Blunders in the Kitchen

the (almost perfect) banana bread

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.

tomato scallion shortcakes with goat cheese

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.

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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.

margherita pizza

kitchen cupboard

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