Q: My New Year's Resolution this year was to increase the amount of baking and cooking I do on a weekly basis. For the most part, it's been a great success. However, I have had a few dismal recipe flops. I'm curious to know what you folks do when your recipe goes wrong. Do you force yourself to eat the burnt/unleavened/over-spiced/otherwise barely edible food anyway? Do you give it away to an unsuspecting friend? Do you feed it to your pet or husband? Or do you compost it?
I've tried just about all of these options but most of them leave me feeling just plain guilty. What do you suggest I do instead?
Sent by Saroja
Editor: Saroja, this is a question I often think about too. I feel totally afflicted by guilt when I throw something out and even when I compost it. Lately, though, I've been trying to address that feeling directly. It's not good for learning and experimentation if you feel afraid of trying new things. Yes, we want to be conscious of waste and frugality, and it's great to compost food when you can! But on the other hand, mistakes happen, and it's better to throw it out and chalk it up to learning experience than to be afraid of working to improve your cooking skills and trying something else new.
If you'd like to be even more proactive about it, why not start a cooking journal? If you make a really inedible mistake in the kitchen, write down each step of the process to help you remember and learn — maybe the mistake will be clear to you then, and you'll learn what to do next time.
In the end, food is just food, the real point of being in the kitchen is to nourish ourselves and our families, and food is a means to that end.
Readers, do you have thoughts on this topic, or advice for Saroja?
Related: Cooking Confessions: Do You Eat Your Mistakes?