Saturday, June 7, 2008

So You Think You Can't Cook

To kick off my blog, I'm entering a giveaway that Parent Bloggers Network is sponsoring to bring attention to the America's Worst Cook contest. The America's Worst Cook contest is being run by the American Egg Board, which is perfect because one of my worst cooking disasters involved eggs...or rather, the lack of them.

For some reason, I love cooking shows. I especially love cooking competition shows, & I'm hooked right now on Top Chef & The Next Food Network Star. I've also loved Iron Chef and The Next Iron Chef, and I watch other food-related shows like Throwdown with Bobby Flay and Dinner: Impossible.

The odd thing about all this is, I'm wretched at cooking myself. I could no more invent a dish on the spur of the moment from a random selection of ingredients than run a marathon with no training at all. In fact, every time I heat up a can of soup or canned veggies, I have to read the directions! I follow them exactly. My mother's recipes drive me crazy because she'll say things like "a little of this" or "some of that," without any measurements. Even with eggs, I look up instructions in cookbooks or online every single time I try to hard boil them! I've had too many gooey Easter egg hunt surprises....

So baking is more up my alley, because you have to use exact measurements when baking. And I like the creative design parts. I took a cake decorating class a few years ago, and although I surely can't do anything like they show on Ace of Cakes (another show I like watching), I've had fun making a few special cakes for my boys' birthdays.

BUT...the decorating is still easier for me than the cooking part. The proof of this is, I am even able to mess up a cake made from a mix! Check out the following treasure chest cake, which I made for my oldest son's birthday a few years ago:

Not so smooth, frosting-wise, but I do think it turned out pretty good. (That's my actual cake in the photo--I cropped out the clutter in the kitchen behind it!) But the baking process was something of a disaster.

First, I put it off until evening, the night before the party--bad idea. Then, I had to make 3 separate sheet cakes, 2 to form the bottom of the chest and one to use as the top. I used boxed marble cake mixes. Piece of cake, right? (Groan.) Well, no, because with one of the cakes, I left out the oil. I didn't realize it until I was making the next one and got to that step, only to realize I'd skipped it entirely with the previous cake. Ack! But you know what? It looked pretty good, still cakelike, so I decided to run with it and hope for the best. It was getting late and I still had to decorate the thing.

So I put the third cake in the oven. But this time, when I got it out, it did not look right at all. It was completely flat! It dawned on me, horribly...I'd forgotten the eggs! Yes, the cake only required 4 ingredients, including water, yet I managed to leave out an ingredient twice in a row. This time, I had no choice but to toss out the cake and send my husband to the store, late at night, to buy me another box of cake mix! All in all, I was baking and decorating until after 2 am.

It wasn't a terrible disaster because we were able to fix it, and the cake looked and tasted fine at the party (the layer without the oil may have been dry, but smushed up with the other layer and buried under frosting and candy, it tasted fine). But still, you're better off not signing me up for Top Chef, and as for Ace of Cakes...well, maybe I can be the Joker of Cakes!

This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a contest sponsored by the American Egg Board. So remember, never ever ever forget the eggs! You can have a cake without oil, and even a cake without frosting, but you can't have a cake without eggs!

1 comment:

Jean said...

Welcome to the blog world! What a great story for a first post. I have 3 boys myself and have had my share of nightmare birthday cake stories. They make it look to dang easy on Food Network.