Cooking (& Life) Advice With JYP!

I know my longtime readers are looking at this title and thinking, “But JYP, don’t you suck at adulting tasks (including cooking)? I mean, your own mother is unimpressed with your cooking skills, and you only have one recipe you don’t suck at?” Yes, dear reader, that is correct. Today’s response to E.M. Kingston’s Ramble Questions (which I have modified to maximize entertainment value – you’re welcome) features stories of my incompetence for your entertainment. However, I have a couple useful gems of advice here as well as a discussion question.

I’m neither as talented nor as attractive as this stock photo model chef. But I’ll make my stories of incompetence with gems of wisdom thrown in entertaining. Image by jramaraljr from Pixabay

1) When you are in the kitchen cooking, do you have anything playing in the background?

In my case, it would be more accurate to say that I watch shows of other people cooking, eg. America’s Test Kitchen– a remarkably underrated show, to procrastinate on actually cooking. Then I get too hungry to do any cooking, so I eat something requiring preparation so minimal that there’s no time for a background task.

2) & 3) Weirdest Food Story

E.M.’s original questions here were “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten that someone else cooked for you and did you like it enough to ask for the recipe?” I think the weirdest thing I’ve eaten was a sweetbread appetizer from a catered wedding. It was fine, but there’s no way I’m making sweetbreads, even if I had a recipe. The more interesting question in my case would be:

“What’s the weirdest thing I made for someone else and why (and did they actually like it)?

Get ready for a story!

Background:

When I was a child, I learned a recipe for no-bake peanut butter cookies. It’s a simple recipe of peanut butter, honey, and powdered milk. To be honest, I think it might have been a recipe for edible playdough, actually.

It might have been a playdough recipe. It tasted about as good as it sounds, although at the time I liked it (kids don’t have discerning tastes). Photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

Fast Forward:

~15 years later, I was seeing this guy long-distance and he had come to visit. The purpose of This Guy’s visit wasn’t solely to visit me, but it was clear that he thought that we’d be engaging in various sexual activities during his visit. This wasn’t a completely ridiculous assumption on his part given the context. But note that while I will talk/write about all sorts of sexual things (there’s an NSFW tag on this blog for a reason!) the gap between the sex that I talk about and the sex that I’m actually willing to have is wider than the Mariana Trench.

Of course, The Guy didn’t know that because I hadn’t actually said this. During his visit, he went to the grocery store and came back with chocolate syrup, with obvious implications that we would use this in the bedroom. The use of chocolate syrup in this context did not fall under the limited list of sexual activities that I was willing to do.

No offense, Hershey’s, but I don’t do that. “Chocolate Syrup” by tkraska is marked with CC BY 2.0.

The Return of the No-Bake Peanut Butter / Edible Playdough Cookies:

Faced with what to do with this chocolate syrup that wasn’t an uncomfortable sexual act, I convinced my roommates and The Guy that we should make the no-bake peanut butter cookies / edible playdough with the chocolate syrup as a fun, random activity.

It worked! The Guy and my roommates loved the idea, and we made batches upon batches of these crappy no-bake cookies topped with chocolate syrup. They even liked the taste, which is particularly impressive because I forgot to mention that this whole episode took place in another country and I’m not sure we managed to buy proper ingredients since nothing was labeled in English. Like, I’m pretty sure we bought coffee creamer instead of powdered milk. Eventually though, we got sick of these crappy cookies before using up all of the chocolate syrup, and I came clean to The Guy about why I came up with the idea in the first place; he was very understanding.

JYP’s Cooking/Life Advice Tip #1:

Use your direct and unambiguous words to set clear boundaries so you don’t need to make a million batches of shitty no-bake playdough cookies to get out of unwanted sexual activities.

Set boundaries so you don’t need to make bad food. Photo by Edz Norton on Unsplash

[Epilogue: This relationship eventually ended for reasons that had nothing to do with The Great Chocolate Syrup Incident.]

4) What’s the food you usually refuse to share?

