In a month dedicated to blogging about delicious food, it may seem strange to write a post about a recipe gone wrong, but I promise, there’s a reason.
Yesterday, Queenie and I were going to spend part of the day at a park with families from her new school. As said new school hasn’t started yet, we would be meeting most of these people for the first time. We planned to bring a picnic lunch for ourselves, and I decided to make a batch of muffins to share with the group. Not just any muffins. One of the most delicious muffins on the planet: the ginger peach corn muffins from the Babycakes cookbook. I have made these muffins countless times, always to rave reviews. This was going to be easy.
The night before, I prepared the peach slices that would perch on the muffins the next day. Everything was going well so far.
When I got up the morning of the park day, I had a long list of things to do to get ready rattling around in my head, both for the picnic and dinner later. I also had a plumber showing up to fix a bathroom sink and an insurance adjustor to assess a damaged table. On top of that, Queenie was eager to get to the park, her enthusiasm driving her to check in about the time frequently. In short, things were feeling a little crazy yesterday morning.
Given that it would take the longest, I decided to start with the muffin recipe. There were many interruptions as I went along (the aforementioned plumber and insurance adjustor and their attendant questions among them), but things seemed under control. I could almost do this recipe in my sleep.
Then I came to the part of the recipe that said to add coconut oil. When I went to grab the coconut oil, I couldn’t find it. Was it possible that we were out? Queenie checked in about time, and I realized that we were going to be quite late at this point, so I abandoned the search for coconut oil and decided to sub in another kind of neutral-tasting oil. Should work, right?
As I filled the muffin tins, the batter seemed a bit runnier than usual, but I forged ahead.
Into the oven they went, the timer was set, and I went off to finish getting everything else ready. When I pulled them out of the oven 22 minutes later, it was quite a sight. They never rose, but instead, spread out like some kind of golden ooze. The peaches had disappeared, as if into quicksand. The “muffins” were grainy looking and just off in every way. Deep in denial and hoping that it was merely a question of aesthetics, I took a nibble. Nope, the offness ran all the way through them. I’d just made a batch of inedible muffins.
I wish I had a photo of this mess to share with you, but we were late, I was scrambling and I didn’t pick up my camera. I just left the kitchen a disaster area and headed out. I returned home from a lovely time at the park to a wonderful surprise: Mr. Man had tackled the mess and completely cleaned the kitchen in my absence. The only remnant was the muffin pan, which was still in the process of a good soak.
Why am I telling you about this? Because I’m sure there are at least a few people out there who are daunted by the process of cooking. You see the big, beautiful photos in the cookbooks, or you read blog posts from talented chefs who have created masterpieces, and maybe you think you couldn’t do what they’re doing. Or maybe you tried, and it didn’t turn out right. Guess what: it happens to everyone. Even those talented chefs and cookbook authors (do you think they figure out those recipes on the first try?). Even to home cooks who have made a recipe a million times, only to have it go wrong one day. I offer this blog post not as a cautionary tale, but in the hope that you’ll find it encouraging. Just keep at it! Try new things. Practice your techniques. And, if possible, avoid doing a complicated recipe when you’re feeling really hassled. Above all,