Friday, 28 February 2014

Culinary Failures

There are times, when cooking, that I make some truly epic inedible creations. Whenever my confidence in my ability to cook something moderately decent gets too high, along comes a culinary fail to knock me back into the frozen pizza section of the supermarket. 

The Sandwich

My earliest fail was the time, as a kid, that I almost set fire to the house while making a sandwich. Back in those days I was obsessed with melted cheese sandwiches. I'd get home from school, dump my bag on the floor, turn on the after school cartoons then go to the kitchen to quickly make a sandwich in the least amount of time possible.

I would grab a block of cheese, cut a few slices, jam them between two slices of bread (butters minor taste benefit was not worth the extra time) then stick the pretty pathetic looking sandwich in the microwave for sixty seconds. It was enough time to make the cheese melt and fuse with the bread in gooey deliciousness without the whole sandwich drying out or the cheese becoming crispy.

Sixty seconds was enough time to sock slide out of the kitchen and sit down to some quality television.

Then as the microwave beeped I slid back through, collected my food and would be back in front of the television within seconds.

One day during this mindless routine I pressed the zero one too many times, leaving my sandwich to cook for six minutes. The smell of burning tore me from the world of afternoon cartoons as the smoke alarm started its shrill shriek. I skidded on my socks towards the microwave to see a flaming pile of ash rotating sadly in the bowl.

 Needless to say, I was banned from using the microwave when home alone.

The Omelette

I'm also pretty terrible at the whole "let's throw something together" style of cooking. My most memorable failed attempt was an omelette to use up left over vegetables in the fridge. There were plenty to use and after setting up all the ingredients and utensils it became suddenly obvious that I did not have the most vital ingredient.

there were no eggs in the fridge.

Rather than walk down to the shops, which goes against the spirit of using up leftovers (really, I was just being lazy) I jumped on to Google. I found a blog with a vegan omelette recipe, which was perfect as vegan meant I wouldn't need any eggs and read through it twice just to be sure.

The recipe seemed to substitute eggs with cornflour. It would allegedly give the meal a nice consistency and egg like fluffiness. I'm not sure if this was a lie or if the writer had just forgotten what eggs actually taste like.

Upon finding cornflour in the pantry I decided to give the recipe a go. Vegans managed to make delicious things without eggs all the time... how hard could it be. (hint: very hard and vegan cooks have magic powers they aren't telling us about)

I chopped up all the vegetables then placed them in a pan with the corn flour and water, making a strange paste. Then Followed the recipe as closely as possible while substituting some of the vegetables for ones I already had.

It looked ok. The cornflour gave it a yellow omelette like colour, but the texture seemed off. It was pretty much like soggy dough. I left the pan to simmer for the given time, hoping that the moisture would evaporate and give the egg-less omelette it's promised fluffy consistency. After the time was up I flipped the thing onto a plate.  

After leaving it to cool I prodded it with a fork. It tasted like bland stir fried vegetables, but had the chewy consistency of play dough. Nothing like the description in the recipe.

The omelette was turning into a disaster. I knew the taste could be saved, if not at least spiced up considerably, by turning to the one condiment to rule them all.

I shook a decent amount of pepper onto the somewhat cooked blob then desperately placed the failed meal in the oven. It was my hope that the heat would dry out and even crisp the omelette slightly, transforming it into something like a baseless pizza. 

Twenty minutes later I took the blob out of the oven. The outside was certainly crisper and I congratulated myself for turning this mess around. Cutting into the "omelette" for another taste test was a lesson in disappointment.

The edges had crisped but so had the inside. I tried to scoop up a piece on a fork, to taste, and lifted the whole blob off the plate in a solidly fused whole. The omelette was now a solid crunchy disc. I had just ruined delicious left over vegetables in my attempt at vegan cooking.

I could have given the egg-less, cornflour infused, vegetable omelette frisbee to the dog, but was not prepared for the consequences of accidental pet death.

Under the cover of darkness and shame, I disposed of the omelette in the outside bin, where no one would find any evidence of the monumental cooking fail. The Corn flour was relegated to the deepest recess of the pantry.

The Lesson

I have another recent learning experience that involved making chicken burgers with a blender because I don't own a food processor. It worked eventually (after almost burning out the motor) and tasted great. Clean up on the other hand, pulling out stringy bits of chickeny remains that had wrapped themselves around the blender blades, was really disgusting.

Cooking: If you substitute ingredients or utensils, especially when not very experienced, be prepared to fail.

1 comment :

  1. It's like reading a personal diary entry of my own! I have more cooking fails that I care to admit. I loved your little animations! They were perfect and added to the goofiness of the entry :)