Bon Appe-Tempt

My first Thanksgiving away from home was a mixed bag of emotions. I missed being home, gathering with my big Irish family, but on the other hand…it would be fun to help make a meal for my boyfriend and another couple.

I had never cooked a turkey in my life, so I was nervous. I wasn’t even sure which end of the turkey was ‘up’ in the pan. Fortunately my boyfriend had a lot of experience. He helped me pick out the bird, and he made the stuffing too. All I’d have to do was stuff the turkey on Thursday morning, and roast it. Forever. (Good thing I had a meat thermometer, or that meat would still be crisping up in my small oven in Tucson, Arizona.)

The day arrived. All my guests had to work, so it was just me and the turkey. Confident on the positioning of the carcass (it was placed in the pan for me!), I rinsed the bird one more time, and started stuffing it like a pro. I may have even spoken a little French. I felt like a gourmet chef.

Wonderful smells filled the air of my apartment. I checked and basted every hour. I was so proud of myself, I was near tears. As the guests came in with their side dishes, the smiles and sighs were all the reward I needed. I was the Thanksgiving day mom, and the turkey was my prized child.

After all were seated, the turkey masterpiece was carried to the table, browned to perfection. After grace, my BF began spooning stuffing out of the turkey into a waiting bowl, while describing the spices and seasoned bread cubes he had used.

“What the…?”

The stuffing was coming out in globs now, with clear strings attached like spider webs. The stringy mess stretched without breaking from carcass to bowl. And it stunk. He was devastated. His delicious, home-cooked recipe somehow morphed into an epic fail.

Then came that fateful question: “Did you take the packet of giblets out of the cavity before you stuffed it?”

The what? I didn’t know there were giblets, much less where the evil turkey processors hid them. The clear strings? They were melted plastic from the giblet bag. Um…”Ooops?”


A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about the lesson I learned from a kitchen failure. You can read it here.

Many commenters related to the theme of messing up a recipe, and some shared their own stories of kitchen disasters. So I thought, why not have a little fun with it, and offer a give-away based on our stories? As you just read, I started us off with my turkey story.

I invite you to share your own natural disasters in the kitchen or on the grill. Let’s have a giggle or two! All comments will earn a chance to win a $10 Starbucks gift card. I’ll leave this post up all week, and announce the winner on Sunday. The winner can soothe those feelings of failure in a specialty coffee, tea, or unburned bakery product!

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35 thoughts on “Bon Appe-Tempt

  1. Oh my! I have to admit that i have never cooked a turkey in my life. It’s a tradition my mom started and one I am continuing. Her sister prepared the turkey for years and then eventually my dad took over the job. I haven’t had to cook a turkey and at this rate I might be able to go for the record just as my mom did.
    I’m not sure I have had any major kitchen disasters but I have definitely failed making homemade bread-yeast didn’t work so bread didn’t rise. I know I haven’t been adventurous enough in the kitchen because I won’t typically make something unless I feel I will be successful.
    Thank you for the fun post and the giveaway. Blessings friend!

  2. When Jack and I were first married, I wanted to impress him by making a cake from scratch. I got the recipe from my Mom for a fresh apple cake which was delicious….when my Mom made it. Mine was like a 9″ x 13″ brick. I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. I had followed the recipe to a T….well except for leaving out a minor ingredient…FLOUR! LOL

  3. Hi Ceil,

    Oh, how frustrating and heart-wrenching that must have been that day, and yet how sweet and funny now, huh? One of my funniest dish mix ups was making my grandma’s special sesame chicken recipe and using baking soda instead of corn starch. Those white powders in orange boxes looks awfully similar in a rush! Argh, it was right after I had put in some vinegar so we had a foaming volcano side experiment in the dish too. Funny now.

