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The Worst Cook In Your Family


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Hey, I've got a great method for flash-freezing fruit too! It's called, lay it out on a tray and shove it in the freezer. :wink::raz:

Sheesh - fancy-schmancy exotic ice for freezing fruit? Isn't that a leetle over the top? No, but seriously, does it really make any difference? I suppose it must, but I have a really hard time imagining it.

Boy, that was a lot of yak by way of saying that it's probably just one of them right-brain/left-brain dichotomies at bottom. :wacko:

(Sorry....

It's fun, the boys like playing with dry ice, and it gets the things as hard as steel shot in about 20 minutes. Home IQF-it works and the fruit thaws perfectly in the fridge. So yeah. Fancy schmancy freezing can be good :raz::laugh:

Man that was a lot of yak :raz: for something that the incridibly succinct Jinmyo summed up nicely (succinct is something that no one will ever accuse either you or I of being :laugh: ):

Jinmyo sums it up perfectly (once again)

Baking is all about following directions, measurements, timing. You pull out the cake when the timer rings.

Cooking is all about sensitivity to all of the ingredients and the whole process. You pull out the prime rib when it sounds and smells ready.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I suppose my worst meal was when my daughters brought me nearly raw fried eggs, pancakes in clumps, orange juice with skin and pips and all, and bacon burnt to a crisp. It was Mother's Day. I ate every speck. Not only my worst, but my best meal, ever.

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Man that was a lot of yak :raz:  for something that the incridibly succinct Jinmyo summed up nicely (succinct is something that no one will ever accuse either you or me of being :laugh: ):

Jinmyo sums it up perfectly (once again)

Baking is all about following directions, measurements, timing. You pull out the cake when the timer rings.

Cooking is all about sensitivity to all of the ingredients and the whole process. You pull out the prime rib when it sounds and smells ready.

:sigh:

As Pascal's my witness, I can be succinct... it just takes so much longer!

Bad enough that I'm so compulsive about copy-editing the long rambling posts; if I got serious about real editing I'd probably never get them sent at all because the topical moment would have passed and the thread dwindled away. But boy, I'd have me an archive of obsolete messages that would be marvels of eloquent brevity!

:sigh:

Also, while Jinmyo's summary is characteristically tight, sound, and epigrammatic, I still think it leaves a couple of loose ends unaccounted for. There's all that right-brain/left-brain garbage which may actually mean something - I mean by way of correlation between personality traits and aptitudes. And then there's bread.

Bread is the thing that really scared my mother shitless. I never did understand why, and I'm afraid I never will. It shares some of the characteristics of baking and some of those of cooking, so which category does one assign it to? It's neither flesh nor fowl nor good red herring. I'm lucky; within reason I can both cook and bake, though I definitely lean more to the cooking side of the equation. But I enjoy both, and neither makes me uncomfortable. Lucky lucky me. Luckier me still, I feel very much at home in the no-man's-land of bread, and the pleasure I get from it seems to me much more like that of cooking than that of baking. Feels good. Smells good. You can feel when it's kneaded enough, you can see when it's properly riz. You know it's done by sniff and by tap and by instinct. It's an earthy, deep, connected thing. Primal, almost. Staff of life, comma, sense of being at one with.

And point for point it belongs at the prime-rib end of the Jinmyo Spectrum. Hell, by that standard, it is prime rib!

So WHY - whywhywhywhywhywhywhy - would someone who is absolutely the walking embodiment of culinary instinct be so stymied by the very idea of bread?

Will I ever understand?

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So WHY - whywhywhywhywhywhywhy - would someone who is absolutely the walking embodiment of culinary instinct be so stymied by the very idea of bread?

Will I ever understand?

Well, I will try and be brief :wink::laugh:

I used to have a thing about bread. I made it plenty and most of the time it turned out to be a resonable facsimile of what I was shooting for-the problem was that I could not accept that I was probably going to screw it up once in a while. I can cook basically anything I set my mind to and I have always been good with sweets and sweet baked items of all sorts, no matter how complex. Bread, on the other hand, represented a process that was in and of itself a chance to fail spectacularly on a regular basis. Every step needs to be done perfectly (to get what you started out to bake, anyway) and there is not much room for error or innattention. Even when you get everything right (mix, knead, rise, press, rise, whatever) you can still wreck the whole thing in the oven. The entire process can be nerve racking.

