Learning to cook is no easy task and our community member Denise shares with you some of her fondest memories of cooking humour.
My Humorous Inedible Cooking Disasters
Learning to cook is no easy task especially if you don't have a grandma around or your family tradition doesn't include training in cooking skills. For me, when I was just out of high school, living on my own, I sure didn't have much cooking experience.
In this flash from the past, it was in 1980's (yes, decades ago, I am ancient to all the young readers). I was in a government-sponsored work program that offered to provide experience to young adults (in their 20's) from across Canada. Our group of 12, including group leaders, was first station on Prince Edward Island. We worked on constructing a therapeutic playground for mentally ill adults. We also volunteered one on one social time with our assigned adult. In our community living quarters, the women shared rooms at one end of the building and the men at the other. We all took turns cooking supper for a week for the whole group. That's when I found out I didn't know how to cook that much, except to make a sandwich.
We were all reading healthy food cookbooks and trying out recipes on our captive fellow participants. I decided I was going to bake bread. I read the cookbook instructions but I think they assumed I had some basic cooking knowledge. I mixed the dough and formed long baguette-type loaves. It was cool in our building so I placed the dough to rise in the oven at 200°c. Oops, I fried the yeast, so the bread didn't rise. I ended up with a long hard baseball bat that I had to throw away. I guess we could have played baseball with them.
My second try at making bread was a bit better. I let the dough rise a couple of times and placed it into two square loaf pans. However, I used only whole wheat flour, I baked it too long and there was probably too much flour in the bread recipe I was using. It was a very heavy loaf. We ate about 1/2 loaf when it was warm. The rest of the bread just dried out for the rest of the week. I needed a saw to slice it. (no exaggeration!)
One evening, at the end of the week, we were in a nearby park. I noticed the guys were running and throwing around a football. I remarked to someone beside me, "I didn't know we had a football." As we walked closer, I noticed that it wasn't a football! It was the second loaf of hard rock bread I had made! Oh, brother. That's why the guys were laughing so hard. That loaf of bread worked very well as a football. It didn't crumble once in all the throwing, catching, messing and bouncing off the ground. It only suffered some green grass stains on the corners.
I didn't try making bread again for years. I just thought I'd never be able to get it right or find anyone who could take the time to really show me. However, time does heal all cooking wounds.
I did eventually work up to making bread with a natural yeast "sponge". The sponge is made by mixing flour and water (thick soupy texture) and adding a little flour every day for seven days. It is covered with cheesecloth and an elastic band so insects can't get in. It sits on the kitchen counter and catches yeast from the air. You know it's working when it starts bubbling before the seventh day! Then you can use it as a natural yeast in bread making. That's a miracle for you!
The bigger miracle is not letting cooking disappointments get you down or stop you from growing in your abilities. Whether you are young or old, don't fret if you don't know how to cook, or if there is no one to show you how to. Take it as it comes, one step at a time, be gentle with yourself and learn from your mistakes. As St. Therese of Lisieux said, "The goal is to just keep trying."
Categories: Cooking with Us