One of my characters cannot cook to save his life. He exists primarily on take out and ramen, but he's going to stubbornly try his hand at cooking again and my research for this has been asking people about their cooking horror story.
What's something you tried to cook or bake that went horribly wrong? How?
In college, still living at home, I put a kettle of water on the stove to boil (to make ramen) and then wandered upstairs to play on the computer until it started to whistle. I absolutely forgot about it, and it wasn't discovered until the water had all boiled out of the kettle. The enamel on the bottom of the kettle ended up meltingto the electric burner. ...oops.
Another time (in my first apartment), I was going to make lunch before heading off to work in the evening, and at the last moment switched my lunch plans from a sandwich to some spaghetti. Bad news was, I left the paper plate on the front of the stove and then proceeded to accidentally turn on the front burner instead of the rear one (with the pot of water). The plate caught fire, fire alarm went off, firefighters came out. Oops.
Then there was the time I decided to follow the microwave directions for Chex Mix (provided by Chex) and the cereal caught on fire in the microwave. Smoke was just BILLOWING out and the microwave hasn't been the same color inside since.
On a less "burn your house down" tale, though, there was that one time when I was making a chicken dish and I went to sprinkle some paprika in... the top came off and half the bottle dumped into the mix.
... mine isn't as fiery as Becky's. And it's technically not me, but my dad. He was home alone with us babbbbies and he was in charge of dinner. Except, my mom always did the cooking so he was like what do I do? Decided to do spaghetti. Simple, right?
Apparently not. 'cause he filled the pot with cold water, tossed the noodles in, and set it on the stove to cook.... 20 minutes later when the noodles were clumping and the water's not boiling and something is OBVIOUSLY wrong, he calls his mother-in-law, instead of his mom, and his first question is "How do you boil water?"
Not my story, but my big sister's. In her defense, I will preface this story by saying that we each had our own roles in party preparations, and neither of us had roles in the kitchen. Ever. Except maybe to clean.
That all being said... After my sister got married, she decided to make my mom's recipe for chocolate chip cookies. They didn't come out quite right. She warned Mom and Dad that they were really hard, but the next time she and her husband came over for dinner, she brought a plate of these cookies. My mom picked one up and literally COULD NOT bite into it. Everyone thought she was just teasing until they tried, too, and NO ONE could bite it. This cookie was like a solid rock.
To figure out what went wrong, Mom had my sister bring HER baking supplies over so Mom could WATCH her make the cookies. There were two fatal mistakes. The first was how she measured the flour. Rather than taking a scoop and pouring flour into the measuring cup, she just scooped the measuring cup into the flour and flattened it against the side of the bag, thus condensing it and ending up with more flour than she thought she had. They measured the difference between my sister's "cup" of flour and my mom's "cup" of flour, and my sister had something like an extra 1/3 of a cup for every "cup." Her other mistake was that she thought a cup of butter was one stick, when it's really two. So she had half as much butter as she needed, and 33% too much flour. The result... Rock solid cookies.
Mom has given her quite a few cooking lessons since then. She's improved drastically.
When I was in school, I tried to make fudge. It was going really well up until the point when, stirring it with my spatula, it suddenly solidified into a brick. To this day, I'm not sure what went wrong (and my next batch of fudge ended up delicious), but I ended up having to toss the rock-hard fudge and the spatula that it trapped.
The part with the flour reminds me: My brother once mistook a teaspoon for a tablespoon when reading a recipe... we couldn't eat the end result because of all the extra salt. Easy mistake to make, and it can be pretty darn disastrous.
At the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I was cooking something (probably scrambled eggs). I didn't have a pot holder and I didn't want to set the hot pan on my wood furniture so I placed it on my rug. The pan melted a nice circle in my rug that I had to live with for the next three years.
I also created a few fireballs in my microwave from popcorn. Once I tried reheating something that was wrapped in that foil/paper wrapping thinking if you microwave it for less then twenty seconds, it will be ok. No, that caught on fire instantly.
Oh, and I just found a well-done silverfish on my stove after I was cooking pasta. I don't know how that happened.
When I was about 10, my mom was working overnight shifts at ahospital. One afternoon, she was home asleep and I tried to ask her for directions to make hard boiled eggs....IN THE MICROWAVE. Yes, I know now that this defeats the boiled definition. Anyways, she acknowledged me so I figured I was good to go, until 2 minutes in and the 2 eggs detonated inside the Microwave. Cleanup Aisle 6!
Second incident was when I was in my teen years. My mom like many good mothers placeditems not in use in the oven to save on storage space. I decided to make pizza and so she said preheat the oven to 375. Now being a good scout, I followed directions accordingly. No one said check inside the oven and make sure nothing is stored in there. About 10 mins later, smoke starts to stream from the oven, as we open it, the realization comes to my mom that she had stored the deep fryer in there, with the oil in it, which was now a combined toxic mess of burning oil and melting plastic. It was an expensive mistake.
I tried making sweet and sour scallops with deep fried scallops.The breading fell off when I mixed them with the sweet sour sauce.So I had a layer ofoil, then mushybreading mixed with sauceand naked over cooked scallops at the bottom. They were like erasers.
One day I was teaching and the fire alarm went off. It was January, so it was really cold. We trudged across an open field of snow the neighboring grade school so we could all take shelter in the gym there. It was a madhouse. Middle school kids thought it was a party. They were running around, screaming, nuts. So we teachers are cat herding at that point.
The principal comes in livid. He says someone in the teachers lounge had started something on fire. The fire department was going to let him know what happened and he would make sure to have a lengthy discussion with that person. So the fire department clears the building, we go back, and teach for the day.
The next day he calls a quick faculty meeting, and apologizes because he was making popcorn and set the timer to twenty minutes instead of two, and set the microwave on fire. Needless to say, he was much more contrite with us after that.
Well obviously, he was yelling because he was upset about not getting to eat his popcorn. I know *I* would be angry if I made popcorn and didn't get to eat it, even if itwasfor a fire... that I had caused... with the popcorn...
There was one time our entire residence hall had to be evacuated because of the smoke from somebody's burnt popcorn. The fourth floor continued to smell like burnt popcorn for days and days and days. There was also the time when my youth group had our first ever event in the synagogue's brand-new building--an overnight event, of course--and even though we followed the directions on the popcorn bag right down to the letter, we somehow ended up with a couple of rooms full of smoke and an entire building smelling of it... So someone went out and bought fabreeze to spray everywhere, and the next morning at Sunday school, no one noticed a thing.
Burnt popcorn is the worst! Some of my family members are addicted to popcorn, so we dealt with that quite a bit. The trick is to ignore the directions completely and just listen to the sound. When the pops get a second or more apart, take it out, no matter how much time is left on the timer.