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The "Murphy's Laws" of the kitchen

Ok i'm sure there's a list of these somewhere...and as was my experience yesterday, i'll throw out the first one !

1) No matter how many beautifully crafted, near to perfection baked goods you crank out on a regular basis, the moment one such item becomes required in some official capacity, it will flop.

(mine was my never fail cake that was due for a charity auction yesterday, and wouldn't set up properly)

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  1. Mine is...

    I posses what I call great kitchen skills, but- it becomes a disaster the minute I am being watched.

    I do my "no cry onion cutting technique" as I have done (unwatched) thousands of times before. A few days ago, at my sister's residence, we had an onion induced cry...

    To top things off, I brought my super sharp knife set along, that simply refused to cooperate. It started in the pulling the tie string of my custom canvas knife wrap. It got knotted right off the bat. Then my favorite knife fell off the counter and stuck in the toe area of my shoe. (Perhaps I was a bit lucky, as not to draw blood or lose a toe. I guess an angel intervened) My diced onions appeared to have been cut by a 10 year old.

    After the meal, I could not get out of there fast enough. I lost a knife, some place...

    1. Even if I prep them ahead of time, have my mise en place set up and labeled, have a complete game plan taped to my kitchen cupboards reminding me exactly what needs to be done when--I'm going to find at least one forgotten garnish still sitting somewhere in the kitchen when I go to clean up.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JoanN

        and here I thought *I* was the only one who did that.

      2. if you don't check the pantry/fridge before you shop, you will not have that one item you knew you had - or the tomatoes will have gone bad, or something

        7 Replies
        1. re: thew

          You *always* have plenty of baking soda in the house except...when you must turn out some elaborate baked goods within the next hour and there's no one in the house to do a break-the-speed-limit grocery store run.

          1. re: thew

            The opposite. If you don't check the pantry/fridge before you shop, you will inevitably buy either a duplicate or triplicate of something you already have a whole one of. I currently have at least 2 full Costco-size bags of almonds in my cupboard. Somehow I always think I'm out of almonds and keep buying them over and over. It's a curse and I can't make it stop.

            1. re: Nyleve

              Ah yes. In my household we call that phenomenon "spinach" after the day my housemate opened the freezer to put away the box of frozen spinach she'd just bought and realized she already had six boxes. Right now my "spinach" is apple sauce. I keep buying the six-packs of single-serving size organic apple sauce at Grocery Outlet, and the last time I looked in the pantry I had four of them.

              1. re: Nyleve

                So that would explain the 3 almost-full boxes of currants I just came across while cleaning up. So I'm thinking, almonds and currants. Sounds like a few dozen good batches of scones to me.

                1. re: rockycat

                  The other day I found 2 jars of Madras curry paste in my pantry and 3 jars of Chinese black bean sauce. Why why why?

                  1. re: Nyleve

                    mine is worchestershire sauce. which I can still never find when I need, but when I don't, I'm tripping over 4 different bottles! ugh.

                  2. re: rockycat

                    rockycat - if you need more ways to use up the currants & almonds, bake up some granola!

              2. Your kitchen sink drain will become clogged when you're ready to do the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner!

                10 Replies
                1. re: janniecooks

                  The Thanksgiving sink drain is classic, and my kitchen appliance guru, an uneducated genius for whom I give quarterly thanks and a nice check as he keeps my elderly-but-love machines in great working order, says that it's nearly always because of potatoes. More peels than usual through the disposal and not the lots and lots of cold water that it takes to flush them through. Then lots of HOT water running through from draining the cooked potatoes, which cooks the remaining starch, which swells up, and....

                  Just a little FYI.

                  And I agree with the pantry-check thing, for sure!

                  1. re: lemons

                    Well, potato peels stops up our drains rather easily.

