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Simple food failures

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  • Raids Dec 6, 2010 12:15 PM
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This is probably only a germane topic for middling cooks like myself, but what are the things that you are embarassed to admit that you fail at cooking/baking?

I feel like I have to mention that I can make char siu bao from scratch or a perfect Chicago style pizza before I can admit that I totally fail at meatballs. And - until this weekend - pancakes. And lasagna. I'm pretty sure I was always baking it uncovered the whole time, skimping on the sauce, and generally engaging in some poor assembly strategies.

Regarding pancakes, I have learned that if I do not use buttermilk and sour regular milk with white vinegar, the gluten stays sufficiently inactive and I get nice fluffy pancakes that are not inconsistent and lumpy due to my fear of overmixing them.

You'd think I'd know these things, but alas, no. I suck at pie crusts also, but I've only tried once so far, so I'll cut myself a break on that one.

I've noticed that a lot of people are really pretty terrible at the simple boneless skinless chicken breast. They're frequently undercooked and rubbery overcooked and dry as cardboard.

I also think there is one recipe that nobody could ever possibly mess up no matter how much effort was put into it, and that would be banana bread. Assuming you don't forget basic things, like, say, bananas, it is totally error proof.

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  1. I am going to admit here in front of G-d and everyone that I cannot make jello. Can't do it. Never works for me. I always double the amount of time to make sure it's been properly dissolved in boiled water, etc. etc. but invariably wind up with a layer of very tough, "wrong" jello. Maybe it's because it sits in the cupboard awhile?
    On the other hand, gelatine desserts and blancmange I've made have worked out just fine, same as all puddings etc.
    Maybe I just haven't got the knack.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      I have Jello issues too!

      1. re: momskitchen

        I am no longer alone!

        1. re: mamachef

          Wow, I find that hard to imagine. The only thing I can think of is, maybe you're not stirring the powder in the boiling water long enough to make sure every granule is fully dissolved before adding the cold water.

          1. re: BobB

            My jello failure is largely predicated by the fact that I can't fricking stand the stuff.

            Loved it when I was a kid, but gah. Not any more.

    2. About a third of the time the gnocchi I make end up being really bad. Everything from forgetting the salt to them falling apart (forgot to turn the heat down), there's a good chance I'll do something wrong along the way.

      I can't make a good poached egg without a poacher. I just lack that touch.

      I can easily mess up banana bread, because I just don't like to measure out ingredients. When I'm working with dough (pasta, pizza, gnocchi) I mostly go by feel; add here and there until you know the dough is good. Of course, that doesn't work with serious baking.

      1. Do you like pancakes and pies? I really don't, especially not pancakes. So not being able to make them well isn't really an issue. I tend to do better making the things I want to eat.

        1. I can't make instant coffee.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            I can't make real coffee. I've dried drip, French press, stove top. Nada. I suck at it. Beyond belief. Too weak or too strong or full of grounds. Truly unbelievable.

            Thank god for my Nespresso machine.

          2. I can't make macaroni and cheese that isn't grainy/oily. I've tried tons of recipes, even the ones with a little Velveeta in them, with no success.

            7 Replies
            1. re: wlo

              I haven't had that problem with cheese fro Costco, but I know what you mean, and I still don't know what causes it...

              1. re: wlo

                leave the cheddar out. It's really bad for mac n' cheese.

                1. re: wlo

                  This I know! From here forward, you have two piles of cheese. One of them actually goes into the sauce. This pile consists of gruyere or some other cheese that melts well. If it works for fondue, go for it. If it has chemical emulsifiers in it, like kraft singles, go for it (but the gruyere will taste better...). If it's left over and it's soft, throw it in there.

                  The other pile consists of the extra-sharp cheddar and parmesan. This you put in as shredded cheese.

                  So, you will boil your pasta, make your bechamel with your melty cheeses, and then either layer or stir the tasty cheese with bite in afterward. Top with more tasty, unmelty cheese.

                  Problem solved. Or, you can just stop using extra-sharp cheddar and stick with a cheddar that has been proven to not separate your sauce. Or make the custard kind of mac and cheese that my mother in law is ace at but I just cannot manage.

