Posted by: literallydelicious | May 30, 2011

‘Oops’ in the Kitchen

I’ve been cooking a heck of a long time, and it would be nice to say that everything always goes great. But just the other day, when a recipe called for a teaspoon of baking powder, I put in baking soda instead. I didn’t realize what I’d done until the foam reached the top of the pan.

On our first Thanksgiving away from our home, I made the traditional dinner, including pumpkin pie. For some reason, I bought canned pumpkin instead of pie mix. Before I started, I measured out the sugar, the salt and all the spices exactly into a small dish and set them aside.

The pie was beautiful, but one taste . . . ugh. I couldn’t figure out what went wrong, until I went to clean up the kitchen, and there sat the sugar and spices. Duh

Fortunately, most cooking mistakes — at least, mine — can be saved, but I made one not too long ago that pretty much ruined the dish. It was a stir-fry — lots of chopping and peeling and slicing. In this particular stir-fry, all the sauces go in at the last minute — soy, chili sauce, chili paste and fish sauce. I’d made the dish a dozen times, so while I was stirring vigorously with one hand, I was dumping stuff in with the other. I grabbed the soy sauce and shook out a quarter cup or so. The instant it hit the pan, the fumes hit my nose and eyes. By mistake, I’d gotten the fish sauce instead.

I like fish sauce . . . in moderation. Like, 1/2 to 1 tablespoon in a big pot of sliced pork and veggies. This was totally overwhelming.

Bob handled it just fine. Of course, he likes the “real” nuoc mam — the full-strength Vietnamese fish sauce that sears my eyeballs. Me, I ate a sandwich.

I know people who have given up on cooking after a few bad results, but mistakes happen, and if they’re not fixable, they’re learnable. Other than the fish sauce story above, it’s been rare that I can’t salvage the dish somehow. If I quit cooking every time I messed up, we’d be living in restaurants by now. Heck, just two nights ago I had some beautiful strawberries, so I made vanilla ice cream to go with them. Except I switched the amounts of the milk and whipping cream. Instead of ice cream, we had very sweet, very cold, very thick whipped cream. It went just fine with the berries, though next time I want whipped cream, I’ll just whip it instead of dirtying all the parts of the ice cream freezer. I won’t make that mistake again.

Though I wouldn’t bet on it.



  1. I’ve had a few of those ‘oops’ and usually can salvage. The worst was homemade biscuits–Tim used them as skeet.

    • LOL! The last time I tried biscuits, I used a “foolproof” recipe. Uh, I must be a bigger fool than I thought. The dogs wouldn’t even touch them. I should’ve packed them up and sent them to Tim!

  2. Sometime in the first three months we were married I made tuna fish casserole, except I forgot the noodles. Not much to serve without the noodles. LOL.
    Just recently I made humus and forgot the Tahini. ??? Just didn’t taste right.
    When I made it for RWI I remembered the Tahini but I put too much garlic in.
    Oh, well. Life goes on. LOL!

    • It didn’t have too much garlic! Not as long as we were ALL eating it. 😉

      Would you mind sharing the recipe with me?

  3. First time I made gravy (not having made it at my mother’s hand since her gravy was like paste!), i added one CUP of flour to the drippings and it took an entire quart of milk and lots of water to get a 10 inch skillet full of gravy the consistency of Jello. But at least it was smooth!

    • That’s a lot of gravy, Jackie. But you can never have too much gravy.

      And kudos on getting it smooth. I, uh, use a blender for that part. (Blushing.) But Susan and my b-i-l have done their best to teach me, so I’ll try again soon.

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