                    I soon discovered that if I run the leftover peels through my already food soiled - food processor, they go down the running disposal just fine. Running the disposal helps in mixing the peel solids with water and prevents the solids from clinging to the inside cavity of the disposal. Guess I saved hundreds of dollars by firing the landlord's plumber. (Yes, our landlord will charge us for preventable plumbing issues. Grease and potato peels are subject to that)

                    1. re: lemons

                      Grandpa did this one Christmas, peeling 10 lb of potatoes. He liked to feel that he was still useful which is why he then tried to snake it out. He's had a heart attack and isn't supposed to raise his arms over his head, which is why I practically had a heart attack seeing him do this. I grabbed that thing away so fast, and ordered him back upstairs.

                      FWIW, I hear that Thanksgiving and the day or two after are $$$ for plumbers.

                      1. re: Louise

                        Just a note ... if desparate times call for desparate mesures ... a mix of vinegar and baking soda will clear a drain,. Look it up on the web. When I imparted this wisdom to a friend, he cautioned to be careful. He used the combo to make pipe bombs as a kid.

                        A major flaw of my S/O is that he will clog up the drains. Recently when he did this, he also used the last of the Draino without replacing it. Pissed is not a understatement .. I was NOT going to lay out big bucks for MORE Draino. So I searched the web and found the vinegar/baking soda solution .

                        As God is my witness, I will never use Draino again.

                        1. re: rworange

                          i thought the vinegar/baking soda combo was just meant for smelly drains...not powerful enough to unplug a clog....

                          1. re: im_nomad

                            It works best for clogs if done regularly so that drain pipes don't get too narrowed by junk in the first place. And boiling water down after helps.

                          2. re: rworange

                            I thought vinegar and baking soda (along with some red food dye) were the active ingredients for making a volcano for a science fair (former primary school teacher here...).

                            Another Murphy's Law of the Kitchen is that no matter how thoughtfully you choose a recipe to make from a book, it will be the single recipe with one ingredient that it never tells you when to insert into the dish (Um, ok, I chopped the olives, but when do I add them???). Or, the inverse, the recipe photo will show ingredients not listed or even mentioned in the actual recipe (where did those olives come from???).

                      2. re: janniecooks

                        LOL. This happened to us just last year -- at the in-laws new vacation house, where we didn't know where anything was or how to fix it.

                        1. re: janniecooks

                          Our dishwasher died on Thanksgiving Day. Ugh!

                          1. re: laurachow

                            Mine two days before Thanksgiving! And they couldn't repair it until after. Hahahaha - did I laugh!

                            No. I didn't.

                        2. The ice maker will always quit when you have guests.

                          If your house is 70 years old, you will have standing water in the sink when you want to do dishes.

                          Pie will never set up if anyone besides blood kin is at the dinner party.

                          1. Houston is not known for it's cold winters. Many times when we lived there I had to run the air conditioner so that we could have a fire in the fireplace. Well one Christmas about 25-26 years ago, we had a big freeze. Temperatures were about 20 degrees F. Outside water pipe leading into the house was not insulated, so the pipes froze. Picture me on Christmas morning, barely light outside huddled over the frozen pipe with my trusty hair dryer blowing on high. Finally, half-frozen, I got water to flow. My kids didn't even know that there was a problem.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Pampatz

                              We had a Christmas like this in Nashville - all the first and second floor pipes froze, and I had to cook dinner for I think 12 people. Luckily the laundry sink in the basement still had running water (but cold only), so I ran the garden hose up the basement stairs and heated water on the stove.

                              It would not be impossible for me to compile a complete list of every Murphy's-law moment that's ever happened in my kitchen, but it'd take me well into next year and would probably crash the server!

                            2. The more expensive the steak is the more likely my DH will over cook it on the grill! AARGH!

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: danhole

                                Yes. My husband caught our grill on fire grilling a $40 porterhouse that was Beautiful!

                                1. re: Stuccolow

                                  That is awful! Did he sleep on the couch? LOL! I told mine that his grill duties are limited to cheap cuts of meat - no more steaks.

