Believe it or not, today we celebrate being a klutz in the kitchen — June 13 is Kitchen Klutzes of America Day! There seems to be a day for everyone, doesn’t there, though?
Nonetheless, this one is near and dear to my heart, because although I am a culinary professional, I have had more than my share of kitchen mishaps, disasters and overall klutziness in the kitchen.
In no particular order, here are some of my own disasters:
1. Email, the ultimate distraction. I am rather infamous for putting something on to cook, then deciding I’ll take a few minutes to check email. Let me just say, this is a bad, bad, bad idea. Bad idea. Those few minutes always turn into at least 10 minutes (on a good day), up to 20 minutes on a bad day. If you ever want to know HOW to burn something you are working on? Put something on to cook, then go check your email.
2. Too many ingredients. I often talk about using one ingredient and showcasing it rather than putting a whole bunch of things into a dish or a recipe and letting none of them shine. I learned this through experience. Repeat experience. More is not always better. Only one or two flavors should play starring roles in your dish. The rest? Let them be supporting cast.
3. Forgetting that measuring really counts in baking. I’ve made bricks, I tell you, BRICKS just because I haven’t measured. Or I rushed and forgot the leavening. Take your time. Set all your ingredients out, then move them away from your prep space as you use them. Then if the baking soda is still on the counter near your mixer and the cake is in the oven and it’s flat? You’ve got your missing ingredient and you know why your cake turned into a pancake.
4. If the directions say don’t over mix? Don’t. If you do, you will get another brick.
5. If you’ve really mucked something up don’t panic immediately. Check to see if there’s a way to fix the problem. A good friend, Charmian Christie, has even made an app for that, Kitchen Disasters and Fixes (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id520930632?mt=). She’s made the mistakes and she’s found the fixes.
Klutzes unite: we have all been there, even those of us who are paid to avoid the mistakes (I won’t give you details on the time I set an entire kettle of chicken stock, oh, about 20 gallons of it at least, to boil with the lid down and basically sent chicken stock spewing across the entire kitchen floor of a restaurant…) STILL make mistakes. But we learn from them.
In the meantime, the best thing to do? Keep on cooking.
How about you? Want to share your own kitchen klutziness with us here? We would love to read about your “adventures.”