HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


When you first started cooking away from home, what were some of your disasters?

My Mom was a great cook and always instructed us on what to do or make. When I moved out and was living on my own, I would call and ask her questions on recipes. I guess she thought I had more on the ball than I did. My famous mistakes were not boiling the lasagna noodles before making lasagna, and not cooking the dried kidney beans( called Ma and she said to soak them over night, said later that she thought I would just know to cook them before adding to Chili!!) Anyway I will never forget the sound as my new boyfriend ate the chili and dropped every single bean into a metal ashtray! But he did say it was good apart from the beans! I am a much better cook now but there are still disasters like the Chicken (paprika) cayenne disaster!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The biggest mistake I made when I set up the kitchen in my first apartment was buying really cheap pots and pans. My skills were very new and very bad back then, and the thin-as-paper cookware I managed to buy just was out of control.

    God, was I poor (still in school) and yet I was throwing stuff away because it burned so fast. I lasted a whole year with those dumb things before I learned my lesson.

    I exploded quite a few bottles of wine by leaving them in the freezer. Thank goodness frozen wine explodes slowly.

    When I think about the kind of crap that I bought -- and cooked -- I shudder.

    5 Replies
    1. re: shaogo

      i once had left a bottle of wine in the trunk of my car while i was staying w/friends over new year's holiday... to my surprise, it froze and shattered all over the trunk...smelled to high heaven!

      1. re: betsydiver

        I've done the opposite - left a bottle of wine in the car on a really hot day and I guess the air/liquid expanded so the cork slid out, spilling the whole bottle. It's extremely weird though because the wine evaporated so the seat wasn't wet or anything and I was so confused because I knew the bottle had not been opened. It's happened twice...luckily neither were expensive and were white so they didn't stain anything.

        1. re: Fromageball

          hubby went the other way with white wine -- put a bottle in the freezer to chill, and we, um, got distracted before dinner and forgot about it.

          The next morning he remembered the wine, and it was in the freezer, with the cork frozen at the end of a 3" tube of frozen wine. Weird.

            1. re: HillJ

              Nope...thought about it MUCH later, but by then the bottle was in the trash (in the days before recycling!)

    2. My then-roommate was a great cook (and still is), and taught me a lot of what I know about cooking. Like the fact that soup can come from someplace besides a can. :)

      Anyway, one day I was contemplating a leftover box of graham crackers and thumbing through one of her cookbooks and decided I was going to make lemon chess pie with a graham cracker crust. I dutifully followed all the instructions for the filling, poured it over the graham cracker crust I had made and popped the pie in the oven.

      About halfway through the cooking time, I peeked into the oven. The pie looked rather odd to me, so I called my roommate over and asked her what she thought. She looked in, and said, "Oh, uh, it looks fine. Great!"

      Anyway, when the pie was done and I sliced a piece, it became quite apparent what had happened. The porous graham cracker had floated up through the liquid filling and was now resting on top of the lemon chess filling. Later, I asked my roommate why she hadn't said something was wrong when she looked in, and she said she didn't want to discourage me and, anyway, it tasetd fine!

      1. I started cooking on my own WAY before I left home. God bless my mother, she trained me from the time I could sit on the counter next to her, and then she set me to work!

        I made my first completely independent meal for the family at age 10 -- my grandmother's "goulash," the hamburger and macaroni noodles kind. My poor family... I put them through some disastrously over-seasoned meals in the years before I figured out how to use spices (or salt, or hot sauce), and then some disastrously under-seasoned meals as I was learning restraint. Fortunately for me, that meant that they got most of my experimentation and I reaped most of the rewards!! ;)

        1. I can' t tell you what it was, but I know it was a dark, grey green. My husband and I both shudder at the memory. We just refer to it as "The Green."

          1 Reply
          1. re: mcf

            I made somer jalapeno jelly that ended up that color. Looked like algae, didn't taste as good as the first batch (which had been wonderful) and the more food coloring I added the weirder-looking it got, until it was a sludgy deep turquoisey-green science experiment.

          2. My first Christmas dinner leftovers. I wanted to make turkey soup with my leftover (probably over cooked) turkey. I made a broth with the carcass and added my veggies and turkey. Then I added egg noodles. I wasn't following a recipe (I thought I was a natural cook back then) and just dumped in what I thought would be the right ratio of noodles to broth.

            The noodles sucked up every ounce of liquid and I ended up with turkey pudding. You could stand a spoon up in it. I hadn't added salt and it tasted like cardboard. Very grim.

            I realized I wasn't the natural cook I thought I was and have since started following recipes.

            5 Replies
            1. re: lyndak

              This is what I did. I was trying to break my expensive lunch habit so I decided to make a big pot of chicken noodle to bring to lunch every day. I think I was okay up until the very end when I added a box of uncooked orzo. Chicken pudding!

              1. re: southernitalian

                I've done that too. Now I cook and store the orzo (rice, barley or couscous) seperately adding a spoonful to the soup just before reheating it.

                1. re: southernitalian

                  That's exactly what happened to me the first time I made chicken "noodle" soup. And I knew a thing or two about cooking. Soup, however, was always "cream of" to me, rather than broth and chunks. I was helping a friend deal with her leftover turkey the Sunday after Thanksgiving some years back, and she asked "how much orzo?" and I said "the whole box," and that is what we ended up with, chicken pudding. Never happened again. It was a good cooking lesson, and a funny story.

                2. re: lyndak

                  "I realized I wasn't the natural cook I thought I was and have since started following recipes."

                  My mom is a very good cook and taught me quite a lot before I left home (and I did cook some dinners) which served me well but also gave me a greatly exaggerated confidence in my own abilities.

                  It took me awhile to learn that I really DID need recipes. I too made soup pudding (chicken noodle) and the never to be forgotten lentil sludge which we now call our diet soup - we did our damnedest to finish the huge pot but it was so unappetizing that we could only eat small portions - I lost three pounds that week and my husband lost five).

                  1. re: lyndak

                    I still occasionally add too much rice or pasta to a soup, but since it is just for me it really doesn't matter. My latest cream of mushroom soup with wild rice ended up that way.

                  2. Setting the steaks in the broiler too close to the heat source and starting a stove fire. I still remember the flakes of black ash floating through the air when it was finally put out. I have kept a fire extinguisher and a large box of baking soda nearby for the last 30 years as a result.

                    1. When I was young and foolish and had all matching clear canisters with no labels, I made a crucial mistake.

                      I was making cookies for class in a hurry, and...

                      You know what looks a lot like flour? Powdered sugar.

