Making things from scratch is not for the weak. The process of learning comes with a lot of failure, loss, and sometime injury (speaking from personal experience here!). I have thrown out more food than I care to admit, burnt myself, burnt other things, and subjected my loved ones to trying horrible tasting toothpaste (5 to be exact) and other body care mishaps that I didn’t want to throw out.
I personally hate failure, but I love learning more than I hate failing, so I fail A LOT. I hope this helps you feel braver to forage ahead and try new things. I also hope that you can learn from my mistakes and save yourself a lot of heartache.
It is hard for me to accept this as a personal failure per se. I did not measure wrong or forget or add an ingredient…so I refuse to accept the blame for the wasted cup of oil. Sometimes food just gets rebellious and refuses to be what you want it to be. It is the unpredictable nature of food.
Technically not a failure, but a great reminder to activate your yeast before you add it to baked goods. If you peer into my less than stellar photo, you will notice that the yeast on the left is fluffy on top and the yeast on the right is patchy and flat. Both of these are from the exact same batch of dry yeast with the same amount of water and sugar. For some mysterious reason, my first batch on the right never really got going. Maybe the water was too hot or too cold? Anyway, I would rather not jeopardize a loaf of bread over 1 1/2 tsp. of dry yeast, so I started over and the next batch of activated yeast (on the left) appeared frothy and hungry and ready to work. Hooray for a diverted disaster!
Lesson learned: Proof your yeast for 5 minutes before adding it to baked goods to make sure that it is active.
If you notice the huge gap between failures, it is not that I have had a perfect streak in the last 6 months. It is just that my failures usually end up in the trash or compost before I remember to take a picture of it. That’s actually what I did with my failed buckwheat sprouts, but I decided to go ahead and inform you anyway.
My Portuguese friends grow a collard green variety they call couve (pronouned cove). I can only describe as a cross between tree collards and green kale. They kindly sent me home with a jumbo black trash bag full of couve leaves. Quickly realizing that there was no way humanly possible to consume this many greens, I decided to try making kale (or couve) chips. “How hard could they be?”, I innocently asked.
Turns out they are not hard to make at all. However, they taste HORRIBLE. I tossed them with olive oil and salt and lightly toasted them on baking sheets. They ended up in the compost where all my failures go to their final resting place. I am not quite sure why they tasted like slightly burnt socks.
Lesson learned: Tough couve collards at the end of their season is not a good substitute for kale chips. My feeling is that young tender green kale would have produced a tastier chip.
As you can probably tell from the looks of shock and terror on their faces, these would be banana chips suffered a tragic death at the hand of a mere 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. In the past I have dipped bananas pieces in lemon juice mixed with water to help them from browning during the drying process. Then I happened upon a website with beautiful pictures of banana chips and instructions to simply brush lemon juice over the top before baking. Lured by the picture, I ignored my instinct and decided that this sounded much simpler than dipping them in a lemon water bath. Not only did this immediately blacken them, but it also made the bananas release a ton of juices and turn to mush (as I illustrated for you by squeezing one poor soul before declaring it dead).
I realize that not everyone has a dehydrator at home, so this was my failed attempt to make it in the oven. My oven only goes down to 170 degrees, whereas dehydrators can dry them at the proper temp of 135 degrees. I have heard of people suscessfully drying strawberry fruit leather in the oven at 250 degrees, but apparently this doesn’t apply to apple leather.
This sounded very romantic at the time: A Chocolate and Turbinado-Sugar Body Polish. It just so happened that I had all the ingredients in my kitchen. It just so happened that it turned out looking like this. Then it sat on my kitchen windowsill for two weeks so I could stare at it while doing dishes and ponder why I didn’t want to try my creation.