                  1. re: Raids

                    Thank you! I will make this over the weekend. For myself. Just in case I still manage to mess it up.

                  2. re: wlo

                    Whoa! I would love to find out what you're doing with mac & cheese, because I think it's the best thing in the world to make when four people suddenly show up and you've got nothing but leftovers in the fridge and rock hard meat in the freezer.
                    I always start with a white sauce - easy, simple, and cooked out properly to get rid of the flour taste completely.
                    Slowly add the freshly grated cheeses - I use a mix of 1-year old cheddar (I prefer white,but orange is fine), emmanthal, and fontina (sometimes gruyere, if I've got a heel leftover from my favourite baked eggs). And I mean slowly, so that each handful has melted into the sauce before adding more.
                    If I find the sauce is thickening too much with the cheeses, I add a little WHOLE milk to bring it to the consistency I prefer.
                    Season with dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, s&p
                    Now, if I have time, I will then pour the mac & cheese into a baking dish, sprinkle with panko crumbs, dot with a bit of butter & bake @ 325 until the crumbs are nicely browned. If I have four hungry people staring at me the whole time I've been making this I first get them to set the table, make a salad and then serve right from the pot!
                    Hope you keep trying... mac & cheese on a cold winter's night.... heaven!

                    1. re: wlo

                      NO one can mess this up. Just be sure to follow the instructions for adding the cheese little-by-little.

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        I like to overcook the elbows so they're a little soggy and swollen and keep the sauce loose. </1974 lunch lady memories>

                    2. I manage to mess up mashed potatoes. Sometimes I undercook the potatoes (I'm so used to cooking things al dente). Last night I didn't make that mistake but I put in too much reserved cooking water, so they ended up watery.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sushigirlie

                        Toss in instant potato flakes and you are back in biz.

                      2. I screw up graham cracker crusts. Haven't been able to get it right in four tries. I always make some stupid mistake...and it never turns out how i intended.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: attran99

                          I bet you are not adding in enough butter. Every time I trim the butter it does not want to stick together - or if I crush my own crackers and the pieces are too big. Funny thin is it always tastes good no matter how much I fark it up. Dim the lights. That is my solution to all bits of ugliness.

                        2. Raids, I got your last one! I have screwed up 20 loaves of banana bread -- rubbery ones, ones that didn't rise, ones with bits of baking soda scattered throughout... I can't make a good loaf of banana bread to save my life! I can make the world's most tender, beautiful pineapple upside-down cake, and yeast breads like there's no tomorrow, and light, crisp waffles, but banana bread beats me every time.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: LauraGrace

                            My DH makes banana bread from a recipe from his mom's church cookbook that is pretty bulletproof (and very very sweet, in case you were looking for something more like cake).
                            I'll post it if you like.

                            1. re: EWSflash

                              I'm always happy to try not to screw up another one. And I love church cookbooks. :)

                            2. re: LauraGrace

                              Do you hand mix your batter? I think I should have added the caveat that nobody using a kitchenaid stand mixer with a recipe in hand can mess up banana bread. :-)

                              1. re: Raids

                                Hold up. Rubbery = overmixing. Won't a kitchenaid compound the problem? And I've made it both ways.

                                1. re: LauraGrace

                                  Like I said, it can't be screwed up. :-) Seriously, I've never handmixed a quickbread batter, but I use low speeds, fully mix dry and wet ingredients separately beforehand, stick to the low speeds on the stand mixer, and don't overdo it. Looks like my banana bread recipe that I've used for forever and ever also has yogurt, although I can't think that would make it more tender.

                                  1. re: Raids

                                    Yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk - the cultured dairy products that are acidic - absolutely make baked goods more tender. That's a big reason why they are used in quick bread recipes.

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      Oh right, good to know, thanks! Like adding vinegar to the pancake batter or vodka to the pie crust. I guess I didn't think about yogurt as an acidic substance, but that's kind of obvious now that I think about it.