                      Now, at this point, you may be asking: "GirlyQ, when you put 4 cups of powdered sugar instead of flour into your chunky chocolate chip cookies, what happens?

                      Well, I'll tell you. The cookies MELT. They ran off of the pan, and onto the bottom of the oven. By the time I came back to check on them, the kitchen was filled with smoke. I cried as I scraped the bottom of the shared oven free of what I can best describe as Satan's toffee. Nobody got cookies.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: GirlyQ

                        ROFLOL...Satan's toffee!!! That is way too funny. OMG I laughed out loud so hard the cats peeled out in fright for parts unknown at the back of the house.

                        1. re: GirlyQ

                          That one gave me a giggle, too. I think I make "Satan's _____" in my baking attempts to this day. I routinely bomb at cookies, cakes, etc. Getting better, though, with help from CH's.

                          1. re: GirlyQ

                            <<<<When I was young and foolish and had all matching clear canisters with no labels, I made a crucial mistake.

                            I was making cookies for class in a hurry, and...

                            You know what looks a lot like flour? Powdered sugar. >>>>

                            I keep the front label from the bag of sugar in the sugar canister, and the front label from the bag of flour in the flour canister.

                          2. My first attempt at making my own salsa--fresh beefsteak tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and a huge handful of fresh cilantro all in the blender. I didn't realize how strong cilantro was until the entire mixture in the blender turned a light shade of green and when I pulled the top off--yuck! The smell just permeated the apartment. I ran the blender right outside and dumped the mixture in the grass. I have since learned my lesson :)

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: jquest619

                              Too bad you threw it out!
                              Sounds like you had the beginnings of a very good green chutney there; or with a little tweaking of other ingredients, you could have had a great gazpacho.

                              What a waste!

                              Next time, don't panic and throw it out, but ask for suggestions on line - you may unwittingly create something good.

                              1. re: jquest619

                                I would have scooped up every last drop with a bag of chips. I am in the "no such thing as too much cilantro" camp.

                              2. I did cook at home growing up so it wasn't too terrible when I left home. But I grew up with an electric can opener and couldn't figure out how to use a manual one. I called up a friend of mine asking him to teach me how to open up a can. He thought I was nuts. He tried, but it was really difficult trying to explain that simple task over the phone. I ended up just making enough perforations with the manual one and then broke the remainder with a knife. It was a huge mess. In the future, I saw somebody do it once and got it right away.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                  Oddly enough, I am incapable of using the electric can opener that came with my husband.

                                  1. re: mtngirlnv

                                    Yeah, why do they work halfway around and then drop the can on the counter?? We got one for a wedding present and I exchanged it for something useful immediately.

                                2. Although I'd been welcome in the kitchen at home for years, and had even mastered baking cakes and souffles, for some reason I didn't get the hang of making rice until I was in graduate school. It was just too tempting to take the lid off too soon, and let the steam escape.

                                  The worst was the time I went to the library and left a pot of rice to turn to charcoal on the stove. Not having much money, I worked diligently to reclaim that pot. And I thanked my lucky stars that nothing else caught on fire!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Seeker19104

                                    I just remembered another disaster! I was 19 and it was Christmas time. I had found chestnuts at Safeway, never had them before! Being the season and all I bought some and decided to broil them(...over an open fire..) Well ! The explosions and shrapnal were horrible! I was scrambling allong the floor like a soldier under heavy fire while the rest of the family hid behind the breakfast bar!! We found one piece of shell embedded HALF INCH INTO THE DRYWALL! Remember people, poke your chestnuts before roasting! The things you learn!l lol.

                                    1. re: beekeroc

                                      Too funny, beekeroc. I'm laughing so hard I'm crying!

                                      1. re: beekeroc

                                        I cannot stop laughing at this! This whole thread is hysterical - not the disasters, but people's great descriptions! "The Green!" "Satan's Toffee" Too darn funny!

                                    2. I moved into a little studio apartment at 17 after graduating high school. My first dinner for friends, I bought chicken necks at the store because they were the least expensive cut of chicken there. Duh. Chicken necks have no meat.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. I was a latch-key kid so learned to cook early. When I was about 9 my parents were going to be out that night so dinner was on me. I made my famous (in my mind) Shake n Bake chicken and decided to try my hand at twice baked potatoes that we'd had at a steak house for a treat. I still remember asking the waitress what was in those magical creations and I was pretty sure I knew I could make them at home. Unfortunately we did not have sour cream so I subbed mayo. My then 5yo brother refused to taste them because they looked gross. I socked him and told him he could taste it or starve, he chose to starve. I'm sure I harassed him till he went to bed. I waited up for my parents and when they got home I wanted them to make him eat it. They declined as he was in bed and my Dad said if I heated it he would eat it. He took one bite and said "well its different" my Mom then jumped in with "we'll have sour cream next time it will be better" I was mad at all of them for not recognizing my genius!

                                        The first nasty out of the house was my first Thanksgiving as hostess (1991). My brand new husband was stationed in Spain and we decided to get an apartment so I could be there too (rent is rent). This was the first Thanksgiving after having spent the previous holiday season on the front lines of Desert Storm so I wanted it to be nice and we had invited his friends. Unfortunately I was not allowed on base as this was an unaccompanied tour so the Mr. did the shopping and got me a cookbook from the library. First time out of California never mind the country. No Gran to direct but it could be done. Tiny European appliances with different temps would not defeat me! Everything turned out reasonably well with the exception of the cranberry sauce which was *vile* , tough skins, too sweet on the front bitter after, just gawd awful! To this day I have not attempted cranberry sauce.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: just_M

                                          That's a tragedy because it is SO easy!!! Try it again, you won't regret it.

                                        2. As a preface, I was never allowed to participate in my parents' kitchen. Not even to observe.

                                          I moved out when I was eighteen. I don't remember what the first meal I cooked was, but I know it involved tomatoes. I know this because I didn't know how to slice a tomato, and promptly sliced waaay into my finger. At the sight of the blood I became light-headed and almost fainted. One of my new roommates held me up while the other washed and bandaged my finger. It's eight years later and they're still my friends, so I couldn't have annoyed them that badly!

                                          1. I cooked for my family before moving away, but at least at home I had the luxury of using my family's cookware. Out on my own I had to purchase everything on my own and when faced with the decision between beer money and fancy W├╝sthof knife money, I think you know the choice I made. My first chef's knife was a KMart find that cut my fingers far more easily than it did tomatoes. My first attempt at restaurant-style fried rice was marred by my La Choy soy sauce and cheap lap cheong.