At some point I stopped worrying about it and now I find baking bread to be fun and quite relaxing. If I screw it up a little bit, so what? It's not like you have a bunch of money in a loaf of bread (even when using the best ingredients the stuff is pretty cheap to fool around with) and it's also not like my kinds are going to tell me that they have had better brioche in Paris (one more reasn to take them fishing in Canada this summer :wink: ). At this point I am not even sure what it ever was that bothered me so much about baking, except that I used to be too much of a perfectionist to do it well and now that I have lightened up a bit it seems like bread baking is no big deal. It's really satisfying, in fact.

So, in summation, tell your mom that Brooks said to lighten up and have fun with it. Baking is fun. :wink::laugh:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Now my Aunt Linda isn't a bad cook, she just isn't really a cook. I remember well a Thanksgiving at her house. We asked what we could bring, and she said "don't worry, I'll take care of it all." We should have remembered. We had turkey. Oh, and brown-and-serve rolls. After the turkey, she remembed she was going to do mashed potatoes and then she remembered that she had some frozen mixed veggies in the freezer. Thank goodness my grandmother had remembered to make a couple of pies. BTW, Linda did remember to take the turkey out of the plastic bag. Thankfully, the gizzard, heart, liver and neck were in one of those paper things, not plastic, tucked inside.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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My mom is the worst cook. She hates to cook, so I had to learn at an early age. I guess that's what made me a good cook and gave me an interest in things culinary. Awful things would include overly salted mashed potatoes, dried out potroast, rancid chicken strips (she didn't eat much either and wouldn't listen to us that the chicken was bad), overly salted deviled eggs, and tuna casserole. She's not too bad at company recipes, just everyday cooking. She doesn't follow recipes and doesn't know how to improvise. :wacko: She tried to make broccoli soup the other day, but wouldn't follow a recipe or put any condensed soup in it to thicken it. As you can imagine, it wasn't worth eating. She wouldn't make any sort of sauce to thicken it. We eat out a lot when I visit. Holiday meals are courtesy of Honeybaked ham. :raz:

it just makes me want to sit down and eat a bag of sugar chased down by a bag of flour.

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only one sort off (i'm not going to say bad) inferior maybe sounds better.

My aunt - my mothers oldest sister.

she's been a vegetarian all her life and can't cook vegetables. I don't know how she has survived. (she must be almost 90) Always overcooked, almost soup.

And plus she's always had a kitchen garden that she spends all summer tending, and then turns everything into mush. So sad such a waste of all those fresh veggies . heavy sigh

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My grandmother is not a bad cook, she has a few dishes that she does well. However a recent meal is making me question myself on her ability. She overcooked a "pre-cooked" Honey Baked Ham Store Glazed Turkey Breast. She tried to warm it up in the oven (it is better cold or at room temp.) and sufficiently turned it into jerky. Also she made some gravy by combining a jar of fat free gravy (heinz, besides FAT FREE GRAVY, whats the point?) and a jar of full fat gravy. She made everyone pour it on their turkey (maybe it was to disguise the fact that she turned the turkey into plastic). She also takes credit (or tries to take credit) for making rolls (brown and serve) and making her "wonderful" coleslaw (precut slaw mixed with premade dressing). She considers all this cooking. Granted she works in a school cafeteria and this is all they do. But she also makes a kick ass goulash (she's Austrian) and "pork and saurkraut". It is amazing I came out the way I have about food (i'm a big totally-from-scratch-or-eat-out-at a nice, i.e. not a chain-girl).

Shannon

my new blog: http://uninvitedleftovers.blogspot.com

"...but I'm good at being uncomfortable, so I can't stop changing all the time...be kind to me, or treat me mean...I'll make the most of it I'm an extraordinary machine."

-Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine

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  • 2 years later...

This is an old topic, but timeless.

I have to record my own hated meal.

Whenever I visit (about once a year) my brother's wife will invite me over for dinner. And I know exactly the menu I am going to get:

city chicken, on little wooden skewers

a casserole made of white rice, broccoli and cheese

salad with bottled Italian dressing

either "yellow stuff" or "green stuff"

The "stuffs" are a jello and whipped topping mix, the recipe clipped from a women's magazine during my nephew's childhood. Apparently they like this.

