Holiday Contest: What was your worst holiday cooking fiasco?
Posted 09 December 2008 - 06:35 PM
MORE DETAIL IS BETTER!!! Pictures will put you into an elite class!
voting will commence Monday morning, December 15. As soon as I get up and get the poll created.
The winner will receive
(1) Le Creuset 8-qt. Stockpot (red)(courtesy of hlburi)
(1) $100 gift card to Williams & Sonoma
Ok... some rules.
The cooking fiasco must be YOURS. Not Aunt Edna's or Cousin Itt's.
It must have taken place on a holiday.
Create a new thread to discuss entries, don't respond to entries in this thread.
It's Christmas! There may be extra bonuses or goodies, you never know where this contest will end up. So make sure you enter!!!
Posted 10 December 2008 - 08:15 AM
I don't have any pictures, but I would be happy to provide my mother's phone number for verification since she brings this up EVERY FLIPPIN' THANKSGIVING.
Traditionally we always had two pies at Christmas - one pumpkin and one which varied from year to year. When I was around 16 or 17 I decided that *I* was going to make a lemon meringue pie, which was my father's favorite.
I started with lemon Jello pudding mix. Back in the day we didn't have that fancy instant stuff so I had to use the cook-n-serve kind. I followed the directions on the box and soon I had my lemon pudding cooking nicely, giving off a lucious citrusy smell.
With that underway, I began to make the meringue. I separated the eggs (which now I understand should have been room temp) and began to beat them with the electric mixer. After about 30 seconds I decided that they weren't going to form the 'frothy peaks' that the cookbook described so I began to add the sugar. When THAT didn't begin to stiffen into meringue, I added more sugar. And more. And more. Nothing.
I pitched the mess, started with new eggs, and tried again with the same result. Nothing but a crunchy, sticky flat mess.
Meanwhile, the lemon pudding had been cooking this whole time, which was now about 45 minutes. Frustrated, I announced that there was something wrong with the eggs and we would be having lemon pudding for dessert. I dished it into 4 dessert cups and put them in the fridge to cool.
Hours later the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, rolls, green beans, etc. were all gone and it was time for dessert. I proudly brought the cups of lemon pudding to the table, spritzed each with a little Redi-Whip, and sat down to await my praise. (Don't judge - I was an only child so my parents fussed over everything I did. )
I, along with my parents, put my spoon into the Redi-Whip and continued on to the pudding. That's where the spoon stopped. I exerted a little more pressure, but nothing. The spoon would NOT penetrate the surface of the pudding! Looking at my parents, I saw they had the same problem. My wonderful father was still working at it, but my evil mother was --- laughing at me!!
It's been around 25 years since that Thanksgiving, but each year it's "Did you make your lemon pudding for dessert?" or "Hey, think this is the year you'll get that lemon meringue pie down??"
And for the record, I have successfully made several VERY edible lemon meringue pies since.
Posted 10 December 2008 - 12:50 PM
I had never cooked a turkey before, and the most intimidating task was making the gravy. The idea of whipping up a gravy (from drippings!) at the last moment as I was pulling things off the stove and mashing potatoes and trying to be a gracious host was terrifying, and so I googled and flipped through cookbooks and phoned Mom for advice and did everything in my power to prepare.
For two days beforehand I prepped and cooked. Well, not for two days all day as I have a job, but evenings and early mornings, and between those sessions I was still googling recipes and calling Mom and freaking out about the prospect of gravy.
To complicate matters, the smallest turkey I could find at the last minute was a 14-pounder, and our oven, which I hadn’t noticed in the three weeks since we had moved into the new place, is a very old convection oven. I don’t know from convection ovens, but can tell you that half the real estate inside the thing is occupied with some some sort of mechanical or electrical…thing that takes up space. The usable size of the oven, no joke, is smaller than the tiny apartment oven I’d been using for the past few years. And that’s pretty tiny.
