head that a stick of butter was 1/4 cup, so instead of 1 1/2 c of butter, the cake had 3 !! I t took a long time to bake, but came out looking fine. As it was cooling in the pan, my brother touched the top of it and...you know how a soaked sponge pools up with water when touched? This is what that cake did...only with melted butter.
                                                                                                                                            Granny said she was looking forward to having a slice of that cake...so she could spread it on toast!

                                                                                                                                          3. The first major kitchen screw up was being forced to entertain my DH's family for Tgiving. I was a new bride, we had just moved to a home in the suburbs, I had never made a turkey before or dinner for more than 4-6 people. My MIL, a widow, decided it would be nice to have dinner at MY house, so that she wouldn't have to lift a finger. Having 15 people to dinner was pretty daunting but it was a good incentive to get the boxes unpacked and all the dishes, pots & pans, etc. put away. I had bought a 20 lb. turkey, made lots of lists, the table was beautiful. My MIL was sitting at the dining room table sharing her first turkey experience, how their maid Fanny had roasted the turkey and forgotten to check in both ends of the turkey and take out all the giblets, neck, liver, etc. I listened intently and ran to the oven. Sure enough, I knew about the main cavity, but did not realize there was a second. I took the plastic pouch and threw it in the trash. I considered throwing out the turkey for about 10 seconds, then basted it and shut the oven door. No one got sick, no one ended up in the ER, but I only ate the side dishes that year!

                                                                                                                                            1. Thanksgiving seems to trigger a lot of screwups. Mine was when I made a pumpkin soup for the first course. First I tried to use a pumpkin left over from Halloween to serve it in, only to find that (of course) it had rotted; but I made the soup anyway. One of the ingredients was peanut butter, and I hastily grabbed a jar out of the cabinet. The problem was, the PB had been in the cabinet a LONG time, and the flavor of rancid peanuts permeated the whole soup. Being in a hurry, I hadn't tasted it while cooking, and my GF was the first one to get a serving. She must have made a face or something; when our guests asked how it was, she very diplomatically, trying to spare my feelings, said, 'I wouldn't get too much.' We decided to skip the soup course....

                                                                                                                                              1. When I was 15, I was on exchange to France, and my parents sent me a care package. It was a great care package, and it included a staple in my teenage diet: Kraft Dinner. My cooking skills have improved a lot since, but back then, I couldn't for the life of me cook KD on the stove. The mix always wound up lumpy. So I mastered doing it in the microwave.

                                                                                                                                                I put the pasta in to cook, and went to go chat to my parents on the phone. My exchange partner came in to tell me that the pasta was done, and not wanting to get off the phone just yet, told her to add the package of of powder and stir.

                                                                                                                                                Small problem: Having never made it before, she didn't drain the pasta first.

                                                                                                                                                I got off the phone and came out for lunch, to be greeted with clumps of chemically orange powder floating in beige-grey water. *shudder*

                                                                                                                                                1. Freshman year of college my dad volunteered me to make dinner for a group of about 18 donors/members on the board of our local community foundation. He's always been proud of my cooking, but I think this incident proved that that pride is sometimes unmerited!
                                                                                                                                                  It being Christmas vacation, and I living in a dorm room with no kitchen access, I came home with an armful of recipes to try - a semester's worth of internet browsing. Among the recipes was one for homemade egg rolls, so two nights before this dinner, I set to work sauteing pork and cabbage, rolling them, and shallow-frying them in an inch or two of oil. As I recall, they were pretty incredible! After dinner, with the newfound manners and consideration that only a semester seven hours away from home can induce, I helped clean up the kitchen.
                                                                                                                                                  The following day, the afternoon before the big dinner, we grabbed a pizza at the local place, and then I came home to set to work - desserts first. The flourless chocolate cake was cooling, the lemon cake layers were baking, and I'd just finished the lemon curd-mascarpone whipped cream frosting for the cake. Time to tackle the sink - nay, the kitchen - of dirty dishes. Turned the water on to run in the sink, and within seconds my shins and shoes were soaked with water from under the sink.

                                                                                                                                                  The night before, I'd poured the oil from the egg rolls DOWN THE DRAIN.
                                                                                                                                                  In January, in a snowstorm, in my parents' house on a nearly inaccessible hilltop.