                                    2. re: Raids

                                      Yep. I make sure to whip the devil out of the butter and sugar, then eggs and then dry stuff (presifted) in thirds. Each add I off and on it until just mixed, then the next add the same and the final add I only go until it is JUST mixed. I pull the beater out and dig two or three times down to bottom of bowl and flunk it into the pan. Minimum futzing with the dough - just north of biscuit handling.

                              2. Custard and bread. Gave up after months of trying. The smell of hot egg and sugar, and the doughy yeasty concoctions, also turn me off from eating them now save a few exceptional cases :(

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: link_930

                                  Neither custard nor bread are simple. Anyone that tells you otherwise is simply wrong and/or misinformed.

                                  I make both regularly, and to do either right and consistently takes a lot more skill and patience than sometimes I can muster.

                                2. Biscuits! I have never been able to get them to turn out like anything except hockey pucks!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: sunflwrsdh

                                    Me too! I have tried a few recipes, and my last attempt was this weekend with Sandra Lee's (I KNOW! I KNOW!) beer biscuits were horrible. I left them in triple the time that the recipe said and they still tasted solely of raw flour.

                                    1. re: icey

                                      last time I resorted to the Pillsbury-beat-the-tube-on-the-counter cheater product and couldn't even do that right.

                                      face it, good from scratch biscuits are one half nature and one half nurture. you NEED to have had a grandmother who never looked at a recipe and was happy to (patiently and repeatedly) teach.

                                      1. re: hill food

                                        I completely agree! I do use Pillsbury and it is one of the few "cheats" I ever do!

                                  2. Pie crust. I get sort of paranoid and crazy about it-- I think there must be something other people know, but won't tell me. Either that or it's actually impossible and everyone's lying about being able to do it. Either way, there's some sort of conspiracy, and I'm going to get to the bottom of it.

                                    And, for the record, I am eating falafel that I made from dried chickpeas accompanied by homemade flatbread and tzatziki :-P

                                    1. Rice... can't make it... I've boiled it like pasta, rinsed it and steamed it, soaked it, and measured precisely.... it almost never works for me... except risotto.

                                      I buy pre cooked rice now - it's pretty pathetic, but it works for me.

                                      15 Replies
                                      1. re: harryharry

                                        there's a reason rice cookers are so popular in Asia - they really are terrific. I can't make rice on the stovetop to save my life

                                        1. re: Samuelinthekitchen

                                          Even a cheap rice cooker produces superior rice to that which cooks in a pan. Just rinse the rice, then add the right amount of water, and it'll be freaking perfect every time. I really think I bought one for about $30. I'm looking to upgrade to a fancy one, but I've been using the cheap one for five years now.

                                          1. re: Raids

                                            Agreed, the cheap ones work well. I recently purchased and returned a more expensive model with all the bells and whistles. I examined it from a cleaning point of view and found it wanting. I then purchased a 6 cup no name for $13.00. I have owned a Nationial 20 cup for 30 years. But it's too big for daily use. I prefer the simple ones with a standard lid as opposed to one with a lock down lid. Much easier to clean.

                                            1. re: rosetown

                                              Rize works out great in the microwave. Here's how...1 cup rice, 2 cups water in a tall container with vented lid. 4 minutes on defrost, 12 minutes on high

                                              1. re: rosetown

                                                i love a god rice cooker appreciation thread. I could not possibly agree more that the number one angle to evaluate a cooker on is cleanability and that the cheap ones usually come out ahead. A simple clean cooker is bliss, and a cooker that is difficult to clean is miserable, regardless of what else it does.

                                                Also - lock down lids on rice cookers? What the hell is the point of that?

                                                1. re: Samuelinthekitchen

                                                  Totally agree! I grew up with a cheapie Panasonic in the house and it was the first thing I bought when I moved out. $30 in Chinatown. One switch -- on/off. No non-stick coating, no lock down lids. Makes perfect rice every time -- brown, white, short grain, long grain, basmati. Couldn't live without it.

                                                  1. re: Samuelinthekitchen

                                                    A lot of people like to keep rice in the cookers so that when they get home or are ready to put dinner together, they can either keep it on warm or turn it on warm to re-heat the rice. On the more expensive models, the rice doesn't dry out or burn as quickly so it's a nice feature for those who eat rice a lot.