                                  1. re: danhole

                                    No, he didn't sleep on the couch. But I did get a nice new grill. He killed the old grill that day. It went down in a ball of fire. It was honestly one of thoses things that you look thru the kitchen window and stare for a moment before running outside with the hose.

                                    1. re: Stuccolow

                                      My dad once caught the grease pan on his gas grill on fire. My mom, seeing the smoke, joked "Do you need the fire extinguisher?" and was shocked when my dad told her "Yes."

                                  2. re: Stuccolow

                                    I did the same with a gorgeous local-farm, grass-fed, two-inch thick sirloin. I didn't have to sleep on the couch though, ruining that beautiful piece of meat was punishment enough. ;-(

                                2. It's the week before Thanksgiving. I have put off cleaning the oven for way too long because I hate the smell. It's a self-clean. The "Outlaws" are coming for the big dinner and I want the place to look nice, including the oven.

                                  I hit the self-clean feature only to find the sensor that locks the door has gone bad and the part has to be ordered and could take 2-3 weeks to get to the repair guy! So it's either easy-off (NOT! - both as to easy and the mess it makes) or smelly Turkey

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                    ""I hit the self-clean feature only to find the sensor that locks the door has gone bad and the part has to be ordered and could take 2-3 weeks to get to the repair guy!""

                                    I wasn't so lucky. On the oven I once had, whenever the oven door is locked, forget about it for 2 to 3 hours. However, should the oven control responder (Bake, broil, clean, time cook, and off- dial switch) be in the wrong position, one has to replace that dial switch, costing roughly $150. Force the door lockout in any way, "zap!" another $150 switch.

                                    I referred to that oven as the, "GE Self Destruct Oven" designed by GE Murphy, himself.

                                    1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                      Recently discovered that my self-cleaning feature is on the blink. I'm just gonna barrel through, and run the fan on high.

                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        I just got through the Easy-Off fun and games. A roll of paper towels later and three separate heat-ups to get rid of the smell and excess. Phew!

                                    2. If you drop something, it will be buttered side down. And it will fall where the dog has just shed some hair. Not even a 1 second rule will save you!

                                      If you have saved a particular food in order to serve it or include it in another recipe, your husband and/or child will have eaten it.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: coney with everything

                                        And a dog's tongue will elongate in direct proportion to how far back on the counter you push your food.

                                        And a dog who normally sounds like Gregory Hines tapdancing in the kitchen will suddenly acquire heretofore unnoticed stealth ninja skills and/or rappel down from the ceiling, MI3 style.

                                        A lot of my kitchen disasters involve my dog.

                                        1. re: NonnieMuss

                                          My parrot has stolen fruit off the cutting board, whole toasts from the plate, a chicken nugget from my takeout...

                                          How do I know?

                                          Her loot is too heavy for her to fly with, so I catch her running across the carpet, trailing juice/crumbs everywhere...

                                      2. Thought of one more. Whatever small countertop appliance you need to make that certain dish for your meal, it will NOT work the day you need it.

                                        Case in point:

                                        Thanksgiving about 4 years ago. 14 people at the house and I am making my carrot souffle. Most everything else was made the day before but you can't reheat a souffle. Recipe calls for boiling the carrots and then putting in the blender to puree. Same blender that made me a smoothie the week before, all of a sudden decided it didn't want to blend, puree, or do anything but make a bunch of noise. Food processor won't work for this, so out comes the hand mixer. Worked out in the end, but totally messed up the timing and I almost ended up in tears.

                                        1. There will always be just a little more liquid left in the container than will fit in the container (glass, pot, food processor bowl, etc.) you're pouring it into. Conversely, if you need two cups of something, you'll only have 1 3/4.

                                          8 Replies
                                            1. re: thinks too much

                                              History tells me that at least once a month I will be leaning over to slurp milk out of a brimming glass that's sitting in a small puddle, too full to move, because I just *had* to empty the milk jug.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                Some of that is being made worse by companies reducing contents and not calling attention to it. A can that is a few ounces less, the pound of whatever that is now 12 oz. I swear that at one time Libby's pumpkin was 32 oz. It is now 30.