                                                                                                                                                  So we called the woman who was co-chairing the dinner with my dad, and the next morning we loaded all the groceries into coolers, wheeled them down to the car parked at the bottom of the hill, and I cooked in her immaculate kitchen all day. Oh, and the night before, as my dad bailed water, I stood in the mess and piped rosettes of frosting onto that beautiful cake....

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kshrimp

                                                                                                                                                    I did another screwup that was huge
                                                                                                                                                    I was a volunteer for a Jazz festival and in addition to my other duties I voluntereed to be the lead cook for the wrap party. 300 people attemding.
                                                                                                                                                    Good intentions pave the road to #$%&
                                                                                                                                                    After all the effort to produce some very decent food I royally screwed up.
                                                                                                                                                    I put all food out at once and the first people saw the abundance and loaded the plates very heavily.
                                                                                                                                                    Leaving no food for almost half the people,
                                                                                                                                                    Rookie catering mistake but wow did I feel bad.

                                                                                                                                                    Food was great but I was a poor caterer for sure.
                                                                                                                                                    Live and learn I guess.
                                                                                                                                                    Sorry hungry Jazz people

                                                                                                                                                  2. Sweet and sour liver stir fry. Need I say more ?

                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. Gefilte fish. It sucked AND it stank.

                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sweetpotater

                                                                                                                                                        Too bad that it sucked. Mine got raves, but I will NEVER EVER make it from scratch again. I can't begin to describe how awful the house smelled and it took nearly a week to get rid of the stink.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                                                                          I made it from scratch once too - once. The smell wasn't that bad (plenty of kitchen windows) but it was a lot of work and didn't taste all that different from the jarred stuff in the end. What I DO make from scratch every time though is the horseradish that goes with it - there's just no comparison between fresh and store-bought. Besides, what is gefilte fish but a vehicle for horseradish anyway?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                                                            I hear ya. Just make sure that all your windows are wide open. Or wear a gas mask.

                                                                                                                                                      2. I keep 4 large, contemporary looking counters on my counter: Self rising flour, Confectioners' sugar, AP Flour and Sugar. Yesterday, as I was making whipped cream I thought I was adding confectioners' sugar and I was adding self-rising. OMG, I was like what is this! Too much multitasking yesterday, something was bound to happen.

                                                                                                                                                        1. This one I'll blame on my SO at the time. I was making stovetop espresso, you know the kind that I mean -- water in the bottom chamber that steams through the grounds above it them passes through a tube into the top chamber. Well, SO had recently cleaned the pot, and forgot to put the screen back in that prevents the grounds from migrating up the tube. I'm making an omelet or something and wondering why my coffee is taking so long. I take a peek, and see there is a clog at the top of the tube, so I start prodding it with the tip of my knife. KABOOM! Coffee grounds over every single square inch of the kitchen -- ceiling, walls, and because this was a mid-80's rental, a huge pegboard. And I enjoyed the hospital for three hours as they lifted the burn from my face.

                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pitterpatter

                                                                                                                                                            Ouch I came close with one of my pressure cookers to your experience.
                                                                                                                                                            I collected expresso machines for several years and have had many interesting close calls with a few stovetop units.
                                                                                                                                                            I hope you are all good now.
                                                                                                                                                            Take care David

                                                                                                                                                          2. My daughter was born on Earth Day, so we decided to make her an earth-shaped cake for her second birthday. I borrowed a spherical cake pan from my friend, but didn't think through what kind of cake to bake in it. I chose a lovely, soft chocolate cake -- and then we iced it with green and blue frosting. Well, the cake couldn't stand up to the frosting and by the time of her party it looked as if we believed the Earth was actually football shaped. Tasted delicious, but looked awful. (Next time: use a firm, pound cake recipe.)

                                                                                                                                                            1. A bottle of a thick condiment that is almost empty always leaves quite a bit on the side and bottom of the bottle that is difficult to use. A silly trick that I've successfully used for years, is to make sure the bottle is sealed, hold it in my hand and swing it wildly in a wide circle, windmill style, kind of like Pete Townsend on guitar. Well, I had a bottle of Heinz ketchup (of course!) with the little snap on plastic top. While expertly preforming my "windmill", I must have gripped the plastic bottle a little hard and popped open the top...The result was a bright red line of ketchup running up one wall, across the entire kitchen ceiling, down the opposite wall and across the floor!