                                                    I personally am a fan of the more expensive models with fancy electronics, but I'm a big rice-eater and use the cooker for other things as well. Keeping rice porridge warm and ready all day on a cold day is a great option for me, personally. It all depends on how much you want to look after your rice while it's in the cooker, I suppose. I like just putting all the ingredients in and walking away until the timer goes off/I'm ready to eat. Plus, I never have to worry about anything burning or the metal warping on the thick pots that came with my machine.

                                                    Different strokes for different folks and lifestyles, I guess.

                                                    1. re: yfunk3

                                                      do you still get that awesome dry rice crust on the bottom of the insert? That's usually my favorite bit

                                                      1. re: Samuelinthekitchen

                                                        If you leave the rice in there on warm long enough, a crust does form. Might take longer than crust-lovers might like, though! :o)

                                                        1. re: yfunk3

                                                          I had a rice cooker - and the rice at the bottom became chemically combined with the bowl - no crust - no cleaning... it went in the garbage after 1 use.

                                                          Truly, I can cook most things (although I just had a major failure with mostarda - a first and last try) and I am thoroughly unable to cook rice competently!!!

                                                          I must be missing the rice gene....

                                                          1. re: harryharry

                                                            Yet an even better reason for the expensive ($50+) fancy rice cookers! The fuzzy technology means nothing ever gets burned, and the thick nonstick pots make sure that all ruined foods cooked in the cooker can quickly be dumped in the trash to hide all evidence! :o) If you follow the lines in the rice cooker pot and use the cup that comes with the cooker, you don't even have to think about proportions.

                                                            The only downside to the fancier cookers though, is that they typically take a bit longer to cook any type of rice (45ish minutes for any white rice, 1h30ish for brown rice).

                                            2. re: harryharry

                                              Yes! I thought I was the only one. I don't know if its my pot, or my measuring skills, or just me but I either get burned and dry or mushy. Luckly the boyfriend has superior rice skills...

                                              1. re: harryharry

                                                +1 for rice. Don't know why, but it is the bane of my existence. My risotto comes out perfect every time though... go figure.

                                                1. re: harryharry

                                                  I think some rice just won't cook. I can only manage the basmati rice in the big burlap sack from the bulk store.

                                                  1. re: harryharry

                                                    We do the microwave approach. Not always perfect but never completely gummed up. It's on the Mahatma site.

                                                  2. I can't make eggs over easy. I either overcook them, or break the yolks, every frigging time. Oh, and over easy is my husband's favorite egg preparation. :( I just can't do it.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: tzurriz

                                                      My dad can't make eggs over easy either, here's what he does: Put the eggs in the pan on med high heat, when they start to set add a teaspoon or so of water and cover. They actually steam done so there is no flipping. If you have a glass lid, even better! Then just slide them out of the pan onto the plate. Did I mention he is a scientist? :)

                                                    2. I can roast lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, duck, pheasant, fish, and probably a few that I'm forgetting.

                                                      I can make excellent beef stew, lamb stew, and a long list of soups, as well as braise any of the above to perfection.

                                                      But I cannot, not even to save my mortal soul, make an edible pot roast. Tough and dry, or stringy and mushy...but not ever edible.

                                                      To the point that my hubby finally told me that hon, you're such a good cook, and pot roast isn't one of my top ten favorites anyway....it's probably the one thing you really don't do well, so you know what? Don't make it anymore.

                                                      Drives me bananas that such a simple thing proves impossible, but at least I have a forgiving SO and a big enough repertoire that I don't HAVE to make it.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        ugh I hate pot roast in the first place. maybe it's a childhood Pavlovian thing, but can't think of one positive thing to say about it. would rather have a regular roast even if that's not the right method for the cut.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          I'm guessing that may have something to do with the cut of meat you're using. It's almost impossible to make a bad pot roast from chuck, as long as you cook it long enough. Any other cut is more likely to give you the kind of problems you describe.

                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                            Nope. ALWAYS used chuck.

