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11 November 2008

Ow! I am an eejit. Stupid cooking stories solicited. Making chile today, and decided to roast a shwack of peppers for it. Normally I oil my hands to handle chiles, which has two benefits: it keeps the burn away, and ensures that I'll wash my hands before touching anything. Since roasted peppers are enough of a PIA to handle without adding oily hands to the mix, I thought, "Meh. How bad can it be?"[More:]It can be bad. My hands, they are on fire! After painkillers and ice water, it's down to a dull roar, though. Think I'll go with gloves when prepping the okra tonight.

Make me feel better and tell your cooking gaffe stories here!
I burned Jello once.

I don't remember how it happened, but it did. And now I'm not allowed to touch anything in the kitchen. Ever.
posted by sperose 11 November | 17:23
elizard: somewhat-related. Do not. EVER. handle contact lenses after prepping scotch bonnets (habanero) for salsa.

trust me on this. Or not, and experience the sensation of a small thermonuclear device detonating inside your eye socket.

last night I had to wrestle the Oven of Fail to produce meatloaf. It eventually ended okay but took something like 4x too long, and reinforced my resolve that Oven of Fail must go.
posted by lonefrontranger 11 November | 17:28
I once entirely failed at thawing a frozen chicken breast. It ended up half-still-frozen, half-completely-cooked.
posted by muddgirl 11 November | 17:33
Hee. See, I feel better already! Glad to know I'm in good company.

You may be asking yourself, "If she has gloves, why didn't she wear them for the chiles?" Because they're those awkward disposable plastic gloves and I hate handling stuff with gloves at the best of times. I rarely wear gloves to garden, even, and there's manure involved there. "Yes," you say, "but wouldn't that have been better than the hell that is chile burn?" Maybe. Shut up. Quit pickin' at the scab, okay?
posted by elizard 11 November | 17:38
From someone who couldn't even handle pepperoni a couple of years ago:

It did that. To your HANDS. And then you eat it.
posted by qvantamon 11 November | 17:38
I've rubbed my eyes after handling birds-eye chillis before - lesson. learned. aaaaaagh. My cooking disasters recently have been several varieties of flat, unrisen, bicarb- and baking powder-flavoured carrot cake - until I got my mum's recipe!
posted by goo 11 November | 17:40
On non-preview: stomach acid, qvantamon, is a very powerful thing.
posted by goo 11 November | 17:43
There was this nasty incident with a cake that we thought we were using flour in but it was actually corn starch. After that mom took me into the cupboard and showed me how cornstarch FEELS different. Oy.

And lately my pies have been full of fail; the crusts have been all wrong and I don't know why. It hurts because I've been making pie since I was seven and here, almost twenty years later, I've lost my mojo.
posted by Fuzzbean 11 November | 17:46
One Christmas, mr. init and I bought chestnuts to "roast on an open fire," but in the oven. We forgot to cut the little crosshatches on the tops for steam to escape. Curious as to how the roasting was going, we opened the oven door. Then, instead of a romantic evening by the fire feeding each other chestnuts, we were in the line of fire, holding each other and cowering behind the kitchen island as the chestnut projectiles whizzed around the room.
posted by initapplette 11 November | 18:11
I remember way back in college when I was trying to impress a girl with my cooking abilities. I was making dinner completely from scratch. I don't remember what the main course was or anything, but I do remember making whole wheat rolls, and not understanding why they didn't rise. I had baked bread often without recipes, but why wouldn't the damn whole wheat rolls rise? Turns out it was because they were whole wheat. Go figure.
posted by eekacat 11 November | 18:20
Oh, man. This is even better than I'd hoped. Not only do you have great stories, your comic timing is impeccable. init's chestnut projectiles will have me giggling for days.

Here's another one: I was in my early 20s, and my boyfriend's parents were coming over to our place for dinner for the first time. I'm nervous, of course, and trying to put together an impressive meal in a tiny galley kitchen. I pulled out the roast and put it on the stove, turned around to the counter to do something or other, and turned back to pull the meat thermometer out of the roast. With my bare hands, because, um, it didn't look hot or something. In spite of the big dial looking up at me telling me exactly how many degrees of screaming hot it was. Screaming being the operative word.