Also, one of the stovetop burners stopped working after first use. The appliance guy came twice to “fix it” in the weeks preceeding, but ultimately admitted it was a lost cause and suggested we convince the landlord to buy a new range. Right. So now I’m cooking my first turkey in a tiny oven and my first Thanksgiving feast on three burners. Terrific.
All things considered, Thursday arrives, and everything’s gone well. I’ve prepped all my food and even managed fresh cranberry sauce a special stuffing with bacon (husband’s favorite southern tradition):
and a retro relish tray like the ones we had growing up back east. My husband, a huge football fan, was gracious enough to clean the house for our guests before settling down to watch his game(s).
Early in the morning I jump out of bed, eager to get crackin’ - first thing is to retrieve the turkey from the fridge.
Unbelievably, the turkey is semi-frozen. It turns out that the fridge temp was set to “coldest” and the 48 hours of thaw time I’d allowed weren’t enough. After panicking (and again phoning Mom) I learn I can defrost the bird with a cold water bath. Gratefully, after a few hours it is fully defrosted. By this point, though, I am stressed and very rushed for time, so I hastily discard all the inside stuff, stuff a few herb sprigs…um, here and there, baste with butter and toss it in the tiny oven.
Now I set to cooking all day on those three burners, and periodically I’m checking the turkey for juices, and nothing is dripping in the pan. This goes on for hours. Guests arrive, the table’s set, the rest of the dinner is cooked, and we’re waiting on the turkey. The turkey will not finish cooking. Glasses of wine are being drunk, people are filling up on mixed nuts, and eyeing the fixins’. I keep taking turkey’s temperature, it continues to register too low, and I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. Until my friend notices that the oven door on this old piece of garbage convection oven is not even closing.
The oven door is not completely closing and the oven is not keeping its temp.
Three humiliating hours later, the bird is finally cooked. Yet- still no pan juices. I call my mother again for tips on gravy made from a turkey with no juices. She tells me I should have called earlier, but as long as I’ve saved the giblets, I can fake it.
So long as I’ve saved the what now? Oh right, the giblets. The giblets I had tossed unceremoniously in the garbage in my zeal to get the turkey in the oven.
So…on this, my very first “I cooked Thanksgiving dinner” Thanksgiving, I’m faced with famished guests, a dry turkey which took three hours too long to cook, and am about to serve this very late dinner with zero gravy to my friend’s date, who I had met only once, and who is from a foreign country where they do not celebrate Thanksgiving, and thus had neglected to let any of us know…that she’s a vegetarian.
We're still eating turkey leftovers.
Posted 11 December 2008 - 11:05 AM
All I can say is never have a teething crying 10 month old pulling on your leg while trying to make gravy and a glaze for your bundt cake and ask the father of your child to pass you the corn starch and he passes you the confectionary (sp?) sugar which you proceed to dump into the gravy fixin's. . . that's all I'm sayin!
And yes, I too have cooked the giblets inside the turkey, bag and all . . . never drink and cook the night prior to Thanksgiving.
Posted 11 December 2008 - 06:05 PM
I cooked all day in my little apartment kitchen. She showed up, dropped off her laundry (which I did, also in my little apartment kitchen), left to visit with a friend and didn't return until the next day to pick up her laundry. This was pre-cell phone days. I don't remember what the meal was like at all, though it couldn't have been horrible since DH married me anyway; however, he and his buddies do not speak of that day. Oh, and his mother always cooks the Thanksgiving meal now, and she insists that she doesn't need any help.
Posted 11 December 2008 - 07:29 PM
Making sugar cut out Christmas cookies last year for the neighbors on my street, accidently hit the clean stove option, not good.
Posted 11 December 2008 - 09:30 PM
It began in the summer with a nice Carribean cruise that included visiting Jamaica. Before reboarding the ship I was running late and stopped in the liquor store to buy a bottle of the "best rum." Of course, not being a drinker per se I relied upon the choice of my very nice dread locked sales man. He assured me, "This is THE best, mon!" When we got home I put the bottle of rum in our liquor cabinet and forgot all about it.