                                                                                                                                                              It did get all of the ketchup out of the bottle though...


                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Burghfeeder

                                                                                                                                                                I love that one, I've never done anything like that :) Thanks for sharing

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Burghfeeder

                                                                                                                                                                  hey burghfeeder, put some paint in that bottle and you, too, can be an abstract expressionist.

                                                                                                                                                                2. Was scraping walnuts out of an immersion blender and pushed the button to turn it on by reflex.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Not food, but certainly a kitchen screwup:
                                                                                                                                                                    1. Run out of Cascade.
                                                                                                                                                                    2. Use Dawn instead (dish soap is dish soap, right?).
                                                                                                                                                                    3. Leave house for a few hours.
                                                                                                                                                                    4. Return home and be greated by a lava flow of suds making it's way down the stairs.

                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hamboney

                                                                                                                                                                      You might just be the winner with that one.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rockycat

                                                                                                                                                                        That one has been done many times in many ways. Like dishsoap in the washing machine. I think my deep fry incident was much better with the property destruction and danger elements.
                                                                                                                                                                        But I do respect all the humorous aspects in these stories.
                                                                                                                                                                        The tough ones to hear are when somebody gets hurt.
                                                                                                                                                                        My broken wine glass in the dishwater storey has yet to be told, but it's no fun.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: hamboney

                                                                                                                                                                        i did this in a summer rental in texas. the billowing wave of suds was truly frightening in its relentless foot-high movement across the kitchen floor into the living room.


                                                                                                                                                                      3. This is not my screwup but I was involved, does that count?

                                                                                                                                                                        My little 10 year old neighbor girls came to the door and wanted to borrow some vanilla. I had one of those big Costco bottles and they said, "Is that all you have?" I thought they were being funny, so I just laughed and shoved them out the door. Well, they had to go many more places to get enough vanilla to make their cake. They read 2t as 2c. Yep, 2 CUPS of vanilla. Needless to say, it was inedible and about $80.

                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: runwestierun

                                                                                                                                                                          Using salt instead of sugar(by accident of course) to make tiramisu to impress my chef.
                                                                                                                                                                          Not impressed....

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: petek

                                                                                                                                                                            When I was about 10 my mom made a pan of baked mac and cheese. My big sister had a cold...she bent over the pan on the rack of the open oven. The heat of the oven must have caused her sinuses to begin draining... right onto the mac and cheese! To this day I am so careful of cooking when I'm sick.

                                                                                                                                                                            And this from a high school teacher, a very orthodox rabbi. His wife had made a big pan of potato kugel to go with their chicken dinner. As an observer of the laws of keeping kosher, nothing dairy had come in contact with any of the food. Or so they thought...the rabbi smelled something funny and went to check the oven. He was horrified to see a large orange, melting puddle of cheese on the kugel! He took the kugel out of the oven and left it on the counter to decide what to do. It was clearly not going to be eaten with the chicken that night. A few minutes later he glanced at the kugel and noticed that the cheese was congealing in a strange manner. He bent closer to look, touched it, the realized that his 3 year old had thrown a piece of LEGO in the oven!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Miri1

                                                                                                                                                                              On the plus side - if he scooped out the section where the plastic melted, the rest was probably kosher since no dairy was involved. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Washing the dishes after a fine dinner at home I had a wee issue.
                                                                                                                                                                          The dish water would not drain. So I in my infinite wisdom stuck my hand in the sudsy water to clear the drain. I swished my hand around in the drain area to clear what i thought was debris.
                                                                                                                                                                          Needless to say I came up with a shredded hand.
                                                                                                                                                                          A broken wine glass had blocked the drain and my hand was not the best way to find it.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. does trying to bowl over some soup cans with a honeydew melon count?

                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bw2082

                                                                                                                                                                              and that was in the kitchen? cool! ;-).

                                                                                                                                                                            2. worst goof on my part: i used chai tea once instead of chicken broth when i made paella....damn boxes looked the same. i still ate it, but damn what a waste....