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              In that case, I'm stumped. I guess your only remaining alternative is to set up a small shrine to Julia Child. Offer her a glass of red wine each day for a month and your pot roast skills will miraculously blossom!

                                                              1. re: BobB

                                                                She doesn't listen - my boeuf bourgignonne is good, too...go figure that one.

                                                                So pot roast just goes on the "can't make it...and not all that fussed about it" pile.

                                                        2. Lamb of any cut in most dishes just never really turns out well for me. I admit, I like it closer to well done than rare, but even if I keep it a bit pink in the middle, it never turns out tasting as good as what I've had in restaurants. The only exception so far has been my attempt at making a Xinjiang cumin lamb dish I had in Beijing a few times. Tasted similar (if not exactly the same) and had great, lamb-y flavor without being too game-y or bitter. But even lamb curries have turned out badly (even with those boxed spice mixes!). I just don't know what I'm doing so badly...

                                                          Am afraid to try braising lamb shanks for this very reason, even though a good well-done braised lamb shank is one of my dream restaurant dishes.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: yfunk3

                                                            I have a braised lamb shanks recipe that has always worked for me and tastes so wonderful! If you're willing to give it a go, I'm willing to dig it out for you. Probably should do it for myself anyway as I have four shanks sitting in the freezer and it's time to make 'em or lose 'em.

                                                            1. re: CricketGirl

                                                              Yes, definitely! I know some standard ingredients, but I'm always a little gun-shy with lamb dishes now. A set recipe that's tried-and-true might just get me back on the lamb wagon.

                                                          2. I am a complete failure at making rice. I've stopped trying to make it the "correct" way. These days, I bake it uncovered in the oven using buttery broth instead of water. The top gets a nice crunch and the inside stays moist.

                                                            I'm also bad at over easy eggs. I can never flip them without breaking the yolk. Again, I've given up. It's omelets at home and over easy when we go out.

                                                            Until very recently meatballs have been the bane on my existence. I am Italian through and through, so you'd think meatball know how would be in my DNA. But no. Mine always tasted fine, but were so tough you'd actually need a steak knife to cut them. I'd be so embarrassed in the grocery store, sneaking pre-made meatballs into my shopping cart; Looking around, hoping no one I knew was looking.

                                                            But all that's changed now. Finally, I actually used a recipe from a cookbook I trusted. Voila! Excellent meatballs. No more shame.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Whinerdiner

                                                              Please share the secret of your excellent meatballs! I need meat/binder ratios and cooking methods, as well as the meat you use. If beef, what percent fat?

                                                              (Oh and a cheat for the eggs: throw the cover on the pan for a bit - gives it enough glue to flip it over easily. This is totally, totally cheating, but hey, if it's not coming together for you otherwise, why not give it a shot? Just turn the burner off when you flip it, because you've got less leeway in how long you take getting it off the pan since you've pre-cooked the top side a bit. I get omeletes when I go out - can't make 'em to save my life. Ha!)

                                                              1. re: Raids

                                                                I do use the cheat method with the eggs. I didn't think it counted because it wasn't the "right" way.
                                                                I use meat loaf mix (beef, pork & veal), I cook the meatballs in the sauce, I don't brown them first. Or, if I'm making a big pot of sauce and don't want the meatballs to get broken, I'll bake them. I borrow enough of the spaghetti sauce to cover the meatballs and put them in the oven. When they're done, I put them to the side, and mix the sauce back into the pot.

                                                                This is the recipe:

                                                                1/2 cup cold water 2 tabelspoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
                                                                1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs 1 teaspoon salt
                                                                2 eggs, beaten 1/4 teaspoon pepper
                                                                1 1/2 pounds meat loaf mixture pinch of dried oregano
                                                                1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese olive oil

                                                                In a large bowl, combine the water, bread crumbs, and eggs; stir to blend; let stand 5 minutes. Add the ground meats, cheese, parsley, salt, pepper and oregano. Stir with a wooden spoon until blended.