In late September of that same year I happened to be in New Orleans on business. What is a visit to the Big Easy without a visit to Brennan's for "bananas Foster." A grea dessert made tableside with great panache especially when it gets the liquor lit up at tableside. Before leaving Brennan's I bought a packet of the secret recipe for the dessert. I looked forward to using it at a nice dinner party for my friends at my house on the Jersey Shore.
Now we're in October of the same year. I get a call from my 'wife' (the angel who was my child care person for 14 years). She was babbling fast about the house and movie people. She put a woman on the phone who explained to me that they were going to be filming a movie starring Jeff Goldblum and she was scouting houses and was interested in using mine. To make a long story less long my house was chosen and a movie titled "Father and Sons" began filming in early November. Jeff Goldblum was staying at a hotel only a block from my house. He is TALL! Anyway, we became early AM running buddies.
Fast forward to November and the holiday that honors cooks and secret family recipes aptly named Thanksgiving. I'm a great holiday cook trained by two Southern Belles..my mother and my grandmother. I invited 15 people that year including Jeff Goldblum, the director and other crew members to join us for THE dinner.
The night before the big day I happenstanced upon my "bananas Foster" desssert kit. I thought to myself...."WOW, what a great ending this will be!" So I kept dessert a secret from everyone.
The meal was great. The company memorable. I was now firmly committed to making the entire evening unforgettable. I brought out all the ingredients and utensils needed on a rolling cart along with my bottle of the "best Jamaican" rum. I stole the show with my chef's hat and corny jokes. The dessert making was done with gusto and flourishes of haute cuisine. Finally it was time for the great finale. I lit the match to burn off the liquor......the resulting explosion knocked me on my a$$. Lit the curtains on fire. Set off all the smoke detectors. The only thing it didn't do was harm or kill anyone.
After the fire department put out the flames it was explained very patiently to me that one does not put a match to 160 proof rum! I didn't even know what "proof" meant at the time (obviously). The fire captain agreed it was a damn good drinking rum though.
I lived in a small town so this made the local paper....front page. Jeff Goldblum was pretty entertained. I never lived it down. Needless to say I have never, ever swayed from pumpkin pie with real cold whip cream since.
I have a newspaper picture but it is still packed as I just moved. I will be happy to post it when I find what box I packed it in. This definitely was my biggest fiasco....period.
This story comes up every year. It is now part of the family lore.
Posted 12 December 2008 - 06:18 AM
No pictures, but I could probably get the E-911 transcript
2004, Christmas Eve Day, the DD's and I are making christmas cookies for daddy when he gets home from work.
2 nights earlier, my father in law had brought over chicken cutlets. We warmed them up on the baking stone in the oven, and the grease had gotten on the bottom of the oven. Being that I had a super duper oven that was fairly new, it didn't bother me much as it had a fancy button you pushed to "clean" up the mess.
DD's and I are in the kitchen preparing our cookies, getting all the ingredients ready, and I decide I better "clean" the oven first. I push the button, and walk away. We're across the kitchen, planning, mixing, just talking about the cookies and how suprised daddy will be. Maybe if there are extra we can leave them out for Santa etc.
I turn around and SEE FLAMES!!!!!!!! Yes, flames in my oven. They were about 1/2 way up the inside, at least touching the middle rack. I FREAK......and what do I do? Hit the cancel button which unlocks the door and I OPEN the door. Yup, I was smart. Oxygen hit those flames, and they tripled in size. The girls FREAKED.... I shut the door and called 911. My oven was on FIRE.
