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Triumphs or disasters? Mine have been equal in number........how bout you?

All my cooking career I've been amazed at what I can come up with out of nowhere, just by thinking a few ingredients may work. I try it out and sometimes it does. My husband often asks me while eating dinner, "Ok. So how did you get this to taste this way, I think I taste [whatever ingredient he can pick out that is unusual] in here. Tell me exactly how you made this "sauce" [again, or whatever]."
Now reverse that. Fully just as many times, I've thought, "What was I thinking to put this with that."

Does it happens to others or do most or many of you follow recipes so this won't happen. I read recipes and cookbooks entirely too much [have over 1,000 cookbooks] but only for the pleasure of reading and ingesting the great ideas of others.
I'm a shoot from the hip cook. How about the rest here?
Are you natural cooks talented in the creativity portion of the kitchen or wonderful cooks because you follow recipes well?

One such triumph for me that just happened out of necessity:
Easter was coming and our salon owner decided she wanted to throw a party to celebrate. Asked each of us to bring a side something to add to the party but wanted all the big stuff catered in. I'd brought deviled eggs a million times over the years so she asked me for deviled eggs, like 5 dozen. My pleasure. The party quickly approached and I busied myself the day before and then stuck all those eggs into the water. While they boiled away I got out my other ingredients. Mine are typical of the usual suspects so with all the food I have I knew they were all there "somewhere" weren't they? No mustard no sweet pickle relish no pickles no pickle juice no hot sauce. The only thing I had were the eggs and the mayonnaise. WHAT???? Way too late to go to the market to pick up items, it was pushing midnight of the day before the party, I had to scramble. You'll agree that apricot jam and Ortega chilies out of the jar wouldn't even begin to work, but one of the best batches of deviled eggs I've ever turned out. < As said so by the comments I received too.
Moral of the story here, look at what you do have, it just may work and be spectacular.

One oooopsie happened out of stupidity:
Mom asked me to make her a pear pie. She lived in pear country, it was fall, she had them growing on her property, I love pear pie so I said, "coming up". Did Pastry Chef grandmothers’ dough, perfect. Did the millions of pears, perfect. Seasoned the sauce for the pears to swim in, perfect. Preheated the oven to perfect temp, found the "perfect?" pie tin ;(
Made the pie, checked for doneness. Waited-smelled-dreamed of taste-anticipated the moment-pulled the masterpiece out of the oven for it to collapse into the heater vent in moms floor under the oven and go down in the works of the house somewhere for ever, never to be seen or heard from again. I turned the oven off, walked out of the house, into my car and drove the 50 miles home without a word.
Moral of the story here, never use a formed foil stupid store bought pie tin for a very very heavy pie without at least a cookie sheet under it.

What's your story?

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  1. here are some previous discussions in a similar vein - figured you'd enjoy reading them:

    and if you do searches using the terms "disaster" and "failure" you'll pull up pages and pages of threads offering detailed accounts of specific calamities. it's nice to see we Chowhounds aren't too proud to admit failure! ;)

    i also like reading the holiday post-mortem threads. fortunately in those the successes/hits usually outweigh the failures.

    3 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      wonder if I should ask the MODS to delete or incorporate?
      I've not had much luck in the past doing searches and being successful.
      thank you for your ideas

      1. re: iL Divo

        no! there's always room for new stories, and this is the perfect place for everyone to start chiming in. i just gave you the other info so you'd know you're in good company :)

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I've been coming in here awhile now. like some years and I've discovered that if a topic isn't instantly taking off, it probabl won't be.
          that's usually because it's already been done in here but elsewhere.
          sure appreciate your help, I wouldn't have known it was already a topic............
          where's the embarrassed emoticon? *)

    2. I think your ooopsie is a first. Have heard of dropped pies. Have done it myself. But have never heard of one that collapsed into a heater vent before.

      So take pride in that! One of a kind!

      1 Reply
      1. re: karykat

        oh the anger that stirred up in me. I was so frustrated so sad so disappointed and so wanting to taste that exquisite pie. all for not.
        and moms heater never worked right again, at least in her kitchen

      2. My kitchen disasters seem to stem around the oven. I'm getting better since I've finally admitted I need to learn how to bake rather than just do it my way.
        I still load the paper muffin cups to far up, but the two loaves into one loaf is my best ever. Have a good laugh!

