39 comments on “Culinary Triumphs, Big Trouble, and Thanksgiving Dinner

  1. What a talent- you WANT to cook! (I too have never cooked a souffle- they’re really hard! )
    I smiled while reading the whole story!!! I only WISH someone in my family wanted to cook this Thursday… I look forward to your pictures–

  2. At this point, I made a crucial error, for I kept to my unusual tactic of telling the whole truth: “Well Dad, it’s just like making model airplanes; if you do exactly what the directions say, everything turns out just fine.” At that, my father could suppress his laughter no more, in fact, he actually pounded the table, he was laughing so hard. My Mom decided that she had other matters to attend to and left the room.

    Few realize just how important it is to learn to follow directions, to be careful with respect to every detail.

    When in college, I earned a degree in Chemistry. I struggled through the laboratory exercises, not realizing why. Eventually, as a graduate student working as a teaching assistant, I learned the importance of carefully following the directions (I also learned how to cook
    😉 .).

    Improvising is something we should only do when we understand the risk. As a student, I discovered this the hard way. We had an experiment designed to show us just how inert Bakelite, a type of plastic, is. Well, since none of the chemicals we were suppose to use did anything to Bakelite, I decided to try something about which I had only read a few paragraphs, Aqua regia.

    Aqua regia is a highly reactive mix of nitric and hydrocloric acids. That nasty stuff did the job. Smug with satisfaction, I told our instructor of my success. To my surprise what I had done horrified our instructor. I had just turned that little bit of plastic into an unstable explosive. It it had gone boom, it would have scattered that nasty acid mix. We promptly washed my “success” down the sink.

    The Bible is our cookbook for life. When we depart from it, we risk making our lives poisonous, tasteless at best.

    Thanks for your post and your humor.

    • Gee Tom, I don’t think I want to work near you in labs any more!

      You make a great point; in the kitchen I always follow the formulas for things that rise; exactly and precisely. The result is that they always rise because the science makes it happen. Of course if it isn’t a riser, then let the fun begin!

      The results are usually “keepers” but I must be prepared for a flop when I get too creative.

      As for the Bible’s directions… it always seems to work out better for me when I do what it says, especially if I really don’t want to 🙂

    • My son and I are both “scientists”, chemistry for me, DNA and Toxicology for him. When he was planning on leaving our area for his first real job he was nervous about cooking for himself; oh, he had made things before, but usually only one or two ingredient things, like Jello. I told him, he had done several levels of chemistry, so he was familiar with formulations, cooking was nothing more than chemistry, without the chance of blowing things up. He smiled, then later on I found him looking at a cookbook and trying different recipes, his only confusion was over terminology (what the heck as tbsp?). He does well now, and tried a casserole for his first office covered dish event. He said it wasn’t perfect, but no one complained either, guess it’s Don’s “how much did you pay for it?” thing.

      • That’s my policy! 🙂

        By the way, you can come pretty close to an explosion is you put milk on the stove to heat up, and then get distracted. At a certain temp you will hear the “pop” just before the air is filled with boiling milk… I’ll never do that again!

        • I was baking bread one day, put the dough into the oven to raise. It was 45 minutes later when I went to check on it and found that it had “exploded” out of it’s bowl and now covered the racks and the bottom of the oven. A quick check with the bakers hotline discovered that they had posted the wrong amount of yeast on their website, 1/2 cake instead of 1/4! Made for an interesting loaf of bread, and some hard cleanup work.


  4. Love this story! My husband is an amazing cook; of course I taught him the basics, and he took off from there. Like your wife, I don’t like the pressure either. Awesome read!

  5. Don, I can’t wait to read about this and try the recipes. I’ll be with my relatives, but hopefully I can try something out (without stepping on my SIL’s toes). If not, I’ll make them when I get home for a second Thanksgiving with my neighbors!

  6. I really enjoyed this story, bringing back memories of when we all did things in our youth that caused our parents some frustration.

    Traditional belief has it that Luke was a physician and tended to Mary in her failing health near the end of her life. We have one story about Jesus causing his parents come grief when they lost him in the temple, narrated only in Luke. You have to wonder what other things Mary told Luke about those early years with Jesus, and what other things he did that made them upset or worried. We are always so tightly viewed on Jesus divinity and his mission that we sometimes forget that he was also fully human and lived for 33 years before starting his ministry, what interesting tales must there be from those earlier years that Mary kept in her heart, sharing possibly only with Luke.

  7. Don, I am teaching my son to cook holiday meals (turkey, stuffing, beef tenderloin) as a gift to my future (unknown and not on the horizon) daughter -in-law. What a gift you give your wife, especially, every time you fix a meal!

    • That is simply fantastic! Your are absolutely right about it being a wonderful gift, and even more it is a necessary skill for everyone to have. I certainly taught all of my kids to cook, and my son liked it so much that he went to culinary school and became a chef!

  8. I would have loved it if my husband or any of my sons would have shown an interest in cooking. I tried to teach my sons enough so they wouldn’t starve. The youngest was the most interested. After they moved out, they all ended up working in the food industry for a while and learned on their own. I really don’t like to cook and am so jealous of women whose husbands do the cooking. I do like to eat though so that’s why I still cook. My mantra when criticized for any cooking mishaps is that it’s better than what they made. Which is nothing.

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