On the phone with local dispatch, and explaining that the girls and I are fine, we're out of the house (on the deck) and I can still see the flames thru the slider door. They dispatch the fire trucks, to our address on file. i hear the trucks. I can see the trucks. I can also see the flames GROWING in the oven.......I dont see the trucks at my house- I see them around the corner. We lived in a development, that was a circle. As the houses were built, they were given the address. We were 17. There was a fire fighter, who lived at 18. They went to 18, thinking 17 would be right across the street. Well, we were 1/2 way around the circle. I'm on the phone with the dispatch, saying, no I see them, they're on the wrong side of the circle. She is relaying this to the fire truck, who proceeds to move along and get to my side of the circle. When they finally arrived, the flames were out. DD's were crying, screaming, that daddy wasnt going to get cookies we have to fix it etc.
The fire fighters show up, and pull the stove out from the wall, to make sure that there is no remains of the fire I guess. By this time, all that is left, is ash in the bottom of the oven. They bring us back inside, and go thru everything with the DD's explaining that the fire it out, and everything is okay. They push the stove back in and advise me that it might be a good idea from now on to actually wipe up the excess GREASE prior to hitting that fancy "clean" button.
We did end up making cookies for daddy, and had some left for santa. But shesh, I have yet to live this down. my now ex husband tells everyone that I'm the only person he knows who prefers to clean the oven using fire......
wish me luck, we're making cookies today since it's a snow day
Oh- to add, since this happened, our neighborhood which was grandfathered into the E-911 system, has since been renumbered. they now go in order, to prevent this type of this from happening again. Some of the neighborhood balked at changing the numbers, but once they heard what happened at our house, and how had it been a child choking etc... it would have been potentially a much more serious situation, they all agreed, and my Ex husbands house is now #27 LOL
Posted 12 December 2008 - 07:56 PM
When everyone was at the table, and the blessing was said, my boyfriend started carving the turkey and serving the plates when he started spooning the stuffing out and all of a sudden he pulled out the bag with the neck and gizzards still inside. I never saw it inside the turkey when I was cleaning it, so I just assumed there wasn't one. It was stuffed up the turkey's butt and not the cavity.
Posted 12 December 2008 - 11:41 PM
I decided that since I had never, ever made my new husband anything but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I'd make a big meal for our anniversary dinner.
I went to the store and picked out the fanciest looking thing there, which happened to be cornish game hens. Brought them home and decided to set about cooking them. First I called DH to ask if I should take the plastic wrapper off. That should have been my first clue that this wouldn't end well.
After he laughed for a good five minutes I finally learned that yes, the wrapper comes off. I was just checking, sheesh. I figured the two birds would take about half an hour to cook so I stuck them in the freezer and relaxed.
About a half hour before DH was due home I took the birds out of the freezer and put them on a cookie sheet. I then turned the broiler on and went to watch some tv.
The man came home and his first words weren't about how nice it was that I was cooking or how thoughtful of a wife I must be. Nooo, they were, and I quote, "What in the hell are you doing?" I serenly answered that I was making us a very nice anniversary dinner.
Then he opened the oven and smoke started pouring out. That's when I learned a few very important lessons I haven't forgotten:
1) Don't put food two inches from the broiler and expect it to end well 30 minutes later.
2) It's probably best if you thaw food out.
3) It's likely even better if you remove the giblets.
4) You will never live anything like this down.
It took a good week or two to get the smell out of the house. What's worse I decided we could just eat the wedding cake topper for dinner, as per custom. Except, you guessed it, I didn't thaw it out.
This contest got me to thinking. In the 16 years since then I have not once cooked a cornish game hen. The thought of it sent shivers up my spine. But I'm older, wiser and have a few tricks up my sleeve now. So in honor of this contest I once again attempted to feed my husband cornish game hens.
They are pictured below, in all their glory. It's a pretty simple recipe (I wasn't going to be super daring). They're stuffed with risotto and topped with a port gravy on a bed of risotto. He ate all of his and wanted the rest of mine.
Yay me! Even if I don't win (but I really, really, really wanna because I have that GC spent mentally) I was able to prove to Mr. I'll Tell This Story Until One of Us Dies that I CAN cook game hens. Ha!
Cushie's gorgeous game hens..