                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. My sister and I (in our 20s) baked about 12 dozen vanilla cupcakes/fairy cakes from scratch for our mother's second wedding. The cupcakes were baked a few weeks in advance and then frozen without icing. The icing recipe that went with the fairy cakes contained raw egg white, and since we were baking for a large crowd we decided to substitute with meringue powder for food safety reasons. We live in a fairly rural area and could not find meringue powder ANYWHERE, so a baker finally suggested a royal icing mix to my mom. The day before the wedding I defrosted all of the cupcakes, mixed up the powdered icing according to the directions, and some hours later I had 144 perfect fairy cakes iced in pastel blue-green.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm still not sure what happened at this point but my sister arrived that evening to help me put the finishing touches on the cupcakes, a pretty little white icing daisy on each one. I was horrified when I pulled the cupcakes out to get started... The icing mix had *melted* and soaked right into the tops of all of the cupcakes, leaving a gross sugary, wet blue food colouring glaze behind! They were unsalvageable and I had to toss all 144 of them, the night before my mom's wedding.

                                                                                                                                                                                  My sister and I frantically called the other bridesmaids and made an emergency trip to the grocery store for loads of flour, butter, eggs and sugar (and a few bottles of wine!). They showed up about an hour later and we spent the whole night in my kitchen baking another 12 dozen cupcakes, this time with REAL icing with very fresh eggs - overblown salmonella risks be damned! We managed to get them all done just in time, with loads of compliments on our beautiful and delicious emergency homemade wedding cupcakes.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. This one is BAD and is an example of not trying to over-prepare.
                                                                                                                                                                                    The first year I cooked professionally, I was expected to stage for 2 nights at a very high-end restaurant, and the first night was garde-manger. I was trying to make absolutely sure that I'd have everything I would possibly need at my fingertips, so into the pocket of my coat went my sharpee, my two cigs and a lighter and certs so I could just duck out the back at my break. Imagine my total wilting horror when I stepped out four hours later and there was NOTHING in my pocket. I tore up my (visible) station, literally shaking; then convinced myself that I must've only THOUGHT I put them in my pocket. More horror at end of shift when that was not found to be the case. Still nowhere. I mentioned to the Sous- that I'd had an unfortunate mishap, and there just wasn't much we could do about it and I had no idea what happened to my gear.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Until the next day. Met at the door by Chef, who was carrying a wrapped pan of prepped out micro-greens. Mmmmhmmm. Nestled gently in it's lettuce swaddling was a little pile of shredded smokes barely attached to the filter, my dead lighter and pen, and a melting roll of fruit certs.
                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm sure my next words were along the lines of ...."I-I-I-sosorry,sosick,I-didn't so sorry." Chef actually gave me a break and I worked there for two happy years with more mistakes, but none of that magnitude. Oy. For a cigarette, this all happened.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                      Not exactly a cooking disaster but... a very disastrous food story!

                                                                                                                                                                                      When I was really little, still in diapers, my mom and sisters noticed that the seat of my pants were red, blood red. Of course they panicked and grabbed me to see where I was bleeding from. They frantically took off the diaper but couldn't find anything wrong. Then they noticed a unique smell...ketchup!

                                                                                                                                                                                      Upon closer inspection they discovered that I had sat down smack on top of the meatloaf my mom had made! I think from then on she was really careful about where she left food cooling!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Miri1

                                                                                                                                                                                        um, where DID she leave that meatloaf cooling, by the way?

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Early in my vegetable garden career, I planted some broccoli and got a beautiful crop. I cut some, washed it carefully, and put it in a covered saucepan to simmer. A few minutes later, I took the cover off and on top of the broccoli floating in the water was a panful of dead waterlogged slugs. I was so grossed out it took me months to eat broccoli again. Those little suckers were well hidden.

                                                                                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: noodlepoodle

                                                                                                                                                                                        Murderer! : )
                                                                                                                                                                                        If it makes you feel any better, dear, my darlin dad grew his own vegies. Mom was into raw broccoli and cauliflower with dip, and when he harvested the first of his veg, she washed them and cut them up and plated them and brought them to the table at which point my brother started literally shrieking because the piece of cauliflower being borne aloft to his very own mouth suddenly started discharging a cluster of baby earwigs.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                          Mamachef, that's pretty gross too; at least they didn't make it to his mouth.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: noodlepoodle

                                                                                                                                                                                          I've tried for years to grow organic caterpillar free broccoli and finally gave up because of the same problem. Makes you wonder what they use to keep those pests out, and which is worse for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                                                                                                                                                              Don't give up! What we do is soak the home grown broccoli/cauliflower in a sink of cold, heavily salted water for awhile and then watch the hidden critters float to the top. Rinse and repeat until no more critters appear.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'd personally sooner eat a random bit of 'extra protein' than whatever it is they use for spray.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: OldDog

                                                                                                                                                                                                Agreed OD. Never noticed them unless I saw them....

