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The Worst Cook In Your Family


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post 51 on this thread:

It was lasagna, constructed nicely with browned ground beef, a jar of ragu, noodles cooked surprisingly well, all layered with a dozen or so eggs beaten with a carton of cottage cheese and a good half-can of McCormick dried parsley. The dish was topped with grated mozzarella and run under the broiler to melt and brown. That was the entire extent of the cooking process. No baking, no 350 til brown and bubbly, no torch, no nothing.

I enjoyed this post thoroughly. Completely visualizable - both the loving care of the "cook" and her complete ignorance of basic cooking principles. I loved the 'organic' description of its 'plate appeal' (which follows the part I quoted).

I'm reminded, most cheerfully, of certain eviscerations I have attended or committed. I'm also reminded of those marinated/fermented squid guts that Torakris enjoys.

Worst cook - my dear loved youngest Aunt. Made rubber jello. Really.

Followed the recipe straight from the box, she swore. Good old basic jello-brand jello. Except hers had a skin on it that we couldnt pierce with mere forks. My dad ended up taking a steak knife to it, just to see if it would cut it. No one was brave enough to try chewing a bit.

Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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To reproduce this delightful taste of the past:

Boil water and pour over Jello powder in heatproof bowl. Immediately strap on a covering of Saran, really tight, so steam cannot escape. Put right into fridge til set.

It will have a skin that you could tattoo. Or make a jacket out of.

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Rachel, have you ever witnessed your sister-in-law-in-law eat any of her own non-foofoo creations? I think the only thing more unsettling than that lasagna-puddle dinner would be watching this lady chowing down on it all with great gusto.  :wacko:

Yes, though one daughter is known as the family "picky eada" (her words, but uttered by her or parents at every meal, no matter whose cooking is on the table---though usually mine). It's spoken in the tone you'd use for "Valedictorian," with an accompanying beaming glance toward said daughter.

As I remember, they all ate the lasagna and salad. The broccoli thing is lost in the fog of merciful Time, though I seem to recall a small sneer from p.e. Well, it COULDA been an Elvis lip.

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  • 1 year later...

Racheld, you were so sweet to me in my first post about pot luck horror, this unfortunately TRUE story is for you!

The Saga of Mystery Meat Mountain

I like meat. Lots of people like meat. What I fail to understand, is how some people can be so CRUEL to meat! Cooking it well-done, pairing it with items that are just so fundamentally opposite that they risk the world imploding from some kind of protein-based paradox.

My mother cooks. I cannot say she cooks well, about the best I can say is that I survived my childhood. Now, as my parents are aging, I am partial caretaker for them, and reside with them and my daughter. Most of the time I do the cooking. This has two benefits.... 1) I get to cook, and 2) My mother does NOT. The story I am going to relate to you took place last Easter. Unfortunately, the horror of it has not receded from memory....I'm still waiting.

My mother decided to have meatloaf for Easter dinner. Great, I love meatloaf! A well-made meatloaf is yummy, wholesome, and makes awesome sandwiches. I was foolish enough to think this dinner would go all right, even though a small voice inside was screaming "It can go SOOOOOO wrong, RUN WHILE YOU CAN!!!!".

I came home from taking my grandmother her Easter basket, and my mother was already in the kitchen. Most of you out there would find a sense of comfort, of happiness and well-being upon finding your mother in the kitchen making a holiday

dinner. Around this house, its a feeling of foreboding, and anticipatory nausea.

She came into the living room, sat down with the rest of us, and we relaxed. I asked her about the meatloaf, what she was putting in it. She proceeded to reel off the following list of ingredients that were part of the meatloaf.