                                            There were of course errors I could not attribute solely to penury. I alone am to blame for letting my first vindaloo paste stick to the pot and subsequently burn and smoke my curry. But nothing on earth could compare to the horror of a vodka watermelon made with Georgi. Even after a day marinating, the Georgi would not fully disseminate into the melon, as if its cells refused to accept the wood alcohol we used to burn our throats in an attempt to get a cheap buzz. I only vaguely remember using beer to mask the terrible aftertaste as we tried to guzzle the watermelon as quickly as possible. Waste not, want not, afterall.

                                            1. I was not allowed in my parent's kitchen - unless they weren't there. My grandmother let me help her some - but when I left home - my culinary skills were lacking.
                                              I have since found that I love to cook and I am willing to try anything. So of course I have stumbled along the way.
                                              One of my most memorable disasters - that my husband brings up a lot - is when we were first living together in our apartment. I decided to bake Cinnamon Rolls (from the can). After an appropriate amount of time - they weren't done yet - so I turned them on broil to brown the tops. Oh my - how quick they browned - then turned black!! Smoke was everywhere and the Smoke Alarms started going off. My husband - who had been in the shower - came running in (naked) "WHAT Happened!" I'm pretty sure I cried that day. (and was afraid the apartment smoke alarms would automatically call the fire department - but it didn't)
                                              I've come a long way since then - If I think of more I'll post them :)

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: troublegirl843

                                                I cooked with my family often, but I was still a novice in many ways when I left home.
                                                I left plastic spatulas and spoons in hot pots until they became a melted mess!
                                                One of the first times I cooked for my boyfriend, I made beef stew.We were so hungry after 2 hours of stewing, that I think I was desperate to convince myself it was ready to eat. It was not. My boyfriend looked into his deep bowl, looked up, and said "Um. This is blue." It was. It was blue! How did I make beef the color blue?
                                                Although every other meal I've served him since has been great, he mentions this stew with a big grin every chance he gets!

                                                I have also set so many kitchen towels on fire, that I am now known for this in my circle of friends. I still cut myself and burn myself and items in the kitchen- the food turns out great, but I seem to be klutz. My sweet friends say I'm an artist and cannot be bothered with practicalities. :)

                                              2. Hmmm....maybe it was the "chili" I made with ground beef, canned baked beans, and tomato soup. We ate it anyway, because we were poor, but it sure didn't taste like chili! Or maybe it was the first time I tried to fry potatoes. I called my granny and asked what I was doing wrong, because the butter was burning and the potatoes were still raw. I remember when she told me I had to use oil or Crisco or bacon grease, responding "oh, gross!"

                                                1. Several years ago I had a house full of family for Easter. I took the lemon meringue pie out of the oven and put the ham in. Several hours later I check the ham and the oven is stone cold. I am quietly freaking now because I have two hours to go before dinner on a holiday. By chance I looked up and realized the oven was turned off. Yes, I flipped the dial off out of habit when I took the pie out. So I cranked her up to 500 to get things rolling and then reduced the heat once the oven was hot. Thankfully I had started the ham 2 hours too early. It turned out perfectly as almost all hams in Virginia do. It is the land of good ham, you have to try really really hard to find a bad one down there.

                                                  1. I tried to use my Granny Ellen's recipe for caramel cake for my grandfather's birthday. A wonderful layer cake, caramel filling, butter cream on the outside, coated with pecans. Every time she made it, it was gorgeous and delicious. I baked beautiful cake layers, cooked the caramel filling, and made the buttercream. Cooled everything, then put it together. I obviously didn't cook the caramel filling long enough - within about ten minutes the whole thing started to slide off the cake plate. I figured I'd patch it up with another few layers of buttercream and pecans. Bad idea.

                                                    My granddaddy is the sweetest man in the whole wide world. He ate that slice of mostly frosting, gave me a hug, and made me feel so special, just for trying. He whispered to me, just as we were leaving his house, "Granny Ellen just told me to tell you to next time make it in a 9 by 13 pan in one layer so it won't slide." My Granny Ellen had passed away four years before.

                                                    Sometimes a 'failure' can be a beautiful thing.

                                                    1. Made a pot roast for my first husband. It was maybe 3 3 and a half pounds - browned it just like my mom said I should - but she told me it needed to cook for like 45 minutes per pound! Well I ididn't believe her. I cooked it maybe 45 minutes. Talk about tough.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Missy2U

                                                        HAH! I did that, too! TOTALLY didn't comprehend the chemistry of slow cooking melting the fibrous stuff. Presumed that the recipe was a misprint. HAW!

                                                      2. I didn't have too many memorable culinary disasters when I first left home, but the one memorable incident I had was setting fire to my oven. I was baking chocolate hazlenut meringues for a collegues birthday and I got a bit overenthusiastic lining the tray with baking paper. Needless to say putting a long sheet of baking paper into a gas oven is not such a great idea. LOL I remember looking in the oven and thinking "that looks rather bright in there".

                                                        1. Roasts. I started out so intimated by simple beef or pork roasts. I avoided them. Then a new neighbor, a retired butcher, took me under his wing and opened by roasting world. What a huge gift he was.

                                                          1. I'd been away from home for a little while (20 years to be exact) when I discovered that chicken livers explode. I don't like livers so I thought I'd give them to my cats but cooked rather than raw. It sounded as though a fierce gun battle was being waged in my microwave and the resulting mess inside looked like the bloody aftermath.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: mandycat

                                                              Livers do fine in the microwave, just make sure you've covered them with a paper towel. Oh, and if you want to give your kitties liver again, they'll be just fine with a raw one. that's what I do for mine.

                                                              1. re: mandycat

                                                                Oooooooooh, I did that too. The smell and the sound of muffled blasts coming from the microwave hit me at about the same time. Liver stalactites. Liver stalagmites! God, what a mess.

                                                              2. I decided to leave a pot of soup bubbling on the stove while I went out to do some errands. My husband was supposed to watch it and turn it off when it was done. Apparently, done for him was when there was no more liquid left in the pot and all the vegetables were scorched and stuck to the bottom of the pot.

                                                                Another disaster--- but not my fault. We invited friends over for dinner, and I made a baked ziti. They came late, so I left the casserole dish in the oven on "warm." Ziti was great, but the pan took two hours to scrub clean!

