Cooking disasters — Thanksgiving edition

Thanksgiving can be a time for some of our worst cooking disasters. (Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Caption
Thanksgiving can be a time for some of our worst cooking disasters. (Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Credit: Kirk McKoy

Credit: Kirk McKoy

Two weeks ago, I devoted a column to cooking disasters — one of mine, and a lot of my Facebook friends'.

But that was just the proverbial tip of the iceberg lettuce. There were many, many more stories that we didn't cover — and a great number of those, I noticed, happened during Thanksgiving. It may be a time for family and friends, a time for abundance, a time for football.

But it is also a time for some of our worst cooking disasters, ever.

Many of these disasters were along the same lines as Duncan's experience. He wrote, "I tried cooking a turkey on a charcoal grill. I took the giblets out of the cavity, just like I was supposed to. But no one said or wrote that sometimes the giblets are in two bags. Nothing like trying to cook a whole bird with a frozen bag of giblets inside."

Susan read that story and responded, "I would just like to say that I consider a person un-American if s/he hasn't had this experience at least once. I don't know anyone who hasn't cooked the Thanksgiving turkey at least once with one or both giblet bags still in the cavity."

Maggie's disaster came a bit later in the process, after the turkey was already cooked.

"I was carving the Thanksgiving turkey and the force of the knife flipped it off the counter and into the recycling bin next to the island. It was paper-only recycling, so I yanked it out and served it anyway," she said.

MaryPat's Thanksgiving disaster was even more spectacular: "I am preheating the oven. It erupts in flames. Guests arrived to fire trucks and flashing lights."

Miraculously, "all was fine" and "we only ate a few minutes late."

Stephanie was once expecting 12 for her Thanksgiving dinner, so she had her husband boil a half-dozen eggs for deviled eggs. She wrote, "When I started to peel them, I realized that they'd only been cooked to the point of being a gelatinous mess and were totally inedible.

"So naturally I threw them all down the kitchen sink. Which led to the sink drain becoming 100 percent blocked and totally useless. Which in turn led to me washing the 18-pound turkey in the bathtub because the sink was a backed-up mess.

"I ended up cooking an entire Thanksgiving meal for 12 without a functioning kitchen sink. I still laugh when I picture my mom in the yard holding a strainer and pleading with me not to spill hot water on her while I drained the just-cooked potatoes."

For her Thanksgiving dinner, Kathy had a "beautiful pumpkin pie made from scratch — perfect crust, perfect color ... forgot the sugar."

Gordon also left the sugar out of a pumpkin pie he baked for Thanksgiving. "It was a little bland," he said drily.

Anson's Thanksgiving pumpkin pie disaster came when his wife mistook the salt for sugar. But that isn't as bad as the time she mistook cayenne pepper for cinnamon when preparing oatmeal.

Norma's first Thanksgiving away from her family turned out well — except the gravy. "For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to 'spice it up,'" she wrote. "I think I may have even added red pepper flakes (because that makes everything taste better, right?)"

And finally, there is a story I simply have to share from my friend Cynthia. It's not a Thanksgiving story, it's an Easter story, and I think it's my favorite cooking-disaster story, ever.

"So I come home after work, first job out of college, and as I approach my apartment building, I see the strangest thing. The screens on my windows (second-floor apartment) look ... black? When I get to the front door, I am horrified to realize that my screens are covered with a huge mass of buzzing flies.

"I cannot begin to imagine what in the world — this is surreal — and I notice this weird sort of sulfurous odor in the hallway and stairwell. I open the front door and it's like, what the heck? Shards of something or other are clinging to the screens (I had left the windows open because it was a warm spring day in Macon, Ga.).

"There are bits of pale-colored stuff hanging from the ceiling, on the kitchen table, on the wall behind the sofa — small apartment; the kitchen opens into the living room — and then I see it, the burned-out pot still sitting on the stove, the eye of the electric stove still burning red.

"Easter was that weekend, and I had run home at lunch to boil eggs that I planned to decorate for my co-workers. Apparently I was distracted or in some kind of crazy hurry because I had forgotten to turn off the stove and the eggs had been boiling for four hours.

"Well, not exactly four hours, I guess ... they boiled until the water was gone, at which point they had exploded all over my tiny apartment, leaving the pot to burn till I got home. Later, I even found extremely hard-boiled egg residue on my bed, meaning some of it had blown through the doorway from the kitchen back into the bedroom.

"At any rate, I turned off the stove and slammed the windows shut because those flies weren't going anywhere. To this day I thank God — but really don't understand how — I didn't burn down the entire complex.

"I couldn't open the windows for a while (Georgia flies are persistent little boogers) and found tiny bits of egg in the oddest places for the next few days. As I recall, I did not try to do Easter eggs again anytime soon."