-- 5 (YES! I said FIVE) pounds of hamburger

-- half a box of Cheezit crackers

-- a jar of mild salsa

-- two cans of mushroom stems and pieces

-- half a package of provolone cheese

-- ketchup

-- a chopped onion

-- italian breadcrumbs

-- worchestershire sauce

-- some chopped green spanish olives with the pimentos stuffed in them

-- and....for a lovely glistening surface, and a touch of sweetness....a few packets of Sweet N' Low

I was speechless for a moment, just taking in the list of ingredients, but something was scratching at the back of my mind, a thought that she had left out something important. Then, it hit me......no EGGS! No binding agent, nothing. I asked my mom "Did'nt you put in any eggs????" She stared at me for a moment, then said "oh NO, I forgot the eggs!"

She then proceeded to get up out of her chair. I asked her where she was going, she said she was going to go add eggs to the meatloaf. Only one problem, the meatloaf had already been in the oven for 35 minutes! I told her NOOOOOOOO if you add them now, you are going to end up with something looking like a large pile of chunky cat barf!! I told her, its too late, we are just going to have to see how things come out.

The timer went off....90 minutes later. Yes, she cooked this monstrosity for TWO hours. Mmmmmm home cooking....NOT!!! It was taken from the oven and placed on the table. She didnt put it in a dish to bake it, she covered a cookie sheet with foil, and formed the mound of ick into a large blob.

Of course, being the person I am, I immediately christened this meat.....item....as MYSTERY MEAT MOUNTAIN!! Also known as a UMO. UMO being an Unidentified Meat Object. It deserved both names.

She used a spoon to cut into the loaf of mystery, and it promptly began to crumble and ooze across the cookie sheet. When you looked at its innards, you could see large chunks of greasy Cheezit crackers peeking out from alongside khaki-colored spanish olive bits. I went and sat back down and waited.......

Dinner was plated up, and delivered to each diner with not much fanfare. On the plate, you could tell what the color theme for this Easter was.....RED!! My mother served a heaping helping of the Loaf of Mystery, which had a deep, lurid reddish

tone to it. Alongside, a puddle of canned pork and beans, cold. And a couple of slices of tomato. It looked like dinner from the movie SAW.

I tried the Loaf of Mystery. I chewed it, and it disentegrated in my mouth. The strangest thing was, there was a very strong taste of mustard to it....but no mustard was in it. There was no mustard in the house. How in the name of all that is holy can there be a mustard taste to this inedible abomination IF MUSTARD WAS NEVER AROUND IT??????

The Loaf of Mystery, Mystery Meat Mountain, the UMO, was borne outside by my daughter, and set out for the neighborhood crows to consume. They flocked about it, pecked at it, then flew away. As they flew, I thought I could make out words in the middle of the frantic cawing of the crows. It sounded like "It just goes to prove my point dear, those humans will eat anything! Let's head over to the dump for a decent tasty dinner."

The Loaf languished in the yard for a day. The crows did not want it. The stray dogs and cats crossed to the other side of the street to avoid it. It was finally given the fitting burial it so richly deserved in the maw of the trash truck that released us from the horror of........MYSTERY MEAT MOUNTAIN!!! <cue creepy music crescendo) :blink:

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The Saga of Mystery Meat Mountain

My husband just came home and found me laughing hysterically with tears rolling down my face. I read the saga of mystery meat mountain to him and then we were both laughing. He can't believe there are people out there that can top my family's bad cooking stories. Though I can't come close to your story, I will add my own.

No one in my family likes to cook that much, other than my sister's husband and myself. My brother in law is a good cook, although he sticks mainly to meat and potatoes. I could go on and on about the truly horrible meals we have been served when either of my sisters or my mother feels they need to reciprocate because "We feel guilty that you always do all of the cooking". My husband gets anxiety every time we visit about eating and, weeks before we go, starts saying "Find a way to cook all the meals when we get there ". He also hates to go out with my one sister's family because they love to go to the worst Chinese place in the south (and I know there are few good ones) for the $8/person all you can eat buffet (but that's another topic).

