Queen of the Kitchen 2nd and 3rd place winners

Wed, 04/18/2007 - 2:34pm
By: The Citizen

2nd place winner
Carrie Gray of Sharpsburg

It should have come as no surprise to me that cooking would not be one of my strong suits. I come from a long line of women who have had “cooking challenges.” My grandmother married very young in 1930 and during one of her first attempts at baking bread decided she was in too much of a hurry to wait for it to rise. Instead of using the one package of yeast that the recipe called for, she used three. After the bread had risen above the largest bowl she had, she tried to let it rise in her dishpan. That, too, was too small and the only thing she saw left to do was rid herself of the beast. She buried it in an out-of-the-way corner of the farmyard. She would rather be buried herself than have to own up to the horrible failure of her baking attempt. Of course, that was the day that my grandfather decided to take a stroll in that very section of yard. The hot, July afternoon had risen the bread even more causing it to bubble up from the ground. He came running into the house convinced that some subterranean monster was erupting from its abyss.

My grandmother passed her cooking “expertise” on to my mother. Her motto was that it would take them just as long to eat the food if she spent 5 hours or 5 minutes preparing it. While I was in high school, we went for eight months without an oven or stove top. She was able to cook quite a few things in the microwave and toaster oven. But we were frequent patrons of the local restaurants.

When I met my future husband, I wanted to make him a very special Valentine’s dinner. He had told me offhandedly once that his favorite dessert was something that his mother made called Angel Bavarian. I managed to get her phone number and called her to get the recipe. I’m sure when she made it that was truly heavenly. It consisted of Angel Food cake cut into pieces and covered in a dreamy custard and whipped cream mixture. All of that was topped with coconut. The preparation involved things I had never heard of before, let alone done myself. It called for doing things like separating eggs, scalding milk, and tempering the eggs for custard. I was in college and had a bare minimum of kitchen items. The Angel Food cake got burned on the top because I used a bundt pan instead of a tube pan. Neither the egg whites or whipped cream would ever whip because all I had was a large Tupperware bowl. And the cord for the beaters would only stay in the mixer if you held it in with your pinky and ring finger while holding the mixer. Thankfully, his taste buds were no doubt coated in adoring love for me because he actually enjoyed my less-than-heavenly concoction.

Once we were married, I made one of the grandest faux pas of my cooking career. I frequently tried new recipes or even old family recipes that I loved, but had never made before. We had invited a whole family for dinner and my mother had often served Tamale Pie to large parties. It seemed like the perfect entrée. I purchased everything at the store and came home to start the dinner for that night. The recipe called for a clove of garlic. I had bought garlic and started to peel it – only to find that there were many things inside this thing I had bought. Was the whole thing a clove or just one of the pieces inside? I turned to my trusty Joy of Cooking and found no answers. I called my mother to ask and she wasn’t home. My mother-in-law, who is quite a gourmet cook and would certainly know the answer was my last option. I hated to expose my extreme ignorance, but my choices at this point were few. She, too, was not home. Unfortunately, this was before the days of cell phones. Well, the only reasonable solution that presented itself was to split the difference. I put in six cloves of garlic. As soon as the Tamale Pie started to bake and the house started filling with the overwhelming smell of garlic, I knew I had made the wrong choice. There was nothing left to do, except serve the newly renamed Garlic Pie. You can believe I have taught my own daughters all about garlic!

I thought my days of cooking blunders were behind me, and just a few months ago my faulty cooking gene reared its ugly head. We were to take soup to church for a potluck. I had made Mud Soup several times at home and my kids actually liked it! I figured that it was inexpensive, healthy and even the kids would like it. I think I got a bit too cocky because I changed things up a bit and decided to make it in the crockpot with dried beans instead of the canned ones that I usually used. The resulting mush was the ugliest purple goop that I have ever seen. And the beans never did fully soften. Thankfully there was plenty of food there and I didn’t have to embarrass myself by trying to serve it to my friends. There were, however, several ladies in the kitchen who were exposed to my cooking failure and are no doubt never going to accept an invitation to dinner at our house.

I would love to be named “Queen of the Kitchen.” My family would love to be spared the gastronomic turmoil of being subjected to another one of my disasters. And I would be able to invite with confidence any of the ladies from the church kitchen over for dinner and not worry about having to serve Garlic Pie!


3rd Place Winner
Bonnie Jones of Fayetteville

If you don't cook - you can't have horror stories! The funniest thing I ever did was mix brownie mix with my two hands, when the instructions said "mix by hand."

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