Today we’ll chat about the darker side of cooking—kitchen disasters!

I’ve had them, you’ve had them, pretty much anyone who’s ever cooked has had them.

So although I only post picture-perfect recipes, don’t let that fool you. I’ve cooked my fair share of monstrosities, and cleaned up my fair share of explosions.

About two years ago, I made cookies that looked, smelled and tasted so bad, I dubbed them “vomit cookies.”

More recently, I tried to make a tomato-free, faux marinara sauce. I spent several hours and lots of ingredients but the end result was simply not salvageable. It looked like borscht, smelled like hand cream and had the texture of grainy farina. FAIL.

As you can see, it looks quite bizarre.

Last year, I went through a candy making phase. I nailed the sponge candy, but came up short on several other types. If you’ve ever worked with hot sugar, or candy, you’ll know how hard it is to clean once it’s cooled. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way when I spent two hours scrubbing streaks and puddles of hardened fire-engine red candy off the counters, floors and stovetop!

And a month ago my tempered chocolate experiment exploded and hardened as it hit the floor, walls and cabinet. Slightly easier to clean than the candy, but it definitely took some serious elbow grease. (Not to mention, that was the last of the chocolate…)

Now, let’s talk about breads. Six or seven years ago, I worked as the baking instructor at an overnight camp. My room was called the “bake shop” – it was un-air-conditioned, crowded, home to a wasp nest (!) and the hot water was off more than it was on… you get the picture.

My primary job was baking with the children, of course. But each Friday I was expected to bake 30 challahs for the Friday night meal (and give my regular classes!). That’s five batches of dough, without an electric mixer. I used to line up five bowls on the table and walk up and down adding the ingredients to each bowl and mixing and kneading each batch. Then I’d put them out in the sun to rise, bring them in and start the braiding and baking. With only two working ovens, that took quite a while.

One week, I decided to be clever and prepare some of the dough the night before, which would give me a head start come Friday morning. I figured I could braid and bake the pre-made dough while the Friday dough was rising. So I made three batches of dough, tipped them into large aluminum foil pans and covered each one loosely with saran wrap. I stuck them in the fridge, turned off the light, locked up and left for the night, feeling very smug and proud of my brilliant idea.

Friday morning, as soon as I opened up, I noticed the fridge door was open… I was horrified! And puzzled. Was it possible I’d forgotten to close the door? Had someone else come in at night, used the room and left the fridge open?

But as I looked closer, I realized the dough had risen in the fridge, and it had risen so much it had spilled out of the pans and literally pushed the door open. Sounds unbelievable, but it really happened. My small fridge was no match for three big batches of dough. True story!

My second bread disaster was less dramatic, but equally disappointing. I’d been researching and playing around with assorted gluten free recipes. Then I discovered a quinoa bread recipe, made with whole quinoa (which I had) rather than quinoa flour (which I didn’t have). The accompanying picture looked delicious and I got to work making the dough.

It ended up being quite an expensive recipe, with lots of seeds and nuts in the dough. But I was excited! This bread would even be protein dense from the quinoa, and the bread in the picture looked soooo good! Healthy and nutty and perfect for avocado toast.

Sadly, my bread came out dark grey and so dense it bounced. Literally. It tasted terrible, too.

Well, I went back to recheck the recipe and see where I’d gone wrong. But I hadn’t. I’d follow the directions to a tee and hadn’t substituted any of the ingredients.

Mysterious, eh?

Suddenly, I started to have my suspicions about the picture. I did a reverse image search, and discovered that the picture had been lifted from a completely different website and a completely different recipe! It was being used a)without permission, b)for a completely different recipe. Oh dear.

So, why am I sharing all these stories? Because it happens to all of us. Something burns, something spills, a recipe comes out completely inedible… but it’s ok. It’s normal. The only people who never have kitchen disasters, are people who don’t cook. So don’t be disheartened. Take a picture, pass it around, have a good laugh, and move on to the next (hopefully successful and delicious) recipe.