                                                                1. Oh, I've got a good one. Although not my first time cooking outside of the house, I think this qualifies-
                                                                  My mother started my sister and I off helping in the kitchen pretty young. One morning when I was probably 7 or so I decided to cook muffins for my parents before they woke up in the morning. I felt confident as my mom and I had made those little cheapie Jiffy muffin mixes a bunch of times before. I preheated our (electric) oven, greased the pan and prepped the muffins, no problem. Then I gingerly placed the muffins into the oven with an oven mit, closed and locked the oven. Locked, you say? Wait for it...
                                                                  Feelings very proud of myself I set the microwave timer and went to watch some cartoons. A few minutes later it went off, but when I tried to open the oven it wouldn't budge! I tried un-locking it by sliding the "lock" over to the "open" position (in my mind) but it was stuck! At this point I began to panic and woke my mom up... low and behold the oven doesn't actually lock...however, it does have a self-cleaning setting which is started by locking the door and pushing that lever! I remember thinking I had to use that because our dishwasher operated the same way (you pushed a horizontal lever to turn it on) however, aprox 4 hours and 500 degrees later (when the self-clean was finally done) I was not left with the fluffy, delicious Jiffy muffins that I anticipated but instead was stuck with little black hockey pucks! Luckily there was such a small amount of batter that there was barely any smoke, but my mom and dad laughed for quite a while (after I got done crying from embarrassment, of course.) Even the dog wouldn't eat the muffins. My mom made my sister and I eggs, instead.

                                                                  Still one of my favorite memories of cooking with my mom.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: CarmenR

                                                                    My first official cooking disaster happened when I was a newlywed. I wanted to impress my husband so I cooked every recipe in the 60 minute gourmet. He liked fish, so I made this combination fish souffle/terrine. It wouldn't souf and it wouldn't terrine -it just sat in the ramekin and refused to be tasty. He talked about it for years; among other things, he would scout my recipes and wouldn't let me use anything but salt and pepper. Thank goodness I got better over the years and he developed some specialties of his own -he made great hollandaise, I made mushroom mousse. We were a good team.

                                                                    1. re: avenuebalum

                                                                      "It just sat there and refused to be tasty" is SUCH a great description of cooking gone wrong. Oh, I hear ya.

                                                                      1. re: occula

                                                                        "It just sat there and refused to be tasty" is SUCH a great description of cooking gone wrong.

                                                                        I love this! I struggled with short ribs a few weeks ago and they definately just sat there and refused to be tasty.

                                                                    2. re: CarmenR

                                                                      That is a great story, Carmen. :)

                                                                    3. Shortly after moving out, I attempted to make French onion soup. I was pretty good at home. Following the recipe, I sauteed batch 1 of the onions and was slicing batch 2. Distracted by the ringing telephone, I lost concentration and almost lost part of my index fingertip. I was disabled by the cut which was bleeding profusely, so I turned off the stove. I think i may have dripped into the soup ICK!

                                                                      My finger healed rather quickly but it was a very long time before the onion smell left my place.

                                                                      1. Cooking steak in my teeny studio apartment with a windowless kitchen area. Within about 20 seconds my entire apartment was filled with smoke, which set off the alarm in the hallway of my building, which caused the fire department to come.


                                                                        1. My first thanksgiving. I waited until the night before to buy the turkey. All that was left was something close to thirty pounds (for the two of us), and it was frozen. I soaked and massaged it for hours, and managed to get it into the oven. I'm certain that it was still frozen inside. It cooked and cooked and cooked. When it was finally done (it was after ten that night), I couldn't readily lift it, so I tried to drag the pan out of the oven. The cheap aluminum pan tore, and all of the drippings poured out onto the bottom of the hot oven. I lost a fraction of my security deposit when I moved, because I couldn't get all of the blackened bits off. I knew how to clean an oven as well as I knew how to cook a turkey.

                                                                          1. Made angel food cake from a mix as dessert for a dinner I cooked with a friend. For the sake of efficiency, we decided to mix up the batter, put it in the pan, and leave the pan in the oven for an hour or two until we were ready to bake it. When we opened up the oven... batter volcano! I don't know what was in that mix, but somehow it had expanded to about four times its original size, and had exploded over the sides of the pan and all over the oven floor. (In the turned-off oven.)

                                                                            Now I bake from scratch. (But have never attempted angel food cake again -- maybe the same thing would happen?)

                                                                            1. This isn't after moving out, but the worst cooking thing I ever did when I was a kid was making maple sugar out of maple syrup. I was about ten, fascinated by the book "Dickon Among the Lenapes," and wanted to try it. First time it turned out beautifully and the crystals tasted great on hot cereal. It's one of those things you have to watch every second it's on the stove - I got distracted for a minute and it got too hot... pan and spoon had to be thrown out and I remember threads of caramelized candy hanging all over the stove and the hood, it took a couple hours to get the kitchen clean. Looking back I have to say my folks were pretty lenient buying the syrup for me to try - was never allowed a third attempt. :)

                                                                              1. Mine were cooking enormous amounts of food lol because I just didn't know how to scale the recipes down.
                                                                                Forgetting to add tahini to hummus dip was one, I knew something was missing but couldn't put my finger on it.

                                                                                1. Christmas morning... I took the bag of M & Ms that was in my stocking. It was one of those giant 2 lb bags. I got out my new tea set. I poured the m & m s into the bowl and added water. Alas, my M & M soup was a failure. I was also 2. Things have improved drastically since then.

                                                                                  1. I graduated and moved out of the house at 17 and was a somewhat experienced cook as my mom had passed away 4 years earlier and my dad was gone a lot.
                                                                                    On my own, I planned and executed a dinner party for four, at a friends house who had an actual kitchen, as I sure didn't. My "Charleston -shrimp- curry" dinner (Southern Living cookbook, 1984) was planned down to the last detail with bowls of condiments like golden raisens and toasted almonds. It was going to be SO ELEGANT.
                                                                                    I left the almond toasting bit til the last minute and got a little rushed. When I was in the bathroom primping, the smoke alarm went off. I ran into the kitchen, smoke was everywhere, and jerked the almonds which were 'toasting' on a cookie sheet out of the oven. The FLAMING almonds dropped all over the pristine linoleum floor which immidiately began melting, bubbling, and burning black.. About that time, my guests arrived.

                                                                                    I was SO bummed. Oh well, windows and doors thrown open, house cleared of smoke, dinner was still very good. But I felt HORRIBLE about the ruined lino. And it WAS ruined.
                                                                                    My friend was fortunately very forgiving. I don't know how, as she had just built that lovely house and the brand new kitchen floor had to be replaced. She was an angel to me.