I don’t think that there’s any food I’d refuse to share as a matter of principle. Even during Chol Hamoed Pesach when I can’t eat any normal food, I brought an extra box of kosher-for-Passover cookies to the office so that my coworkers could taste the wonders of baking with potato starch. I’m not being sarcastic; I actually like the kosher for Passover cakes. In fact, I like them better than doughnuts (which I can’t stand). Yes, I am weird.

Anyway, I’ll share pretty much anything. But that doesn’t mean I’ll share it evenly. 😉😋

One piece for you and the rest for me 😉 Photo by Caitlyn de Wild on Unsplash

5) Do you use recipes when you cook?

Hahahahahahahahaha🤣

Backstory: I majored in science. I used to think that because of my scientific background, I imagined that when I had a proper kitchen of my own, I would follow recipes with scientific precision. When inventing new recipes, I would document all of my steps to ensure reproducibility, like a lab notebook.

The kind of chef I thought I would be: scientific, precise, methodical. Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

It turns out:

  1. Getting shitty grades in science that were barely good enough to graduate, then pursuing a career in a field only tangentially related to said science background, does not lead to becoming a scientific method-oriented chef. (Or even a mildly-competent home cook).
  2. Cooking during the Friday rush before Shabbat is not an atmosphere conducive for proper scientific experimentation – either the proper following of an existing recipe or the proper development of a new one. And I never felt motivated to cook outside of cooking for more than 1-2 people on Shabbat.
  3. I tended to get too bored, hungry, or impatient mid-cooking to finish the recipe as written, even if it was written that way for good reason.
The kind of chef I turned out the be: explosively chaotic. Image by Tomasz Mikołajczyk from Pixabay

A True Story…

Once, after reading a bunch of food porn recipe blogs, I decided to make Dijon Chicken. Of course, this was Friday before Shabbat and of course I made this decision without regard to what ingredients I had, and of course I was running wildly late, so I was already making a bunch of substitutions and skipping time-consuming steps like “measuring”. Then, in the middle of making Dijon Chicken, I had a brilliant idea: It would save so much time if I did one of those recipes where you make the rice in the same pan as the chicken. Then I’d have chicken and a side dish. Brilliant, right?

You know where this “brilliant” idea is going… Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Except now I had to pivot and look up how to make oven-baked chicken and rice, which, by the way, is a totally different recipe from Dijon Chicken. And again, I didn’t have any of the ingredients I needed. In went the wrong kind of rice, various liquids because I didn’t have vegetable or chicken broth (of course, I still wasn’t measuring because why start doing something intelligent in the middle) along with the chicken already mis-prepared for Dijon Chicken, baked for an unknown period of time because the different recipes I had been consulting had different cooking instructions and also because I was too stupid to remember to set the timer. And due to my incredible time management skills (ha), I ran super late and committed numerous violations of Shabbat to finish the chicken.

In the end, Franken-recipe chicken turned out kind of good, surprisingly. But whether I really succeeded in following the recipe, or in inventing my own recipe is debatable.

JYP’s Cooking/Life Tip #2:

If you’re going to use a recipe, read the recipe before you start trying to follow it. And don’t try to follow two contradictory recipes at the same time.

6) Pick three smells in your kitchen that make you happy when you smell them

Cookies, lasagna, but really, isn’t the smell of anything that you like eating and haven’t managed to screw up and accidentally incinerate going to be pretty good? I have more interesting answers to the flip side of the question:

“What are the top 5 worst smells in the kitchen?”

In order of “not as awful” to “the very worst”, here’s my list:

  1. Fish – I love eating fish. I hate the smell of fish in my kitchen. I want someone else to take a piece of fish, cook it in their kitchen, and then serve it to me.
  2. French Toast – I hate French toast. But not only do I hate the taste/texture of French toast, I also hate the smell of French toast.
  3. Garbage/Spoiled food – needs no explanation
  4. Any food you managed to accidentally incinerate – needs no explanation
  5. Burnt plastic/rubber – needs no explanation, but I’m going to share a story anyway

A story about #5…

Husband’s favorite kitchen appliance was this George Foreman indoor electric grill. He loved it and used it all the time.

