Why I’ll Never Write a Cookbook, or I’m a Really Good Cook Except for the Fires

A Rave About Cooking

I took four years of Home Economics in high school, and if I’m not mistaken, I got A’s every grading period, despite having caught a dish towel on fire not once, but twice. Somehow I managed to douse the flames before the teacher noticed.

FYI: Using a towel for a pot holder isn’t a good idea.

This Christmas it became clear that I still retain my talent for kitchen combustion.

You see, I decided to make an extra effort with dinner and include two traditional English side dishes rarely seen this side of the Atlantic, bread sauce and Yorkshire pudding.

The bread sauce came off without a hitch, despite having to make it from scratch rather than a packet (as is common in the UK), and having to translate the recipe’s English ingredients and measurements to American ingredients and measurements.

Yes, the bread sauce was perfect — savory and creamy.
The puddings were another story.

I’d made Yorkshire puddings once before, and vaguely remembered them being similar to popovers, but I couldn’t find the recipe I had used. Eventually, I found another online and followed the instructions exactly. (If you’re not familiar with the dish, it’s made from sort of an eggy batter that’s poured into hot oil [drippings], and then baked. Usually served with some kind of roast.)

Anyway, the puddings raised beautifully and looked delicious. The only problem was the oven was smoking like a bonfire made with damp wood. What a stench! Oil had overflowed onto the bottom of the oven.

Amazingly, the puddings tasted great. In fact, they were so good, I heated one up the next day in the toaster oven and ate it with jam.

Then, I put in another.
It went up in flames.

from Nigella's How to Eat

from Nigella’s How to Eat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I looked in the oven. Clearly it would have to be cleaned, or everything would come out tasting of burnt oil.
With a sigh, I reluctantly hit the buttons to start the self-cleaning process.

More smoke — lots of it — billowing up through the stove and all around the house. More malodorous, eye-burning smell.

It was twenty-something degrees but we opened the windows anyway. Sprayed Febreze. Burnt candles. Lit the fireplace. The house still stinks.

I don’t think I’ll make individual Yorkshire puddings again, but I might try a big one in my cast iron skillet.

It would be like Dutch Baby we had for breakfast. Here’s a link to that recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/Dutch-Baby-74146. Dutch Babies are good because you can make the batter ahead of time and then just bake it in the morning. And they look like you fussed more than you did.

We put fresh raspberries on ours; it was really good.
More importantly, it didn’t set anything on fire.



About kymlucas

"Taking care not to take love too seriously." Writer of smart, fresh, contemporary romance and women's fiction. Blogging about writing, reading, and more recently, dealing with the ins and outs of breast cancer.
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4 Responses to Why I’ll Never Write a Cookbook, or I’m a Really Good Cook Except for the Fires

  1. Kristen Precht-Byrd says:

    OMG Sam’s worstesty-worst nightmare. And the dogs — they would have been howling the whole time in harmony.


  2. marylou anderson says:

    As a teen, I once made an egg custard from a recipe in an 1890’s cookbook–on a bet from my mom that nothing in the cookbook could be made in the 20th century from nineteenth century recipes..
    no baking/cooking temps were listed in any recipe, the cookbook authors wanted ovens to be moderately hot; very hot or not quite hot (???)– recipe amts for ingredients were a dab of this; a pinch of this or a cup–(one coffee cup size)-of that– for a pound cake ingredients called for a pound of everything: butter, sugar and flour–seriously! What kind of muscles those women had in their arms!
    I cheated on my bet–I asked my Granny to help me: My egg custard was lovely, tasty and my mom was real irritated that I had succeeded and she had to give me the antique cookbook. So I won all around!
    Just a word of caution on self-cleaning ovens: NEVER turn your oven on to clean then leave your house. I “attended” 3 house fires started by self-cleaning ovens–the temps in the oven can get as high as 700-900 degrees in order to burn off food residue. The fires started by radiant heating of surrounding surfaces: plaster walls, metal counters; wooden cabinetry–POOOOF! One home was total loss. The homeowner had gone grocery shopping.


    • kymlucas says:

      Mary Lou, Your egg custard sounds wonderful! And I do believe you can cook with a dab and a pinch. That’s another reason I’ll never write a cookbook — I mostly cook by taste and sight! Thanks for sharing the warning on self-cleaning ovens. I’ve always been a bit wary of using mine — doing it only when strictly necessary.


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