    Jennifer Dougan

  4. Ceil,
    I have done the same thing the first time I cooked a turkey. The funniest was when I was teaching my daughter to make her favorite casserole of mine. We labored over the details, put it in the oven, and waited. She was so proud. When the timer went off, I asked another daughter to take it out of the oven as we were all busy at the time. She did. She took it out and set it on top of the stove. About 3 minutes later, boom! We had chicken casserole from the floor to the ceiling! She had set it on a hot burner and it literally exploded. The best part of it all…as we were all assessing what just happened, my husband , without missing a beat, grabbed his coat saying, “I’ll be back. I’m going to go get us Chinese!” Fun memories. Thanks for stirring them up.

  5. I had to laugh out loud when I read this (not at you, but with you) because I knew what the white strings were before it got to the indicting question! There is a reason I know these things! 🙂

    My first turkey I ever roasted was after we were married and someone had told me about roasting it in a brown grocery bag. I did…but I also had a slight fire to put out in the oven. I think I should have listened for all of the instructions. 🙂

  6. Ceil: Your story is so cute. Here’s one of mine. In January 1978, we had a BLIZZARD. My dad was stranded at a truck stop. Hubby went across town to get him, (The truck stop was a lot closer to where he lived than we were but the county roads were all blown shut.) We had a turkey in the deep freeze in the basement.
    We thought we had the turkey thawed out when we put it in the oven, but no. We thought we would never get that bird baked. It seemed to take twice as long as normal. Hubby still refers to that whenever we have any kind of frozen poultry.
    Please, omit my comment from the drawing as I am caffiene sensitive as well as gluten sensitive. I just wanted to share my story with you.

  7. I’ve had my share of kitchen episodes but cannot think of anything specific right now. (Will let you know if I do!) I too, left the packet in a turkey once, but it was unstuffed. I think it ended up cooking okay, but I was embarrassed to not have thought to take it out. Live and learn, right? 🙂

  8. I loved this story and I think every new cook has a similar story. Mine was a coffee cake I made from a torn recipe. I added 2 cups of sugar instead to 2 tbsp. It was like Mt. Vesuvius in the oven. All we could do was laugh and try to catch the mess. 🙂

  9. Oh my goodness… I would have been devastated! What a funny story to share though Ceil.

    My kitchen disaster happens about every other night… I get distracted by an email or by commenting on another blog until the smoke detector goes off. LOL I’ve burned so many meals it’s ridiculous. Although I have learned that sometimes you can salvage what you’re making by pouring it into a different pot (without scraping it) and simply call it “smoked” or “cajun”.

    That reminds me of another story! I decided to make an “easy” meal of pan fried hot dogs for the kids. I put some water in the pan and was waiting for it to bubble when I was distracted by a telephone call. About half an hour later the smoke detector went off and the house reeked! The water had evaporated and I destroyed the pan. The top of my glass burner now has a ring on it too from the over-heating of the pan.

    Fun times.

    Thanks for sharing Ceil!

  10. Well, this isn’t a classic *cooking* failure – but it involves food. I vividly remember one trip we went on when the boys were small. Part of our adventure one day was a canoe ride, and a hike for a picnic lunch. Well, I wanted to buy portable food that was easy to carry. When it was time for lunch, we pulled out the food. My oldest son started to eat, and then I heard gagging. Well, evidently the tuna lunch “kits” I thought I had bought were in actuality just packets of plain tuna. Someone thought of adding some applesauce and crackers, but that was worse. We laughed so hard. To this day, I cannot mention tuna without this story becoming part of the conversation!!


  11. ohhh, you make me smile. I think our families biggest kitchen disaster was when Katie was young and made cookies for the first time by herself. She misread the recipe and used two CUPS baking soda. Those cookies sure did pucker up the lips and tongues when we tasted them. ewwwww. I remember trying to be the ‘good mama’ and tried to save the recipe and the rest of the batter by adding more sugar and flour until it dawned on me just how much other ingredients it would take to balance out that much baking soda. Thanks for bringing back a good memory.

  12. I needed a good laugh today and your story provided it.
    Thanks for sharing this story, Ceil.
    I can’t think of any ‘kitchen disasters’I have experienced.
    My hubby tells me I am a good cook 🙂

  13. When you’re a student you don’t have much time to cook and you eat any quick snack you can find. I remember the instructions on the “Easy Cook Rice” packet said clearly: Take satchet out of packet and stand in boiling water for one minute.

