Kitchen Fails Part 1 (please don’t use me as a bad example)

I’m still a newbie blogger in erm, blogging terms.  As is the case with starting anything new there are doubts of all kinds.  I’m sure everyone goes through the same when they start out.  Doubts about whether any one will engage with and enjoy what I do.  Doubts about whether the material I produce is any good.  Sure, I started doing this for me because I enjoy it as a creative outlet but also because I want to connect with people with similar interests.  As the quote by William Nicholson goes ‘We read to know that we are not alone’ but I think the same can be said for blogging. 

I think I’m largely over most of my self-doubts.  But I do still have fears.  My greatest fear, no not my greatest fear, but one of my fears is that my blog appears in an online marketing or blogging improvement course as an example of how NOT to do it.  So, I would like to put out a plea to please don’t use me as a bad example.  I’m also fearful that I’ll either run out of ideas or use all my good ideas early in my blogging career so by the time I make it as a blogging superstar I’ll have run out of good ideas.

While I’m on it, my real actual biggest fear is facing some sort of ‘Arachnophobia’ style encounter in the shower.  Without my glasses there would more than likely be some panic, some tumbling about in my haste to escape the threat and hopefully all without injury.  For those not familiar with the 1990s movie you’ll need to catch up by watching it as I’ll not be giving away any spoilers, although you can be pretty sure there are some spiders in the film.

So, while I’m thinking about being awful at blogging I’m also thinking about my Kitchen Fails.  I’ve had some relatively terrible disasters in the kitchen and look where I am now!  I can bake a cake and make a meal, sometimes for more than two people, with almost no trouble at all.  Look how far I’ve come!  We all need to start somewhere and we need to make mistakes because this is how we learn.  As I look to where my future blogging career might take me I look back at my Kitchen Fails.  And because there’s so many of them I’ve split this into a 2 parter and maybe even a 3 parter if more fails come back to me in the time it takes me to write them all down.

The ‘no-cook’ incident I’m not allowed to forget

Oh, this is a good one.  I’ve successfully used many of the ideas from my ‘no-cook’ cook book, and they’ve turned out delicious (but some of them were a bit odd).  One of my favourites is tuna artichoke pitta breads but without the artichoke.  I don’t get on well with it.  There are a couple of stand out super fails. One is Italian ploughman’s with juicy plum tomatoes, mozzarella, balsamic-marinated baby onions, lemon infused olive oil and crusty ciabatta (Oh my goodness! Doesn’t that sounds good?!).  And the second is ham with grapes and cheese toasts with Serrano ham, juicy black grapes and toast with cream cheese.

It was my intention to make these humble sounding meals worthy of being called an evening meal.  Unfortunately, I was unable to source some (try all) the ingredients.  So, what I meant to be a fancy continental sharing platter fit for a lazy evening dining in the sun turned into a sad, pathetic excuse for a meal.  Both ideas were victims of poor substitutions.  The Italian ploughman’s morphed into unripe tomatoes, cheddar, and regular silverskin pickled onions served with what the supermarkets call ‘farmhouse’ loaf.  And the other was thick cut British ham with flavourless grapes, the aforementioned ‘farmhouse’ loaf and I think I did manage some cream cheese.  Now, I pick up the ‘no-cook’ cook book with some trepidation and only when The Husband isn’t looking to avoid being subjected to the unimpressed eye roll.  I managed a part ‘no-cook’ meal  for the face of this post.  I made 3 Moroccan salads (carrot and harissa, beetroot and rosewater, and tomato and lemon) and we had Nigel Slater’s Flash Fried Moroccan Chicken so on this occasion ‘no-cook’ was a success.

Pancake rage

Generally, as a rule I don’t make pancakes.  It’s safer for everyone, not least myself, if I leave the pancake making either to people who know what they’re doing or people who have never made them before and can churn out gold standard pancakes without even trying (argh!).  Needless to say, my first effort at pancakes did not turn out well.  I may have mentioned in the past that I’m a perfectionist.  It’s also clear, after this, that I used to have a bit of a temper.  Sometimes when things don’t work out perfectly I have a tendency to overreact slightly.  Ok, maybe more than slightly.  The stupid pancakes just weren’t turning out very well; they wouldn’t flip properly and they were all different thicknesses, so I showed them who’s boss.  There was more than a little bit of anger and frustration and the whole episode ended with pancake on the floor.  Not just on the floor but flung with force and intention in a blind rage to the floor.  It was not one of my finest moments.

Always line a springform

Here’s a question for you: Do you know what happens when you put cake batter into a springform cake tin without lining it first?  I know it’s pretty obvious isn’t it?!  I didn’t see it.  I was so caught up in Christmas joy that I just arranged the pears for my Pear and Vanilla Tart on the bottom of the tin and poured in the batter.  ‘It’ll be alright’ I thought.  ‘As it cooks it will set into cake and therefore won’t leak through the gap’.  Oh, how wrong I was.  What I ended up with was a cake half the size it should have been and a substantial pool of burnt cake batter on the bottom of the oven.  I didn’t even have the foresight to put a baking tray or something under the tin.  What a mess.  A gigantic mess.

I’m not game, not game at all

I’ve never had much luck cooking game.  I’ve tried rabbit, partridge, pheasant, and venison.  I don’t know whether it’s because I have a heavy hand but it always comes out dry, tough and chewy.  There was one time when the venison just didn’t cook.  It just kept bleeding.  Maybe it wasn’t hung properly?  I don’t know.  I’ve tried game when I’ve eaten out which was better than my attempt.  Much better in fact.  I’ll eat it but it wouldn’t be my first choice or anything.  I don’t think it tastes that nice anyway……

Forgetting instructions can be costly

This is a lesson in reading the recipe instructions and remembering them.  If they require you to make a special request of your butcher you would be wise to try and remember to ask her (or him).  Otherwise you may find yourself in for a wrestling match at the table.  I cooked a pork roast one Christmas.  The recipe had an instruction to ask that the chine bone be removed by the butcher.  This will make it easy to carve the recipe says.  Great, easy, I can manage that.  Except I was so flustered during the phone order and euphoric about getting the joint that I forgot to ask for the bone to be removed.  And so we were left trying to wrestle the meat from the bone.

It was messy and fiddly and thankfully didn’t ruin Christmas dinner.  The Pear and Vanilla Tart saw to that.  Yes, unfortunately the leaky tart and the pork wrestling match took place over the course of the same meal.  I can’t remember what I made for our starter.  It must have turned out ok and therefore wasn’t memorable at all.  How boring.

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