secrets to wonderful cooking: you will fail

That’s right.  The final installment in this series says quite clearly:  You.  Will.  Fail.

Sometimes it will be in a way only you can notice.  Sometimes it will be with a dramatic flair only found in the greatest of comedies.  And sometimes you will fail so completely that you’ll want to put away every dish and live exclusively on meals in a box until you get the senior discount at the local buffet.

Sometimes it won’t be your fault.  You’ll find a poor recipe that you thought would work.  You discover you don’t have one of the ingredients and decide to substitute when you aren’t sure it’s a good one… and it fails.  Or life will take over and you’ll find yourself so wrapped up in chaos that you’re burning water.

The point is not avoiding failure.  Over time, with practice, you’ll improve and whatever failures you have now will fade away until you consistently produce quality, relatively cheap food.  Heck, you might even have some meals in the freezer for nights when life decides to push you out of the kitchen.

There are some things that can be done when faced with failure.  This is taken from my own experience, both in the past and recently.

  • Smile.  Seriously.  Take a deep breath, count to ten (or a hundred or a thousand or…) and smile at yourself.  Yes, others might be ticked if dinner is ruined, but remember that it’s possible for a person to live on peanut butter sandwiches or something similar for a few days at least.  Just focus on next time and be proud that you’re still trying.
  • After you’ve calmed down, take a look at what went wrong and what you can change next time.  Write it down in a notebook, a journal, or on the recipe itself if you can.
  • If you can think of a way to save the dish without making things worse (and sometimes there isn’t a way you could possibly make a dish taste any worse) try it.  You might end up counting it as one of your greatest triumphs.
  • Remember that even the best cooks don’t always get it right every time.
  • If you’re reduced to cold cuts or peanut butter, don’t serve it with a grimace and a slouch.  Smile, get out the good china, put down placemats or a tablecloth and focus on the point of the meal:  filling souls.  As important as food is to keeping us alive, it’s just as important to feel joy while eating.  Don’t ever punish the other members of your household for your mistake by spreading negativity.  I know it’s hard.  I’m not immune to it.  But I’ve also seen how much it tears up the home if you let mistakes get you down.


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