Musings & Contemplations

Practise Makes Perfect

I’ve learnt a lot of things over the last few years which have helped me grow as a person but I think the main thing which has stuck with me is not to give up if you have a disaster or it all goes wrong. When I was younger, if anything I tried to do didn’t quite go to plan I’d run away from it and decide to try something new – while this meant I have tried ALOT of hobbies and creative ideas in my life, it also means I have a lot of things I look back on and wonder if I could have been really good at it!

This lesson I have also taken forward with my cooking. My family and friends laugh because I am a pretty ditzy person and I have had some disasters in the kitchen which every now and then get a mention and a giggle! I thought in the spirit of being able to laugh at myself and also because I have learnt so much from each experience I would share some of my most memorable disasters with you. so here goes….

Food Tech at School: Age 12:  Project – Baking Bread Rolls:
I’m the first to admit that baking is not my strong point, but back then it really wasn’t something I thought I should ever be allowed to attempt again! I remember being excited at trying to make bread and thinking that when I grow up I’ll be a baker or one of those women who makes her husband a fresh loaf of bread for his sandwiches every week. Well the end result was some very bad tasting, hard as rock and oddly shaped bread rolls which my mum ended up varnishing and using as decorations! I didn’t attempt bread again untill I was nearly 18!

My First Dinner Party: Age 16: Project – Spaghetti Bolognese:
I had 6 friends come over for my birthday and I was cooking dinner for them all. My mum had suggested I made Spaghetti Bolognese because it was simple and easy to make for lots of people. She wrote out the recipe for me and went out for the day so that I could get to it on my own. Only I read the recipe wrong and where she had written “tomatoes x2” instead of seeing the two cans of tomatoes and adding them, I took 2 tomatoes from one can and added them to my mince. I served up very dry rather bland tasting Bolognese to my laughing friends and I decided from that moment on that I obviously just couldn’t cook!

Making Christmas Gifts: Age 19: Project – Brandy snaps and chocolate decorations:
This is one occasion which gets brought up all the time because it really was my biggest disaster! I had decided to make my dad some food gifts for christmas and decided that brandy snaps would be nice because he could have one with an after dinner drink and it would be ever so sophisticated! Well I didn’t have any golden syrup so I thought “I’m sure black treacle will do the same job”- ugh it did not!! Harsh tasting, gooey, chewy brandy snaps which my dad politely accepted and we all fell about laughing and daring each other to taste them! The chocolate decorations were even worse – smeared, grainy chocolate which looked a mess! Although I have since found out chocolate is quite hard to work with so I’ll forgive myself for that!

Cooking at University: Age 20: Project – A Roast Beef dinner for 5 hungry boys!
I wanted to impress the guys so I decided to cook a roast fillet of beef with all of the trimmings! I had under estimated the need for good timing and also how hard it would be to cook in their tiny oven which had a broken door and it’s only heat source came from the bottom! I took the beef out and it was still pink so I put it back in…for 20 minutes….it was dry and flaky! Gutted! Then I took my roast potatoes out and a sense of pride came over me as they looked delicious…then I turned them over and the bottom of every potato had a thick black crust of burnt potato. And I over cooked my veg. They all happily tucked in but I felt so embarrassed serving it up when all I’d wanted was to be a domestic goddess haha!! I’ve learnt lots since then!

A Romantic Meal with my (then) fiance: Age 21: Project – Champagne and pomegranate Jelly:
My starter and main course = success! My pudding can only be described as tough and strangely chewy, with pomegranate pith and seeds broken into it, and it had a cloudy almost dirty colour to it. And it tasted disgusting! Can’t have been that bad though because we’re married now 🙂

Veghotpot recipes: Age 24: Project – Pesto:
I actually had this disaster last night which inspired this blog post! It’s a recipe which I am hoping to post in the next week so don’t be put off as it’ll be perfect when I’ve made it again – Ok so first disaster, after finishing the pesto and thinking it tasted very strange I looked and realised I’d used a whole bunch of coriander instead of parsley! I blame it on end of year tiredness! then to make matters worse I used the wrong measuring spoon for my salt and without thinking tipped a whole teaspoon of salt into about 200ml of pesto. Well after a bit of tweaking and ALOT of lemon juice I salvaged enough to have for our dinner but I now have a huge bowl of awful pesto which I can’t bring myself to throw away. Take two is happening on saturday, with the correct herb and a pinch of salt.

I think that’s the difference now – I allow myself a take 2 or a take 3 untill I have perfected my recipe to the point that I feel proud enough to put it on the website. Sometimes I make something and first time I’m like wowee and sometimes I make something and know it would never taste good even with a few tweaks. I realised it’s the mistakes which make you better because you have to learn to improve and decipher what could be done differently. I have since baked very nice bread rolls and this year I’m braving chocolate gifts again, just this time I have given myself a few days back up to try again if it goes wrong 🙂

Have you had any disasters but managed to pull back from it and ended up learning something great?

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4 thoughts on “Practise Makes Perfect

  1. well, if its honesty you want -2 weeks ago i made 3 christmas cakes and accidentally stirred some cheese rind into one of them. The question is -which one? Even worse, one of the cakes is for the Mayor. I think i learnt that next year i will buy the cakes!

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