These stories need no introduction. Everyone knows that cooking can often be very tricky, with mistakes, regrets, and explosions aplenty. So prepare to laugh at this compilation of cooking tales—and learn from them!
“A dessert I frequently make is called Green Stuff. It consists of pistachio pudding, canned pineapple, and Cool Whip. One of my friends asked for the recipe, then called me later to explain indignantly that she had to throw away two bags of pudding, two cans of pineapple, and two big tubs of CoolWhip.
‘I had to toss all of it because after I finished mixing the Green Stuff, I realized there’d been bugs in the pudding! And the same thing happened the next time!’ she complained.
‘Laurie…’ I replied, ‘it’s pistachio pudding! Those are pistachios, not bugs!’”
“In my teen years, I once attempted to make biscuits from scratch. My younger brother, who volunteered to be my taste tester, couldn’t even bite into the biscuit I gave him. On impulse, he threw it out the back door of our house; the echoing sound of it hitting the tin roof of our neighbor’s garage confirmed that my biscuits qualified as rocks or hockey pucks rather than edible material. Since then, I’ve been very grateful for Bisquick and other helpful store products, and I haven’t tried making biscuits from scratch again.”
“Our family has a long-standing tradition of eating pumpkin pancakes for breakfast on Thanksgiving Day. It’s been a delicious hit every year… except the first time we tried it. We lived in Kyrgyzstan at the time, and the pancake recipe called for vinegar. My dad went to the local grocery store to grab some, but upon arriving, he found a large variety of vinegar types and brands. Unable to read the labels and unaware that vinegar comes in different concentrations, he purchased a vinegar that was far too strong. To make matters worse, once my mom began making the pancakes, she accidentally added more vinegar than the recipe called for. Needless to say, the pancakes were less than phenomenal, but it took my brother and me, being three and five, about a pancake each to realize it. Lucky for us, our mom tried again the next day, this time with the right vinegar, and the pancakes were much better.”
“Years ago, an elderly couple came to our house for dinner, and I planned to make The Best Cake Ever for dessert. The recipe included lots of sweet, sticky crushed pineapple. After dinner, I mixed the cake batter in a 9×13 glass pan and thoughtlessly set it on the stovetop, which was still hot. Several minutes later, we heard a loud explosion in the kitchen—the glass pan had blown up, flinging sticky pineapple batter and glass shards everywhere! It ran into every crack and cranny, down the sides of the stove, and all over the floor… Our elderly guests tried to help clean up and ended up cutting themselves on the glass shards. It was one of our most unfortunate moments in the kitchen.”
“When we lived in Mongolia, my mom cooked with a pressure cooker pretty often because it’s hassle-free and simple. After adding the ingredients into the pot, she’d wait for them to cook and remove a pressure valve once the food started boiling. But one day while cooking lunch, she realized with horror that she’d forgotten to remove the pressure valve. Hoping for the best, she tried releasing the pressure very carefully. . . and it was beautiful. That was the first time any of us ever saw a fountain of chicken stew. It spewed out from the pot too quickly for her to stop it, and she couldn’t cover the hole because she wanted to avoid getting boiled stew in her eyes. Thirty seconds later, our lunch was a gloopy mountain on the stove, ending in a waterfall off the side. It was a very amusing experience, but it did take a considerable amount of time to clean up the mess afterwards.”
“For my thirteenth birthday, my sisters and grandma planned to surprise me with a birthday dessert. After settling on lemon meringue pie, one of our rarer treats, the conspirators went into full pie-making-mode. A while later, I happened to walk past the kitchen doorway just in time to witness the tragic destruction of a beautiful pie. It slipped from Grandma’s hands as she lifted it out of the oven, and the next moment it splattered on the walls, on the floor, on the pie-makers themselves, and all over the inside of the oven. My sisters screamed simultaneously, then frantically shooed me away. Later, after dinner, they served the birthday dessert: lemon meringue pudding. It was a very sad-looking, slightly-frightening conglomeration of smashed pie crust, lemon, and flattened meringue which Grandma had painstakingly salvaged from inside the oven and put into a new pie crust. But it’s the thought that counts, anyway, and it still tasted amazing!”
“Early in the pandemic, I thought I would try to make bread like I used to when I was newly married. Since I didn’t want two loaves, I carefully cut the recipe in half… but added the full amount of water by mistake. Not realizing this (even though it looked a little watery), I turned on the mixer. Sticky, runny, white paste splattered everywhere, covering me, the cabinets, the floor, the counters… It was quite a mess. I dumped the icky concoction in the trash and decided my bread-making days were officially over.”
“My wife Stephanie and I once invited a couple from our church to have lasagna with us. Before they arrived, Stephanie needed to test the lasagna to see whether it was cooked through, but we didn’t have a cooking thermometer. I suggested using our glass oral thermometer (the old kind with poisonous mercury inside). I inserted the thermometer into the middle of the hot lasagna… and disaster struck. The metal tip at the end cracked off inside the hot lasagna, and all the mercury leaked out! We cut out a five-by-five-inch square from the center of the lasagna, hoping to get rid of the poisoned section and salvage the rest. When our guests arrived, we asked if they still wanted to eat it. ‘Sure, it’ll be fine!’ they replied enthusiastically, undaunted by the Delicious Lasagna of Potential Death. We survived the meal, thank goodness, and we certainly learned our lesson about thermometers.”
Photo Credits: Abigail Snyder, Joshua Wideman