Perhaps the first time I was fed this, I remarked favorably on it. She believes that I look forward to it.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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No one in my immediate family is a bad cook. However. After my grandmother died, my grandfather remarried to this horrible, dispicable woman whom I despise with a bleeding passion to this day. To explain what a nasty person she is would take too much space and be WAY too off topic. That said, in addition to her many short-comings, the woman can't cook her way out of a paper bag. The first time we met her, at her home, she was making dinner, and went into the kitchen to whip up some "appetizers." What she came out with haunts my dreams to this day. It looked like tiny little weiners floating in maroon snot. My mother, in a very polite manner asked what it was. We were told, "Oh this is just the best thing! See, I take a package of L'il Smokies, mix together a jar of grape jelly and a can of Wolf brand chili, throw it all in a pot, and heat it up!"

Oh. My. God. Wolf brand chili, grape jelly, and Li'l Smokies. Mixed together. And this was our introduction to our future step-grandmother.

The woman also puts green peppers in her cornbread dressing, sugar in her cornbread, and all meats must be cooked until they resemble the stuff on the bottom of tennis shoes.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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My ex mother-in-law was the most frightening cook I have ever met. She could take a perfectly innocent chicken and turn it into a thing of horror. Roasted in a covered pan in the oven, it boasted flabby skin and totally dry interior. Served with this was her famous chicken and noodles.

Plain chicken broth--no onions, carrots, celery. No salt, far as I could tell, and lord knows no pepper. She made the noodles herself, and I don't know how she did it, but they were like soaked saltines cut into strips. A glutinous white mass, with no discernable flavor.

Thanksgiving was a fright. They got up at 4am to put the turkey in the oven for dinner, which was served at 2 in the afternoon. The turkey was inevitably way overdone by breakfast time, when it was removed and allowed to sit on the counter for 4 or 5 hours.

After dinner, the remains were put out on the enclosed back porch, to "keep cool."

Now, that might have worked on a real cold Thanksgiving, a Thanksgiving before they insulated the porch and replaced the old drafty windows with double glazed ones.

And before they put a deep freeze and gas water heater out there to warm the air up--on a sun-shiny day, the porch was almost as warm as the house.

At supper, we were offered the toxic leftovers of a bird that had been sitting in warm rooms for 9 or 10 hours. :wacko:

I didn't even mention the orange jello with shredded carrots.

sparrowgrass
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Sigh. My mother was one of the worst cooks in creation. My sister and I used to look forward to TV dinners because the food was so good! :wacko:

My mother's hamburgers were like hockey pucks. (She cooked them till they were "well done" -- charred on the outside and completely grey inside.)

But her real piece de resistance (sorry... can't type the accents) was spaghetti with ketchup, which I ate (and hated) all throughout childhood. Once, after I was an adult, I happened to mention to her that everyone else serves spaghetti with pasta sauce. She looked at me incredulously and asked, "But what do they do with the rest of the can?"

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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My mom: Worst cook ever, and getting steadily worse by the day. She used to be a decent cook, when I was little, but she declined sharply.

She doesn't much care about food, so meals were indifferently thrown together (if she bothered, even) cheapest ingredients, ever. She was a big one, for food pantries and government subsidies (even though we weren't poor...St. Joseph's food bank and the gub'mint didn't need to know that...). Typically, dinner would be boiled potatoes, a paperthin manager's special porkchop fried to death, and a can of veggies. We went thr5ough a phase of that, for about 3 years. That, for dinner, 4-5 nights a week. I still can't look at a boiled potato, without wanting to hurl it out the nearest window.

When cooking for company, she makes all sorts of bizarre short cuts, and has no real sense of ingredients, basic food science, or safety.

The Thanksgiving turkey is creamated the night before, carved the night before, placed in a huge tray, and refrigerated. Brought to room temp on the big day. I have no idea why...maybe to make it easier to crumble it up the next day, and mix it with our (canned) gravy...