It was similar concept to this. “Indoor Grill – Removable no-stick plates for easy cleaning” by twowaystairs is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Once upon a time, in a moment of stupidity, I managed to set the cord of the electric grill on fire. I can’t even remember how I did this. I quickly put out the fire, but let me tell you, nothing lingers like that acrid smell of burnt plastic/rubber.

JYP’s Cooking/Life Advice Tip #3:

Don’t set your George Foreman indoor electric grill on fire.

Anyway, Husband was very alarmed to wake up to the pungent smell of burnt electrical cord. I explained what happened and apologized profusely for setting his favorite kitchen appliance on fire. We had to throw it out because it was not salvageable. Husband forgave me.

JYP’s Cooking/Life Advice Tip #4:

Marry a man who will forgive you if you accidentally set his favorite kitchen appliance on fire. And,

JYP’s Cooking/Life Advice Tip #5:

Buy your husband a new George Foreman indoor electric grill if you should happen to set his on fire.

Apparently, there’s a George Foreman Grill Play-Doh set! I’ll keep this in mind next time I make those edible playdough cookies. “Play-Doh George Foreman Grill” by Clint Chilcott is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.

Discussion Question:

What is your cooking/kitchen disaster story? I’ve shared at least three here and I have more. Tell me in comments or link back with a post!

62 comments

  1. “the gap between the sex that I talk about and the sex that I’m actually willing to have is wider than the Mariana Trench” `= samey same, and I’ve written a lot of “erotica,” so there’s that. I got so tired of men going, “HEY WAS THAT ABOUT YOU?” Uh no. It’s called imagination, dumbass…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. HA HA HA! Oh no, the poor George Forman! Those are all great stories of woe!! I can’t top them, but there was this time when I was in middle school that my mom made cornbread, and I tasted it and said, “You left out the optional salt, didn’t you?” And she was really freakin’ impressed, because she had, in fact, left it out!! 😮

    I’m glad you rerouted the chocolate syrup from its intended use! 😀 Oh my goodness!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, RIP George Foreman Grill. I felt really bad.
      Hey, I’ll accept your mom’s cooking fail story too! Good on your for catching the missing salt.
      Yeah, that was not how I felt comfortable using chocolate syrup. Fortunately, the guy was understanding and respected this boundary). But yeah, it was…interesting…

      Like

  3. Hilarious post. Did you see the movie “Tampopo”? It’s a wild Japanese movie from 1985 with food and sex and some of it together. I vaguely recall honey instead of chocolate and ramen noodles, which is what the movie is about. The worst smell in the kitchen is probably moi. I have created dishes I don’t need recipes for, but when I make something out of Fine Cooking, I follow the recipe and read the whole recipe before I begin.

    When we lived in Spain, I played with a group from the Canary Islands. We would go to various places outside of Madrid to perform, and usually got fed after the performances. One place we were eating one of the other musicians brought over a plate of triangular objects in what looked like barbecue sauce. He said “Try it!” I asked what it was, and he told me “Orejas” (pig ears). I tried one. It was the most disgusting thing one could imagine — hairy, slimy, chewy, and crunchy all at the same time. I ended up spitting it out in a plant. I almost heaved as it was. I ended up trying some pretty disgusting things in Spain (when in Rome as they say), but the orejas were abominable.

    I started cooking when I was young. If I didn’t like what mom made, she told me to make what I wanted myself. So I did. When I was in high school, we had split sessions and I went to school in the afternoons. Several friends would ride their motorcycles over every morning and I would cook them breakfast. They like my cooking better than their moms’ cooking.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Never heard of this movie. It sounds…different.
      Orejas do sound awful. Eating kosher meat only spares one from a lot of unusual meat products. It’s hard to imagine what I’d be willing to try if I didn’t have the constraints of kashrut. I’m not a terribly adventurous eater, so maybe not much would change.
      That’s awesome that you took up cooking in your teens! Actually, I’m even more impressed that school started late enough / your friends woke up early enough to get a home-cooked breakfast from you before school. My high school classes started at 7:30 AM, so getting to school on time was an accomplishment in itself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The early session (juniors and seniors) started at 7:00 am. When band activities require all levels (both sessions), I had to be to school at 7:00 am, try to stay out of trouble until noon, and then got to classes until 5:00. I found nothing redeeming about high school other than riding on the cheerleaders’ bus to football games in the fall.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I got a kick out of reading your post and your humorous spin on things. The encounter with that one guy certainly does sounds awkward to put it mildly….could’ve always been worse, however (I’m presuming – from what I read – that he respected your boundaries…).

