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Coffee Talk

In honor of turkey day, we're sharing our largest cooking fails.
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Every Thanksgiving, a new crop of videos pops up in our news feeds—the family dog eating a turkey straight off the table, epic explosions, burnt birds. While nothing quite so dramatic—or dangerous—as a fried turkey fire ball has ever occurred during our own Thanksgiving dinners, we've each had our fair share of cooking fails. Here are a few of our most memorable mishaps:

Emily: When I was in high school, I decided to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies for a friend who had recently gone through a break-up. I wasn't much of a baker back then and hurriedly threw together the ingredients in the morning, popped the cookie dough into the oven, and finished getting ready for classes. When the timer went off, I went to grab my "cookies," which had overflowed into a pathetic puddle on the baking sheet. Apparently I'd used powdered sugar instead of flour (my mom kept them both in unmarked glass containers), so my poor friend remained both single and without any cookies that day.

Geoffrey: I've ruined many dishes through experimentation, but my worst failure had to do with sheer stupidity. Emily and I had just moved and we were having a friend over for dinner. I wanted to cook something really decadent and decided to make braised short ribs. The dish takes around 5-6 hours in the oven, so I came home at lunch (I was still at my old job), got everything in the oven and headed back to work. The rest of the afternoon was spent thinking about how perfectly tender the meat was going to be, how the scent of red wine, garlic and thyme would be permeating our home when I walked in. So when I got home at 6pm and didn't smell anything, I was slightly confused. I opened the oven and it was ice cold. Considering this was the first time I had used this new oven, I immediately thought it was broken, but soon realized it had two control dials, one for temperature and one for function. Needless the say, the dish didn't happen and we ordered pizza.

Alina: My largest "cooking" fail coincidentally enough involved Emily and Geoffrey. I was barely two months into my new job at Cupcakes and Cashmere, and at the time, the only employee, so we spent a lot of quality time together. The two of them sweetly invited me over for Thanksgiving–which was such a blessing and relief, having just gone through a breakup and still being relatively new to Los Angeles (i.e., I had no one to spend Thanksgiving with otherwise). Having been a reader of the blog since 2008, and knowing Emily's hostess prowess, I was nervous to bring over a dish that would impress my boss (pressure level one), who also happens to be Martha Stewart and a premier lifestyle blogger/master of all things food and Thanksgiving (pressure level maximum). I texted my friend Kat (you may recall, the same friend I texted about what shoes to wear to my job interview), about what to bring that was befitting of this company and occasion, and we mutually decided on a baked brie. As someone who basically had never turned on an oven at that point (my boyfriend had done all the cooking in our 5-year relationship, so I was getting my sea legs), Kat text-walked me through all of the baking steps and urged me to carefully close the dough around the brie or else the brie would ooze out in the oven into an unshapely mess. I thought I sealed all the corners, but ten minutes into baking I opened the oven to find that the entire brie had melted into a liquid puddle outside the dough. It was basically over. (Keep in mind this was about 30 minutes before I had to leave to head to their house and every store was closed). I was horrified and defeated, but I somehow panic-scooped the melting, oozing brie back into the dough and made it look like it had never happened. To this day I don't know how I made it work, but it looked half-way decent and everyone loved the dish (or they were just being nice). Though I technically got away with it, the moment of pure fear and horror when I saw that the baked brie I was bringing to Emily Schuman's for Thanksgiving was an amorphous puddle in my oven, for sure comes to mind as my biggest cooking fail. 

Leslie: I learned the hard way that Beer Can Chicken should not be attempted if you have a half-sized oven, a tendency to "interpret" rather than "follow" recipes, or if you've imbibed a significant amount of the liquid component of the recipe prior to baking. But I didn't know any of this before I attempted it—twice—during the summer of 2015. I wrote about the entire epic here, but the short version is that, over the course of my two attempts, my boyfriend endured second-degree burns, I totaled my oven, mistook a chicken neck for a chicken butt, humiliated myself in front of my boss, and trussed a chicken using only what I had on hand—a green onion and a handful of toothpicks. But, both chickens were the best darn chickens I've ever eaten, so at least in that respect it wasn't a fail, just a brilliant dinner with a couple of casualties along the way.

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