                                                1. re: rworange

                                                  ""I swear that at one time Libby's pumpkin was 32 oz. It is now 30.""

                                                  It would be nice to know if it actually true?

                                                  On the other hand, if it is true, it would likely be in cook-down process and the remaining water content of the pumpkin solids.

                                                  I seem to remember Walmart's GV line- Concentrated Crushed Tomato (CCT) at 29oz and regular GV Crushed Tomato at 28oz. There is a huge thickness/viscosity/water content between the two products. CCT is also to be "no added salt" under federal guidelines.

                                                  1. re: RShea78

                                                    I am guessing with all the references on the web to Libby's 32 oz can ... then 30 oz ... and I'm seeing now refrences to a 29 oz can ... that the size has decreased. The 30 oz can I saw was at at discount store that sells discontinued products.

                                                    Also googling Libby's pumpkin 32 oz I'm seeing there is now a 15 oz can and no longer a 16 oz can.

                                                    One might think that perhaps many people transcribed a recipe incorrectly, but this site in England which sells American products has the 32 oz can on their list. I should be clearer .. .the can I saw was the pumpkin pie mix.

                                                    While it sounds fixable, people might wonder why recipes that worked for years are not coming out the same.

                                                    1. re: rworange


                                                      LIBBY'S 100% Pure Pumpkin available in 15oz and 29oz cans.
                                                      LIBBY'S Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix (pre-sugared and spiced) in a 30oz can


                                                      1. re: RShea78

                                                        Maybe now. But there are refereneces to 32 cans and 16 oz cans on the web for both plain pumpkin and pie mix ... At any rate that English store lists the 32 oz can of pumpkin pie mix which as you noted is 30 oz currently.

                                                        It seems that most pies use the small can. I pulled out my mom's copy of Betty Crocker's Cookbook (1986). While not mentioning brands, it specifically says 1 can (16 oz) pumpkin. Since the recipe includes all the spices to add, they were not talking about pumpkin pie mix in a can.

                                                        Her Campbells Great American Cookbook (1984) just says 2 cups which is 16 oz.

                                                        MY guess is pure pumpkin is more expensive for LIbby's than the mix, so they are more generous with that size.

                                                        The shrinking can sizes are a real sore point for me ... especially with something like this that's a recipe that most people make once a year at most. How many people are going to notice. Anyway started a separate thread.

                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                          My recollection is that all American can sizes used to be either 8 ounce, 16 ounce, 32 ounce. There are no old recipes calling for a 15-ounce can of whatever. Same is true with baking mixes, e.g., cornbread.

                                          1. the bottle you drop from the pantry or shopping bag will always be made of glass and contain something dark and sticky like ketchup.

                                            The bag you drop always contains the eggs.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: smartie

                                              I will ditto that by adding: any container you attempt to pick up by it's totable lid, will that time only, have had it's lid not screwed on properly.

                                              I once picked up a restaurant sized plastic container of kalamata olives by the lid thingie....and was cleaning that dark greasy liquid out of the kitchen for hours....and found olives hidden everywhere for months.

                                              1. re: smartie

                                                Yep. The most breakable thing will ... in the worst possible circumstance.

                                                My experience was putting a bottle of port in my bag to make it easier to carry to the house. When I went to open the door, I dropped my bag .. the borttle of port broke ... saturating everything important I had .. my wallet with all my cards, drivers license .. the bills I had just put int there ... killed my cell phone ... wiped out my notebook with addresses ... etc, etc, etc.

                                                1. I can put out 300 dinners a night at work without a mistake and burn my wife's dinner on the first try.

                                                  1. When you're working in the kitchen and you move anything made out of nice glass to the side instead of putting it away properly, no matter how far you moved it, at some point it WILL become a target for your elbow or spoon or cabinet door and smash.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: Vetter

                                                      Sadly quite true. Plus you always feel bad because you *knew* it was going to happen and it happened anyway.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        >>> Plus you always feel bad because you *knew* it was going to happen and it happened anyway

                                                        Heh .. yep. It is like God or your guardian angel or the food gods ... depending on your belief ... screams at you in your mind ... move that .. and you ignore it.