As a side note, I had also learned by then that having three gold rings in your face means you should probably turn away from the oven when opening it. Gold's not called a superconductor for nothing.
posted by elizard 11 November | 18:40
...and for my next trick, I am now going to attempt to prepare fried okra. I have never cooked okra in any way, shape, or form before. Any hilarity that ensues will be shared with the class, once I get back from Intensive Care.
posted by elizard 11 November | 18:51
Ooh, I'm having okra for dinner too!

The classic fried okra, breaded and deep fried, is indeed wonderful. But you can also make a cheater version that's really good. Slice the okra, toss with uncooked polenta or grits (or regular corn meal, if that's all you've got), and pan fry it in some olive oil until it's crisp. Very, very good.

And here's the best okra tip: Don't let it get wet, at all, after it's cut. That's what makes it slimy. Make sure the okra's dry, and that your knife's not wet, and that you wipe off the blade with a paper towel every once in a while.
posted by mudpuppie 11 November | 18:57
HAHAHAHAHA!!! okay so Annoying Chemist Guy just walked in wondering what I was laughing about. He then supplied an anecdote of his misguided college days(ze); the Reader's Digest version is that he apparently made an attempt to DIY microbrew, then there's a somewhat-confused recollection of maybe a trifle too much heat or yeast or something (ed: and possibly one too many bong rips...) and et voila BLAMMO, wort all over the livingroom and, yeah, no, he didn't actually ever get his deposit back on that particular apartment, plus he maintains that his wardrobe stank like eau de frathouse rug for months.

Not precisely cooking-related but dude *is* a chemist, yanno.
posted by lonefrontranger 11 November | 19:02
You know how when you buy a mandoline, there's a Book of Words that tells you what to do and what not to do, and how the part that tells you not to do things tells you not to ever use the mandoline without the safety-food-stabber?

They mean that.
posted by ROU Xenophobe 11 November | 19:02
Thanks for the tips, mudpuppie! Glad I checked in before starting. I'm doing this recipe, though I'm very very tempted by your cheater version. Hmmm.

On preview: Ha! and Ow ow ow ow ow.
posted by elizard 11 November | 19:07
Heh ROU, I have my own mandoline injury, but not from using it, but from cleaning it. I got 3 furrows in the meat of the palm of my hand when it slipped while cleaning. Ouch. Yours is much worse as it required stitches...
posted by eekacat 11 November | 19:10
The Pupster is wise in The Ways of Okra. This is valuable. But I really just get that at a restaurant. Because I am lazy and ill-skilled in the kitchen. mudpuppie, if I ever show up on your doorstep and bring okra, you must fry me up a mess of it.

My story is trying to make my Mom's awesome home-made stuffing for First Thanksgiving with The Man. Drying and ripping bread, great purchases of butter and sage, etc. etc. Effort. Well I mis-read her handwriting and added a tablespoon of salt instad of a teaspoon, to create what is still known in the household as "The Dead Sea Stuffing."
posted by rainbaby 11 November | 19:30
Be thankful you're not a dude and didn't have to pee. I know of which I speak.
posted by jonmc 11 November | 19:33
mudpuppie, if I ever show up on your doorstep and bring okra, you must fry me up a mess of it.

That, my friend, is a deal.
posted by mudpuppie 11 November | 19:40
rainbaby: post your mother's stuffing recipe here, please! And yum to a mess of muddpuppie's fried okra.
posted by goo 11 November | 20:03
initapplette - heeheHEHEheheheheHEHE *snort* hehehehe
posted by gomichild 11 November | 20:07
Oh, ow, I did that to myself with the chiles a few months ago. I feel your pain.

It did that. To your HANDS. And then you eat it.

Oh, but it's a good kind of hurt. When you eat it, that is. Besides, it's good for you.