My father is a great cook, and she still has some of his recipes. His beloved stuffed mushroom recipe is a good one. I have it committed to memory, and use it frequently for appetizers and snacks. Once in awhile, she asks me to relay the recipe, and she'll try to make it for a holiday. They *never* come out resembling anything like THE mushroom recipe. Shortcuts, substitutions (no Tobasco...all I had was horseradish...what, that's hot... and, I'm not gonna go out and buy muenster cheese, when I have these Krap slices right in the fridge!). I won't give her my recipes anymore, because the results are literally painful to behold. She screws everything up.

The woman cooks with no love. No soul.

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Well, God bless and keep my Aunt Paddy.

She was on a no salt diet. Notice, I didn't say low salt, I said NO salt. And, she thought we should be on it too. You haven't lived until you've eaten a slice of no salt bread, toasted, spread with no salt margarine, with a no salt soft boiled egg on the side. :blink:

She made beef tongue one year, I ate it as a child, not knowing what it was. I still to this day don't know what she did to it, but I puked the whole night.

She'd make cookies when we went camping, and my dad, bless him, would shout,

"Dont' eat the cookies and go swimming,you'll sink!" :laugh:

She was the worst cook ever. We would argue over whoose turn it was to spend the weekend with her.

---------------------------------------

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The worst meals I've eaten have been served at restaurants and eateries. That is to say, we're all pretty serious eaters and cooks, and I don't recall anything really disastrous at my family's tables. But I have served some real failures - soggy, pasty gnocchi comes to mind, as does a potato/mushroom casserole based on a buttermilk sauce - the worst part was how kind everyone was about it.

On a somber note, my cooking totally awry over the month following my Dad's death. A person's cooking often reflects his state of mind, doesn't it?

Miriam

Miriam Kresh

blog:[blog=www.israelikitchen.com][/blog]

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My maternal grandmother and my late maternal aunt.

My grandmother has no imagination in the kitchen... except for holidays where Mom or my uncle and his wife do the cooking, most family events are at restaurants.

My late maternal aunt came up with weird concoctions, like putting 2 bunches of chopped cilantro into Kraft Mac and Cheese or making hot dog pancakes. She was a good cook when she stuck to recipes though.

Cheryl

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Both of my parents, but mainly my mom (because she does most of the cooking). My dad's idea of a good meal is broccoli that has been steamed to soupy consistency and dry oven-fried chicken. That's essentially all he can make.

My mom, I'll give her credit, has improved upon her own mother's cooking, but it's not saying much. A lot of shortcuts, cheap ingredients and overall bad cooking.

During an unfortunate period when I was vegan, she made a vegan lasagna for me. It was lasagna noodles, soft tofu, some sort of fake cheese and cherry tomatoes. No tomato sauce, no other vegetables. I took one smell and thought I was going to throw up.

Unfortunately I'm living at home for the summer, and the bad eating has already begun. Tonight was leftover chicken rolls from a potluck a few nights ago with a giant disgusting V-8 frozen casserole, still frozen in the middle ("just pick around the frozen parts).

I've offered to cook dinner a couple nights a week, but my first menu has already been shot down as being too bizarre (Mexican goat stew). This is going to be a long summer.

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Hmm.. Where to start?

My Aunt: Insisted on bringing an appetizer to Christmas last year. Proudly, she proclaimed, "I learned this from my new favorite TV chef, Sandra Lee." Needless to say I don't want to know what she feeds her kids on a daily basis. A few years ago she managed to turn a wonderful bone-in rib roast into meat you wouldn't feed to your dogs.

My Sister: She was afraid of pasta boiling over. Her solution: put 1lb box of pasta into 1qt of boiling water, lower the heat, cover and cook for 25 minutes. A few times she even managed to burn the pasta before it turned to paste.

My Mom: With my father and I being adventurous and fairly accomplished cooks, decided to spice up her meatloaf which isn't so good to begin with. She added a few tablespoons of red pepper flakes and waited for a look of approval. It would have been okay, but she didn't add any of the usual seasonings including salt.

Her homade spaghetti sauce is as follows: 1-2lb ground turkey, 2 lg cans of tomato sauce, 2 packets of lawry's spaghetti sauce mix.

My Brother: Last year, one month before leaving for the Marine Corps he asked me how to turn the grill on. Before grilling, ahem, destroying, that steak he had only made pasta, frozen pizza, microwave meals, and salads.

