When Your Kitchen Life is a Train Wreck and the Recipes Don't Work

Kristi Keller

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Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

I’m beginning to think I’m being punked every time I set foot in the kitchen to try a new food adventure. It’s almost as if someone purposefully removes ONE key ingredient in each recipe, just to watch how badly I’ll fail.

Where’s the hidden camera? Who replaced my real cookbooks with the punked versions? And who rigged Google to send me only the shit recipes when I want to get creative?

My success rate with new recipes is less than 20% even when I follow it to a tee. I don’t substitute, I don’t add a little dash of creativity, I just follow the damn recipe. It still turns out like crap and never looks like the picture.

Let’s use tuna cakes as an example. I stocked up on tins of tuna when shelves started getting empty at the grocery stores. Regardless of the apocalypse, I’m trying to stick as closely to Keto as possible.

I looked up a recipe for the tuna cakes because I wasn’t confident I knew exactly what to use so they would bind properly.

Listen, I followed the instructions as closely as I would if I were about to program a space shuttle. I was using four tins of tuna which is basically gluttony in wartime rationing days like these. I did not want to fuck this up.

The recipe looked like this:

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Courtesy of CrunchyCreamySweet.com

My tuna cakes looked like this:

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Image by K. Keller

Is it any wonder I detest the kitchen? I ended up shredding my tuna cakes and dumping them into salads. WTF?

I really need to get back to work because clearly, I’m not going to survive the apocalypse. I supervise a restaurant so normally I get to eat gourmet meals prepared by someone else, five nights a week. Talented individuals whose life missions are not to send people to their graves early.

I’m certainly not the peaceful, zen-like lady in the feature image of this story. My kitchen prowess resembles that of a stressed out mom of triplet toddlers…except I live alone.

It’s not like I can’t cook. I raised a child who survived 28 years. I told him about my tuna cake fiasco and he shamed me. He was like, “Dude, I could make perfect tuna cakes from a prison cell using a light socket for heat.”

Thanks, son. Good talk. With an attitude like that it’s a wonder he even made it to 28. He’s lucky he was ridiculously good looking. I told him that when he was six years old and accidentally lit the trash can on fire, trying to hide the fact that he was playing with candles.

“You’re lucky you’re cute.”

I am also cute, but does that excuse the fact that I can never throw a dinner party because of all these punked recipes? I mean, I wouldn’t come over either with tuna cakes looking like that.

The only thing I can cook well are omelets and Apocalypse Soup. Oh, and I make a mean cookie dough ball.

Back in the days when I used to eat meat, I was a badass on the barbecue. I could cook an entire meal on one grill, right down to the veggies.

Now that I’ve given up the meat and potatoes lifestyle and have had to get creative with cookbooks and apps, it’s as if some secret underground society said, “A-ha! Let’s give this lady a run for her money.”

The joke is always on me in one form or another. Unless the dish is one big pot of everything thrown in, I cannot perfect a recipe. It never works, it never sticks together, it never has flavor regardless of what the recipe tells me to do.

I used to think I’d like to delve into cake decorating just so I could play with fondant, but with my tuna cake track record, it’s highly unlikely a real cake would turn out. Besides, I have traumatic childhood memories of cake baking.

When I was eight years old I wanted to surprise my mom by baking her a chocolate cake. I followed the recipe as best I knew how and when it came out of the oven it looked spectacular!

My mom cut a piece to sample and nearly choked on it.

She asked me to show her the recipe I followed, so I pulled it out. She asked me to show her the measurement apparatus I used for the salt, so I pulled out the 1/4 plastic measuring cup.

It was supposed to be 1/4 teaspoon.

I cried.

My amazing mother did a famously good job of making me not feel like such a failure. While this is a traumatic memory for me, it’s an amusing story she likes to tell over and over to everyone else.

I certainly won’t be inviting her over for tuna cakes anytime soon.

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I'm an old school travel writer who's been flung into another writing world through life experience. I have a compassionate eye, a different opinion, and strong words for this world we live in. I also know a thing or two.

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