                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm planning the garden now, so I guess Broccoli gets a reprieve. I'll try the multi-soak method too. Got a feeling I'll be buying a lot of salt.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. first time cooking a whole chicken in my new apartment- I have a small oven and stove (not a mini, but a "standard" NYC-apt sized oven which some have even called large) and I've learned what it can and cannot handle.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Can: casseroles, pizzas, porkchops, fish, anything that is not very large
                                                                                                                                                                                            Cannot: bread (vast temp fluctuations), bacon or greasy things (see story), whole chickens

                                                                                                                                                                                            Prepped as usual fully prepared to impress my newest object of affection- he arrives and sure, the apt is a little smokey but thats to be expected since the chicken is spitting a little (and I'll be darned if I cover it in foil and ruin that crispy skin.)

                                                                                                                                                                                            Fast forward 30 mins and we're cuddling on the couch, paying no mind to the oven when HOLY SH*T THERE ARE FLAMES COMING OUT OF THE OVEN.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yup- small oven+oily bird+GAS FLAME= giant inferno. As in, the bird and the entire PAN were aflame and shooting black smoke into my apt. Luckily I had the wherewithal to use wet oven mitts to open the door and baking soda to put out the bird (all while potential-boyfriend stood there dumbfounded after I screamed "NO" to his suggestion to use *water* to put out the grease fire.)

                                                                                                                                                                                            We ordered takeout and the boyfriend didn't last much longer. I now have a bf who cooks most of the time...and a fire extinguisher.

                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: CarmenR

                                                                                                                                                                                              I remember the first time I set fire to my oven. I was making hazelnut chocolate meringues for a colleagues birthday in a gas oven. I was overzealous with the baking paper and it dangled down into the flames (I was pregnant at the time, so I blamed pregnancy brain for that stupid error). I stared mesmerised by the oven for moment thinking 'Oooh, it is very bright in there' before actually realising what was going on.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I freely admit I am an idiot.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                                                                                                far from an idiot you are becoming an experienced cook. We all make kitchen mistakes and learn from them. I have never been pregnant and have screwed up many times.
                                                                                                                                                                                                Go forth Huntress!

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: CarmenR

                                                                                                                                                                                                Kind of the opposite of your story, CarmenR. I was at my fiance's apartment getting ready for Yom Kippur. I put a chicken up to roast for the pre-fast meal. A while later, soon-to-be-Spouse comes home from work, I check on the bird, and it and the oven are as cold as ice. WTF? It's about an hour until Yom Kippur and I have a raw chicken. Why didn't you tell me the oven doesn't work? It doesn't? But you've lived here for months! And I've never used the oven. How was I supposed to know it doesn't work?

                                                                                                                                                                                                Oy. Two things - microwaved "roast" chicken really sucks but beggars can't be choosers before the fast, and it turns out 20 years later that said fiance is an excellent cook but slightly oblivious at times.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: CarmenR

                                                                                                                                                                                                  This reminds me of the time I made a lovely nectarine upside-down cake. The sugar syrup bubbled up the edges and over the side, landing in a puddle on the bottom of the oven where it proceeded to smoke like crazy. The smoke detector went off and, because we have a home alarm system, we punched in the code to silence it and figured we were ok. A few minutes later a neighbor came over and said "Oh! You're home! I told the alarm company I hadn't seen you." Turns out they still had the phone number of the previous homeowner in their system and couldn't reach us. We tried calling them but it was too late. Next thing we knew, there came 3 fire engines, including a hook and ladder truck, and an ambulance for good measure, flying down the street. The kids got a big thrill out of it but I was mortified. The cake was delicious, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                    i'm mortified at the thought of setting off our central-system linked home fire alarm. the installers put the hall sensor too close to the kitchen, so any smoke whatsoever and i'm calling the alarm company to say "disregard any fire signal you get for the next hour." <because unlike with break-in alarms, they don't call you first -- they call the fire department>