An ex-girlfriend once served me under cooked cabbage rolls which were baked in Campbell's Tomato soup.

That should do it for now.

Flip

"Beer is proof God loves us, and wants us to be happy."

-Ben Franklin-

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Wow...these are some grisly tales.

We don't have a bad cook in the family. In fact, we are all so accomplished that it's now become an 'anything you can do, I can do better' competition. At our recent Father's Day celebration, the conversation went something like this:

Sister 1: Oh you made that cake, did you? Well get a look at this 16 layer trifle.

Sister 2: Cake? Yes...well, it's so small...so I made these blueberry turnovers as well. Oh, and some peanut brittle.

Sister 3: Trifle? Again? Hmmm...I see your trifle and your cake and raise you three lemon meringue pies AND some coconut covered marshmallows.

Mom: Oh good...dessert. Here's six fried chickens, a ham, some potato salad, a coleslaw and 4 dozen buns.

Me: Chicken? Again? I didn't think we'd have enough, so I did this beef tenderloin...and that artichoke salad Dad likes. Oh, and a strawberry tiramisu, a cheese plate and some of that salami.

Dad: How many people are coming? I thought it was just the six of us!

It's disgusting. My husband has gained 60 pounds since we got married.

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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Both of my parents, but mainly my mom (because she does most of the cooking). My dad's idea of a good meal is broccoli that has been steamed to soupy consistency and dry oven-fried chicken. That's essentially all he can make.

My mom, I'll give her credit, has improved upon her own mother's cooking, but it's not saying much. A lot of shortcuts, cheap ingredients and overall bad cooking.

During an unfortunate period when I was vegan, she made a vegan lasagna for me. It was lasagna noodles, soft tofu, some sort of fake cheese and cherry tomatoes. No tomato sauce, no other vegetables. I took one smell and thought I was going to throw up.

Unfortunately I'm living at home for the summer, and the bad eating has already begun. Tonight was leftover chicken rolls from a potluck a few nights ago with a giant disgusting V-8 frozen casserole, still frozen in the middle ("just pick around the frozen parts).

I've offered to cook dinner a couple nights a week, but my first menu has already been shot down as being too bizarre (Mexican goat stew). This is going to be a long summer.

I've got an idea! Why don't you take all their favorite Disaster Dishes and make them properly? Show them what they could taste like?

Edited to add: And what did you expect? That there would be no punishment meted out to you for being a vegan, even temporarily? Ha! <grin>

Edited by Angela Alaimo (log)
"I'm not looking at the panties, I'm looking at the vegetables!" --RJZ
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My SIL is probably the worst cook in the family, and mostly due to the fact that she has the attention span of a two year old.

Some past food offerings include:

Roast beef and potatoes cooked at 400F for four hours in the roasting pan. Result was shoe leather and air filled crispy potato skins.

Chocolate cake that was so dry that we resorted to licking off the icing which was edible because it came from a can.

Cheesecake that was runny and gooey because she thought that 2 TBSP of Bailey's wasn't enough so she kept pouring till she could smell the Bailey's, and then couldn't figure out why it wouldn't set properly.

Angel food cake from a mix, iced with 7 minute icing, because it's her favourite childhood dessert. Tastes like sweet cardboard.

Rice cooked on high for 10 minutes - hard and crispy. Her theory was if it takes 20 minutes on low, then 10 on high should do the same job.

Ham, that she forgot to take out of the freezer for Easter dinner, defrosted in the microwave and boiled in water on the stove, and then browned on the BBQ - result - soggy, frozen in the middle, charred on the outside, ham. :wacko:

We generally have a large, late lunch when we are expected to have dinner there, and I offer to bring the appetizer so we can have something edible to tide us over till we get home. I'm sure there are more examples, but I have been trying to erase them from my memory.

Dawn aka shrek

Let the eating begin!

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I'm always shocked when I hear stories of people using Ketchup as a sauce. I'm very curious about their senes of logic?

No bad cooks in my family. Just those who cook and those who don't. And a mother, an Asian Marie Barone, who always tries to upstage me, and occasionally sabotages my dishes when she thinks I'm not looking and then badmouths it to my dad. :blink:

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