Community Voices: Biggest Kitchen Disaster

Updated: Jan 13

Thoughts from Our August 2021 Meeting


The Community Voices in Food Movement project brings together representatives of food system organizations and a Community Advisory Board of neighborhood residents.


At our Community Voices meetings, we use check-ins as a way to share the highs and lows of our everyday food-related experiences and get a sense of where each participant is coming from that day. Through sharing short stories like this, we start bigger conversations about what we want our food system to look like and how we can make it so.


We asked the attendees at the August meeting,

“What was one of your biggest kitchen disasters?”

Read on for the cooking fails and meal mishaps our meeting attendees recounted.


Mistaken Identities (of Ingredients)

"One of my biggest moments of disaster was when I worked at Gabriel’s Place, and we made a free meal for the community. A hundred and twenty people came every week. And there was something in the freezer that was there before I started. It looked like ham, by the shape of it. I thought, 'Oh, I’ll use that. I’ll think of something [to do with ham].' And as I unwrapped it, I realized it was a pig's head! And the whole meal was planned around it, everyone was there. I held it up in front of the volunteers and said, 'Game changed.' We made head cheese or something. It ended up working out fine. But some of the volunteers were like, 'Oh no!'"


"Many years ago, I had a lot of bananas that needed to be used. I made banana bread. I put in all the ingredients, but as it baked, it all overflowed. 'Oh no! What happened?!' I guess I had a lot of bananas this time, so I cleaned up the oven and started over. And the same thing happened again! So I looked at the bag, and it turned out I had used self-rising flour instead of all-purpose flour. With the additional leavening in the recipe, it caused the bread to overflow the plan. I learned my lesson to carefully check the label."


"We were in home ec in high school, and I was in the class with a few of my wrestling buddies, so we were having fun. We grabbed what we thought was flour and were following along. But it was baking soda! It was really bad. Our classmates tried [what we made]. But after that, my buddies and I were broken up, because it was clear we were not paying close enough attention."


If You Can't Handle the Heat...


"I cook outside mainly, so it was a grill disaster. Friday, I’m making corn on the cob that I got from the market. It’s looking really good, and there’s a few that aren’t all the way done, so I just leave them to finish off. I go on my merry way, and the next day, I go over to check on them, and realize there’s a bunch of heat back there. I open it up, and the grill’s still on! After 16 hours, there were a few burnt sticks left."


"I made homemade applesauce, and if you’ve ever worked with apples, you cut them up, and they cook down, and they make a lot of juice. One time, I wasn’t feeling like going to get the big pot, so I used a shallow pot, but stacked up the apples. They cooked down, and the apples scorched, and apples burning is an awful smell. I tried to retrieve some that were salvageable, but it was pretty bad."


"One of my first solo cooking experiences took place when I was about 5 or 6 years old. It was morning time and my parents were having a garage sale, so they were outside (and I’m pretty sure I was supposed to be with them). I wanted to make oatmeal, just like I had seen my mom do it; so I opened the instant oatmeal package, poured it in, and put it in the microwave. I was so proud that I went out to tell my mom. But before I could get a word out, the fire alarm went off. I had put my oatmeal in the microwave without any water, left my spoon in the bowl, and I had microwaved it for 10 minutes! We were lucky that the house didn’t catch on fire...and I was banned from using the new microwave for a few more years."


"We had an electric stove, and I wanted to see if it was hot, because it didn’t look hot. I put a paper towel on it to see and poof! It caught on fire. And I have never told anyone else outside this Zoom."


Equipment Problems

"My son was making macaroni and cheese, and he’s standing over it staring. I walked by him, and I said, 'A watched pot never boils.' So then I walked away, and when I walked back in, he had another pot out. I asked why. He said, 'That pot will never boil.' So be careful what you tell kids matches with their age group!"

"After a day where everything seems to go wrong, and everything is wacky, it was dinner, and I was making meatloaf. I had it in a little dish. And as I was getting it out of the oven, it spilled everywhere inside the oven. I had lost my grip. It was like, 'Aww, I was looking forward to this after all that.' But now I learned my lesson and every time I make meatloaf, I put the dish on another pan so I don’t lose my grip."


"Recently, I broke my fibula, so my great-niece was here, and when I say every dish bowl, spoon, plate—was in my sink, not washed. Crazy! She’s 14. So she knew better."


"Thanksgiving is the most important holiday in my husband's family, and one year, we had gotten some chestnuts to try as our big special ingredient (you know, like the song—chestnuts roasting on an open fire—we were excited to try them). If you've ever cooked chestnuts, you know you have to score them with a knife so they don't explode while you're roasting them. Well, my husband cut his hand pretty deeply while doing that, and we had to go to the emergency clinic on Thanksgiving, right in the middle of dinner time. He still has his finger, but it wasn't fun!"


Too Much of a Good Thing!

"I made greens, and they were so incredibly bitter, and I put way too much salt in them, too, but I said I wasn’t going to waste them, so we ate them anyway. And I came back a few days later to eat the leftovers, and they were fine. You hear about salting eggplant to remove the bitterness, but I hadn’t thought about it with greens. I wonder why that worked that way."


Too Much of a Bad Thing...

"When I was younger, we had made Christmas cookies, and we had recently moved into this house, and we had moved our cat, but she wasn’t very happy with the move. While we were out at a holiday celebration, the cat had peed all over every single cookie we had made, and we had to throw them all out."


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Do you have a story to tell, maybe about a way you shared hard-won knowledge about cooking and nutrition with your family or community?


Get in touch with us through our Food Systems Analyst, Maddie, at maddie@greenumbrella.org.