I place the banana bread in the oven and flick the oven light on so I can see it through the little window. “That wasn’t so complicated,” I think to myself. I start to pack away the ingredients and then it hits me. I forgot the vanilla.
“THE VANILLAAAA! Jeremy, I FORGOT THE VANILLA!” I scream, feeling a little let down that the banana bread won’t be “perfect”. I can hear him get up from his chair, half-laughing. He meets me in the kitchen, gives me a big grin, and crouches down to look in on the (almost) perfect banana bread loaf baking away. “It won’t taste bad, you just missed a flavour. It will be delicious. Don’t worry.”
As we polish off the banana bread, Jeremy uses his catlike reflexes to catch a plate that I put too close to the edge of the counter. We joke that if I ever had a restaurant it would be called “Blunder Kitchen”. There would be no menu and my guests would just tell the server what they wanted to eat and I would attempt to make it, even if I had not made it before. Nothing would turn out right and I would (just like I do at home) miss a few steps along the way. It would be an experiential dining atmosphere. You would let go of all control and just go with the flow.
Even though we are joking, I began to identify with that word — blunder — a stupid, careless mistake. That is exactly what happens in my kitchen. I don’t know what it is about the way my brain works when it comes to the recipes. They are so ordered and clearly written down in a specific sequence. They are rigid and following the instructions will produce beautiful meals.
I want to cook with the ease and passion of Ina Garten and Nigella Lawson. I want to be able to breezily bake the perfect loaf that would clear up any rainy day. It’s the idea of the humble home-cook, one who is comfortable and graceful in the kitchen and can whip anything up at a moment’s notice. Yet every time I cook the crushing reality taps me on the shoulder. You aren’t there quite yet. Being the home-cook that seems to float through anything with perfect execution doesn’t happen without a lot of practice. Instead, I am (sometimes) a clumsy-full-force-passionate-dreamer, and about a half step behind in kitchen.
I have had my share of kitchen blunders. I have taken a step back and accepted that those photos in cookbooks are staged. I have accepted I am a novice at best, and I am still learning a lot of about different skills and techniques. This is what I love. I am growing and becoming more comfortable, but it takes time. I am not going to know how to make bread without a couple of trial runs. That banana bread loaf will one day become part of my “easily baked” arsenal. I can be inspired by the likes of Ms. Garten and Ms. Lawson, but I won’t ever be them — BECAUSE I AM MY OWN PERSON. It’s okay to make mistakes, do things out of order, forget the vanilla or accidentally use salt instead of sugar in peanut butter cookies (yes, this also happened). I have learned to embrace my blundered kitchen style and that is what makes it fun for me. I am glad that I came to the realization that my cooking confidence was parallel with my body positivity: rock what you got and everything will work out fine.amateur cooking, baking at home, Carly McLeod, cooking disasters, Do It Yourself, kitchen blunders, learning experience