    I did exactly that and burnt my feet.

    On another occasion I bought a frozen pizza from the supermarket and rushed home to eat. When I got it out of the packet the pizza was wrapped in a thin celophane type of wrapping. To my dismay I found out that the pizza had no toppings at all. It was totally devoid of all the beautiful toppings illustrated on the cardboard box. It was just a circular piece of cooked bread.

    I phoned the supermarket and complained. They said they’d refund me the money or exchange it if I brought it back in.

    When I went to the kitchen to put the pizza in its box I realised I’d been holding it upside down all along.

    As a student I used to get a sharp pain in my eye everytime I drank tea. This went on for a while. Every time I had tea (or coffee) I had a sharp pain in my eye.

    I went to the doctor and he told me to take out the spoon from the cup before drinking.

  14. Back in the day in the UK chickens came with their own packet of giblets inside; but this has stopped years since.

    The first time I noticed I did not have the pack of giblets I went back to the supermarket and complained. They explained that market research discovered that most customers don’t want the giblets and they were thrown away. So a decision was made to separate the chicken livers at the factory and sell them separately to people wanting to make liver pate. The rest of the giblets were made into dog food.

    I insisted on my packet of giblets. The shop manager gave me a tub of chicken livers instead as a gift – it was about half a kilo. I refused because there was no way of knowing that any of the livers belonged to the chicken I had bought.

    He offered me a pack of stuffing and a pack of gravy instead. I accepted them as well as the livers.

  15. That is hilarious!!! And so sad!! I confess to a scam I have been pulling off for 47 years… I have never ever ever made a turkey for Thanksgiving!!! I really need to get this on my bucket list and DO IT!! 🙂

    I remember your post about the cookies… loved it!!

  16. I have an unnerving amount of turkey roasting fails. I feel your pain, Ceil :). I tried at least 3-4 times before I finally got one right. And honestly, I really wasn’t crazy about that one either. My first attempt never even browned. He came out white as a ghost. I’m not a great cook, but I’m working on it these days as we are trying to live a healthier lifestyle. I’m sure I’ll have many more kitchen disasters in the near future!

  17. Ceil, That is too funny. I love reading cooking stories. I am so surprised at the number of people who have never cooked a turkey. I love to cook them. After my husband and I became gluten free, we experimented with recipes and exchanged the flour to GF. One of them was my favorite quiche recipe. We had just been to the store to buy all fresh veggie ingredients and my husband chopped them all up to put in the quiche. It’s a really easy one dish recipe with a bisquick-type flour that makes its own crust. I found a GF flour and we mixed everything up and put it in the oven and set the timer. We were starving. The timer went off and the quiche was still soup. I added a little more flour thinking it may need a bit more to set and we put it back in the oven. I gave up after checking and rechecking every 15 minutes several times in a row, but my husband stuck with it, God love him. The original recipe time had more than doubled and the quiche still hadn’t set yet. We realized the GF flour must have been old. After waiting more than two hours to eat, we finally went out to dinner.

  18. What a great story, Ceil. I can’t think of any epic recipe fails right now, but my recently acquired bad habit of turning on the wrong burner does come to mind. When you think you are turning on a tea kettle to boil some water and instead turn UP the burner where the sweet and sour meatballs are simmering, the end result is not pretty! Thank goodness I have two daughters who had very comprehensive fire safety training in third grade and know what to do when things don’t look right on the stove!

  19. I should have laughed, but I felt like crying for you over your turkey disaster.
    As a teenager, I lived one school year with my uncle and his family on Saipan, a tiny island near Guam. Uncle Dwayne worked for the government, and often rubbed shoulders with high-ups on the island. One day my cousins and I decided to make cookies for my uncle to share at work. He came home that night, laughing that his boss had enjoyed the cookie he ate, but found a bonus in it–a long red hair!

