Monday, January 9, 2023

Cooking Disasters: An Open Book Blog Hop Post

photo of a loaf of homemade bread beside the "Open Book Blog Hop" title

Welcome to Open Book Blog Hop. You can find us every Monday talking about the writing life. I hope you'll check out all the posts: you'll find the links at the bottom of this post.

Have you or any of your characters experienced cooking disasters?

Among my Menopausal Superheroes, there's a variety of cooking prowess.

Patricia "The Lizard Woman" O'Neill doesn't cook. She totally could, but she doesn't. It's takeout and restaurants for her and she's proud to have gotten to a point where she can afford that. 

Helen "Flamethrower" Braeburn burnt down her apartment in book one, and has been incarcerated here lately, so she hasn't had much opportunity to cook. She was never enamored of the culinary arts, but she was competent, once upon a time. 

a blue and red striped banner with cartoon versions of the Menopausal Superheroes posed in front

Linda/Leonel "Fuerte" Alvarez is a wizard in the kitchen, and feeding people is their love language. I so want to be able to have dinner with the Alvarez family! Their tamales are divine and their tres leches cake can soothe a savage beast. 

Jessica "Flygirl" Roark, on the other hand, never learned to cook, though she has a gorgeous, fancy kitchen. In book two, she tries to impress her new boyfriend, Walter, by cooking for him. I don't know if I'd call it a real disaster, but they did end up going out for pizza. 

As for the author? Well, I have a mixed kitchen history. I've always loved baking, but didn't have much interest in cooking as a young woman. My first husband, starting when he was my boyfriend, did all the cooking for us and I happily let him. I baked bread and sweets, but not the day to day foods. 

image source

There was only one memorable disaster from that phase of my life: the time I made garlic bread without understanding the difference between "clove" and "head" of garlic. Let's just say we were safe from vampires. 

The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from the 1970s, with the red and white checkered cover
After we divorced, I moved back in with Mom and Dad for a while, and I quickly got frustrated with their boxes-and-cans style of cooking, so I picked up my mom's old Better Home and Gardens cookbook and started teaching myself to cook. 

It's a good learners' cookbook--straightforward, well-explained, and with the steps in logical order. After a few months, I considered myself pretty kitchen-competent. 

My then-boyfriend, now-husband was a more adventurous eater, so when I started cooking with and for him, I stretched to try new things. 

The most memorable cooking disaster from that phase of my life involved not understanding the difference between different kinds of peppers at the grocery store. My dad doesn't eat peppers in any form, so I didn't have any cooking experience with them. 

I picked habañeros because they were pretty and nearly melted both our mouths off with an otherwise pretty good curry. Sweetman gamely kept going until he was visibly sweating, poor boy. I couldn't convince him it was okay not to eat it. 

the scoville scale for heat of peppers

I've gotten better, and learned to do my research since then. (Jalepeños would have been more appropriate for that recipe). 

All my other disasters have been less dramatic--things like undercooked chicken because the recipe estimate for cook time was too short, or cutting myself when I tried to chop too quickly, bread that didn't rise properly, etc. 

How about you? Any memorable cooking disasters in your life or in any books you've written or read? I'd love to hear about them in the comments! 

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  1. When I was forced to learn to cook, I had plenty of mishaps. When I started writing, they became a source of inspiration. It means that my children didn't suffer in vain.

  2. LOL - yes poisoning the children is not a good way to start a relationship. Tweeted.

  3. The Betty Crocker cookbook is another good place to start