However, how could I say no when we arrived for a visit with my sister, she informed me that she had gone to a coworkers to learn how to make a Korean chicken dish for us because she knows that we like "that exotic food". Although we arrived for the weekend quite late on a Friday, she stayed up late to finish boiling the chicken for our Korean dinner that was to be served on Saturday. Mind you this was in the south in the middle of the summer. We were sitting around eating breakfast the next morning when my sister went out to her deck and, are you ready, brought in the chicken that she had cooled overnight outside in the "cool" 90 degree temperatures so that she would not warm up her fridge!

All day we kept hoping that the chicken would be served separately and that we could just eat the rest of the meal. I know it sounds crazy that we didn't say anything but she had put so much effort in to the meal. Not only did she learn how to cook it, she had driven several hours into the nearest metropolitan area to get all of the ingredients she could not find near home. Needless to say, the chicken was served mixed in with everything else, which just seemed like a very greasy mess of overcooked vegetables and mushy noodles.

I get to recall this as Thanksgiving approaches. I have tried to incorporate the family favorites but with fresh vegetables and "a little more" gourmet. For example, I make a different sweet potato dish every year but use real sweet potatoes, ditto for green beans, etc. It doesn't matter though. Mom will still bring her canned sweet potatoes - with tons of sugar and baked until pure mush. Sis will bring the canned green bean casserole with the mushroom soup and canned fried onions, second sis will bring boxed mashed potatoes, and father will bring stouffers stuffing mix with no vegetables, just stirred together with canned chicken broth. Then, each of them loads up on everything that I made exept for their signature dish. So even though each of them are only eating their own "special" dish, they expect my husband and I to try all of them!

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I used to think my mother was the worst cook in the family, for her famous Overcooked Spaghetti with Ketchup, which showed up regularly on our dinner table.

Oh, how very wrong.

I've been burdened with deadlines, and yesterday my husband, God love 'im, offered to cook dinner. This is what he made.

He went through the vegetable bin and pulled out beets, carrots, and potatoes. Sounds okay so far...

He washed but did not peel them, cut them into large chunks, and put them in a large pot with lots of water. That's it. No herbs, spices, salt & pepper, or anything else.

He then proceeded to boil them for 40 minutes, "until tender." (I can see roasted root vegetables, but boiled???)

Drain and serve (still unpeeled) with a scoop of fat-free yogurt mixed with dried dill.

[sigh] Try as I could, I couldn't get them down. The poor man's face fell when I quietly set them aside and got a bowl of cereal for dinner.


"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Racheld, you were so sweet to me in my first post about pot luck horror, this unfortunately TRUE story is for you!

Why, thank you, My Dear---it was well worth waiting for, and a fitting tribute to a best-forgotten culinary and ecological disaster.

(And thanks for letting me know that this thread had been "bumped up" once again).

It was fun re-reading all the queasy-making and outright funny reminiscences. It is to be hoped that none of the cooks described here will ever find eGullet---we'll all have to head for the hills.

(And on second reading, in which I had to SKIP ahead in my own post, out of fear for the lovely lunch I was just treated to, I DO apologize again. Abjectly).

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It sounds to me like many of us eGulleters come from families that lack the sort of crazy gene that drives us to perfection (or at least edibility). At least I know that is my case. My mother. Love her dearly. Many fine qualities. Common sense just doesn't seem to be one of them when it comes to the kitchen.

She has definitely drank her fair share of Kool-Aid when it comes to "convenience" items. Green bean casserole made from the trio of nastiness. Frozen this and canned that. And her biggest mistake ... that damned pop-up timer on the turkey.

One year (before I started being more assertive on holiday meals), it seemed like things were taking longer than normal to appear on the table. When I went in to see what was going on, my mother, flustered, exclaimed that she was waiting for the turkey to finish. A few more probing questions and I discovered to my horror that the bird had been in the oven for 90 minutes longer than the estimated cooking time.

I implored her to take it out of the oven. She refused because the little "pop-up thingy" hadn't popped. Unfortunately, I hadn't brought my instant read with me and clearly she didn't have one. She finally relented when I used a knife to show her that there was no longer any bloody juices. In fact, just the opposite, there were virtually NO juices.