                                                                                    1. Not mine, but my soon-to-be-wife's. She came to visit me, in my apartment out of town, and it was going to Thanksgiving. The oven was new to her, as was most of the kitchen.

                                                                                      When I arrived home, the fire trucks were out front. The turkey had gone up in smoke - a lot of it.

                                                                                      Now, many, many years later, she got back at me. We did "Cajun Fried Turkey," and she did the prep. She did not dry the interior of the turkey, and when I lowered it into the hot peanut oil, a flame shot 30' into the night sky, out of the turkey's nether regions. It looked like Mt. St. Helens!!!! I still have some scars on my legs. I had a long-sleeved work shirt, a hat, and ski goggles, but shorts. Luckily, my ex-partner had his Nikon w/ motor-drive going, and got it all on film. We lost about half of the grass in the backyard, and many fled for cover. The turkey, however, was great.


                                                                                      1. The pastry I made at my mother's house. I don't know whether it was the overhandling (I usually make it in a food processor and am not used to the pastry blender) or the all-purpose instead of the pastry flour but it was VERY tough. Luckily the filling was tasty, so the guests enjoyed it anyway but my husband wanted to know what was the matter with the crust. He knew I could do better.

                                                                                        1. My parents were both Yankees, so I'd never cooked okra. My Southron first husband said he really liked okra, could I fix it? So I went to the store and bought the biggest, fattest, darkest pods I could find, and went home and sliced them up and put them in my steamer basket. Oh, dear God. Nobody had told me (including the Southern cooking book I had open on the counter) that okra makes the nastiest, snottiest goo you have ever seen when you steam it. It's great for thickening stews and things, and cooked with tomatoes, it cuts the "mucilagenous qualities" -- but oh it was NASTY. Threw that one out, figured out that the little tender ones are better, and never cut another okra pod, unless it was going into a pot of soup.

                                                                                          I didn't do this one -- a friend of mine's wife did....she was "fixin' to make greens" as a young bride and someone had told her that a great way to remove the sand was to rinse them in the washing machine (which is true). They didn't tell her, however, that you weren't supposed to let them go through the spin cycle. His shirts had little green flecks on them for MONTHS.

                                                                                          1. I am old enough to know that I will probably do something terribly wrong the first time I ry something, learn from those mistakes and improve over time. This is especially true of cooking.

                                                                                            After college, I found that I liked cooking and felt a real sense of accomplishment at being able to feed myself without relying on take-out. So I dove in and made many, many disastrous meals.

                                                                                            Veggie chili seemed like a good idea...but not having tomatoes, tomato soup, tomato sauce or even ketchup, I decided that barbecue sauce would make a good base. It was wretched.

                                                                                            I had years - years! - of bad bread (admittedly, I only baked bread in the winter and on snow days) .

                                                                                            Burned, undercooked and everything in between have come from my stove.

                                                                                            But the worst ever was the first layer cake I tried to make for a boyfriend's birthday. Lemon Duncan Hines with canned frosting. The cake stuck to the pan in a big way, but I persevered, trying to patch together the many broken pieces. I knew nothing about frosting a cake, so not only did I end up with a lemon box cake (i know, bad enough) it looked more like an erupted volcano, jaggen cracks, collapsing on one end, with crumbs embedded throughout the sickening canned frosting. Luckily the boyfriend appreciated the effort and it was a really funny experience. I have a picture of that cake somewhere...

                                                                                            That boyfriend's mother was the first person to buy me a cookbook. :)

                                                                                            1. When I got my first solo apartment and a new job after college, I fried a couple of pork chops. I remembered seeing my mother make gravy after frying chicken, so I thought how hard could it be? I didn't think there was enough fat in the pan so I added some oil. I didn't have any flour so I used Bisquik. I put the Bisquik in and stirred it (I was attempting a roux, but didn't know it). I added some milk and I must have burned the pork chops because the 'gravy' mixture turned gray and started to rise in the pan. I was making dumplings instead of gravy. I just looked at the mess and threw it away.

                                                                                              My sister was a fantastic musician, but a terrible cook. (She complained that she would be a better cook if she had better pots and pans. My mother replied that if she were a better cook she would have better pots and pans). Anyway, still with the Bisquik theme. My sister heard that my mother used Bisquik to make oven-fried chicken so she thought she would make some too. My sister was not an instinctive cook, nor did she read the recipe on the back of the box. She proceeded to make biscuit dough and attempt to wrap that around the chicken and bake it in the oven. Someone who is a cook would figure out that something was wrong before actually putting the chicken in the oven, but not Sue.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. I started doing all the cooking when I was 6, so by the time I was out on my own, all my worst disasters were long behind me.

                                                                                                However, I can relate what an acquaintance of mine did.

                                                                                                Let me preface this by saying that he disclosed the following incident immediately after belittling his mother to us for being "stupid" because when her cruise control refused to disengage, she pulled over and turned off the engine. I'm not sure what he wanted her to do - maybe drive through town with the cruise set at 70? Ride the brake? Anyway.

                                                                                                Then he tells us about how he was visiting his mom (this was a guy in his late 20's) and he decided that he wanted some bacon. So he got some bacon and threw it in the oven on the oven rack. Turned it on "bake".

                                                                                                Set fire to the oven.

                                                                                                All I could say was, "Well, at least your mother knows better than to set the oven on fire". Which had the effect one might expect on someone that self-centered and egotistical (which he was, in case the way he talked about his mom wasn't a hint that he might be that way).

                                                                                                Oh it wasn't his fault, it was his mom's fault for never teaching him to cook.

                                                                                                Did he ever watch her make breakfast?

                                                                                                Of course he did, she made him breakfast almost every day.

                                                                                                And what did she do with the bacon?

                                                                                                Well she put it in a frying pan on top of the stove.

                                                                                                So why was it her fault that he tried to cook it, sans any sort of pan or even a sheet of foil, in the oven?

                                                                                                She should have specifically TOLD him you can't cook bacon in the oven.

                                                                                                Yet his MOM was the dumb one! LOL!

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                  Well, you can cook bacon in the oven... just not like that! ;-)

                                                                                                  1. re: LauraGrace

                                                                                                    oven made bacon is actually the best and crispiest and i doesnt shrink

                                                                                                  2. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                    I think I know that kid. I think he's my nephew. Well, my nephew's younger than that. Sure sounds like him, though.

