I want to season my recipe offerings with an anecdote here and a few foodie facts there. So bear with me as I share with you my not-so-blog-worthy moments.
I was having a little laugh to myself recently remembering some of my more spectacular failures in the kitchen.
This happens in the courses of our lives, to those of us who like to try new recipes.
However, the older and more experienced we get, we learn where NOT to take recipes from.
Example. I think I’ll tackle the Dirt Curry Disaster first. I was pregnant with Baby No. 2 and cooking for myself, AT and VC (husband and sister). I was trying a new recipe from Ainsley Harriet’s Gourmet Express Part 1. I had watched his shows on cable TV and thought him alright. A little flamboyant, but likeable enough and his dishes seemed like something I could manage.
So it was called Lightening Lamb Dhansak. A quickie version of the popular Indian dish.
A little too quickie it seems. Not enough flavour. It looked and tasted like dirt. Like I had taken a pile of dirt from the backyard and mixed it up with some water, lamb and pumpkin and served it up to my family.
I was utterly humiliated. What were we going to eat now?
AT and VC kindly ate it all up and maintained it was not as bad as I’d thought it was.
But I knew they were just being kind. It was awful. I would not be making that dish again.
Incident No. 2 – The Citrus Prawn Dish
What a debacle this turned out to be.
I remember it still, even though it would have been at least 6 or 7 years ago now. I was in that phase of life where a young couple is settling into their new home, trying out new recipes that might one day become one those familial foodie heirlooms. I was trying my hand at Indian, Thai and Italian cuisine. Pastas, stir fries and curries.
So young, so green. So naive to think that a recipe on one of those recipe-postcards from the green grocer could possibly be any good.
It was called Citrus Prawn Fettuccine. Mmm…everyone loves lemons, prawns and pasta. Prawns and lemons go together. It will be a cracker of a meal.
I could sense it as I prepared the meal. I can’t quite remember exactly what was in it, but I am sure there was two types of zest, chillies and not much else.
I knew as I seared the prawns in the chilli flakes. My instinct told me it would not work.
But I continued.
And I served up an embarrassingly awful dish.
It was just me and AT, so I wasn’t as humiliated as I could be. We could have a laugh about it as we threw it in the bin and went to the local KFC.
But I was disappointed.
Disappointed that it didn’t work out. Disappointed that I couldn’t have predicted failure from reading the recipe alone.
The moral of this tale is that I have learned not to take on the shame of a bad recipe. Likewise I have learned to give credit to a good one. My skills are good, and they are getting better. But when a recipe doesn’t quite work out it isn’t always my fault. And when I have brilliant success it isn’t all due to my fabulous cooking.
The ability to judge a good recipe is a skill honed over a lifetime, sometimes earned at the expense of your pride.
It is a competence built on the back of a hundred sparkling successes and as many memorable failures.