I normally don't care for Heinz gravy in a jar, but let me tell you, that year, I was very thankful for it. (BTW, Santa brought her both an instant read AND a probe thermometer for Christmas that year!)

There was also the other time she decided to make "cheesey potatoes" from a recipe she had gotten from a friend. The recipe called for sour cream, but all my mother had was fat-free sour cream. She combined that with 2 sticks of butter to create this lovely multi-layered concotion with potato hash on the bottom, a somewhat liquid layer on top of that, and a nice protective top-floating layer of orangish grease that was at least 1/2-3/4" thick.

The only person brave enough to eat any was her then husband, who simply emulsified the "fat" layer back into the casserole before taking a heaping helping. *shudder* I asked her afterwards if it didn't seem odd to use fat-free sour cream and two sticks of butter, and she admitted that it did, but she just kept falling back to what it said on the recipe card.

Ah family.

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:angry: The absolutely most infuriating cook I ever encountered was my ex sister-in-law. To set the stage for this recurring nightmare I have to explain a bit about my ex-husbands family. They were obsessively close with one another. That included him, his sister and her hubby (and hubby's parents), my inlaws, his two spinster aunts, and his grandfather. (the latter five all lived together to put it in perspective) They were all super born again Christians that didn't dance, drink, smoke, play cards or go to movies. They had nothing better to do but eat.

They insisted on sit down formal dinners for the extended family for every occasion. Seating name tags, china, Waterford Crystal and all. This not only meant the typical holidays, but Valentines Day, St. Patricks Day every birthday in the family, every anniversary and on and on and on. We rotated the honor of hosting these blessed bashes.

My sister-in-law married an obnoxious banker whose parents, for reasons that escape me, would not eat oregano or garlic. And they'd faint in horror at any hint of alcohol used to prepare a meal much less drinking it. But they perferred the finer things in life, non of which my sister-in-law could cook. So when it was her turn, she'd invite everyone for dinner at 6pm and upon our arrival, she'd be in the shower singing at the top of her lungs. (hymns of course) The table wouldn't be set, there would be nothing on the stove, and upon exiting the shower and blow drying her flaxen hair and putting on her makeup for an hour or so, she'd make her grand entrance and start giving tours of the latest room she decorated.

By that time, the spinster aunts and me would head for the kitchen and start making her wonderful dinner. Usually leg of lamb with no garlic and not a spot of oregano, and at least 4 side dishes that she'd have neatly listed on paper "just in case" anyone wanted to give her a hand. We never saw her in the kitchen until the food was coming out. Then she'd take a gracious bow for all her efforts. And her inlaws and parents would beam approvingly.

One time she had church friends over for New Years Eve dinner. Since none of them knew the drill, they all waited patiently for dinner. We got there at 7pm. The made ahead casserole (Chicken Supreme) made it to the table at the stroke of midnight. She returned to the kitchen to make dessert. She had purchased a French Silk pie from Bakers Square. We waited, and waited, listening to the accapella hymns and Christmas Carols she was belting out from the kitchen. At 1:30am she brought out dessert. She was embellishing it the whole time. She had completely covered the surface with mini chocolate chips, one chip at a time.

I vowed then and there if I was every still someplace at 1:30am on New Years eve, I'd better be drunk and full. None of us ever went back to her house.

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The worst cook isn't exactly family - yet. It's my future BIL. Like most people on this thread, he thinks he's a good cook, in fact he's proud of the fact that he's a "good cook", but well....

Most recently he decided to make homemade chicken and egg noodles, just like his grandmother from Indiana made. He didn't have a recipe, he's never made noodles before, but like he said "she whipped this up so fast, it'll be easy to make". To start, he mixed up the noodle dough, then decided they were too tough, so he added half a cup of water to the ball of dough. He tried to mix that in, then decided to add more flour and so and and so on. The resulting product was twice as big as it was supposed to be and looked nothing like dough. Then he rolled it out as thin as he thought is should be (about 1/2 an inch or so...ugh) and cut it into wide strips. He dropped those immediately into a pot of boiling broth (by way of cheap bouillon) and waited. And waited. Those suckers boiled forever. When they were done, I couldn't get past the first bite. They were still very doughy, salty, and tasted too much of flour. He said they tasted just like his grandmother's....and that makes me wonder about his grandmother.

