Monday, February 16, 2009


When I decided I wanted to write a book about a chef, I realized I had my work cut out for me. In order to write HOT FLASH and the character of Jill Morgan Storm, I had to do a tremendous amount of research and oodles of kitchen experiments. I read books on cooking, books on becoming a chef, books on what it's like to work in a restaurant kitchen. I talked with working chefs, friends who are cooks, and consulted online cooking websites. I even dragged cooks out of restaurant kitchens in order to ask their opinions!

There was a good reason for this.

It's because I'm personally somewhat renowned for my cooking disasters.

I grew up in a very large family -- a mother, father and five girls. So when I learned how to cook, it was cooking for a crew, rather than a few. I cooked things like spaghetti, pork chops, lasagna, and chicken fried steak. I cooked southern. I cooked using a pinch of this and a dash of that. My fist was a measuring devise.

After I got married and wanted to cook for two, I had many kitchen catastrophes. Like the time I wanted to make meatloaf.

Simple you think?

The recipe I had called for a mix of ground beef and ground pork. And my mother taught me that pork shouldn't be pink when it's cooked. So when I baked that meatloaf and checked it after the time required by the recipe, it still seemed fairly raw. So I cooked it some more. And some more. And some more. After three additional hours, I called in my husband to look at it to see if he thought it was cooked yet. He agreed that it remained pretty pink. So back it went into the oven. Eventually, we left that puppy in overnight and ate a can of Chili instead. The next morning, I realized I'd learned how to make really delicious bricks!

Another of my kitchen nightmares was fairly recent. I accidently overcooked the ham I was heating up for New Years and created a new delicacy: blackened ham. It's not a recipe I'd ever wish to share!

I can assure you, however, that the recipes prepared by Jill in HOT FLASH have been checked and rechecked by both myself and friends. They actually work and are good :D I created a Hot Flash Recipe blog where I've posted some of Jill's recipes and I'm hoping you'll share some of yours, as well.

I'd love to hear about other people's kitchen disasters, so please post a comment and tell me about your worst cooking experiments! -- KC
Kathy Carmichael writes fun, sexy romances and you can learn more about HOT FLASH by checking out her website here. Kathy is giving away copies of her book to two lucky winners -- so post away!


Kathy Carmichael said...

Thanks so much for having me here to guest blog today, Patti!

It'll be fun to hear about other people's cooking disasters :) -- KC

Gwyn Ramsey said...

Cooking disasters! I can relate to those. I, too, grew up in a large family of seven and being the eldest, it was my job to help with the cooking. When I got married, cooking for two was difficult, especially downsizing the recipe. Baked my first turkey. . . 22 pounds and no freezer space. We invited my husband's airmen friends from base and neighbors next door to feast on that bird.

Another time I couldn't remember how to cook spaghetti. Added the noodles to the water immediately and then turned on the fire. We had a globby mess that stuck together like glue. Tried twice to cook spaghetti that night. We ended up eating soup.

After raising a multiple amount of our children and others, my husband and I retired and the same nightmare evolved. Only this time, the store freezer is full of helpful packages to supplement a busy writer's schedule. Ah, thank you 21st century.

Cait London said...

Like you, I learned to cook in vats, then scaling down to a couple was difficult. But my mother was German, so the food-fare was probably not southern. :) She canned everything, and I did too, but only make jams for my breads now. With a family, I used to can enough quarts to fill a basement. But last year, I decided to make kraut. All different input from everywhere, everyone. This year, I dumped those 16 quarts into the disposal. To learn, I should have maybe made 1-2 quarts. :)

Unknown said...

I didn't come from a large family, nor did I have a mom who was a big cook. When I got married I hadn't a clue what I was doing. I sat with my mom and had her tell me how to do some things, and I wrote it all down, and that list was posted on the fridge for about 6 months into our marriage.

My husband also being the obsessive type he is, put up a smoke dectector. Unfortunately the place he choose to put it was close to our stove. Our home had no AC, and so we had all the doors and windows open. Every time I cooked the steam would set the alarm off. I finally convinced him to move it to the other side of the doorway, because I was sure that our elderly neighbors were about to take pity on the poor newlywed man whose wife they were sure was burning every dinner.

I did of course have a few meals that went into the trash, and one of them was a meatloaf. It's been so long that I don't remember if we ate anything else or not! Hopefully almost 30 years later my cooking has improved some, but not a lot as I'm so not a cooking lover!

Anonymous said...

My worst kitchen disaster entailed a pressure cooker (my first and last shot at using one) and lentils. No one told me that the little air vent at the top could get plugged and build up pressure. It did and when it let go, my entire kitchen was painted with the lentils that erupted from the pressure cooker. Not a pretty sight and even worse to clean.

Anonymous said...

I love to cook, and although I don't have too many "disasters" to tell, I did one time make what I thought was going to be a delicious cake. Well, it was not so delicious when I cut into a slice and it tasted like scrambled eggs! apparently, I had either read the recipe wrong, or measured my dry ingredients wrong. I think my family felt bad for me because they just smiled and didn't say too much, but you can be sure nobody wanted seconds! Can't wait to check out some of Jill's recipes, which I will be sure to follow correctly!
Thanks for sgaring your time with us, Kathy!
Lisa M.

Lisa F. said...

Can you give us a link to the recipe blog?

Our family used to eat out all the time and it had become a habit for us. This year we decided to eat healthier and I've become a Food Network addict. I'll revise all the good sounding recipes to make them healthier, and it's been fun!

Biggest disaster I've had was storing some pizza boxes in the oven and forgetting about them. Turned oven on later to preheat and had smoke billowing out of the oven - smoke detector went off, boxes on fire, kids yelling and laughing - it was a total zoo at our house!

Anonymous said...

When I was first married, my husband had a microwave. Something I had never used. One morning he asked me to make a egg in the microwave. It never occured to him to tell me that I would have to remove the egg from the shell.

In case you are wondering, microwaving an egg in the shell will cause a huge explosion in a microwave that the microwave will never recover from and the smell remains for a while even if you throw the microwave out.

TinaFerraro said...

Hi, Kathy! I've had my share of disasters over the years because I'm an impatient cook. I throw the stuff together, and then simply want it to be done. Or, I leave it on the stove and go answer e-mails or work on my book-in-progress.

The first time I ever attempted a cookbook recipe, I was about 18. I'd had eggplant parmesan at a restaurant and loved it, and attempted to recreate it. It was a complete, rubbery disaster, but my father, who was proud of me for trying, boldly asked for seconds. :)

Tee said...

A cooking mistake I made was trying to follow my Mom recipe that she was telling me over the phone. I was only 11 years old, but it is one I will not forget. To make our meatloaf stretch she would add bread. I did what she said but did not mix it in very well. We had eggs for dinner that night and she decided it would be best to be in the kitchen with me to teach me to cook.

I must admit when I saw your title I thought it would be about a cook who was having hot flashes. LOL

Kathy Carmichael said...

Gwyn: Your spaghetti story had me lol!

Cait: Hugs on the kraut!!

Sandi: LOL on the smoke alarm! I've set a few off in my day, too :)

Elizabeth: I'm picturing you surrounded by lentils and I'm ROFL!

Lisa M: LOL on the cake! I once made cookies and used baking soda instead of baking powder -- the result was similar to your experience. All I could taste was salt!

Lisa F: LOL over your oven and the pizza boxes! My husband did that to me once. He stuck a plastic tray of croissants in the oven over night (to keep the cats away) and I didn't realize it when I turned on the oven. Like you, smoke, fire, alarm and laughing kids! Love your story :)

OMG Chris R!!! That's hilarious but I'm sure it wasn't at the time!!!

Tina: Hi! What a wonderful father you have! He's quite a hero :) -- KC

Kathy Carmichael said...

Tee: How hilarious! And very brave of you at 11 to try meatloaf. My husband still won't let me cook it! And you're very right on the title and what the book is about :) -- KC

Lisa Marie Wilkinson said...

I'm a terrible cook so I deliberately stay OUT of the kitchen as much as possible, but I've really enjoyed hearing about the cooking disasters of others! Congratulations on the release of HOT FLASH, Kathy!

CrystalGB said...

My cooking disaster involves meat loaf too. I was mixing up my meatloaf and I started to shake some black pepper into it and the lid came off and poured a huge amount into the bowl. I scooped out all I could and mixed it up and baked it. It was the worst tasting meatloaf I had ever eaten. It was so peppery, we had to drink several glasses of water to combat the spicyness.

Anonymous said...

I've had many disasters over the years, we just celebrated our 39th anniversary. My dh says my timer is our smoke detector LOL and I think he's right--that da*n toaster oven sets it off, often. My dh likes homemade soups so I've never learned to make a little but thank goodness I can freeze it. My mother was a very good cook but I just don't care that much. The pressure cooker story made me laugh, I've never used one, but a few years ago I made my FIL his kind of special "soup" stew really but didn't wait for the thing to cool down enough and had that "soup" all over his kitchen--I swore off pressure cookers right then as I cleaned and cleaned! My dh thinks he's the cook at our house now and I'm pleased--I call him the Foil King as he uses the gas barbecue year-round.

Cait London said...

Ok, I have to go w/Elizabeth Sinclair, as I also had a pressure cooker explosion. Green beans dripping from the ceiling. Scary, tho no one was hurt. Glad to know that someone else had the same experience. :)

Karen H said...

My mother was a good cook and although she didn't really teach me to cook, I learned a lot just by watching her. The one disaster that sticks out most in my mind was my first attempt at baking Chocolate Chip Cookies when I was around 13 or 14. My mom was working so I thought I'd give it a try. I couldn't find the baking soda and figured it was only a 1/4 teaspoon so if I left it out, what could it hurt? Big mistake. Those cookies were so hard that even soaking them in milk wouldn't soften them up enough to eat. That's when I learned that you don't start making ANYTHING without getting all of the ingredients out first. If you don't have something, don't start the recipe until you do.

Anonymous said...

I just read the other comments, and I have to say that I share a few of those moments.
My first Thanksgiving when I had to cook, my husband was in the Air Force. So we invited another couple to dinner.
I was proud of myself--I mean how hard could it be to cook a turkey? I put it in the oven with some water and cooked it until the thingie popped up.
Then it was time to eat. My husband proudly carved it. Then he said, "What's this?"
It seems I forgot to take out the turkey pieces stuffed inside the bird. Mine were still wrapped in paper.
After many years of marriage and 4 kids, I became a regular Mother Earth. I canned a lot of food--and also blew up the pressure cooker filled with green beans.
I learned to bake bread. Why? Because I could take out my frustration--beating the heck out of it. Better than beating the kids, right?

MoB said...

Hmmmm cooking disasters. I've had so many LOL My problem is I put something on the stove...then get on the computer and totally forget about it! LOL I can't tell you how many tea kettles I've ruined as well as skillets. And vegetables aren't safe either as the water boils away so the veggies burn ;(

It didn't take long before my hubby took over the cooking LOL Which I keep telling people was my true motive ;) And I've trained him well...he even serves me my dinner too LOL


Anonymous said...

One kitchen disaster I remember is when a neighbor gave me a platter of homemade cookies. I put them in my oven for "safekeeping" from kids and cats ;) Well, I forgot they were in there and turned on the oven to make a casserole. Yeah, you guessed it - smoke, yelling, screaming, calling the fire department. I won't forget that day any time soon. LOL

Kathy Carmichael said...

You guys have kept me in stitches all day :D

Lisa: Thanks! And remember, stay outta that kitchen ::grin::

CrystalGB: Your peppery meatloaf made me smile in recognition! Don't you just hate it when lids come off like that?!

Barbs: Congratulations on your 39th anniversary with the Foil King!!

Cait: You obviously cannot be trusted in the kitchen ;) LOL over the greenbeans!

Karen H: I'm just picturing those hard cookies! LOL!

Dee: Your turkey story so made me spew my coffee! I can just picture your face when your hubby pulled that out of the turkey!

Mo: Why am I not surprised?!?!

Deborah: I know it probably wasn't fun at the time, but I laughed so hard at your having to call the fire department!

These cooking disasters are so hilarious!!! Keep 'em coming! :) -- KC

Mary f said...

Oh I could name a few as well....

1) When I first got married my uncle gave us a toaster oven...... I warmed up a french bread pizza in it and it caught alarms love me I keep them busy

2) After the turkey disasters my mom always had at thanksgiving all of us have grown up to hate turkey...

3) My method of madness worked I'm no longer allowed in the kitchen.

catslady said...

I remember my mom telling me about greenbeans exploding too lol. My most recent was forgetting about hard boiled eggs cooking on the stove. And I mean really forgetting. The pan and the eggs were totally black - I didn't even try to save the pan - and the smell!

traveler said...

Congratulations on the release of Hot Flash, Kathy. Wonderful news.
My cooking disasters are many and varied. I have learned by reading and watching the experts at work. Thanks for this great post.

Laurie G said...

Two disasters immediately come to mind:
I attempted to make my then fiance a chocolate angel food cake without a slotted spoon = syrup YUCK! Second attempt did turn out beautifully!

Many years later, I was cooking dinner for my huband's partners, prime rib and roasted potatoes. I had the oven roasted potatoes in a glass dish that I took out of the oven and placed on the stove top. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to turn off the burner after making vegtables and a short time later, BANG the glass dish shattered everywhere and worst of all no potatoes for the dinner!

robynl said...

Newly married I was roasting chicken for dinner one Sunday. Upon checking the chicken I let out a scream and told dh that the chicken had exploded. It's in pieces I told him. He came and looked and after some discussion we decided I had put a 'cut up chicken' in the oven instead of a 'roaster' chicken. You see, my parents butchered chickens on the farm and would do up both kinds for us and label them. It was either labelled wrong or I thought I had one but had the other.