Learning from Mistakes
Posted 06 November 2006 - 08:14 PM
Dorie -- Would you be willing to reveal some of your mistakes and what you learned from them.
Posted 07 November 2006 - 05:46 AM
The most spectacular mistake I made was burning down my parents kitchen when I was 13. The second most spectacular mistake was trying to make pumpernickel bread and producing a regulation-size hockey puck instead! And the time I tried to get a bunch of dishes ready at the same time and ended up with a tough steak that has since been referred to as "London bake' ...
And then there was the knish dough. I had seen my mother-in-law make knishes and I wanted to make a batch myself. She gave me the recipe and told me that, if the dough was stiff, I should add more oil; if it was loose, I should add more flour. At 2 am that morning, I was still in the kitchen, adding more oil, then adding more flour, and watching the dough reach proportions rivaling Mt. Everest.
I never made knishes -- that night or ever. Nor did I learn the lesson that night that I should have: there comes a moment when it's best to give up and start from scratch again.
I'm a born tinkerer and I never want to toss things out, but sometimes it's all that can be done. I can remember my husband, Michael, coming into the kitchen one night, seeing me trying to ressurect a batter that had clearly gone very wrong, and saying to me, "Ditch it! Just chalk it up to the cost of learning."
I guess if I had been a poker player I would have known this -- it must be the same as the learn-when-to-fold-them rule.
Of course, there are also the joys. In Baking, there's a recipe for Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake, and in the headnote I relate how everything might have gone wrong with the recipe -- but didn't. I had found a recipe in a booklet that came with a French magazine and I wanted to try it, but as I was reading it through, it looked like it was doomed. There was no flour, no eggs and what looked like way too much polenta to me, so I started re-working it and ended up with a success. More often than not, restructuring on such a grand scale leads to disaster or, at best, an incremental improvement. I got lucky that day.
Posted 07 November 2006 - 09:22 AM
As for the knishes - don't give up on them! There's nothing better then a fresh, home-baked knish. (There may even be a knish demo right here on eGullet to help you out !)
Pam Reiss aka "Pam R"
Manager, eG Forums
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Posted 07 November 2006 - 10:07 AM
The next day, a staff member told me she dreamt about my cookies last night and would I bake another batch.
Would you know, I made a mistake in one of the measurements when I baked the first batch. The second batch baked up like normal chewy oatmeal cookies and were okay. I tried different combinations of increasing one ingredient at a time but was never able to duplicate those wonderful cookies....