#416 When you try cooking something new and everyone likes it

I blew it last week.

A friend came over after work for that homemade meal I’d been promising her. Since my standard dinner lately has been a plate of nachos and a couple spoons of Nutella I figured it was high time to cook a proper meal.

It started well: I snagged a fancy pasta recipe off the innernet and raced through the grocery store after work loading up on ingredients I had no business buying — sun-dried tomatoes soaking in tubs of yellow oil, artichoke hearts squeezed into tiny square jars, and a big bottle of dry white cooking wine for simmering the sauce.

Then I came home and made a huge mess.

First, I didn’t have butter so I tossed the chopped onions into some lukewarm olive oil. Then after I realized I forgot to buy garlic I dumped the whole bottle of artichokes in to make up for it, figuring they were related somewhere way back in their vegetable family tree. Unfortunately, while trying to get the onions frying I dissolved those artichokes to mush. My grip on dinner was slipping so I tried saving the day with half a bottle of white wine before letting the whole thing simmer for ten minutes.

Smiling and satisfied, I washed my hands and scooped a bed of steamy pasta onto a couple dinner plates before pouring a generous amount of my sauce on each.

Well, guess what?

It was disgusting.

The onions were somehow raw and burnt, the artichokes were long gone, and the booze hadn’t simmered off so the entire thing tasted like hot wine. I got up to check the recipe and noticed I’d forgotten to put water in during the important final stage and somehow replaced it with triple the amount of wine.

It was a terrible meal and we choked it back through forced smiles and hot tears. A half bottle of Parmesan cheese and a loaf of bread were also called in to help.

It was a sad day but I really do hope that one day I get to experience the joy of cooking something new and having everyone like it.

Because I can see it now.

After flipping through cookbooks and strolling through aisles I get a sneaky twinkle in my eye as I race home ready to whip up a storm. Next I tie on a big apron, pull my hair back, and preheat that oven. After spinning like the Tasmanian Devil for a couple hours everyone finally comes over and samples my big meal.

“Ohhhh…” they say softly “Wow, this is delicious! What is this?”

“Oh … just some experimenting,” I smile back shyly, shrugging my shoulders and waving my hand. “It was so easy, honestly.”

But they won’t stop. None of them will.

“Can I have seconds?”

“Can I have thirds?”

“Can I get the recipe?”

“I love it so much!”

“Because it’s just so perfect!”

“And just so delicious!”

“And just so incredibly


Photos from: here, here, here, and here

69 thoughts on “#416 When you try cooking something new and everyone likes it

  1. NUTELLA! Nutella! OMG it’s Nutella! ;D

    I just laughed like a crazy person at your story. I mean, not at your expense or anything, but because I’ve SOOO been there. Lesson learned: perfect the recipe before sharing with another. Sorry, friends, for the über-fail Mahi Mahi that one time …

    It is so nice to be rewarded with genuine compliments for a hard day’s cookin’ … and you’re right, you will one day experience it!

      1. WHAAAAT? I can’t believe that with all the comments about Nutella on here that you haven’t tried it out of mere curiosity! Hahah :D Well … it’d delightful and when/if you ever try it (hint: you should), let us know your thoughts.

        1. I know, I know, I know…… Its been on my “to do” list since the first time I heard about it on here, it just never made it to the grocery list.

      2. Ohhhhhh myyyyy goodnesssss. You ABSOLUTELY MUST stop everything you’re doing and go buy some nutella RIGHT NOW!!

        No, but seriously, you need to try it as soon as you can, it’s fantastic!!

      3. GO EAT NUTELLA!

        it is a must!

        it goes good with everything..
        popcorn… plain corn chips..

        mmmm yum..

        i want some now!

        too bad im at work!!!!

        oh well..

        go get some nutella!!!!

    1. Weird – I typed a long nutella reply yesterday, but it never appeared.. I guess the comment filters assumed that my post was spam given all the shameless promotion I was doing for this product.. oops!

      At any rate.. GO NUTELLA!

  2. Man I love when this happens.

    But I totally relate to your story, same thing happened to me yesterday when I figured I could easily make a stir fry without looking up a recipe. It was all bad.

    You win some you lose some I guess.

  3. This happened yesterday. Of course, “everyone” was my sister and me, but it was something new and we both liked it. :D

  4. totally can relate yo your experience. It was a great feeling when I cooked up something without a recipe but it tasted good for the critic (my bro) haha (:

  5. I cook something horrible at least once a month. I’m either too tired to really try, too rushed and end up missing something, its new and I have no idea what I’m doing, or something else.
    Last weekend I was making this new cheesecake. Chocolate chip cheesecake. I’ve made its once before and it came out pretty awesome, but this time I kept messing up the little things, I had to go to the store in the middle of it all to get more ingredients, I burnt some chocolate….I ended up in tears before it was all over, but in the end it turned out pretty darn yummy.
    I love to experiment in the kitchen and 9 out of 10 times everything turns out perfect. I love to see when everyone cleans their plates. They don’t have to say a word, an empty dinner plate says it all.

    Loved your story, been there, I feel your pain.

    1. Oh my gosh. Having to stop cooking to go to the store for a forgotten ingredient is SO irritating. Gah! I hate it. And it’s doubly annoying because you know you should have checked first.

      1. I didn’t even go to a grocery store to get it, I went to a convenience store a block away. convenience maybe, but everything was double the usual price. The guy at the counter said, “You know these things are way over priced? You should go to the grocery store.”
        Yes, I know that, but I have something cooking right as we speak and I don’t have the time to go there. I need these things NOW

  6. Tuesday I was excited all day about dinner. It was something new and something that I just thought up. I didn’t have a recipe, it was all me. It was horrible. Ok, so not horrible per say, but not good enough to even keep the leftovers which there was plenty of.
    The rule of the house is-When I cook something bad for dinner, hubby gets to cook the next day. So last night……. we had pizza.

  7. Nutella. The only thing that would be better than that smoothy chocolatey spread from heaven is if they came up with a crunchy version with delicious crushed hazelnuts.

    Also for those who like Reese’s, try Nutella and peanut butter on fresh Italian bread.

  8. I don’t like cold wine that much so I can’t imagine eating hot wine, but for you I would have pretended to like it. :-)

  9. Ok, I have one of the easiest recipes ever, and EVERYONE will love it. I made it when I was 15 years old, and my entire family, and extended family loves it. Like even the pickiest eaters loved it. The feeling you get when you cook a new recipe and even the picky eaters love it is AWESOME!!! But seriously, try making it. I’ll put the link, oh, and you have to try to mess this up. (just make sure you have everything put out, even the water, beforehand.)


    Seriously, try it!!!

    It is AWESOME!!! (and so is Nutella ;)

  10. This is a great feeling :-D Oh, and a tip from a foodie: don’t cook with “cooking wine.” Use the same stuff you would drink.

  11. I found a recipe the other day and made it, and my husband LOVED IT! It was such a good feeling. He is usually the one who cooks, he’s very good at it, while I stick more to the baking side of the house (I make a mean chocolate chip cookie!), so it was nice to watch him have thirds of my food. =) Awesome indeed!

  12. I made chicken salad completely from scratch for the first time the other day – I cooked the chicken, toasted some sliced almonds, chopped all the celery and onions myself – and it actually turned out well! I’m so proud of myself!

  13. It really is wonderful when it happens. I love to cook and I love to feed people. Nothing makes me smile more than this.

  14. I’ve been telling @geektween that if, by the time she goes to university, she has 20 signature dishes (delicious food that she can make from memory)…she will be a total student ghetto superstar.

    Number one is Gorgonzolla and Walnut risotto. She made it for her grandpa’s birthday to great acclaim.

  15. I was trying to make this-http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/squash-and-zucchini-cakes-recipe/index.html

    But they were mushy and lumpy and didn’t have that golden crust in the picture. They looked like Soylent Green Wafers or Frankenstein’s brain.

    So at the last moment, we tossed the lumps in the oven and covered it in mozzarella cheese. They came out tasting awesome. It is one thing to follow a recipe, but it is even better to try something else and have it work out.

  16. Ok i have had this experience with a first time recipe….involving Nutella!
    Nutella Tiramisu… i bravely made it for the first time for a pot luck dinner and it was gobbled up and people clamoured for the recipe.
    Fantastic. Plus it meant i had half a jar of Nutella to eat with a spoon…why waste the bread?

  17. LOL. My mother is a FABULOUS cook (deep south!) but I’m pretty new to the experience.

    I get most of my stuff from Epicurious.com. Great website, and a great mobile site as well (it has a shopping list!) The recipes aren’t always GREAT the first time – you have to adjust to your individual tastes – but most are very good. Here’s a secret – READ THE COMMENTS! Many people have already written about what needs to be done to improve the original recipe. If you see the same adjustment mentioned several times…. DO IT!

    My bf always complimented me when I made dinner. I finally had to tell him, “If you say you like it, I will make it again. So if you don’t like it, you better speak up.” Now he just says something like, “Umm, I’m not sure about this…” and I know that I shouldn’t repeat it. The best part is, I don’t take it personally. It’s not my cooking, it’s the person who wrote the recipe! Awesome!

  18. hahahhaaa…oh I love this!!!!
    (my cousin just gave me your link …and so glad she did)!

    Wonderful blog…thanks for sharing.
    Will come by again if you don`t mind:)
    Happy day to ya!

  19. OMG!! Nutella made it into a post! What an exciting moment for us all.

    And I’m with Laura on this one – I laughed like a total goof-ball through the whole thing. This is a piece of brilliant hilarity. And also because, yes my friends, I have BEEN THERE. Yep. I’m not that good of a cook, and let’s just say mistakes have been made. Unauthorized substitutions can break your heart. Just don’t do it.

  20. For some strange reason I’m the designated help person when my single male friends want to make a meal for their dates.

    My main advice is keep the meal simple, but the presentation awesome.

    E.g. One main dish, one steamed vegetable, salad, and bread roll. Main dish can be chicken breast brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and lemon pepper, then popped in the oven for 20 minutes. For sauce just buy a good quality one and heat it up. You’re too nervous to do anything else.

    For dessert you can buy a good quality gelati and a couple of edible flowers like pansies, nasturtiums, or mint flowers (very romantic), put in small crystal looking bowls.

    The focus isn’t really the food. The food is there to show you care. If you end up buying take away/out, just be sure to put it on your best china with your best cutlery, and have a couple of candles burning. You still made an effort, since you’ll be cleaning the dishes.

    Have fun!

  21. I heart this post heaps! When my friend came over for a dinner party one night, I decided to take charge of dessert and made a lindt blueberry chocolate cheesecake, which was the first dessert that I had ever made completely from scratch. I was so nervous because I hadn’t made trialed it before and didn’t even know how it would taste. Happily, everyone loved it and my friend even texted me the next day to thank me again for the “delicious” cake that I’d made.

  22. I just read the article in Reader’s Digest and had to check out your blog. Thank you for bringing this into being, as it is a wonderful reminder that we need to live in the moment and be reminded / thankful for something good everyday. I keep a daily journal where I write about something good everyday.. Some days I’m pulling at straws looking for something, but after I’m done I feel much better and know that it can’t all be a bad day if you found at least one thing of beauty/awesomeness.

    I’ve done my fair share of crappy cooking by mistake, but I have learned that if I write EVERYTHING ingredient down from the recipe (or print it out), then systematically check it off while going through pantry to see if I’ve got it, THEN head to the store to buy what’s not there (I have 3 containers of ginger..), and finally create the food step by step (sometimes checking it off if I’m particularly tired/loopy) then things come out quite well. Otherwise, I have had some pretty hard to swallow dinners.

    Best wishes, and keep finding the awesome in your life, and thanks again for helping others to find it in theirs.

  23. This one is definitely awesome to me– love it when someone asks for the recipe! Even better is when you’re invited to a gathering and someone says, “Hey, can you make that awesome ____ you brought to the last party?” Why, yes, dear one, I certainly can… :)

  24. I think my favorite part of this whole post is the pic of the toddler with sauce all over his hands and his hands all over his face. Adorably awesome!

  25. Hiya! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when browsing from my apple iphone. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to correct this issue. If you have any suggestions, please share. Thank you!

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