                                                                Shape the meat into balls; rinse hands repeatedly with cold water to discourage sticking. Heat 1/2 inch olive oil in a large skillet. Brown the meatballs a few at a time in the hot oil. Transfer directly to the simmering tomato sauce as they are browned. Cook meatballs in the sauce.

                                                                If you make them, let me know how they turn out!

                                                            2. Tea.

                                                              I can't make a great cup or pot of tea.

                                                              I know, I know, warm the pot or cup ahead. Water needs to be at "x" temp etc etc. But no matter what I do, my tea never tastes as good as does if mr. bc or my Mom makes it for me.

                                                              There, I've said it. She admits while sipping a lousy cup of tea!

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                I can make a great strong cup/pot of black tea. Flavoured tea - my favorite being black currant - no problem there either. But I have yet to make an acceptable pot of green tea. I think I am spoiled by the great asian restaurants we go to where they use loose leaves, have smoking hot water, and a pot that stays hot forever. I try steeping longer and longer to no avail. But I am determined to keep trying.

                                                                1. re: nsstampqueen

                                                                  I feel for you both! I don't know what I would do if I had trouble with tea. :(

                                                                  Have you tried buying loose leaf tea, bringing the water to 150-160 degrees Fahrenheit, and then steeping for 2 to 4 minutes? Any longer than that (or hotter!), and the bitter compounds in green tea are brought out, and that can be very unpleasant. I've never had any trouble brewing green tea when following those guidelines, and once you get used to seeing what the water looks like at that temperature (bubbles just starting to form on the bottom, but not rising to the top), you shouldn't have any trouble at all. :)

                                                                  Just my two cents; my apologies about butting in!

                                                              2. Please, please, please post your recipe for char siu bao on the Home Cooking Board. I am begging you!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: RGC1982

                                                                  I will try to nail down the exact proportions I use and get it up there over the next couple of weeks. :-)

                                                                2. I have the hardest time cooking boneless, skinless, chicken breasts. I've done it successfully maybe 3 times. Otherwise I either under or over-cook it. I've since given up on cooking those stupid things.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: SandyCat

                                                                    Lately I've been really pleased with searing the breasts in a pan on the stovetop until they get a golden brown crust, and then (horrors!) microwaving for a minute or so until a temperature probe reads 165. They come out moist every time. It helps to pound the breast to a uniform thickness.

                                                                    1. re: SandyCat

                                                                      Try this... use a meat tenderizer (or heavy skillet...) and flatten the breast to a uniform thickness - 1/2 inch or so. Brine for 30 minutes to an hour in a mixture or 1 liter of water, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 3 tablespoons of salt. At that point you can grill it - I grill on high direct heat with the lid open for 4 minutes or so per side. You can also just cook it any of a number of ways in a skillet as well.

                                                                      1. re: SandyCat

                                                                        A good marinade to counter Dreaded Dryness in chicken breast is either plain yogurt or buttermilk.

                                                                        1. re: SandyCat

                                                                          I've found that dredging the breasts in a spare coat of seasoned flour before browning them at a medium heat helps a lot in not drying them out before they're cooked through.

                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                            I have a similar procedure with chicken breasts. I cut them into large chunks, dip in beaten egg and then into a mixture of parmesan cheese, pepper and a bit of salt and panko crumbs. They always come out fine as long as I don't overcook, and if they're cut in fairly uniform chunks.

                                                                            I served them with lemon wedges or sometimes a dipping sauce made with yoghurt, garlic and a tablespoon of The Universal Condiment (from Chowhound recipe for chopped chillies packed with salt and left to mellow in fridge. They keep for months and months...maybe years, and get better with age.

                                                                        2. I couldn't get something edible to come out of a crockpot if you held a gun to my head.

                                                                          Ticks me off to no end.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Christina D

                                                                            Modern slow cookers suck. It's just how it is. As far as I can tell, nothing should ever see the "high" setting, and you often need more liquid than the recipe calls for. I should have never given my Mom's old slow cooker away. Who knew?

                                                                            1. re: Christina D

                                                                              i can, so long as you really have a hankering for brown, gelatiny, oddly metallic tasting ham and pea soup. otherwise i'm afraid i'll just have to make it in my dutch oven on a low flame.