                                                        1. re: rworange

                                                          i did this washing my wine glasses recently. i was wearing rubber gloves as i always do when running scalding hot water, and literally said aloud to myself, "i should probably take these off because i'm sure i'll end up dropping a glass."

                                                          fast-forward about 45 seconds later to me, still wearing the damn gloves, dropping a soapy wine glass right into the sink. it landed on another glass & they both shattered.

                                                          i've had the stopped up drain problem twice in the last couple of years...once on Super Bowl Sunday, and once on Thanksgiving...but the culprit wasn't potatoes. i finally figured out that it was probably the cilantro stems from my spicy black bean dip [not exactly traditional turkey day fare, but everyone insists that i make it for *every* occasion].

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            There's another Murphy's Law...you will have a "spidey sense" or premonition of what will break or go wrong combined with the decision to go ahead anyway, juuuust before the dreaded event happens. If "I probably shouldn't be doing this" even remotely flutters through your brain, you can be assured that something will happen.

                                                    2. Ditto, bread baked for friends won't rise. Glass pans will shatter when pulled out of the oven if you were making something for someone else.

                                                      1. When sanitizing the twirling part of an electric juicer in boiling water with a little soap, one will pass the next few minutes by signing onto Chowhound, and will be reminded by the stench of burning melted plastic when the water has boiled off and will then throw away a pan and an electric juicer that were perfectly useful an hour earlier and then air out the house for half a day.

                                                        1. You never remember that paper cut until you squeeze a lemon.

                                                          No matter how pristine you've gotten the whole house, your solitary germaphobe guest finds the one cat hair that escaped all your efforts.

                                                          That last tiny bit of stirring after you take off the apron before serving guests always ends up splatting your blouse right on the nipple with something that won't ever wash out

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: weezycom

                                                            XD so true. Also, the chance of having a maddeningly itchy eye is proportional to the probability that you are handling jalapenos

                                                            1. re: weezycom

                                                              Or, one of my more painful kitchen incidents, you never realize that you've got dozens of microscratches on your hands until you make salsa. Peppers, lime juice and salt -- oh my!

                                                            2. In the same vein as the original post, my tried-and-true recipes are always a disaster when I prepare them to bring to a potluck or other gathering.

                                                              1. -Corks only get stuck when you are opening a nice wine and people are watching
                                                                -Although I buy papertowels every time I go to the store, i will run out when tons of people are coming over
                                                                -It is prime time to run out of essentials like olive oil, butter etc
                                                                -I had a big dinner party once and my pepper mill broke. the pepper i cracked in a ziploc with a cast iron skillet werent the same

                                                                1. The more expensive the ingrediants, the more likely for failure

                                                                  The more rushed you are, the more likely for failure ... especially if it is for company .,. depsite the fact you have done this dish flawlessly your entire life.

                                                                  The cat trumps the 1 second rule. Drop it and the cat that was deep in slumber two rooms away, is waiting with mouth open before the item hits the floor .. I exaggerate ... slighlty

                                                                  1. Pie dough -- I've been making this for a very long time, but sometimes it just will not cooperate -- usually right about now, when baking for Thanksgiving.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                      My pie dough could be used in bulletproof vests.

                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                        lol Veggo....I always say that my bread could be used as door stoppers. Despite my normally being a pretty good baker and candy maker, I still to this day can not master:

                                                                        -pie crust

                                                                        I can not tell you how many "OMG you must try this recipe, it's fool proof" recipes for fudge I have that have failed for me. The only one that has ever turned out for me was a white chocolate oreo one, which wasn't truly fudge as it was mostly chocolate. My mother is a master of bread baking and fudge making, evidently I did not get those genes.