        2 Replies
        1. re: chef chicklet

          oh that's funny, I LOVE IT!

          in junior high, we had homemaking class.
          I was in it of course, because I loved cooking but also needed to learn how to sew.
          yea, those gym bags were tough...........hahahhah *)

          so it was our ''big dea''l meal for the end of semester. and of yea, we're being graded.
          I was oh so confident. my task, the brownies for the dessert.
          I combined the ingreds, all's well, put them in the baking dish and thought, "voila!, done."
          so sure of myself, I almost exuded supremacy. as the teacher walked around the class [sniffing the air that was [by now wafting of smoke] and wondering where the dilemma was coming from] checking out all our details and how they were cooking up, she came to the brownie oven. I knew I'd get high praise, instead she shreaked. "My gawd, WHAT IS THIS?"
          "My brownies, duh..........." I thought. "What did you put in them" she asked. "How much leavening did you use?"
          I told her the answer which was 1 1 /4 cup baking powder. She said, "The recipe calls for 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder."
          It had risen and hit the top of the oven, burned and stuck.
          Yea, I think I got an "F"

          1. re: chef chicklet

            chicklet, i love that loaf of bread - it appears to have developed a "belt" similar to the ones you see on improperly frosted cake :) i have a tendency to over-fill muffin cups too, because they just look so sad and empty when they're only partially full..but i did go overboard once with a batch of fig muffins - i must have inadvertently added extra leavening to the batter as well, and when i pulled the tray from the oven, the muffin tops had all fused together and baked up into one solid mass of a "cake" that covered the entire pan! i had used some amazingly delicious organic fig puree to make them so i was determined to make the best of it. i cooled the pan completely and turned it over to release the entire thing in one piece - it looked ridiculous with all the muffin bottoms (in their wrappers) sticking up like stumps. i carefully sliced off the stumps, set them aside, and cut up the solid piece into squares for eating/serving. then i processed some of the stumps into crumbs and stuck them in the freezer - they eventually went into tart crusts and yogurt - and sliced the others into layers and served them with ricotta cream. it actually worked out really well, but every time i fill muffin cups and feel the temptation to really mound in the batter, i can't help but envision that bizarre fig creation :)

            BTW, i couldn't resist taking a peek at the other photos on the page - your boys are darling!

          2. My biggest disaster was many years ago when the Sister-in-Law and her family were coming for Thanksgiving dinner. I was pulling the turkey out of the oven to baste and unfortunately pulled the rack out too far. The pan tipped, the turkey slid right out and across the kitchen floor, along with all my turkey juice! Thank heavens, I had stayed up late after everyone else had gone to bed and mopped and waxed (yes - I said waxed) my kitchen floor. I had no choice but to rinse the bottom of the turkey off and put it back in the pan and finish roasting. But alas - what to do about gravy? I didn't have any frozen turkey or chicken stock at that point. I ended up opening up a can of chicken stock, took some of the stuffing and put it in the blender to get some flavor going! I also have to admit, I just sat down and bawled (I was young and had only been married a few years with 2 toddlers). I had so wanted to impress my in-laws. Oh well. It turned out fine in the end, and gave us a story to tell for many, many years!

            1. Many of my disasters revolve around my refusal to taste, taste and taste some more. I don't follow the advice I give other cooks... and end up double- or triple-salting dishes. I once "extended" an over-salted potato-leek soup from 4 servings to 15! (It was still a bit briny tasting so I just gave up and started over).

              The most surprising thing I think I ever turned out was a simple dish of roma tomatoes stuffed with rice, lemon rind, oregano and olive oil. I needed something for a banquet for 25 -- I needed a veggie side with color. Boy, was I embarassed when they started asking for more; I'd only made exactly one broiled tomato per plate; plus four for breakage. I was in the kitchen stuffing and broiling more tomatoes!

              1. big ooops my MIL made was being the baker of the universe to all who had the good fortune of tasting her stuff, big family gathering, many relatives there, all expecting the baked goods that were usual for my MIL. except the pumpkin pie seemed off to my FIL who asked, "Bett, is this your usual pumpkin pie recipe?" she gloated saying, "well yes"
                he then said taste it.........................no sugar had been added......... she never forgot that oooops

                1. Speaking of pie disasters, I once misremembered the conversion of cups to oz for butter (I find weighing it easier). I ended up adding around 1lb of butter into the crust, I was wondering why it was so moist, but I never really caught on until I put the whole thing in the oven and it melted into a disgusting gooey mess.

                  My favourite triumph would probably be this one time I was making a peach cheesecake for some friends for lunch the next day. It was 1am and after several laborious hours of making it and waiting for it in the oven, I pulled it out, and stupidly opened the springform pan it was in. Needless to say, it spilled everywhere on the counter. However, being very determined, I scooped it all back into the pan (the counters were clean!) and prayed it would fix itself overnight. Thankfully, it set up perfectly. However, it looked wrinkled and horrible from having just packed it in there. Using the last remaining peach half I had, in the final moments before everyone showed up, I sliced it as thin as possible to get enough rounds to fan over the cake. It ended up beautiful and everyone loved it, I was so relieved.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: AndrewK512

                    Andrew, that's committment on your part, saving the very last piece of peach.
                    how funny that sometimes we gotta hold our breath and hopes that even a nonconventional method may work, like you putting it back in the pan/oven and fingers crossed it worked.