It can be easy to get disheartened or embarrassed when something comes out of your oven looking, smelling and tasting like a sewer worker’s foot. And not a clean sewer worker either. But you can’t let the odour of burnt chocolate or bad eggs or off stock stop you from having fun with your cooking!
One of my favourite recipes growing up was A-Little-Bit-Of-Everything-In -Nan’s-Cupboard Slice. I don’t think it ever tasted any good, but that’s not the point. Cooking can nourish every single part of a person if you let it, and my friends, I think there are a few people out there who really need to let their sense of joy get a little nourishment.
So I’d like to share with you some of the ways that I’ve picked up to get optimum nutrition from that stinking pile of disgusting mess on your baking trays.
1. Dare your brother/neighbour/housemate to eat it. Seeing the look on their face when they get a hidden bubble of cayenne pepper or chicken gristle is roughly the equivalent of four hours of above averagely funny comedy. (Hint: you can offer to put honey/golden syrup on top. Makes it more likely for them to accept, but generally no less face-twistingly gruesome to eat.)
2. Use it to feed the fish/ducks/wolverines. Whatever it turned out to be probably isn’t any worse for them than white bread, and animals are cute.
3. Is it suitable for any sort of craft project? Likely candidates include papier mâché and modelling little sculptures.
4. Try to sell it as a ‘delicacy’.
5. Very descriptively brag about its terribleness to people.
6. If you are male, remember the fact that you get points just for having managed to put it in the oven in the first place.
7. Pose it and take photos. Label those photos “Post-apocalyptic landscape” or “Intestines after three days” and keep them for potential arty projects.
8. Give your children the choice between eating this or some healthy food that they usually refuse to stomach.
9. Finally, think about what you’ve learnt from this particular disaster (e.g. “go easy on the cayenne pepper” or “honey makes things runny” or “you CAN have too much rosemary”). Sometimes the best way to learn is by trial and error, and the joy of learning is a very powerful joy indeed.
If you let yourself lose the fun of cooking, you’ve lost a very valuable thing indeed.