Posted 14 December 2008 - 03:48 AM
my entire life has been a cooking disaster..
It started when I got kicked out of cooking classes in school... seriously..
after several bouts of food poisioning, DH simply gets suspcious if I attempt to cook....
there's been fires...even burnt boiled eggs, other things that have caught on fire,exploded or melted....I got culinary ADHD, I'm good at some things, cooking isn't one of them
sometimes DH wonders what happens to his pots,pans and whatnot..he loves to cook...truth be told, sometimes I 'dispose' of the evidence..
I'm all but mostly banned from the kitchin...
Posted 14 December 2008 - 11:10 AM
About the time when I was 16 we decided that the thing we had been missing from our Christmas tree all this time was gingerbread cookies. I was set on making sure I corrected this error, so I bundled up and headed to the store. This was around the time when they were first introducing the gingerbread cookie mix. I decided that was too easy for me though, I wanted to bake it from scratch. So I got my molasses and all my ingredients and I started to make the cookies.
Now to this day I do not know what exactly went wrong with the batter, but I ended up with something that was the consistency of gritty dirt. Nothing I could do could revive the sticky mess, so I wrapped the dough in tinfoil and waited for my mother to get home from work. When she arrived I presented her the monstrosity in the tinfoil. My mom eyed the tinfoil and looked at me for a moment before busting out laughing. Much as my mother tried to fix it, the best we could do was get the dough able to be rolled out and baked.
I decorated my little failure cookies and put them on the tree anyway. Wouldn't you know that one of my little 7 year old cousins happened by before Christmas and swiped a cookie from the tree. What an awefull face she made as she spit out the cookie she bit off onto the carpet. She then told me very matter-of-factly that that was the worst cookie she has ever eaten.
I have gotten much better at baking. I cook some wonderful things now. But I still cannot bring myself to try gingerbread again.
Posted 14 December 2008 - 08:38 PM
25 years old, and parents had just retired to Florida for the winter, and it was the very first Xmas alone.
Picture small 1st story apartment, brick. set among large trees in a larger complex of same. (Somewheres in Midwest.)
Thought to cheer self up with some holiday goodies..
Tript to store, 2 lbs of chesnuts; done.
Preheat Oven to 450; done
Spread nuts on a flat sheet and throw in oven like Mom did; done
Set Timer for 15 min, go sit and read a book; (Larry Niven I think)
BANG! Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang Bang ETC....
And so on, sounding like a barrage of shot guns on the first day of duck hunting season, only it's coming from my Kitchen.....
Run to Kitchen, open oven to find 1/2 of chesnut puree covering the top and sides on an Oven set @ 450 degrees.
Smoke; lots and lots of Smoke
Close oven door, Turn off Oven, Open Windows; DONE
While running around waving towels and opening further windows, I heard sirens, then made out "Flashing Red and Blue Lights" thru haze...
Stopped for a moment, thought and considered at that point, it didn't surprise me that the neighbors would have called the fire department...
But they didn't come up to the door, Oh well, Keep waving the Towel....
Then more Flashing lights, And it was like; a 2nd Truck? Why Aren't they coming up to the door and asking me what was going on?
so I turn and walk towards the door and open it,
Just as the SWAT TEAM, Weapons out, is two steps away From Bashing in my door.....
The first one snatches me away from the door, passes me along
and as I'm hurried away around the corner of the builidng I notice all my Neighbors at their windows.......
All the time I was yelling,
It's just chesnuts!! It's Just Chesnuts!
( 4 different neighbors called the police reporting alternately; shot gun blasts or machine gun fire... Only one neighbor called the Fire deparment, ans since the Fire department was just 3 blocks away, they arrived first, then waited for the police who decided to bring along the swat team: Slow day..)
Looking Back on this from the distance of 25 years, I am so happy that
1) The Swat team was just as embarrased as I was...
2) No one called the local news.
3) There was no such thing as cell phones with cameras or You Tube.
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