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. In college, I decided to make meringue cookies. I had made them once before with my aunt, and remembered really liking them. They're quite basic: just preheat the oven, mix up the meringue, pipe onto cookie sheet, turn off the oven, and bake overnight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  My problem came when mixing the meringue. The recipe said to use a hand mixer and beat the egg whites on high for a few minutes, until stiff peaks formed. I didn't have a hand mixer, and I didn't know what "stiff peaks" meant, so I just beat them with a whisk for a few minutes. I ended up with gloppy, sugary, translucent egg whites, which sat in the oven overnight. The next morning, I took a look at the mess (which clearly did not resemble cookies), went to the store, and bought a hand mixer. The second batch turned out much, much better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Strangely enough, I now make those cookies all the time. When people ask for the recipe, I can't help but tell them the story!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I have ruined otherwise delicious things many times by inadequately washing sandy greens or sandy basil. Those suckers are tricky. I finally have given in and use the whole sink of water technique.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Oh, and not mine, but my mom's: she decided to make a very festive St. Patrick's day dinner, with corned beef and boiled cabbage. Only she apparently was daydreaming when she quartered the "cabbage." Mmm, boiled lettuce!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. 1961, 7th grade home ec - cooking semester: assignment was to make something at home that we had made in class, and our family would comment. I decided on hot cocoa from scratch. My brother diplomatically wrote that it would have been really, really good - if I had used sugar instead of salt!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I've been an enthusiastic cook from about the age of 8. Unfortunately, 8 year olds are stupid and absent minded, as I generally continue to be to this day. I'm going to put this in list form to keep it short:
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Chocolate mousse cake. Expensive dark chocolate. Oodles of butter. Forgot the flour. After actually remembering to take it out of the over after the correct period of time (not always the case), I discovered that my would-be rich, delicious chocolate cake had separated into a horrific mess, gloopy chocolate mixture on the bottom of the tray and a good inch-thick layer of grease from all that lovely butter. Unsalvageable.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. One of my first mistakes - baking soda instead of baking powder in my cupcakes. I wondered why they came out of the oven completely flat instead of rounded and lovely, but decided to take a bite anyway. Baking-soda-cakes are not yummy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Curry powder instead of cinnamon in my morning porridge. With maple syrup.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          4.Totally done the discarding-stock-and-saving-detritus thing when trying to strain my much laboured-over stock over the sink. Ooof...
                                                                                                                                                                                                          5. Making hummus and didn't understand why I seemed to be using five times as much olive oil as called for in the recipe to achieve the right consistency. Tasted it and gagged on what tasted like pure, solidified olive oil. Reread the recipe and discovered that I was supposed to add some water as well. Another expensive mistake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I guess i haven't done anything that terrible. No scars to show.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Lemon gelatin with tiny shrimp. I was going for a faux aspic thing. Inedible and in the trash.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            First attempt at chili I threw the beans in with the other ingredients. It's true, the beans will NEVER cook in an acidic environment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have had many failures but only those two got thrown out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: shrimp13

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I did the beans in the chili thing, too! To this day (about 25 years later), every time I take out dried beans to cook, my husband says "you know, those things do come in cans."

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                :) It is a lesson well learned!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: shrimp13

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Definitely! At least now that I have a pressure cooker I can enjoy home-cooked beans in my chili all the time. I even have one recipe from Jacques Pepin where you throw everything in the pressure cooker at once, including dry unsoaked beans, and in an hour you have a decent pot of chili.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: shrimp13

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chili con Carne with Lettuce and Cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Making this dish in a pressure cooker requires less than 1 hour. I often serve it over crunchy iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves, with a sprinkling of grated Monterey Jack, mozzarella, or cheddar, a little cilantro, and some sliced onion on top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To cook the chili conventionally, put all the ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook gently, covered, for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 servings

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3/4 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, or coarsely ground beef
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      8 ounces dried red kidney beans (about 1 1/2 cups)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 cups coarsely chopped onions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3/4 cup coarsely chopped scallions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 tablespoons tomato paste
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes in sauce
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1–2 serrano or jalapeño chile peppers, finely chopped
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 bay leaves
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 tablespoons good olive oil
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 teaspoons salt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 cups cold water
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      8 large iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 cups grated Monterey Jack, mozzarella, or cheddar cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 1/2 cups very finely sliced red onion, rinsed and drained
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      About 1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Put all the ingredients except the garnishes in a 5- to 6-quart pressure cooker. Bring to a rolling boil, uncovered, over high heat. Mix well, secure the lid on the cooker, and cook over high heat until the gauge indicates that the pressure inside is on high. Reduce the heat to very low and cook for 50 minutes. Decompress the cooker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Open the lid, stir the chili, and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Remove the bay leaves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To serve, arrange the lettuce leaves to resemble cups on four plates and ladle the chili into the leaves. Sprinkle on some cheese, red onion, and cilantro. Serve and enjoy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I was 11. Made 'donuts' many times before - 1 container of pop-open biscuits...punch hole in middle, fry in hot oil and dust with powdered sugar (yes, I am ashamed to admit I still crave these almost begniet like donuts). All was proceeding as planned....until I realized why the oil wasn't getting hot. I had turned on the wrong burner on the glass-top stove. Unfortunately a white corelle plate was sitting on that particular burner - it had now turned yellow it was so hot. I panicked, picked up the plate with a pot holder and set it on the formica countertop...instantly hearing a sizzle sound, I picked it up again and put it on the sink...where water dripped from the faucet on it and it exploded.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The worst part was my parents had just listed the house for sale...and now had a semi-circle of burned countertop right next to the stove. Making lemonade out of lemons, they cut out that part of the countertop and inset a cutting board (one of those made to go in a countertop - which my Mom has now done in every house we've lived in). So, all-in-all, nobody was hurt, we sold the house and figured out a new kitchen accessory....but I haven't made those donuts many times since then since I still feel traumatized I'll screw it up. LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I can't take the credit, this one is mr. gator's. He went out for a night of drinking with his buddies and returned home when I was already asleep. He came home hungry and there was a pack of tilapia filets in the fridge and not much else since we had just moved. He'd seen me roast them in the oven on foil a million times, fired up the oven, threw one in and promptly passed out on the couch. I woke at about 7:30 to the most hideuos smell and hopped out of bed to find this fishy cinder stinking up the whole place! The thing had been in there for about 6 hours at 450. It took about a week to get the smell to go away :/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Back in the days when microwaves first came out and most people didn't have them, we had a babysitter come to watch my handicapped sister while my parents and I went out somewhere. We came back to a most awful stink! The babysitter had decided to cook a hotdog in the microwave but had never used one before and couldn't believe that anything could cook in just one minute. So she put it on for 10 minutes! We found the carbonized shell of the hotdog in the trashcan later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now that's impressive. I can't even begin to tell all the microwave mishaps I had with my exchange student from rural Thailand last year. I wanted to encourage her to feel free to use anything in the house and be independent, but there came a point where I was just like "Oh sweetheart, you want a snack? Please let me fix you one while you relax". :D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's not just microwaves. We had an exchange student from Paraguay who put a piece of bread on a small paper plate and then put bread and plate together into the toaster oven to make toast!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. The first time I ever baked bread (I was 10) I set it to rise in a plastic bowl, which I lovingly placed in the oven. Several house later, what I found was a ball of dough neatly cryovacced in plastic, and one ticked-off mom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. One of the first Christmas dinners I ever cooked for my family, I think back when I was in high school and still relatively new to the cooking world, I decided to make a beef roast with popovers for my English grandmother who was with us for the holiday. I wanted to do something fancy so I tried a red wine gravy. Long story short - because I think my brain has deleted memories of what I actually did to cause this - but the entire pan of red wine and beef fat ended up exploding directly upwards. Thankfully no one was standing at the stove at the time, so no one was hurt, but the ceiling went from white to purple and the entire stove area was covered in the sticky stuff. Dinner was still yummy, but every time I see that stain on the ceiling (which has faded to a soft beige over the years) I chuckle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now the irony is that I consider my wine gravies to be one of my signature dishes (love adding a ton of white wine to poultry gravy). Wish I could remember what I did wrong that first time to avoid repeating the mistake!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I threw a pork roast into the oven. Thinking something along the lines of bourbon sauce and typically cooking a roast with beer or some wine. I put about 1/2 a cup of Jack Daniels along with some brown sugar and some other thing in the pan and put it in the oven. A few minutes later I heard a big woosh and the oven door rattled as it ignited. I don't know what I was thinking, or not thinking but putting whiskey into the oven was not a good idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: blackpointyboots