Another time he made pasta aioli for dinner. It was all he served that night, no vegetables, no salad, nuthin. The pasta had been cooked so long in the olive oil they were like they had never been boiled in the first place; it was a plate of oily, hard and unpleasantly crunchy pasta.

There was also the time he made mashed potatoes...the potatoes were undercooked, with flecks of uncooked potato in the resulting mash. He thought he could solve the "texture" problem by adding 3x the milk and butter the potatoes could even hold. It was like eating a lumpy, raw potato soup.

I wouldn't mind the kitchen blunders so much if he ever admitted he was a beginner cook, or was inexperienced, or anything! He continues to soldier on, a blind eye to his terrible creations. Otherwise he's a perfectly nice guy.

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Mother-In-Law... hands down. Now she doesn't claim to be a great cook but she does cling to a few 'signature dishes'. One being what she calls rice pilaf. It's really not all that bad but it's nothing more than rice (Minute), beef broth, Lipton's Onion Soup Mix, and jarred mushrooms. It's the only thing that the family trusts her to bring to the family functions. The other is her meatloaf. Oh gawd, the meatloaf... loaf being the key word here. Ground chuck, bread crumbs, an egg, and more Lipton's Onion Soup Mix. That's it. No really, that's it. Molded into a ball and baked within an inch of it's sad little life. I actually had the urge to dump my water on it just to get it down.

I still love her tho'.

She actually threw me a curve ball a few weeks ago. I went to pick up the girls and she had supper waiting for me. Fried chicken legs. I eyed them suspiciously because I didn't see a stitch of breading of any kind on them. Then I bit into one and was really surprised. It had the thinnest, most delicate crust I'd ever had on a piece of chicken. It kind of crackled under my teeth like a Rice Crispy. It was well seasoned, juicy, and completely cooked. No jiggly pink bits to be found. I was so impressed that I didn't even want to know how she did it. I just enjoyed it and tried to erase the memory of too many bone dry crumbly meatloaves from my head.

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Mystery Meat Mountain

In my mind's eye I see scenes from "Close Encounters" with the tower starting to take shape using the meatloaf...

My thoughts exactly.

My family seems to be one of those with most of the cooking genes intact. For that I am very much thankful. Some of these stories thought.... :wacko: Oh man. Glad that my next meal is many hours away.


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there really are no bad cooks in my family ..everyone cooks really well...

however my step mom had a rough start... was really young when she married my father and took us all on .and came from a family of non foodies....although I do not remember any really awful meals I do remember early on she ran out of the kitchen (frequently) sobbing because food did not turn out right ...really sobbing ..tears shooting everywhere!!!! we grew very sensitive to this and would just rave about everything...

one time she baked three beautiful apple pies with the most tart apples you can imagine and no sugar

we were so worried she would cry we just kept trying to eat the pie ..even though it was turning our mouths inside out with sourness... ..she sat down with us took a huge bite of my piece and ran from the kitchen crying!!!

she later told us that she was so upset that time because we would eat the very sour pie rather than see her cry that it made her cry!

we could not win with her back then! of course 7 months later my sister was born!!! so I am thinking hormones along with a fragile ego..were a huge cause of the tears!

she became after my sister was born .. one of the most fantastic cooks I know!

and only laughs when things do not turn out right now

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?


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OH, the step mom thing! I was probably the worst cook in the house when I married my present husband. I served him and my stepdaughter this perfectly awful pork chop, canned mushrooms and canned pineapple baked thing.

They hated it, but politely ate it, only grousing behind my back, mercifully!

Since then, 15 years later, I am a much better cook. She brings her own Tupperware to the house to take home leftovers for her and her husband when she comes over to eat for holidays!

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