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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!!

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  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.