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ummm, may i venture a guess that you perhaps -- just maybe -- had just a touch of that Jack before cooking?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Both newly weds, my girlfriend and I decided to make breakfast for our husbands. We started out with the bacon. We cooked it in my new cast iron skillet and it came out fine but we needed to keep it warm while we prepared the potatoes and eggs. We put the oven on to 500 degrees and slipped the bacon in. By the time we finished with half cooked potatoes and eggs that stuck to my new aluminum pans, the bacon was small little pieces of black stuff. Years later and lots of practice, we always had a good laugh over this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I'm not sure it's the WORST thing I've ever done, but there were a lot of witnesses, so it's certainly one of the most embarrassing. A friend brought Texas style sweet potatoes with marshmallows for Thanksgiving, and I stuck them under the broiler of my brand new gas oven to brown, forgetting that the broiler of a gas oven (I'd had electric before) is open flames. I forgot about them until someone smelled smoke (I have no sense of smell, so I had no idea), and pulled them out to find the dish on fire. Lovely. Fortunately, they were easy to scrape off the top, and she had half a bag of fresh marshmallows left over, so we fixed it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Last Thanksgiving I managed to set a small fire in the bottom of the oven with pie juices - I was baking a sour cherry pie and realized that it might drip, so I put a piece of foil on the bottom of the oven. Unfortunately, it had ALREADY dripped somewhat, so those juices and the foil eventually ignited. And again, someone else smelled the smoke - luckily it was DH, so no one else witnessed my embarrassment. The pie was PERFECT, though!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. A hundred years ago, I was a starry-eyed newlywed. We were starving students, but for our 1st anniversary, I wanted to make steak, the "fixins" and wine. Realized too late that we had no wine opener, so I grasped the bottle in my left hand, took a narrow steak knife (you see where this is going, right?) and stabbed into the cork. At least that was the intent--stabbed right into the webbing of my left thumb. Tried to carry on, wrapping my hand in a tea towel, but the bleeding was too much. Blew out the candles, turned off the steaks, and we headed to the ER. The doc, upon hearing the story, in the most deadpan voice said "oh, how gauche." I still have the scar. And a good wine opener. And hubby opens the wine.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I did a similar thing, but it was in college, trying to open a bottle of wine with a pocket knife - almost took off the tip of my right index finger. I have the scar on my fingertip to this day. I also have a scar on the palm of the same hand from another wine bottle - this one just a few years ago, when I had one of those openers with the two flat parallel blades. I inserted it, grabbed it, twisted it to extract the cork - and the top of the bottle shattered in my palm. I've stuck with my trusty waiter's corkscrew ever since.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So funny to me at the moment (not the injuries) because a few weeks ago these 3 college girls that live down the hall knocked on my door and held out this bottle of wine. They were looking all sheepish and asked me if I had "the little spiraly knifey thing". So I gave them one and then they asked if I knew how to use it. I was cracking up. College kids should just stick to PBR.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. My first time cooking salmon, I was so afraid it would still be raw in the center that I baked it at 350 for...an hour. it was so dry, but i still ate it because it was expensive :(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Years ago lacking a loaf pan to bake my meatloaf in, I improvised with a round pyrex bowl. I worried the center wouldn't cook until the edges were too well done, so I inserted a spoon into the middle to act as a heat sink. Worked very well, took my meatloaf out to rest for a few minutes before serving. Completely forgot the spoon in the middle was hot and grabbed firmly to take out. To this day I have a faint scar that say, 'Oneida.'

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Surfwench

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Some people pay money to have marks like that on their body
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have a few cooking scars that is just what happens when you make many efforts in the kitchen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you had no scars, maybe you would be a much less experienced cook..
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good on you as they say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Ahhh, I have a good one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In a daze after a bad breakup, I cooked dinner for my family. The recipe called for 2.5 tsp. of soy sauce, which I misread as 2.5 CUPS of soy sauce. Cut to us sitting down and taking the first bites, scrunched faces all around, no one says anything until I whisper 'is this a little...salty?'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They've never let me forget it.