Kitchen disasters. Flaming moussaka, anyone?


Okay, I’ll admit it – I’ve had my share of kitchen disasters.

The first was a layered dessert my young self wagged primary school to make.  With three different colours and in individual glasses, the recipe for this chic affair was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen.   At the supermarket I learned that the mysterious ingredient crème de menthe was something I wasn’t allowed to buy.  Undeterred, I accepted the suggestion to use peppermint essence instead – which I substituted quantity for quantity – that would be one tablespoon of peppermint essence per dessert – enough to blow the top of your head clean off.  That’s okay – the peppermint was by balanced by the four tablespoons of coffee I added next, having misread teaspoon.  Let me tell you, I added a whole new dimension to the term balance of flavours, and it wasn’t a good one.  I don’t think we ever got the jelly out of the champagne glass stems, either.

Next came the great horsey-bag fiasco.  Desperately in love, I spent an entire week preparing a Chinese banquet for my first love, a country boy.  As we chewed – and chewed, and chewed, and chewed – a silence descended around the dinner table, until someone finally said, “There’s something wrong with that rice.  It sort of retaliates when you bite it.”  I retrieved the jar of rice I’d used from the pantry.  Yep – barley.  If you’ve never tried undercooked barley, for the love of God don’t start now. We sent my country boy home with a horsey bag.

The case of the flaming moussaka is not one of my proudest moments.  Being the first time I made it, it had taken me most of the day.  Finally, dead on my feet, I put it in the oven around 9.00pm.  I took it out again while I changed a shelf position.  Whoosh! There was flash of light – and that’s when I realised the tea towel around this day-long moussaka was on fire – and right beneath the kitchen curtains to boot.


My mother was brilliant.  Springing into action she bounded across the kitchen to the back door where she yelled, “DON’T PANIC!” from a safe distance.  “QUICK!  GRAB THE TEA TOWEL AND THROW IT IN THE SINK!”  (She was hungry.)

I don’t want to talk about the exploding potato.  God, what a mess.  It’s hard to believe one potato can go so far.  When a potato goes KABOOM it spreads further than splattered brains in a movie.

At least I’ve never had to call an ambulance – unlike a certain dinner party hostess who slipped some mushrooms from her plate to the dog under the table.  When next she looked down, the dog was dead.  Several ambulances raced the guests to hospital to have their stomachs pumped.

An autopsy revealed the dog had died of old age.

The kitchen disaster that brought me closest to tears would have to be the roast beef I cooked to absolute perfection.  I was all of twenty years old and had cheerfully asked the butcher for “a nice bit of beef to roast.”  His smile almost blinded me.  He sent me home with eye fillet.  I cooked it perfectly.  My baked vegetables – potatoes, carrots, pumpkin – were gorgeous and ready at exactly the same time as the beef, as were the steamed and mashed vegetables.  The kitchen smelled glorious.  Proudly I plated it all up then generously poured lashings of the best looking gravy I’d ever seen all over the eye fillet – and that’s when I smelled chocolate.

Susan Bennett is the author of The Cook’s Toolkit by Clever Pumpkin and Grace. Her blogspot is Fudging The Menu.

Now, `fess up.  I’ve shared my kitchen disasters.  Let’s hear yours.