                                                                      2. re: pikawicca

                                                                        My SIL had the same problem with her home made pie crust, that she even tried to cheat with pre-made crusts. Those were even a worse disaster. She gave up for the remainder of the year, (2007) so I await to see if she solved her issues, on this Turkey Day.

                                                                      3. your nosey neighbor or mother in law will show up at the door when your sink is full of dirty dishes, and you are completely out of coffee.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                                                          """...and you are completely out of coffee.""

                                                                          I don't even drink coffee, but that would pass the "I gotta run" test.


                                                                          I mean nobody!!!- gets between me and my caffeine fix.

                                                                          (even though I drink cola)

                                                                        2. You get a new piece of equipment (say, a coffee pot or a toaster oven). You give the old one away. The new one will either not work or you will hate it.

                                                                          1. Oh, by the way, that self-cleaning oven part I mentioned earlier......hopefully it will be installed tomorrow. The oven definitely needs it after T-day despite the Easy-off attempts! (Not to mention the 5 pre-T-day recipes with the fan going full blast to help get rid of the "cleaning" smell

                                                                            1. The lighter the color of the kitchen floor the more you will spill on it.

                                                                              1. 1. There will always be 'just one more thing' you need from the top shelf right after:

                                                                                a) having disturbed the person taller than you who has now gone back to their original activity, or
                                                                                b) you have just put away the step stool.

                                                                                2. If it's not on the top shelf, that dish you need will always be in the dishwasher when you need it.

                                                                                1. Murphy's Law No. 1: Your adolescent Golden Retriever will decide it's the *Best Fun EVER!* to suck down a bunch of Bounce dryer sheets, your husband's mail, or a sofa pillow, at the precise moment at which you have just stuck your arms elbow deep into a bunch of raw chicken cavities.

                                                                                  Murphy's Law No. 2: Your adolescent Golden Retriever will decide it's the *Second Best Fun EVER!* to trick you into thinking you might actually have a chance to get those Bounce dryer sheets, hubby's mail, or the sofa pillow out of her throat before a $500 vet bill ensues, by coming straight to you when you, in a panic, call her, and by sitting patiently, right at your side, while you sanitize your arms so you can stick them, elbow deep, down her throat to save her life. After which, as soon as you've turned off the water and dried said arms...she'll be off and running, leading you on a wild goose chase, upstairs and down, as something intrinsic to dinner first scorches and then bubbles over, out of its pot, and all over the cooktop.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Steady Habits

                                                                                    +1. The more involved a dish that requires constant baby-sitting and is going to be fed to others, the more likely my cat is to bring in a live critter that needs to be taken back out immediately. The exception was a bird who landed in the sink and died while I was standing there. Either way, tons of sanitation required to get back into the swing of things.

                                                                                  2. oh well, i have a new one....

                                                                                    The one thing you made and will bring as a hostess gift, will have the one ingredient that said person is allergic to. (this happened to me today, and it is my boss...yikes)

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: im_nomad

                                                                                      I feel your pain! I made my special cayenne pretzels as a gift for my husbands boss, put them in a pretty package and sent them off. He took a bite, and said "wow, these are good. What are they?" When DH told him he started spitting them out - deadly allergic to cayenne. Yikes, indeed!

                                                                                      1. re: danhole

                                                                                        they'll be wondering if we have passive aggressive tendancies !! lol

                                                                                    2. A Bottlecap is more likely to end up in the drawer with the Opener than in the garbage can.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Kholvaitar

                                                                                        and the inverse -- the opener is just as likely to end up in the garbage can with the bottle cap as in the drawer.

                                                                                      2. The only thing that gets spilled on my white carpet is red wine. Why coulnd't it be a nice glass of club soda?

                                                                                        1. The water will boil too soon, or not soon enough.

                                                                                          1. You will inevitably drop half the pan of lasagna into the oven and start a fire when you are starving and persistent to eat lasagna at 1am.