                                                                                                  3. Mom taught my brother and I the basics of cooking long before we left home. When I was very young (5?) my brother and I were playing quietly in our room one saturday morning when my brother decided he wanted cinnamon toast. I knew how to do that. It would have been fine if I had actually used cinnamon. Nutmeg toast just isn't the same. Not long after that I made a peanut butter sandwich for mom. Peanut butter and peppermint (from smashed up candy canes.) Mom thanked me and managed to choke down about half that sandwich. I'm pretty sure it was shortly after that she started having us help out in the kitchen (and to help with the laundry about the same time.)

                                                                                                    1. Surprised that it hasn't been mentioned yet (unless I missed it)... c'mon, you know you did this, too: I cooked one of my first Thanksgiving turkeys with the plastic bag o' guts still inside. Enough people must do this that the turkey producers use a heat-resistant plastic... I did not have melted plastic all over the cavity of my turkey. The stuffing, which got canned broth poured on it at the same time the chopped celery and onion were dumped in -- oh yes -- must have protected that bag of giblets. And no, that can of cranberry, um, sauce mustn't look so, uh, "can shaped," (and it made that sound that canned dog food makes when it "thwocks" out of the can) so it needed to be mashed down a bit with a fork and some orange zest grated over the top (because I'm fancy, you know.) I'm sure there were other special things about this meal, but it was a long time ago, and I think that by the time dinner was on the table, I had hit the box of Franzia white zin a few too many times. Good times, good times.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: CapreseStacy

                                                                                                        I think your right about the producers using some heat-resistant plastic. It wasn't my first, more like our 15th year of cooking turkeys (more than one a year) and as I'm carving away, there it was! I don't stuff my turkeys, but I'm usually so thorough. Anyway I grabbed a pair of tongs and carefully removed the bloated bag before anyone noticed. The plastic had not melted at all, so I figured it must be like an oven bag and just kept on carving. It was just as good as ever. Wine and whatnot may have had something to do with it ;->

                                                                                                        1. re: CapreseStacy

                                                                                                          ah, you guys are doing better than I am...the first time I bought my fresh turkey from a producer, I peeked inside and saw the giblets...ah, good, I thought. Gravy.

                                                                                                          I wasn't quite so excited when I reached inside and realized that they were *still attached*. My husband came downstairs to find me with blood halfway to my elbow and a knife in the other hand, ran to the coat tree and said, "come one, I'll drive you to the ER" -- not realizing that it was the turkey's blood, and not me.

                                                                                                          1. re: southernitalian

                                                                                                            Hey that can work! Well if you your back packing or similarly deprived for long enough :-)

                                                                                                            1. re: just_M

                                                                                                              Ugh. wash it down with daiquiris made with strawberry jam and a lemon popsicle.

                                                                                                              (hey, starving students will try anything once)

                                                                                                            2. re: southernitalian

                                                                                                              southernitalian: "Pesto with dried basil anyone?"

                                                                                                              Oh, poor you.

                                                                                                              _How_ do you do that?

                                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                Fortunately I've forgotten most of the details of the "recipe". I was having my first informal dinner party in my crappy apartment on the UES. I think I had 5 or 6 friends over. I made a bunch of things and I seem to remember most of the other things were wins, but I distinctly remember two guys scarfing down the pasta with pesto (can't imagine what made them so hungry) and then a female friend looked closely at the bowl and said, "Did you use dried basil, by any chance?". Yup. I've always hated basil in all of its forms so I never paid much attn to pesto and how it should be properly made. Not even sure why I threw the dish in there. Those same friends swear they don't remember but I'll never forget.

                                                                                                              2. I had no concept of what a good, ripe avocado was, so as a newleywed I bought the biggest, firmest ones I could find!!. When I was reading the recipe 'mash with a fork' I bent a bunch of forks trying to mash one.

                                                                                                                The avocados I bought were in suburban Chicago in the middle of winter back in 1981. You can only imagine what they were like back there, back then.

                                                                                                                1. I tried to make pasta with tuna sauce for my former in-laws, on their first visit after I'd married their son. The blender jammed, and I opened the lid, stuck a fork in there and unjammed it, all without turning it off. Anchovies, oil and tuna were spattered all over the window, the ceiling, the underside of the cabinets, and my hair.

                                                                                                                  I also roasted a chicken upside down with the little bag of offal still inside (that plastic doesn't melt, by the way) for a visiting friend.

                                                                                                                  1. Our first apartment had a gas stove, which I'd never used before. My mom had an electric stove. The whole thing was very puzzling to me. I figured out that you had to turn on the burner and then light it with a match, but I didn't know what to do with the oven. I remember turning it on to warm up, then opening the door, hearing a WUMP, and losing my eyebrows, arm hair, and the last few inches of my head-hair. That's the day 'electric stove' became a dealbreaker for me. At least it won't leak invisibly and poison me, or explode. ON. OFF. DONE. I think I'm the only wannabe foodie who prefers electric, and I get many a stern lecture, but my oven has never sent a gaseous fireball at my face again.

                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: occula

                                                                                                                      You don't have to light the oven with a match anymore. I know this because the same thing happened to me the first time (1976) I cooked in a friend's pre-war New York kitchen, i.e., long before everyone renovated. The smell of singed hair instantly takes me back there.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                        Unless you move into a new apartment with a *very* vintage stove. I had never even seen an oven that required a light, and thought it was broken. When we finally received instruction, I convinced the boyfriend that I was too nervous to light it the first time myself, and said that I wanted to watch him do it. He smirked at me.

                                                                                                                        But, really, I had just discovered that we had a doorbell outside of the kitchen door. It was a loud, and very strange-sounding buzzer, more akin to a rusty fire alarm than a doorbell. So while the BF was turning the oven on, lighting the match, and reaching his hand inside the oven, I quietly opened the screen door, stuck my hand out, and pressed the buzzer. Just as he was holding the match to the pilot, the buzzer went GGRRAAAAAAHHZZTT.

                                                                                                                        I never saw someone move away from 'danger' so fast in my life. He was in the dining room before he realized that it wasn't the oven making that noise.

                                                                                                                        1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                          ROFL. Sometimes it's SO much fun to be a PITA.

                                                                                                                          1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                                                                            Oh my GOSH. Thank goodness I was home alone on Fireball Day - it's easier to get sympathy when you tell a story, and get laughed at when there are witnesses - or pranksters! lol.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                            I figured it was a pretty antique operation, but it scared the living crap out of me, that's for sure. I still don't know how that oven was supposed to work. This was, oh, 1991.

                                                                                                                        2. I tried to make cherry ice cream with some poor quality cookware (hand-me-downs, to boot) and when it didn't work out, I tried to turn it into clafoutis. I have absolutely no memory of whether it turned out or not so I'm guessing it didn't! :)

                                                                                                                          After I moved away from home I also learned that my dad's beef stroganoff and eggs benedict are way off the mark, lol!

