Category Archives: Cooking disasters

More cooking disasters

Thanks for all of the hilarious feedback from last week’s letter. Some of you asked to hear more of my disaster stories. Here are three more stories, all (unfortunately) from this past year …

On New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d try out the new pasta machine I got for Christmas. The first batch of dough I made turned into a giant thick glue in the food processor and nearly burned out the motor in the machine. André washed it all out, dried and wiped, and I started again with a different recipe.

On Valentine’s Day, also this year, A. worked all day and then went to school in the evening until 9 pm. The tiramisu that I slaved over turned out great, but the shrimp stirfry I tried to prepare for Valentine’s Day dinner was completely inedible. The shrimp were old and frozen and smelly, although the fish boutique had definitely charged me otherwise. Dumped into the garbage.

So, there I was, staring into the freezer at 9 pm wondering: what are we going to have for dinner when I have no groceries? I defrosted a half-pound of ground beef (we had neither sausage meat, nor buns) and I made two hamburger patties to serve with the rice and veggies from the failed shrimp dish. Truth be told, A. would have picked meatloaf if I had asked him what he wanted for Valentine’s dinner, it’s his all-time favourite meal. I was just trying to show off with the shrimp thing…


OK. One more. I’ve got a ham cooking in the oven, the house smells great. I was making the pineapple juice glaze to go on top. I put the pot on to boil, then leave the kitchen to go and check my email. And really, no more than 8 minutes later, the smoke alarm is going off, the kitchen is filled with thick black smoke, and the security company is phoning to verify if it’s a real fire before they send the fire trucks. I am forced to open the windows. Was it snowing? It was darn cold. I flapped a dish towel around the kitchen, in front of the smoke detector, wind and snow blowing in, dancing around frantically trying to get rid of the smell …Worst of all, the burnt juice glaze had magically transformed into cement that could not be separated from my favourite, lovely, no-stick pot. While André did later try to clean it with oven cleaner (!), we finally had to put my favourite pot in the garbage. (Oh there’s a whole story here about trying to buy the replacement pot… have you tried to buy one item from a set? It almost can’t be done. The stores can’t help you. I had to finally go online and special order just the one pot from the manufacturer. And it’s lovely. It’s my curried chicken pot. Can’t live without it.)


Do you have a kitchen disaster story? Just post a comment or drop me a line 🙂 I might use your story in an upcoming cooking letter. Got pictures? Send those, too.
You can always reach me at
Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu, Owner & Head Chef

Cooking disasters and cooking success

Everyone has a great cooking disaster story. And they happen from time to time. Double a cookie recipe but forget to double the sugar. Results are inedible and end up in the garbage.

I used to be really sad when this happened. Think of the waste, the cost, why am I such an idiot? I remember once when I was about 20 years old, and not a very experienced cook, I attempted to make a pork stew using my aunt’s recipe. The whole thing was a giant disaster — pork too tough to eat (she must have used pork tenderloin, where I had picked something tough and cheap). I remember shedding tears as I threw the entire meal in the trash. Waste. Cost. Idiot.

Since then, I’ve discovered a few secrets to successful cooking.

1. A great recipe with step-by-step instructions.

Don’t you love recipes that help you succeed? How about recipes that let you follow along with pictures so you can see if you’re in the right place, getting the right results. Recipe 1.5 > Dutch Apple Pie is a perfect example.

2. A real person who can explain the tricks to making the recipe successfully.

This could be your mom or your neighbour.

Or it can be me! Send me an email, I’d be happy to answer your questions.

I believe that every recipe has a “recipe gremlin” — a little trick that if you don’t know about, the recipe won’t turn out as well as it could. And most people don’t tell you about the recipe gremlins… They say peel and core the apples, but do they remind you check the insides of each apple section for that plastic-like piece of apple core that you DO NOT want to find in your pie? (In the photos above for Recipe 1.5 > Dutch Apple Pie, this recipe gremlin is explained in step #4).

3. A great cheering section who’ll support your attempts, and who’ll eat your recipes, no matter what!

This can be your husband, wife, grandkids – anyone who’ll say “that’s great” even when it isn’t. And when you burn the potatoes he’ll say “I like them that way” when probably he doesn’t.


And while I still sometimes have kitchen disasters, I’m more matter-of-fact about it now. If you cook often enough, sometimes it’s not going to work out as planned. I try to have a sense of humour about it.

My cheering section says “ce n’est pas grave” (literally: it’s not grave, but really what he’s saying is “it doesn’t matter.”) And finally, I’m starting to believe him.

Do you have a kitchen disaster story?

Just post a comment. Got pictures? Send those, too.
You can always reach me at

Thanks and bon appetit!

Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu,
Owner & Head Chef