Philosophy Friday: Even Julia Child Made Mistakes in the Kitchen

By , August 21, 2009

I was recently watching a Julia Child episode on DVD, when she launched into this little sermon about peoples’ irrational fear of failure while learning to cook. I liked it so much that I recorded it and posted it so you could see it, too:

Julia Child – “Don’t be afraid of failure in the kitchen” from The Herbangardener on Vimeo.

We must not be deterred if our cooking flops, because that’s how we best learn the quirks of the ingredients we cook with, and how to combine things for the best results. I sometimes get pretty frustrated when my cooking doesn’t work out, especially when I waste good ingredients (and precious time!). But I also know that mistakes can be very good teachers…

For each flopped kitchen experiment, I usually learn something valuable, and I can usually revive the dish into something edible (and oftentimes, delicious!).

Recently, I was making another batch of Pan Cookies…but this time, experimenting with a Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cookie. It was an absolute fiasco from the very beginning, and I should have stopped before I even started. I had mixed my flour with buttermilk and coconut oil, and left it to sit/soak overnight. The next day, I realized I wouldn’t be able to make the cookies that day, so I put the dough in the fridge. A couple days later, I took the cold dough back out of the fridge. Of course I couldn’t mix anything in because it was so cold, but I still needed to add baking powder, eggs, sugar, etc. So I warmed the dough over a stove burner, and added everything else into the bowl. The dough wouldn’t break down any further than marble-sized chunks, so the only way I could get everything mixed was to squish the batter through my fingers!

It was too runny for cookies, so I decided to add some coconut flour to absorb the liquid. And more zucchini. And then more sugar and coconut oil. And then a little more coconut flour. I put some batter in the pan and cooked it up. But since I hadn’t added another egg when I added the coconut flour (coconut flour needs eggs to hold it together), the cookies completely fell apart when I tried to turn them over. I just continued cooking them anyway, and ended up with “Scrambled Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cookie Crumbs” that you can see below.*Sigh* (They actually were really good! Ha!)

Kitchen Flop! "Zucchini Chocolate Chip Pan-Cookie Crumbs"

Kitchen Flop! "Scrambled Zucchini Chocolate Chip Pan-Cookie Crumbs"

Another recent experiment also flopped; I had envisioned making some beautiful Zucchini Cakes (like crab cakes made with zucchini, eggs, parsley, onions, & Old Bay seasoning), but actually ended up inventing a brand new dish called “Big Pile Of Scrambled-Zucchini-Egg-Stuff.” Though it wasn’t beautiful, it was still awfully tasty!
I’ve always said that I like cooking only when it turns out. But of course it doesn’t always turn out; even Julia Child’s cooking didn’t always turn out. So I’m learning to go with the flow, even when my kitchen experiments are total failures! They’re (usually) still edible, at least! When our cooking fails, let’s learn from our mistakes…say “oh well”…and move on, undeterred! 🙂

2 Responses to “Philosophy Friday: Even Julia Child Made Mistakes in the Kitchen”

  1. snowpeas says:

    I’m an expert at flops in the kitchen–thank you for touching on their value! Watching that video on Julia Child made me feel better 🙂

  2. sia says:

    I will keep Julia Child’s pearls of wisdom in mind when my stupid and very clumsy mistakes happen.In the presence of other chefs,it is a bitter pill to swallow,
    But,like the great kitchen dame that Julia was, “oh well” be my inner voice in response

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