I also took a chunk off my pinkie with a mandoline. And by chunk I mean there's still a bit of a hole in my pinkie that I use to scare small children when talking about knife safety.

My funny story is about my college roommates. Two of us were Computer Science majors, and the other was, well, not CS. Not-CS managed to set fire to an electric burner, and then threw flour on it to put it out. The fire did not go out, and instead flamed higher and put a scorch mark on the ceiling. CS roommate wandered in and blew the flour off the burner and the flame went out.

One on me: I eat natural peanut butter, but hate stirring in the oils all the time, so I do it when I first open the jar then refrigerate. One day I decided to try this with the hand mixer.

Lessons learned: make sure another adult has a VERY good grip on the jar before you start. And keep the mixer out of childrens' reach.
posted by lysdexic 11 November | 20:15
I learned on the internets that chili oil is a base and you can neutralize it with an acid. So I always rise my hands with lime or lemon juice after I chop chilies. It totally works.
posted by kodama 11 November | 21:13
rinse my hands even
posted by kodama 11 November | 21:14
Mistaking the 'strong' smell of some venison I put in some beans as being a fresh and safe smell for venison. First and only time I have ever illed myself and others.
posted by buzzman 11 November | 22:14
Oh! Oh! Oh! And the family legend story: the time my mother, a young wife with a new pressure cooker (this was around 1970, so keep that in mind when you picture said cooker) decided to try out her new toy. In the married students' residence kitchen. To make spaghetti. And then forgot about it.

Apparently, when applied at high velocity, spaghetti is very very hard to clean off a ceiling, and even harder to get out of that little hole in a pressure valve.

The okra was great, btw. Crispy and light and the doctors tell me the skin will grow back in no time.

kodama, for that citrus juice tip I thank you. Never again the pain and the burning. Thank you.
posted by elizard 11 November | 22:55
There's a stain on my parents' kitchen ceiling from an overzealous pot of pressure-cooked beans.

And elizard, I love you, but I also damn you. Tonight I actually did the OOPS THAT'S NOT SUGAR THAT'S SALT thing. And I blame this thread. So, damn you!
posted by mudpuppie 11 November | 23:02
Another cool, soothing, acidic place to soak yer fingers while pondering the powers of chiles? A big tub of plain yogurt.
posted by Triode 12 November | 01:33
Not quite a cooking story, but I remember the time we were making easter eggs (- Greek easter eggs, so they were red), and drinkin' wine, just making eggs and drinking wine, and the eggs turned out gorgeous, and at the end we had all that red dye left, and we thought "hm, what should we do with that red dye, then?" and decided that we would dye our wooden cutting board (apparently because it was sitting there in front of our faces; I tremble to imagine what else might have been just sitting around to catch our attention).

Needless to say, this wasn't a fully evolved plan. In the end, we had a perfectly gorgeous red wooden cutting board that was also perfectly useless, since we couldn't use it without dye transferring to tabletops, countertops, hands, sliced vegetables, kitchen towels, and pretty much just every single thing it came into contact with. We bought a new cutting board and left our beautiful red one out on the balcony to giggle at, and remind us fondly of makin' easter eggs and drinkin' wine.
posted by taz 12 November | 03:15
Hee hee hee! All these are great!

I had a jalapeņo incident: I was chopping some up, makin' samosas, and talking on the phone. I had a tiny itch just under my nostril, and without thinking, I delicately scratched a little with my pinkie nail. I immediately realized what I'd done, said "Oh shit, Philip? I gotta go!" I washed and applied oil, but it was in vain. My nostril burned and burned and burned and the entire side of my nose turned bright pink. When my SO got home three hours later, he said "Hi, ooh those samosas look good oh my god what is UP with your nose?!"