                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: jubilant cerise

                                                                                                                            it might not have worked, but trying to make a clafoutis from failed ice cream is at least an educated guess that just *might* have worked...and earns more points from me than muttering bad words while dumping it out.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                              Thanks for those kind words, I really appreciate it! Moments like that ice cream/clafoutis experiment make me think of what we take for granted as basic knowledge in cooking - I really have to hand it to the early civilizations for centuries of endurance and imagination in figuring it out.

                                                                                                                              1. re: jubilant cerise

                                                                                                                                you learn so much in here, sometimes even when you are laughing yourself to tears. had never heard of clafoutis, now I have, and learned that if you use other fruits its a flaugnarde. now those are jeopardy words if there ever were some.

                                                                                                                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                  Thanks to you, I've learned that an apricot clafoutis should be called apricot flaugnarde - Jeopardy, here I come! ;)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                                                    technically....but when you go out shopping in France, whether it's a big corporate store or the corner patisserie, they're all called clafoutis no matter what fruit is in the custard.

                                                                                                                            2. 1. Red wine the first time I made Coquilles St. Jacques, because I didn't have white. It never occurred to me what it was going to look like.

                                                                                                                              (BTW, to the cheese-on-seafood hater: too bad you can't eat these because you're so rigid about fish and cheese. They are so good, no matter what color wine you use.)

                                                                                                                              2. Using as much celery _powder_ as a recipe called for celery _salt_, the first time I made stuffed mushrooms.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                My story is similar- the first time I made crepes suzette, I used blue curacao. Thus was born "crepes du Mars".

                                                                                                                              2. My first New Years after marriage I thought a one pound bag of dried blackeye peas looked small. So I put two into the crockpot. When we woke up New Years Day there was a river of peas flowing down the counter just like the story "Little Pot Boil."

                                                                                                                                1. My family doesn't really do the whole cooking thing, so I learned to cook in a college dorm, teaching myself almost exclusively by hoping I understood what recipes were asking me to do. To my great surprise, I guess I had something of a knack for it, because I really didn't have many big disasters (and I didn't start with easy recipes-- no, I stupidly decided to start with things like multi-hour curries and other such things. Brilliance! I basically went straight from plain pasta to trying to make serious fancy restaurant food for myself every night. Looking back, I'm surprised I never made many "oh god can't eat this" dishes...).

                                                                                                                                  However, I was making totally-from-scratch tortilla soup one night that first year of cooking, and absentmindedly grabbed the wrong bottle of oil and poured olive oil into the pan I was going to fry up some tortilla chips in, and then walked out of the kitchen to check on something (I can't remember why), and next thing I knew, the entire kitchen was filled with smoke and the fire alarm was going off. The entire 6-story apartment building has to be evacuated, and the fire department came up to my room (I stayed inside trying to sop up the hot oil that had spattered all over the place) and were like "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE" and I had to explain the whole embarrassing story. *sigh* Luckily, my roommate wasn't home, so the only people who ever knew the fire alarm was my fault were the firemen....

                                                                                                                                  1. I almost burned our apartment building down making French fries. I put the lid on the pot of oil so it would heat up faster. When I removed the lid - fireball!

                                                                                                                                    1. Coming late to an old, hliarious thread.

                                                                                                                                      My favorite "Do'h!" moment from my early days as a home cook is another "turkey pudding" type of fiasco: I made a giant pot of soup, simmered it for hours, decided as a last step that some pasta would be a nice addition. So I threw in a bag of Vietnamese rice noodles, which quickly disintegrated, disappeared entirely, and turned my labor of love into sludge: so gelatinous and unattractive as to be inedible. Um, oopsie. (Not my actual words: this is a family website.)


                                                                                                                                      1. I may as well chime in. Right after college I was living in Boston in an apartment and for July 4, I invited some friends over for a cookout - on my tiny hibachi grill on my postage-stamp sized terrace. I decided to cook some hamburgers and fancy German hot dogs.

                                                                                                                                        As we started eating I noticed a couple guests staring unhappily at their dogs as they bit into them. They had been wrapped individually in clear plastic and I hadn't noticed it when I threw them on the grill. Can you say toxic molten mess...?

                                                                                                                                        1. I decided to make pumpkin soup.
                                                                                                                                          The recipe never specifically said to drain the pumpkin, but somehow, I got to figuring that this was implied. So it ended up more of a sludge consistency than a soup.

                                                                                                                                          1. It is amazing how not knowing the difference between a tsp and tbl of salt can really make a difference in a dish. Inedible.

                                                                                                                                            1. I knew how to grill in college, but I didn't know anything about kitchen cooking.

                                                                                                                                              A friend asked if I would make mashed potatoes to go with grilled steak. Now, how hard could that be? So, I said sure.

                                                                                                                                              I boiled potatoes and mashed them with a fork which was all I had.

                                                                                                                                              Friend looked at the potatoes and then took a bite.

                                                                                                                                              "I think you're supposed to put something else in mashed potatoes," he said.

                                                                                                                                              "Oh yeah?"

                                                                                                                                              "They don't taste like my Mom's."

                                                                                                                                              "Maybe your Mom can drive up and make them next time."

                                                                                                                                              Afterwards I called my Mom who said you put butter, milk, salt and pepper in mashed potatoes. Go figure. I thought they did awfully stiff.

                                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: CyndiA

                                                                                                                                                Some college friends found a recipe for homemade Kahlua that involved a bottle of cheap vodka, espresso, and vanilla beans. They didn't have espresso or vanilla beans, but they did have a jar of instant coffee and a great big bottle of imitation vanilla. I do mean great BIG bottle. One of the guys had a father who owned a donut company, and he was always turning up with 10-gallon buckets of strawberry jelly or 20-pound bags of powdered sugar. This was like a half-gallon of imitation vanilla, and they just dumped it all in. I swear, we all smelled like sweaty vanilla for weeks afterward.
                                                                                                                                                Oh, and being typical dirty-minded college students, we did think of some creative uses for all that jelly, but never quite dared to try them...I think we were afraid we'd get ants.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: tonifi

                                                                                                                                                  LOL. I can certainly picture that. Some of the college dishes are certainly creative.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tonifi

                                                                                                                                                    we would have made daiquiris out of them. We'd have Ashtray Fridays and Sofa Saturdays -- you emptied the ashtray in your car and dug all the loose change out of the sofa cushions. On the lean weeks, we could pool (across 5-6 of us) for a plastic (!) fifth of Albertson's brand rum. On the good weeks, we could swing a bottle of daiquiri mix, too.

