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What do you do with your "busts"?

No, not THOSE kinds of busts.

Cooking busts.

I'm fairly certain that every cooking experiment you try doesn't go exactly according to plan. What do you do with the leftovers that don't turn out?

Wrap them up and bring them to work anyways (I guess figuring you'll learn your lesson somehow...)? Throw them out (seems like such a waste)? Feed them to the dog? Try and incorporate them into something else?

In the interest of full disclosure, this evening's bust was an attempt to make a low-fat cream of mushroom soup. No-fat skim milk only? Bad idea. Food processor-ing sweet potatoes instead of mashing them? Bad idea (had the consistency of dog food). Overall, not good.

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  1. My husband's solution is to add olive oil and butter until said dish becomes palatable.

    See: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/43717...

    2 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      I generally just throw it out if the ingredients aren't too expensive. I feel there's no use in wasting calories and torturing myself trying to eat something that is awful or is unpalatable.

      1. re: sweeterpea

        Me too - but my husband is much more frugal!

    2. My dog loves my failed attempts. He's also a good left-over-over eater.

      1 Reply
      1. re: fmed

        I would feed my (thankfully) few disasters to my dog, but I don't have one. And they are generally not rescue-worthy, so I throw them out.

      2. I always ask myself if it can be used in some kind of kitchen sink soup. Just about anything can be recycled into soup. Except maybe food processor potatoes.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BeeZee

          Well, I generally find that, if it's bad in the first place, nothing can really help it. Kind of like putting perfume on stinky underarms, if you know what I mean!!!
          : P

        2. I only remember 4 disasters that weren't repairable in some way, and the dog gladly eat 3 of them. The 4th(mole) went into the disposer, and I ordered for Chinese takeout.

          1. I hate to admit this in a public forum, but the first thing I do when a recipe doesn't work out is throw a big fit about it (very immature, I know). I curse the recipe, bang the pots and pans around, and sometimes I fling it about the kitchen a bit. Then I announce that I am "throwing the #@$% out"! Usually my incredibly patient DH will convince me not to and will actually eat some to prove to me that it is edible. I will then put the rest into the fridge where it will eventually become some kind of science experiment in mold growth. Yep. That's how it usually goes. Maybe I should get a dog.

            3 Replies
            1. re: diablo

              Wow. I could have written the exact same post, right down to the part about the dog! Thanks for sparing me the effort!

              1. re: diablo

                I pretty much do the same thing, except after I fling about the kitchen I cry over it! And if I don't like it I don't care what anyone else says.

                I had a terrible "bust" with a lamb shoulder roast. My DH thought I would like to have something different and he brought this hunk of meat home, which was surprising since he didn't even eat lamb. So I have no idea how to cook the darn thing and no internet connection back then. I scour all my cookbooks and find a recipe that sounds like it will work. Many hours later with everyone's stomach's growling I pull this yucky mustard yellow looking mess out of the oven (have no idea why it turned that color), taste it, (bleech), add some more seasonings, and put it on the table. My dear, sweet family took a portion each, then I took mine. They bit into it first and went "Oh, this is pretty good." I took one bite and burst into tears. I said PUT YOUR FORKS DOWN! You are not eating this &*#!@! They were quite thankful and we all had lots of potatoes for dinner! No dog, so into the trash it went. It was too big to keep for a science experiment!

              2. If it's a non-baked good and doesn't contain salt, onions, chiles, or chocolate (as in the mole example above) and just isn't worth my time to "fix", the dogs get a special dinner that night.

                If it's a dessert that just isn't to my liking but is still good, it goes to work. If it's just so bad I would be embarrassed for people to know I made it, it gets tossed into the trash with no hesitation.

                A persimmon bread pudding went into the trash. A not-rummy-enough cake went to a party (it was still good as a butter cake). A spiced nut mix that just wasn't crisp enough for me went to work. Dry chicken went to the dogs. So did the turnips that were bitter and soggy, for some reason. And the carrot that fell on the floor (although that was due to the dog's quick reflexes).

                1. I've found some veggie/grain busts can be turned into pretty good croquettes/cutlets, casseroles or pancakes with the addition of a few ingredients. But I do take forever to transform them. :( Often they sit in a freezer bag for a couple of months, first.

                  1. sailrox: you can make a low fat thick mushroom soup by thickening it with bread, and using mushroom stock for extra depth - great recipe in the Greens cookbook called "Bresse Mushroom Soup" made with wild mushroom broth

                    My recent disaster was a cake (made with Splenda, I wasn't planning on that)
                    It became a trifle. I ran out of cool whip to bury the thing, and put sliced almonds on top.
                    Bleech, wish I could have thrown it out right away, but it wasn't an option at the time.
                    So I threw good ingredients on top of bad. (damn you, splenda!)
                    Splenda may be sweet, but it doesn't act the same as sugar in terms of volume.

                    : )

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: pitu

                      I have never heard of thickening with bread... that sounds neat! Usually potatoes are good for it, but I'm guessing sweet potatoes aren't starchy enough. Not that the food processor-ing helped any.

                      1. re: pitu

                        I feel your pain. I recently made a pumpkin pie using splenda and it went into the garbage after I tasted it. eek.
                        I made a too-dry cake once that I salvaged by dousing portions with Amaretto, then a generous dollop of whipped cream, then toasted slivered almonds (great minds eh?).
                        If it's a cake or muffins that are not to my liking but still quite edible (sometimes they're too sweet for me for instance), then I take it to work where it's enjoyed by others.
                        If it's a savory dish that doesn't quite work, I make notes on the recipe in order to adjust for next time, but if it's just really horrible, then it's out with it and I remember not to try that one again! I won't try the pumpkin pie experiment again!

                        1. re: morebubbles

                          There is just something so wrong about baking with Splenda. I made a rhubarb crisp with Splenda once and it was horrible. Never again.

                      2. I swear that I'll never cook anything again. And then I calm down.

                        1. Unless the ingredients themselves are bad, there are very few disasters that can't be adapted. That soup could so easily be thickened. I had the most decadent recipe for a hot chocolate that was just not right...adding sugar to a small amount of it didn't fix it...but adding sweetened condensed milk, and egg, and baking it in ramekins, made the best and richest chocolate dessert I've ever had! A friend made cookies that didn't have enough sugar...she wasn't an experienced cook, by any stretch of the imagination....so, we ground up the none too tasty cookies and used them for toppings and crumb crusts. By adding a little sugar, and some spices, it was really very good!
                          It just takes imagination. Tossing anything out because it didn't turn out the way you wanted, is not quite what our great-grandmothers would have done, and they sure fed their men well! I bet they had more than a few disasters themselves, that turned into the most delicious dishes. Imagination!


                          1. Total disasters go down the disposal. Something that's just passable, especially a baked good, my husband will probably eat.

                            1. I usually give it a second chance the next day - either by tinkering with it (adding some seasonings or ingredients) or turning it into something else (ie, beans into patties or veggies into some kind of casserole).

                              If it's still no good, it goes in the garbage and I eat cereal for dinner. At least my Shredded Wheat and Corn Bran never let me down.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: piccola

                                Ah, the old faithfuls. I resorted to grilled cheese.

                              2. I've had two disasters that I can recall. Both ended in the trash can. Waffles with way to much baking soda aren't palatable. Nor was an interesting-looking semi-indian/middle eastern beans and greens dish. The waffles were a result of age (second or third grade) and the second recipe just had a hideous flavor.

                                1. I have a sweet, funny son-in-law who is known to exclaim at the dinner table, "Mom, experiment on your own time. Just stick with the tried-and-true when we're here."

                                  Luckily, I really love the guy!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: mommabear

                                    I'm having a problem with chicken stock that's too weak. What do I do to strengthen it?

                                    1. re: ariellasdaddy

                                      Poach another piece of chicken in it for a while, preferably bone-in.

                                      1. re: ariellasdaddy

                                        Strain it off and the simmer it down by 1/4-1/3.

                                        1. re: ariellasdaddy

                                          simmer up some chicken feet. I'm not kidding.
                                          the best chicken stock comes from boiling the whole bird, gutted of course, with head and feet intact

                                      2. Generally, I wrap them in a tortilla with salsa and sourcream. Only twice have I encountered something completely unsalvagable - both involved curry.

                                        1. hahaha...your post made me smile..:o) most of my 'busts' are of the low-cal/low-fat variety, so i usually just add a little real fat and eat less (in the interest of sticking to my diet)...

                                          1. So, today I had some spaghetti squash that I baked a couple of days ago because the oven was already on, and some natto. I looked at one, then the other, and I think "why not?"

                                            Now I know.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Richard 16

                                              Spaghetti squash doesn't do well more than one day later. Onse it's cooked, it needs to be used.


                                            2. LOL! Well, my "didn't go rights" have evolved since I started cooking, say what 50 years ago or a bit more? SO mistakes are not too bad. If it is burnt, out to edge of property where some foraging animal seems to enjoy it. Else, Oh well, leftovers again! I am also of the "never waste food" school.

                                              1. Another failed attempt at frozen chicken and veggies landed in the garbage cans last night.

                                                Jfood made a few grilled chickens with sauteed vegetables a few weeks ago and used his Foodsaver. Veggies were roots for the season (peppers, squash zucchini). Little jfood, home late from the gym boiled the premade dinner. She looked at me after one bite so jfood took a taste. The chicken had absorbed all the zucchini/squash flavors and was really bad. Jfood, next time will make a separate bag for the veggies and another for the chicken breast and staple the tops together for the freezer.

                                                Live and learn

                                                1. I take them to restaurants where we've been served horrible food and force the entire kitchen staff to eat them... Then I give them 50% off the entree price.

                                                  1. I try to salvage them if at all possible. For example, as I said in another thread, I made a batch of Meyer lemon marmalade that came out too bitter and not soft enough to eat on toast for breakfast. So I've been eating it with cold meat, like chutney. It's pretty good that way. I hate to waste food. I do have a dog and he gets some of my failures.

                                                    1. I'm working very hard to learn how to throw things away when they just don't turn out.
                                                      I somehow believe that if I save it, I will somehow think of a miraculous way to use it, which results in throwing it away anyway two or three weeks later.

                                                      That said, I have gone to the trouble of making a large vat of totally unspiced chili to add to an already huge vat of insanely over-spiced chili. It wasn't a perfect solution (the meat in particular - some of the steak hunks would kill while the next bite would be too bland, but it was edible and I was at least able to keep it in my mouth without crying). Good thing it freezes well.

                                                      1. My dogs destroy all evidence. ;-)

                                                        1. If I think it can be salvaged, I do -- for example, I would probably make the food-processored sweet potatoes into a soup.

                                                          Otherwise, it's compost!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: jlafler

                                                            I have had a few busts, neither of which I could feed to my husband or my dog. The first was a ridculously spicy enchilada dish. We like heat, but after my husband was on the ground gasping for water I knew even sour cream couldn't save them. The worst disaster is last winter on a blistery night when I made beef braised in barolo. It looked and smelled wonderful as I took it out of the oven. Unfortunately I too was drinking wine when I was making it and forgot to put it into the refrigerator overnight. My eyes popped open in the morning and the first thing I thought was "oh %@$$#^!!!".

                                                          2. I haven't had many true busts, usually it's just not to my standards, but totally edible so we eat it and I make notes for next time. One complete bust included a thai peanut/coriander pesto on rice noodles. It tasted like grass, had company (thankfully good friends who like a laugh). One was polite enough to douse it with hot sauce and give it a go, but I just threw the rest out and had dessert for dinner. I'm still living that one down.

                                                            1. Where I live the city collects food scraps weekly from all houses to make into compost - so I feel my rejects are helping to keep the public flower beds blooming.