    I did include your “discussion” question in my own post including a part about the temperamentalness of cooking sponge cake 😂😂.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I once baked rhubarb crisp in a square aluminum pan. Unfortunately, the high acid content of the rhubarb caused the dessert to absorb a great amount of aluminum. Although the dessert looked beautiful, one taste was enough to tell me that the food was probably highly toxic. So, never use aluminum to prepare acidic foods. Glass or ceramic work better.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My first ever attempt at baking a cake (aged perhaps 9?) overflowed out of the pan in the oven. In a bid to save the oven (not the cake) my Mum slid a tray under the pan to catch the overflow. So we had sunk cake plus bubbly overflow. The cake was being baked to take away on our boat with us. So cake plus Clancy (named after famous Aussie poem called Clancy of the Overflow) were duly brought on board. We tried them. They were extremely dry. Mum said “Don’t worry. We’ll make custard.” But we didn’t have any custard powder on board (shops aren’t handy on a boat) so Mum and I attempted custard made with eggs. Looked impressive in the pan but tasted like scrambled eggs. LOL So we had dry chocolate cake with scrambled eggs. Culinary awesomeness!! But then, much more recently, I tried to make a clafoutis for my husband’s birthday cake. It’s a French tart type thing with a base holding a custardy mixture and fresh fruit (often berries). I don’t know what made me attempt it because, thinking about it, my husband doesn’t even like custard. Anyway, it was a disaster. The custard didn’t set. So it was berries floating in this gooey mess. Tasted kind of okay but I was pretty embarrassed as I served it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love these stories! Yeah, I guess boats are not so handy should you find yourself in need of emergency ingredients. (Also that sounds very cool to have a boat.) I watch all the cooking shows and custard seems so temperamental. The contestants are always getting either soup because it doesn’t set, or sweetened scrambled eggs. You’re very ambitious!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I smiled the entire time while reading your answers, JYP 🙂 You have a great personality and great expression of it in your writing! I always feel like we are sitting there having a convo over coffee or a stiff drink!

    I used to watch America’s Test Kitchen all the time when I lived in Arkansas. I had no cable, but if you stuck a hanger in the antenna of the television you could pick up 6 channels. A channel called Create was one of them, and it was on there daily. It’s a great show to watch, especially if you are not a natural in the kitchen.

    The no-bake coffee creamer peanut butter play dough sounded good, especially when you add the chocolate syrup in the mix 🙂

    My worst kitchen smells would be fish, oysters (that smell is absolutely gagging to me), broccoli when the pan is too hot, liver (you can smell the bile), and too much garlic.

    My disaster in the kitchen would be the time that I was making my homemade marinara and got my wine reduction too hot/forgot about it…I nearly caught the stove on fire when this happened. The entire house was full of thick smoke. I had gone out for a cigarette and had the burner on high. I had forgotten to turn it down…It took an hour to get all the smoke out of the house.

    Thank you for a very entertaining ramble 🙂 Have a great week, JYP!

    Like

    • Thank you for the prompt which helped to inspire this! Nothing I love more than sharing cooking disaster stories, lol! I always want my blog to feel more like a conversation between friends, so this is high praise.

      Love the story about you macgyering the TV in order to watch America’s Test Kitchen. Priceless!

      I don’t eat shellfish. The idea of eating oysters seems so strange and gross (although I guess others could say that about other things that I eat).

      Oh gosh, your poor marinara sauce! I’ve not yet forgotten about a pot on the stove, but back when we were still dating, my husband was watching my apartment and getting my mail and whatever while I was traveling. He started cooking something, forgot about it, and managed to melt the pot lid and totally destroy the pot! (He bought me a new pot)

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome! I think you have a great conversation with all of us. I really enjoy, and I hope I can visit more often. Life has been so crazy, which is why I am so late answering your comment lol.