                                                                                                                                                    One week came when we had a little left over after the rum, but not enough for daiquiri mix. We thought and thought -- strawberries were out of season, no luck there. Frozen strawberries were too much money. Somebody got a brain storm -- quart jars of Albertson's store-brand strawberry jam...and lemon popsicles...were both on sale. Strawberries? Check. Lemon? Check. Sugar? Hell yeah.

                                                                                                                                                    DAAAAANG those were some nasty, nasty daiquiris. But by the time you finished the second one, it wasn't so awful any more.

                                                                                                                                                    Donut jelly would have been poured into the blender, too.....

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                      Too funny! I'm guessing you also used Kool-aid as a mixer. Not very good, but . . .

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: CyndiA

                                                                                                                                                        Geez, not Kool-aid...we were poor, but at least we *tried* to have some taste! LOL

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                        If you get nostalgic for them, betake yourself to McDonald's for a strawberry lemonade. Sounds like pretty much the same tthing (less the rum).

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                          doesn't exist at the McD's here -- but from what y'all have written about it here, I'm guessing our horrid little concoction just might have been better!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                            I bet - but 2 of my coworkers love it... !!! It was the jam that made me think of it.

                                                                                                                                                  2. My biggest personal disasters were made when I was still at home, but the biggest one after leaving belongs to my ex.

                                                                                                                                                    I was working while he was attending law school, and most days, I cooked or prepped all three meals. But one day, I knew I was going to have dinner with some co-workers, so I seasoned a steak for him and left it in the fridge with a note to just fry up the steak on the pan and eat with the rice and salad in the fridge.

                                                                                                                                                    Well you know what happens when you assume (that pan-frying a steak is a simple kitchen task - especially for a man who had never cooked anything in his life...) I came home to a completely smoked out postage stamp sized apartment, a fry pan burnt beyond any usefulness, a smoke alarm dangling by its wiring from the ceiling, and a hungry dude.

                                                                                                                                                    The next 10 years were microwave instructions only.

                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                                      Husband on own, teaching in Iowa City, middle of the winter, has pork chops and electric skillet, 1960's Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, the latter two provided by his mom. (I'm still in Berkeley finishing my degree.) Cooks pork chops as long as it says in the book. Same result as yours, because the recipe was written for 1 1/2 in thick chops. These were under 1/2 inch. "I didn't think it would make a difference." It was too late and too cold out to get anything else for dinner. Made me sad.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                        "Made me sad."

                                                                                                                                                        I hope the memory of it now makes you laugh, buttertart. But yeah - we were so broke then that the loss of both the cheap frypan and the steak made me sad.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                                          It does, but the poor guy choked down as much of them as he could because he was famished. Now if something's extremely overdone, it's "kind of like those pork chops".

                                                                                                                                                    2. One of my early disasters was a chicken dish, can't remember what it was called. The recipe called for white wine, which I didn't have, but did have some red. Wine is wine, right? Wrong. Red wine plus chicken equals lovely purple chicken breasts. I ate it anyway, but never tried that again.

                                                                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lawhound05

                                                                                                                                                        or as someone once put it.... OMG, what did you do to Barney!?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lawhound05

                                                                                                                                                          LOL --

                                                                                                                                                          The classic French coq au vin is a chicken cooked in an entire bottle of red wine -- BUT -- it's simmered with tomato paste until the sauce turns a deep velvety brown.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                            I once made coq au vin with ... well, it was cheap wine, because I was poor. (The chicken was an older egg layer I'd gotten form the farmer's market for $3). Even with the tomato paste, that was very purple chicken. Still tasted good.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Terrieltr

                                                                                                                                                              Not even with a better red wine can you completely escape that purplish tinge. It's a whole bottle of wine, made with purplish grapes, after all...

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                                                                                                                                But there's having a purple tinge and then there was this chicken. It was the kind of purple that makes you go "Huh. I didn't know you could get that shade without food coloring."

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Terrieltr

                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe you were indeed cooking with fermented grape Koolaid! :|

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: lawhound05

                                                                                                                                                            That's exactly what I did with my first batch of coquilles St. Jacques.

                                                                                                                                                          3. When in grad school, I attempted to make chicken cutlets and because I was trying to be " healthy", I guess I didn't use enough oil in the pan. I lived in a very old building and there was zero ventilation in the apt. So, I did what I thought was the right thing to air out the black smoke from my kitchen...i opened the door to my apt. Which set off the building's fire bell. And summoned the fire dept. When the firemen came, they laughed their asses off as I cried and apologized for being an idiot. Every resident was standing outside in the cold and it was dinnertime. However, one particularly cute fireman felt bad for me and while the others were "checking the building", he kindly showed me how to not incinerate one's dinner.

                                                                                                                                                            1. Disasters can happen ANY time, and the past weekend was proof of that. I made a wonderful dinner for me on Saturday night, turned out perfectly, and then later in the evening decided to bake some sweet potato fries so I could have them the next day and throughout the week. It was probably midnight when I stuck them in the oven, set the timer, but I fell asleep and awoke at 3AM to a horrible smell! I'm amazed I didn't set off the fire alarm, but the sweet potatoes & sheet pan were removed to the balcony, and now it is Tuesday and I still can't get rid of the smell. I've had every ventilation fan on and windows open as well as running a/c (it is over 100 degrees here right now).

                                                                                                                                                              Last night tried simmering lemons on the stove and placing bowls of white vinegar around, also vacuumed with carpet fresh, used Lysol, but this morning it still smelled like burnt sweet potatoes.

                                                                                                                                                              So, you can cook for years and still ^$&*% up :)

                                                                                                                                                              1. I tried to make gnocchi but had never had it, so I made them more dumpling sized....Not so yummy!

                                                                                                                                                                1. Oh!!! And I just remembered what my boyfriend did, this is brilliant. One night, I made some easy buffalo sauce by melting butter and mixing in hot sauce. I did it in the little jar that marinated artichokes come in the (the 6 oz. ones). We ate some chicken dipped in it (used it straight from the jar mind you), then I popped the fridge. The next day, my boyfriend sprung on me that he needed to take something a potluck, so I made him get started making an easy spinach-artichoke pasta dish that we've made together multiple times. When I came home, he had the jar of buffalo sauce out, about to add that to the pasta. "But I thought it was the artichokes!!" No baby, those are in the cabinet, in a can that says artichokes... thank goodness I came home when I did!!

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply