Kitchen Mishaps

“Hey, Mom – remember the time when you made those meatball that were so gross even you didn’t eat them?”

Yes.  I remember quite clearly, though I’m sure if I ever forget, the family would be more than happy to remind me  Just like I’m more than happy to remind my mom of the time the oregano cover came off the jar while she was seasoning the meatloaf.  You know something is bad when the dog walks away from it, too.

One time in college I had microwaved some pasta and sauce.  What happened while I carried it to the table is kind of a blur.  All I remember is pain and throwing the bowl in the air.  I think I tipped it and massively hot sauce burned the palm of my hand?  Maybe?  Red everywhere.  Floor.  Ceiling.  Table.  Cabinets.  Walls.  TV.  And I didn’t care, because I had cool water from the faucet soothing the burn.  I did eventually clean it all up, though when we moved out a year or so later, I found splotches of sauce on the wall behind a bookcase.  No books were harmed during the making of that meal.

Oh, I got more.

I don’t know my left from right, and apparently I also don’t know my front from back.  I put a pot of water on the back burner and turned on the front one – which was playing host to a hot mitt.  I went to throw something away, and when I returned, there was a small fire blazing on my stove top.  Oy.  I was able to pick up the mitt and dump it in the sink, but clearing the smoke was another issue – because of the wildfires burning outside.  The air in the great outdoors was worse than the air inside.

I had my kids go to their room, opened the windows in the kitchen and turned on every fan in the house.  It eventually cleared, but my lungs were not happy with me.  Now I double-check when I cook something – or at least make sure my stove top is cleared of all flammable material.

One more.  This happened in a restaurant a few years ago.  My gang of friends decided to have Mexican for dinner.  I wasn’t too fond of Mexican, and I don’t really like spicy food, but I didn’t want to be the one disagreeable person.  Surely I could find something on the menu that I’d like.  We sat down and the waitress put chips, salsa, and guacamole on the table.

I love guacamole.

I took a chip and scooped up a healthy serving of the guac and popped it in my mouth.  Only it was green (and SPICY) salsa.  Not avocado.  At all.  Ouch.

Okay, your turn.  What awful things have happened to you in the kitchen?  Were you the cause?  Or a hapless victim?  Tell me, and the one that makes me cringe or laugh or wince the most will win a $10 Bed Bath and Beyond gift certificate.  Maybe to buy batteries for your smoke alarm.



26 thoughts on “Kitchen Mishaps

  1. Teehee! I love these 🙂

    I am a big fan of making things up on the fly, so most of my cooking mishaps stem from that. Before we had kids, I made (what I intended to be) a chili-casserole-type-thing, with ground beef and beans over pasta. I served it up to my hub, who took a bite and instantly got that look on his face. You know the look– the one that wordlessly chants “I will not hurt her feelings, I will not hurt her feelings, where is my napkin so I can spit this out?!”

    So I tasted the casserole, and it was *awful*. To this day, I still don’t know what I did wrong or what I put in it to make it so bad, but it was top-shelf horrible. So we had takeout instead!

    I also set our backyard grill on fire once. In my defense, my hub told me he’d cleaned the grates and grease trap, which he had (ahem) not. So a little flare-up turned into a full-on blaze (we emptied the entire fire extinguisher on the whole mess) and our steaks turned into fire-extinguisher briquettes. It was quite the adventure though!

    • Aw, what a sweet guy to try to stomach the food! Have you tried to make the casserole again? Or did you give it up for a lost cause?

      And barbeques scare me. Give me an electric grill any day. *grin*

  2. As someone who’s avoided the kitchen most of my life, I have no real bad stories, save the Great Gluten-Free Cupcake Debacle of 2011. My kids have forgiven me, but made me promise to make the cupcakes from scratch next time. 🙂

    Loved your post!

    • My roommate and I refer to the redecorating of our walls as The Great Tomato Disaster of 1994. (Wow. I can’t believe how long ago that was. Nice to know disasters in the kitchen don’t ever go away. )

  3. I can tell you about the time I learned never to microwave Cheese Whiz in the jar. I had it in my head that I was going to make a quick and dirty version of macaroni and cheese, so while I was waiting for the water to boil for the pasta, I stuck the jar of Cheese Whiz in the microwave (without the metal lid), and turned it on hi. Do you know Cheeze Whiz boils when it gets hot? Or at least it bubbles? It bubbles, all right. More like exploded all over the microwave. Every last surface was coated with yellow-orange rubbery stuff, including the grid over the lightbulb. Heck, there was Cheese Whiz ON the lightbulb, but darned if I knew how to get to it to clean it off. Next time I wanted to make a quick version of mac & cheese (because my kids don’t like the home made stuff), I got out a box of Kraft Dinner.

    Now here’s one from my mother-in-law. She had one of those vegetable steamers–you know the kind that look like a flower with all the little petals? Hers was made out of plastic, and she never did believe in dishwashers. She claimed there was no way a dishwasher was going to do a better job than her, so we always washed and dried dishes by hand at her house. But you know how much of a pain plastic is to dry? Especially with all those individual parts? Her solution was to put it in the oven and let the leftover heat dry that steamer. Except one day, she forgot the steamer was still in there and turned on the over. Next thing she knew the kitchen was FULL of billowing black smoke and greasy soot. Her lovely, sunny yellow kitchen with cabinets with intricate wooden appliques that looked like flowers on each door. That soot got into absolutely everything, too. She had to give up cleaning and have the kitchen repainted.

    • OMG, I can imagine cleaning sticky fluorescent orange goo from the microwave. And I’ve preheated my oven before with stuff inside. Usually leftover food that I forgot about. Ugh. I’m glad that it was only the surface of her kitchen that got destroyed and not the kitchen itself (or her house!).

  4. I love reading these. My husband cringes when I say I’m making garlic bread because either it’s great – or burned beyond recognition. What can I say? I tend to get distracted (see Hollidase Sauce debaucle.)

    The worse disaster? I was a young bride (first husband) and decided to can the sweet corn I got from my parent’s farm. All went well for about a month when I noticed a smell coming from the jars. I’d followed the instructions to the letter, except I used water bath rather than the pressure canner method. In order to avoid food poisoning and rid our small apartment of the smell of rotting corn, I dumped all the jars.

    I never tried to can corn (or any low acid veggie again.)

  5. OK… here we go… Yes, I routinely cook for sixty odd people two weekends a year… doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes… 🙂

    Let’s see… in recent memory:

    – Leaving the plastic spatula in the bottom of the rice cooker with the bowl on top. Have you ever seen how these things work? They have a heating element on a spring on the bottom, and the bowl sits on top of that. When all of the water boils out of the bowl of rice, it is done, and the heat of the element starts to climb, which tells the system that it is done. Well… if there is a plastic spatula in between that element and the bowl… bad things happen. I tossed that contraption… it was too far gone to clean up and use again… plus I no longer had a rice spatula! 🙂

    – Boiling the pot of brussel sprouts dry. (yes… brussel sprouts… I love them!) Forgetting that something is on the stove boiling away (thus steaming the sprouts) is something anyone can do, particularly when you are completely absorbed by a recent episode of Phineas and Ferb (no, I don’t have any kids). When the smoke alarm goes off, you know something bad is happening, though… usually this sort of thing results in you having to write off the pot, as it is too far damaged to go on. In this case though, I got to it soon enough that I was able to salvage the pot AND the sprouts, though they were a bit toasty. Revere-Ware copper bottom pots are durable pieces of equipment! I can say this from a lot of experience, and the fact that I have a 1.5qt saucepan made by Revere that dates back to the 70’s and is a pass-me-down from my mom.

    – How about when I had the pyrex bowl of scalloped potatoes and I thought that putting it on a stovetop burner was the right thing to do? Yeah… guess what? Pyrex will shatter when heat is applied in the wrong way… and it did… that was a complete mess to clean up.

    – Now, this one is not mine, but my mother’s. She had a pressure cooker that she enjoyed using back in South Carolina. Well, one day, the pressure release failed on it, and the chicken soup that was cooking inside erupted violently into the ceiling. If you have ever seen those “popcorn” ceilings with the foam pebbles embedded in the paint, you know what kind of ceiling I am talking about. Guess what? When super-heated chicken soup gets sprayed on that kind of ceiling, it tends to melt. There was a very flat ceiling surface right above the stove for months, and we were finding bits of noodle in odd places for months.

    Oh… little hint about turning on the wrong burner: When I was in the Navy, we were taught when operating a panel to point first at the control that we were about to operate, then actually operate it. This did two things: It made us more conscious of what we were about to do, and it gave those around us a chance to look at what we were about to do and stop us if it was going to be stupid. True, in the kitchen the second point is usually moot since there is usually not someone watching over our shoulders, but it is still a good practice and I still use it today.

    • I think burning brussel sprouts is the way to go. *laugh* And your poor rice cooker.

      Good idea about pointing to things. Usually I talk to myself. “This is the front. That’s the back. I want front.”

      • Oh! Grilling! I just remembered one from this past Faire… and all I have to say is this… watch how much starter fluid you put on the charcoal… a bit too much and your arm could come back completely singed and 1st degree burns… not to mention the oohs and ahhs from the crowd that sees the fireball lifting to the sky… 🙂

        (at least the grilled elk was tasty!)

  6. Mishaps in the kitchen? Let me count the ways…

    One time my mom bought a different kind of garlic salt. Instead of unscrewing the top to expose the shaker top, this one had a flip top. Needless to say, the garlic salt floated on top of the chili and I spooned out a large portion. It was still too salty to eat.

    Another time, I made a heart-shaped cake for the Valentines Youth Banquet for church. It was so pretty, strawberry cake, white icing and sprinkles, I even took a picture of it. (Wish I knew where that picture is) Anyway, I set it aside to get my cake carrier and somehow managed to put it on something. The cake fell to the floor in a pink mess to rival Thing 1 and Thing 2’s mess! I went to the grocery and bought a cake for the youth banquet.

    And speaking of burners??? I used to have these pretty burner covers for my stove. Made it handy to give me a little more countertop area. Well, I turned on a burner to heat up a pan of water and…turned on the wrong burner! Almost set my kitchen on fire!

    I could write a book on this, but…


  7. OK, I think the statute of limitations has run out on this one, so I can tell it in public…

    This story is from back when I was a sophomore in college. Being sophomores, my friend and I were getting fed up with the frustrations of buying alcohol while underage. We also, being sophomores, had a judgement-to-intelligence ratio approaching zero. One fine day, those two facts combined into a flash of insight: “Hey, we’re both chemistry majors, if we made our own alcohol, we wouldn’t have to worry about buying it.”

    Using, I kid you not, the Encyclopedia Britannica article on alcoholic beverages as our guide, we got started. We bought a jug of apple cider and a packet of baker’s yeast, poured the yeast into the cider, and let it sit in the corner of her closet for a couple weeks.

    When we saw the bubbling slow down we figured it was ready to sample. After 24 hours in the fridge to chill down to a proper drinking temperature, we opened the lid, and out wafted the aroma of an applesauce sandwich that had ridden through the entire Tour de France in someone’s bike shorts. Nevertheless, we poured a glass and had a sip.

    The taste was indescribably foul. Some people would have run in terror. Most people would have poured it down the drain. But not us. We knew that brandy was distilled cider; we’d read that in the Encyclopedia-freakin’-Britannia. “We can save this! We have the technology!”

    That wasn’t exactly true – we didn’t have the technology until early next week when we snuck it out of our organic chemistry lab. It was a pretty little still set up on her bathroom counter – made from professional looking glassware. After scrupulously cleaning it (we did have some judgement, just not enough), it was time to pour in the “cider” and make it better. It started boiling, and soon we had a bit of liquid dripping out of the condenser. Soon, it was working nicely – maybe a bit too nicely. “Hey, there’s a lot of vapor coming out, did we seal the joints well enough?” “Wait, that’s not vapor, it’s smoke!”

    Yes, we’d set the bathroom counter on fire. We started to quickly shut it down, but were interrupted by a call from the dorm’s front desk. The smoke alarm had gone off, and they were checking to see if everything was OK. How nice of them. “Yes, yes, we just burned some popcorn in the microwave. Everything’s fine, and you definitely don’t need to send any RA’s anywhere near our room, or even the floor. Not at all. Everything’s under control.” Luckily, they believed us.

    Our “brandy” was lost in the haste to get the fire out, and we soberly snuck the equipment back into the lab at the next opportunity, having vowed that’s where it belonged. Thus ended our dorm-room kitchen mishap.

  8. I’ve laughed so much over these. You all are great. I can’t top the ones you have shared. I do have a tendency to put something on the stove or in the oven and get sidetracked, so I’ve taken to carrying a timer from room to room with me. And my sons love to reminisce these days about my attempt at a rum cake. Well, it looked to me like the recipe read “1 cup” not “1/4 cup.”

    • Ooh, that’s a rum cake I’d eat!

      I remember when I was, like, 10 or something, I was at a party at the house of my parents’ friends. I saw these beautiful chocolate balls and popped one in my mouth – only to discover they were made with bourbon.

      Completely turned me off chocolate for five minutes…

      • Yeah… alcohol in cakes has to be done with the right balance… too much and it gets too moist and tastes of nothing but that alcohol…too little and it gets dried out…

  9. When I was all of 22 years old and a newlywed, I was attempting to cook… something? Not sure what. And I put some oil in a pan to heat up. And, being a young and brainless thing, thought “Oh I have time to run to pee while it’s heating up!” I believe it was while I was washing my hands that I heard the smoke alarm go off. I raced into the kitchen to find it kind of a little bit on fire. *cough* baking soda worked to put it out, but we needed a new micro and new cabinets. And we needed the a/c cleaned. And the ceiling painted.

    Almost 10 years later, when the marriage had ended (quite badly), and it was about a week before I moved out for good, I was heating up a pan of oil to cook chicken. I did not leave the kitchen. I did not leave the pot unattended. But I guess I left the oil heating up a little too long before putting the chicken in. It melted the microwave before I got baking soda on it and put the fire out. *sigh* So I entered and exited the marriage in the same way. 😛

  10. Since I avoid cooking at all costs and don’t allow myself to do anything beyond boiling and egg or heating canned soup, I don’t have a good cooking mishap story. But I did make a salad once, stored the leftovers in a Tupperware container which somehow migrated to the back of refrigerator where it lay undiscovered for months. I’m not sure there’s a word good enough to describe the odor that assaulted me when I opened the lid. I couldn’t eat lettuce for a year.

  11. Here’s my giant mishap: I was cooking a pot roast in the pressure cooker. I added too much water and discovered how big of a no-no this is. The pressure plug blew and spewed the entire contents of the pot all over my entire kitchen. I was slipping and sliding, trying to hang onto the counter to get to the stove to turn the burner off. Guitar Dude and Mechanic Man (sons 1 & 2) were about 3 and 4 years old at the time. I could see them in my peripheral vision, wide-eyed, standing in the doorway between the kitchen and dining room. There was liquid dripping from ceiling, cabinets, everywhere! My hair was soaked and smelled like pot roast, too. LOL When I finally got the lid off the pot, there was nothing left in it–not even a shred of meat! And I never found that little red rubber plug. (*_*)

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