Tuesday, 1 October 2013


Those of us who cook or bake our own food have often learned the hard way about what not to do. I'm no exception. Often these accidents happen due to carelessness or assumptions.

Forty-one years ago, I began cooking my own dinners. I decided one evening to make rice. When I poured some into the pot, It didn't look sufficient for my supper so I added more. Being new to cooking, I didn't realize that rice would fluff up. I ended up with enough for two or three meals. I also made the same mistake with macaroni.

Those weren't the only disappointments I was in for. Baking potatoes in the oven took longer than I anticipated. Nobody told me it would take at least an hour. I grew increasingly impatient as darkness fell but the potato remained stubbornly tough. I had the same problem with boiled potatoes. Now I boil the spuds first, then cook the vegetables and meat later so that everything is ready at the same time.

I'll never forget the great banana loaf disaster of 1975. Having taken a cooking class in high school, I felt confident that I could bake at home. My first problem was that the gas stove had no temperature gage on the oven control. I had to guess at how hot I should heat that antique range.

The next mistake I made was adding one banana rather than a cup of banana in the mix. The result looked like a rectangular meteor. I manage to eat the uncharred part but it was extremely dry.

I've also made mistakes through absent-mindedness. One lunchtime, I poured the batter into the waffle iron before it was warmed up. It stuck fast in the iron and refused to come out in one piece. I managed to scrape off the mess but by then it was stone cold.

I also learned the hard way that "non stick" doesn't mean that the pan will stay that way after a few uses. The fried eggs I hoped to have for supper stuck to the Teflon, causing me to scrape it off with a plastic spatula.

One habit I still need to work on is to turn off stove burners after I'm finished. One evening, I absent-mindedly set a three-ring binder on one burner. I hadn't noticed that the electric element was on low until the smell of melting vinyl filled the kitchen. It also set off the smoke detector. Removing the melted mess under the element took a long while as well.

In my forty-one years of being a bachelor, I've melted the bottoms of aluminum kettles, forgot potatoes on the stove until they started burning, and had innumerable pots of soup boil over. I'm grateful that nobody witnessed these disasters.

I mentioned many non-food mistakes I made throughout my life in When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living With Bunnies, Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School, and my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoirs. Please check the latter book out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.


  1. I have heard tell of the Great Banana Loaf Disaster of 1975, in legends. In my twenty one years as a wife and mother, it has only been this last year that I can make perfect rice.

  2. Bachelors aren't the only ones who create cooking disasters. Married men don't want to admit to their wives that they don't know, for example, which containers are safe to use in the microwave. My father, may he rest in peace, was one of these. One of his cooking feaux pas inspired a short story I posted on my blog a couple of years ago. You can read it at http://abbiescorner.wordpress.com/2011/05/27/dinner-with-the-johnsons/.


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