Now, I’m modest, but I’ll say this. My prowess in the kitchen is nothing short of spectacular.
Spectacularly awful, I mean. Betty Crocker I am not. Anyone who has been my friend in real life, or on my now-defunct Facebook account, will have seen ample evidence of my culinary failings.
It was clear even in my youth that I was not destined for Pinterest (Well, it would have been clear in the event that Pinterest had existed back then. It didn’t. I’m that old). I fondly remember the day my friend Natalie and I decided to bake a German Apple Teacake, the old standby recipe known to every Year 8 Home Economics student in early 1990s Queensland.
We sliced, we measured, we mixed, we layered, we poured. Cake in oven, we settled down to lick the bowl like the mature young ladies we believed ourselves to be – and realised we’d managed to substitute salt for caster sugar. The mixture was even less delicious than you may imagine. We took our raw, ruined cake out of the oven and dumped it on the lawn for the dog to eat. The dog, not a creature previously known for his discerning palate, wisely turned his nose up at it. As did the birds. A trail of ants formed, until the corpses of the first dozen or so ants indicated to the rest of them that whatever this was, it wasn’t food. The next day a patch of dead grass appeared around the toxic cake mix. The grass in that spot never grew back properly, leaving a permanent little crop circle on my Mum’s lawn.
That’s how good at cooking I am.
So, I have no idea why I expected that motherhood would somehow transform me into a domestic goddess. I have good intentions. The execution is still lacking. For example, I made brownies to take to book club last month. Everyone loved them so much they all wanted the recipe. I had to break it to them that the consistency could probably never be replicated, because I’d taken them out of the oven too soon, realised after the pan had been cooling for five minutes that they were completely undercooked and sinking in the middle, and had just chucked them back in the oven for a while and hoped for the best. They’re now known as ‘Julie’s Once-Off Twice-Baked Brownies’, because no, I haven’t been able to replicate them.
And now, behold some visual evidence of my kitchen catastrophes!
Exhibit A: Gingerbread… people?
I posted this on Facebook years ago, celebrating my toddler’s first ever cooking experience and implying that he’d cut the shapes himself. Confession time: it was ME! (They were delicious. Especially the narwhal).
Exhibit B: Vegemite scrolls.
What to do when you have a single sheet of puff-pastry left, plus a little creative flair?
Ha, ha ha! Just kidding. Those aren’t mine.
Now these! These I can proudly put my name to.
Exhibit C: ‘Banana bread – the second coming’
I’m actually not awful at making banana bread. I’ve got a good recipe that I’ve practiced a bunch of times, so it fairly reliably turns out to be edible. However, I’m perhaps a little absent-minded when it comes to food storage, and one day found this fine specimen in a Tupperware that had fallen behind the breadbin in my pantry some weeks before.
Looks delicious, no? A credit to both my cookery and my housekeeping! And my, er, fungiculture skill set.
Exhibit D: French toast with an unwelcome twist.
I thought I was such a good mother on this particular morning. I lovingly prepared a breakfast of French toast for Boy Child instead of slopping cereal in a bowl as is my usual, boring (albeit safe) form.
It looked AWESOME! Fresh berries, drizzle of syrup, wham! I sat him at the table with his special breakfast. He took two bites, then pronounced it ‘yucky’ and requested cornflakes instead. Baffled and somewhat hurt, I put it down to three-year-old fussiness and poured him some cornflakes before tucking into my own delicious French toast. Texture was good. Hot all the way through. Berries were fresh and tasty. Bit of an exotic aftertaste, though. And I couldn’t really taste the cinnamon that I’d liberally sprinkled into the egg mixture. Hmm…
For the record, I blame MasterFoods for this particular disaster. Why must they make all their labels look so similar? Why doesn’t one of them say “WARNING: CUMIN SEEDS. DO NOT SUBSTITUTE FOR CINNAMON” in big flashing letters? Don’t they know they’re supplying to the totally incompetent here?
Teacake from Yummly.com
Crater from Daily Mail
Competent Vegemite Scrolls from Three Kids and The Cook
All other disasters belong to MSTD, naturally.