  20. Oh my goodness Ceil. I almost spit my water out with laughter as I read this. I haven’t had a mishap quite that interesting, although I’m not that adventurous in the kitchen. But I have had the habit of blowing up eggs on several occasions.

  21. Hi Ceil! I have been praying for you! hope you got my email…
    I love the fun giveaway… you know i love to give gifts… but a chance to win is always nice too!

    Well, my first turkey dinner was the first Thanksgiving after I got married (28 years ago) first the turkey wasn’t completely thawed… so I stood there in front of the sink running water over the turkey on the phone in tears with mom until I finally got it thawed enough to pull all the “stuff” they put inside out of it…. then I baked it in one of those disposable pans because as a newly wed I didn’t have a nice roaster yet… and of course it began leaking turkey juice and grease all over my oven which caught my fire! yes, ma’am I said fire… thankfully we were able to put the fire out and the turkey was completely covered in tin foil at the time soooo…. we were able to eat it and it actually turned out pretty good!

  22. Ah, this made me laugh! My little sister did something similar (we grew up vegetarian and no one ever inducted us into the mysteries of roasting turkeys–I even wrote a post about “the vegetarian’s guide to roasting a turkey”). My worst kitchen disaster was the time I put eggs on to boil at my boyfriend’s parent’s house…and then we all went to church. When we returned, their house was smothered in a blue haze and smelled like Yellowstone.

  23. Oh no! What a frustrating story!!!

    I don’t have too many good kitchen mistakes but I do remember when I was in elementary school I was given the task to prepare the cookies for a bake sale. I worked happily away adding a little of this and a little of that – following the recipe to a T. I got to the part of the instructions that told me to “mix the ingredients by hand” and that’s just what I did. I stuck my little hands in the mixture and squished it all together. Of course, at that moment my older brother walked into the kitchen and started yelling for my mom since I was messing up the food. She laughingly explained to me that mixing by hand still meant with a spoon. 😉

  24. I had a best friend all through jr. high, high school and we were roommates one year in college. One time when she had come to spend the night, I think we must have still been in high school, we decided to make a coffee cake. We followed the recipe exactly even remembering to grease the pan. We put it in the oven, set the timer and then went to the piano to play duets. We had a lot of fun. BUT when we went back to get it out of the oven we realized that we had forgotten to turn on the oven! So it was still batter. We had a good laugh over that. My mom still remembers it, too. Anyway, we turned the oven on and had a wait a bit longer before eating it. 🙂

  25. That is a funny story Ceil! I must admit I have never made a turkey before. My dad always made the turkey’s… My mom did bake a turkey this year and I must admit she did wonderful. It was very tasty!

    And is answer to your question (comment on my blog) my dad was the one who taught me to cook. My grandma taught me the love for baking. I love cookbooks and taught myself the rest. There really isn’t anything I can’t make.

    Except for when I was first married. I thought I would be all nice and sweet to my hubby and make pasta, for the very first time. So, I get the pasta going, open up this can that was called pasta ready. Waited what seemed like forever till the noodles were done. Drained the somewhat soggy noodles and then poured this so called sauce over the top and stirred…. well lets just say I’m glad I’m still married and a much better cook. It was a horrible soggy dinner full of diced tomatoes! It was…. ugh! Never mind you get the point!

    I hope you are doing well! Are you suppose to get any of this snow? They are calling for 10 inches for our part of the state. Yikes! Good thing I’m home for the next few days.

    Hugs to you,

  26. It all kinda makes you want to just do take-out, ya know?

    My oven hasn’t been working for 2 weeks now. We’re surviving with the crockpot and the toaster oven.

    I think we need to go and get a new one. Whatcha think?


  27. I am enjoying all the kitchen disaster stories being shared.. It is nice we are not alone when it comes to mistakes. I remember as a new bride making my Frank chicken and Dumplings…my very first attempt. To this day not sure what happened…but I had one great big dumpling. I placed it on a platter and placed it on the table and began to slice it like a meatloaf…he looked at me and said..What is that? I calmly looked at him and said with pride…a Dumpling!!!!! The sweet thing is …he ate some of it. 🙂

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