Kitchen-klutz confessional

Staff members share their best kitchen 'oops' moments

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We've all been there — the 25-pound turkey slides off the serving platter onto the floor, the chocolate cream pie didn't set and is a runny mess, the potatoes cooked too long and are too mushy for potato salad ... And it always happens when you have a house full of guests.

In honor of National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day on Thursday, staff members have shared some of their not-so-shining culinary moments.

I wanted to make my husband homemade tomato and corn soup. I boiled, peeled and seeded the tomatoes. While still hot, I put the tomato mixture in the blender. The blender had a rubber top, and heat from tomato mixture made the top very soft and flexible, causing the plastic center cap to fall inside the running blender, into the tomato mixture, hitting the blades, chipping the center cap, causing pieces of the center cap to get into the tomato mixture ... Couldn't serve that to my husband! After all that work and time, I had to throw it all out.

— Lisa M. Elias, ad fulfillment coordinator, The Berkshire Eagle

One Thanksgiving Day I dropped (and shattered) the gravy boat when taking it from the cupboard. It didn't ruin dinner, but the cut to my finger got me out of dish duty for that very big meal.

And, has anyone ever had to prop the oven door closed because the spring in the door closure decided to break while you were cooking dinner (for company, of course)?

— Catherine Wandrei, human resources manager for New England Newspapers Inc.

The consequences of early-morning baking before coffee: Putting on a single oven mitt to pull a hot cookie sheet out of the oven, then grasping the hot tray with the other bare hand. Ouch! I am also guilty of taste-testing something fresh out of the oven or out of the boiling pot, and promptly burning the heck out of my tongue. As Homer Simpson would say, "D'oh!"

— Jenn Smith, community engagement editor & education reporter, The Berkshire Eagle

My husband and I almost threw out an entire cooked Thanksgiving turkey because we forgot that we had cooked it breast-side down (upside down), and when we tried to carve it, there was only a bunch of bones and hardly any meat! We thought at the time that maybe we had just gotten a bad turkey. Right before we were about to throw it away, I realized we had cooked it upside down.

— Ashley Stone, business office associate, The Berkshire Eagle

As a recent college graduate learning to cook, I've had my fair share of klutzes, from having a whole half-pound of seasoned chicken fall on the floor in the middle of cooking it, to the time I burned myself making ramen noodles (it happens). But this, in my opinion, takes the cake ...

My girlfriend is Dominican, and we were making tostones, a traditional Dominican meal that is essentially twice-fried smashed plantains (You fry them once to soften them, before smashing them and frying again). We were frying them in vegetable oil, and I put the finished tostones on a Styrofoam plate instead of on a paper towel. Much to our shock, the leftover oil dripping off the tostones had eaten several holes through the plate! (I took a picture as, after the initial shock, I found it amusing. My girlfriend did not.)

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— Mitchell Chapman, page designer/copy editor, freelance writer The Berkshire Eagle

I usually stick to washing the dishes, but I asked my girlfriend how I mess up in the kitchen.

"You can't stir. At all."

"You like to soak things and rinse them — no washing."

"You get too hungry making pasta and it's always al dente."

— Chris Mays, reporter, The Brattleboro Reformer

When I was younger, my father was including my sister and me in making dinner one night. We were having one of our favorites, chicken tenders coated in the Shake 'n' Bake bread crumbs. We were allowed to each take a bag of the bread crumbs with three of the chicken tenders in them and shake them up. That's the best part of preparing the dinner, of course. Well, my father didn't believe we were shaking the bags enthusiastically enough, so he encouraged us to shake harder. Unfortunately, my bag had a different opinion on the matter. Needless to say, when I had shaken my bag a little too aggressively, it broke open and the chicken and bread crumbs scattered all over the floor. After that, we weren't able to finish helping prepare the meal; however I don't think any of the chicken went to waste since we still had it for dinner — and I don't recall seeing anymore chicken in the freezer!

— Steve Danforth, driver, The Berkshire Eagle

Years ago, before I really knew anything about baking, I found a recipe for meringues in my family's recipe box, probably one of my grandmother's. I had never heard of meringues, I had never eaten meringues and the methods section was quite bare. So, I whisked some egg whites and sugar by hand for a couple of minutes, poured the whole mix onto a cookie sheet and baked. What I wound up with was a sticky cookie sheet, a sticky oven and no cookies.

— Meggie Baker, calendar editor, The Berkshire Eagle

Where do I begin? I've had so many kitchen fails, it's hard to chose just one.

Early in my baking career, I wanted to make a birthday cake for my Dad. But not just any cake, a jelly roll, which was one of his favorites. I followed the recipe and rolled the cake in a powder-sugar coated clean dish towel and filled it with a raspberry jam. It looked amazing and I was so proud of it. I sliced the cake and served it to my parents, my husband and my aunt, who were on hand for the party. When I asked if anyone wanted a second piece, everyone demurred — except my aunt, who said, "I'll have another ... I have a roll of Tums with me in my pocketbook." Still not sure how she meant that ... Unfortunately, the line became a family ritual and they never let me forget the jelly roll — and I still don't know what was wrong with it in their eyes!

— Margaret Button, associate features editor, The Berkshire Eagle


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