        I don’t do any fish or shellfish. I never developed the palate for it. Oysters smell like who did it and what for. My nephew loves them, and I always ask him how he can put something like that in his mouth smelling like that lol. I eat with the senses of my nose and eyes. If it smells gross and looks gross, this girl is not touching it.

        I’m glad you got a new pot after the lid disaster 😀

        Like

  8. In grade 8 cooking class we were making muffins that were supposed to involve cocoa. There was an unlabelled jar of brown powder in the kitchen, so my group figured it was cocoa. We apparently didn’t smell it, because it was actually cinnamon. A cup (or something like that) of cinnamon really is not good.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My husband LOVES Peking duck. We keep a kosher home and I found a cookbook Kosher Chinese cookbook AND had made a drive to northeast Philly to pick up a kosher duck to prepare for his birthday. I had everything all planned out, figured out a way to hang the duck properly so I could braise it. It takes hours and hours to do this right. Well, my husband decided he wanted to help (and didn’t tell me he was doing it) and went to lift the wok holding the glaze/ drippings to help baste. Had he asked, I would have told him the handle on the thing was wonky and it needed to be lifted from the sides. About 2/3 of the braise went splat on the floor.

    Funnily enough, between the two of us he’s a far better chef. I’ve never attempted Peking duck at home for him again.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh these are some funny stories you’ve given us today JYP! That chocolate syrup thing–I don’t know and don’t want to know what he had in mind, but bringing food into the equation sounds just unsanitary and awkward. Me, I can’t cook for shit. No one ever taught me. My mother is the type of person who would criticize how I boil water and push me out of the way to do it herself. Therefore I am totally incapable of taking care of myself and you know what, at this point, I don’t really care! I’m pretty spoiled and particular too. I just don’t like “experimenting” to learn because if it comes out bad or I mess up, it’s a waste of food and money and I hate wasting food.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My stories of incompetence and stupidity are for your enjoyment. I aim to entertain!

      I’m chuckling over the idea of your mom thinking your water-boiling skills are not up to par. In fairness, one of my siblings told us that their friend managed to set a pot of water on fire, which is something I didn’t even think was physically possible. So I suppose there is a wrong way to boil water!

      I definitely hear you on the potential waste of food and money. In spite of my amazing cooking skills (as evidenced in my post), I actually enjoy reading recipes for fun. So I’ll come across these recipes for ribs, sea bass, steak, lamb, etc. and I’ll think, boy, that looks amazing. But those are really expensive to risk screwing up and wasting! So I never try and also never learn how to cook them properly. I love how you’re just owning it. There’s something kind of inspiring about this.

      Like

  11. Lol @ recipes and cooking.

    As someone who’s hopeless in the kitchen, I appreciate a specific recipe, one that I can follow to a tee. Maybe that’s why I think baking’s easier than cooking.

    But after a while, I tend to get tired of washing so many measuring cups or spoons, have have since starting ‘going by feel’. But yeah, I think I should start a YouTube channel called My Chaotic Kitchen. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so happy to hear that you found inspiration here. I think your YouTube channel will be a hit! If you ever need a special guest to star on My Chaotic Kitchen, know that I have a pretty high tolerance for publicly humiliating myself, and I have plenty of stories of kitchen incompetence to share!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You have me in stitches over here! Your kitchen nightmares and lessons learned are ever so relatable; love your takeaway from the grill incident and documentation of how you view recipes and your favorite smells! I am tempted to try those no-bake cookies now too . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • My cooking-fails-turned-life-advice are for your (and the internet at large’s) entertainment! Glad I could give you a much-needed laugh. Like I said, I cannot judge anyone else’s cooking ever. I mean, if you haven’t set an electrical appliance on fire yet, you’re probably doing all right so far!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know if this is a “topper” or an “I understand” but probably about 22 years ago, I know because my kids were still babies and napping, I put on a pot of water to boil for hot dogs. The kids were napping. My husband, late husband now, called to show me something. Next thing I know my entire stove top was on fire! The water had boiled out as did the hot dogs and the pan was slowly melting in the flames. That scared the shit out of me, pissed my husband off, but I got a new stove! Thank God no one was hurt!

        Liked by 1 person

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