                                                                              1. re: Christina D

                                                                                Christina D: Wow! Amazing that you could cook at all with a gun to your head! ;+)

                                                                              2. You know what else? I'm also horrible with burgers. Terrible. And meatloaf. I've got a real ground beef theme going here. I'm going guess this comes from buying very low fat ground sirloin. How fatty do I need to go?

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Raids

                                                                                  15% is about as lean as I can go without ending up with beef-flavored pebbles.

                                                                                2. Sim-ple Food Failures ~~ Kraft Mac N Cheese Dinner (blue box)

                                                                                  I'm a good cook, really I am. My kids always complained that their father (who could not cook) made Kraft Dinner better than I did. I always figured he must use a low fat or no butter method; but lo and behold all these years later ~~ I finally got it. Add the milk first, then the pouch, then the butter. Who knew??? I always added the butter first.

                                                                                  Talk about Sim-ple Food Fool Failures. one of life's great mysteries solved!

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: laliz

                                                                                    Oh for real? I always, always add the butter first, then the cheez powder, and then just enough milk to dissolve said phony cheez stuff.

                                                                                  2. POTATO SALAD!

                                                                                    There I have finally admitted it. I CAN NOT make potato salad! I am not sure what the issue is...not cooking the potatoes enough or too much...then the mayo, mustard issue..how much is too much or not enough...what to out in eggs no eggs, peas, carrots...crap I just leave it all to the MASTER ...my husband...his potato salad ROCKS!

                                                                                    One thing I am very good at making though....MARTINIS! og maybe that should be for the Spirits board ;)

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                                                                                      I think you may have stumbled on the perfect situation.

                                                                                    2. couscous. Harder than it looks to boil water and add the couscous and steam. Always comes out soupy or dry.

                                                                                      1. Chocolate fudge...have tried and tried and tried ever since the day (too many years ago) that I read in a (Bobbsey Twins, Little House, Cherry Ames?) book that the kids amused themselves by making fudge one snowy afternoon.

                                                                                        Didn't work then, and didn't work anytime in the years between and failed again when my (adult )daughter and I tried last winter. Now I have cursed HER efforts and she makes her own orrechiette from scratch!

                                                                                        And this is despite the fact that I am acclaimed for my Maple Fudge to the extent that I give as gifts /sell at the church bazaar 5 gallons of maple syrup's worth every Christmas. How different can it be?????

                                                                                        Maple cream fudge, sure! But chocolate? nope, its burnt, or runny, or cystallized, or grainy or just plain nasty no matter how carefully I measure, read that thermometre or how briskly I 'stir it down'.

                                                                                        Never liked it anyway, brown yucky sickly-sweet goo...

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: LJS

                                                                                          That Little House on the Prairie, always leading people astray. For years and years I thought Maple Syrup was collected during the winter because I distinctly remember Laura freezing maple syrup on the snow to make a sort of candy. Even though I grew up in a New England state known for it's maple syrup, with Maple Festivals.

                                                                                        2. I cannot make jam. I have tried and tried. I follow the directions to the LETTER (I swear it), but each and every time it comes out as what I term "paste". It is incredibly thick - spoon bending thick. If you microwave it, it is terrific. I had a dozen jars (after I pawned some off) of plum paste (that I often used in curry (it is good - really!) and another half dozen of apricot paste (which I did this year and stopped short of the full time it should cook). Not the jam of my dreams. NEXT YEAR!

                                                                                          1. I can't make cheese on toast, a staple here in the UK. I can make all these amazing other things, but every time, the cheese is rubbery, the toast is burned. I just make my boyfriend do it now, so I am quite happy to continue to not be good at it. :)

                                                                                            1. I can't do dough. Even worse, I can't do someone else's dough. Whether it's a ball of pizza dough from the supermarket dairy case, dough in one of those cardboard tubes, or something else, I end up with a sheet of holey dough. I can't even unroll one of those pie crusts and put in the pan intact.

                                                                                              Make my own? Sure I can make it, I just can't do anything with it.