And something that still makes me laugh every time I think of it: back when whipping cream cannisters were first put on the market, my grandfather was in the kitchen fiddling with one. (He was an engineer with an inquisitive mind.) Suddenly the top of the can exploded, coating my grandfather's face and the ceiling. The cream on the ceiling had a grandfather-shaped hole in it. My father and his brothers laughed and laughed.
posted by Specklet 12 November | 03:29
OK, I share:
My $110 apple pie recipe:

In-laws are going to visit? Check.
Cooking everything from scratch? Check.
Perp time: 3 hours.

Pie dough made from scratch? No problem.
Cinnamon, sugar, vanilla? No problem.
Fresh apples, sliced? Problem.
Optional seasonings:
Visit to emergency room for stitches and tetanus shot.

Rinse apples well after returning from expedition. What? they were eventually cooked after all....

*note to others: Driving a crew-cab pickup truck with double-transmission shifting is kinda difficult with one hand swathed in kitchen towel.*
posted by mightshould 12 November | 10:08
We had just moved into our house, and it was stir fry night. With lots of wine - we weren't yet parents. So, mrs. tr33 is on the computer and finds something funny and I go to see. Forgetting I had a wok on the stove with, oh, a half cup of oil or so for frying some tofu. And the stove was on. High.

We're in the other room, giggling at the intraweb, when mrs. says "mmmmm, dinner smells good." "Dinner?" I think to myself. Oh . . . dinner . . . wok . . . oil . . . heat . . . GREAT GOOGLY MOOGLY and we both rush into the kitchen (mrs. was watching the horror unfold on my face) to find the great flaming wok with tongues of fire licking at the stove hood. I grab the wok by the handle, ouch, burning, flames flirting with my face, turn and get out the back door into the back yard. It's mid-winter, and the whole yard is coated with a mixture of ice and frozen snow. I majestically hurl the flaming wok into the yard where it hits the slippery stuff, slides a good ten feet, flames a-blazing, and then finally flips over and extinguishes with a glorious "PPPPSSSSSSSSST!"

How I wish I had been a neighbor, looking out on a quiet winter's eve at that moment. And how I wish I could open an Asian eatery called "The Flaming Wok" or "Woks A-Blaze!"
posted by tr33hggr 12 November | 14:24
I once made bread that rose, and rose, and kept rising. It slithered out of the pan while it cooked. It ended up nearly burnt on the outside and oozy on the inside. I believe it was alien yeast.

Exploding chestnuts, flaming woks; good times.
posted by theora55 12 November | 17:27
Had the whole family at my aunt and uncles' farm once. I wanted to make pancakes from scratch for everyone (I'm lazy and use those mixes in a box normally). My aunt had the recipe my grandmother used to use. But I got mixed up, and instead of baking soda I used baking powder. They were horrible!! But my stepson tried to be kind, and told me they tasted sort of like pretzels. I stick with the box mixes now.
posted by redvixen 12 November | 20:00
I forgot the saga of the exploding beans.

So, every Christmas my sister would make a huge casserole dish of baked beans. I in particular loved them (we're all veg now, so the recipe has altered, but they are some damn good beans). I would start bothering her at Thanksgiving for the beans, "please for the love of god don't forget the beans" I'd plead.

She and her family lived just a few blocks from where my parents lived at the time, and they would all pile themselves, their presents, and all the food into a station wagon and come over Christmas afternoon.

One particular Christmas was bone chilling cold - this is Northeastern Illinois, right off the lake. They arrived as was their habit and began unloading the station wagon, all of the rest of the family pitching in, when all of a sudden there was a tremendous "POP . . . SIZZLE."

We were momentarily confused, until we noticed the rear window of the station wagon had completely exploded. Sis had taken the beans directly out of the oven and put them in the wagon last, right under the window. Combo of fiery hot casserole of baked beans + ice cold window made the whole thing blow.

Needless to say, there were no beans for the tr33hggr that year, as they were covered with fine shards of beany glass . . .
posted by tr33hggr 13 November | 10:55
tr33hggr for the win! My coworkers are wondering about the bursts of explosive laughter from my cube.
posted by initapplette 13 November | 11:01
Posted just because || Meatbomb's 20 Minute Spaghetti Sauce