Kitchen Nightmares

February 25, 2010

No, this is not about the Gordon Ramsay reality show…this is about nightmares that happen in the home kitchen, and this post is inspired by a run of missteps, errors and mental lapses that have plagued my own kitchen this week.

On Sunday night, I intended to make a soup, and only after I had already marinated some peppers, sliced and diced my veggies, opened a couple of cans and heated oil in a pot did I realize that I had forgotten to buy something:  soup broth!  The recipe called for 32 oz. of it, so it’s not like I could just omit it and continue without…it was a soup, after all.  Time was becoming a factor as well (those of you with a young child at home know what I mean), so if I had run to the store and gotten the broth and came back, it would have been too late to finish cooking.  Angrily I dumped out the oil, sealed my cans, wrapped up my veggies and peppers and hoped they would all keep until the following evening.  Then I did run out and get a pizza, but I was not happy about it.

The next evening, broth in hand, I once again went about creating the soup intended for consumption the previous night (and now I was really hoping it turned out well).  Everything was going swimmingly until the part of recipe where I had to pour the soup, veggies and all, into the food processor to puree it.  As the container began to fill up, I suddenly noticed that all the broth was simultaneously streaming out of the bottom of the processor, flooding the countertop and eventually the floor.  Terrific.  I had no broth the night before, and now again, I had no broth, save for a little that did not spill out of the food processor.  How I managed to keep savage amounts of profanity from filling up my little boy’s ears is a mystery.  Frustrated to no end, I sopped up the mess and resisted the urge to hurl the remaining soup ingredients out the window.  Instead, I pureed what was left and hoped for the best.  And when all was said and done, it was at least edible.  My negative energy surely clouded my objective judgment of the dish, but my wife said it was really good (though I’m sure she was just being supportive).

And finally, and this was a small mistake but a mistake nonetheless, last night’s dinner of Singapore-style curried noodles and veggies was supposed to contain a protein of some sort – chicken, tofu, shrimp – and I had planned on chicken, but neglected to remove it from the freezer.  The dish still turned out fine, but it sure would have been nice to have that chicken soaking in the spicy curry sauce.

So it’s been a rough week at the Mouse House Kitchen, but I’m happy to say that these occurrences are mostly the exception rather than the norm.  Please divulge to me your own kitchen nightmares, if for no other reason than to make me feel better, and let me know how you handled them.  Thanks!



  1. This post should have my photo attached as it is the story of my life. Fortunately my modus operandi has become improvise! Last night I was making meatballs and had no eggs. No worries – they turned out delicious and you would never know thanks to letting the panko soak in milk. Magic binder!

    The best recent actual nightmare was Thanksgiving when the turkey somehow finished cooking over an hour early. It was resting and minding its bee’s wax so I could use the pan dripping for the gravy. Moms gives me a tip about skimming fat by putting the drippings in a ziplock. The fat settles to the bottom and you have the goodness on top. Cut a small bit off a bottom corner of the bag to drain the fat into the sink and strain the goodness into your saucepan. I was ready to go, had the perfect timing to drain the fat and moved the bag over to my mesh strainer. I was in a rhythm and strained all the perfect pan drippings…..right down the drain. I stood there staring in the sink with the empty bag in the left hand and the strainer in the right. It all worked out and I was able to make a good gravy with my improv but that very instant was a second of panic.

    I have other mishaps weekly but it has helped wean me from reliance on recipes and just use them as a general guide….unless I am baking of course.

    • That visual of you holding the bag with the drippings running down the drain is hysterical! Improv is definitely a good skill to have, and it has saved me on a few occasions for sure…but when you’re making soup and have no broth, I could not improvise well enough.

      • You were screwed on that one!

  2. Re: no protein for the curry, you might have thawed the chicken fairly quickly in the microwave and then cooked it.

    • I might have, but thawing meat in the nuker actually ends up cooking it somewhat, and then finishing the cooking in the wok makes it cook unevenly and can dry it out. I was ok leaving it out rather than doing it that way – but thanks for the suggestion!

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