Thought Bubbles

If You Can Read, You Can Cook? – An Episodic Narrative



Some people say if you can read, you can cook… But is that really true? In my opinion No. I can read and fail to cook lots of things. It’s more of a question of If you can read the recipe correctly you can cook well.  

Below are some of the funniest baking and cooking failures I’ve ever encountered. Between flying butter and sugar, and lavender essential oil in meringue! When I experienced these  disasters they were and still are hilarious. Also, lots of people have had cooking disasters and it’s nice to know that you’re not alone in the kitchen!


Episode 1: The Banana Bread Pudding


On a sunny summer day, we had to go to a potluck. A potluck, with people we never had met before. A potluck, where you had to bring a snack or a dish. My Mom decided to make banana bread (the kind with chocolate chips).

The banana bread was going along well, until the recipe said you needed 3 and a  ¼ cups of flour. My Mom read the recipe as three ¼ cups of flour.  So, she dumped ¾ of a cup of flour in the banana bread batter. My Mom didn’t realize her mistake and she slid the pan right into the oven. The banana bread smelled delicious; if you took a close look you might realize something was funny with the batter. But, why would there be anything wrong with it? When my Mom took the banana bread out of the oven, she was curious why the banana bread had an outside like a shell and an inside like a mud puddle.  I asked her if she added the right amount of everything, and then it hit her:  

What about the flour!  

 I snuck in and tasted the pudding like bread  (she almost could have called it “bread pudding” but it was even too mushy for that). Even though it tasted good, we ended up throwing the banana bread away and making a fruit salad instead. It was not a very impressive fruit salad but, it tasted good! Good enough for a potluck.


Episode 2: Marco’s Gnocchi Ball


It all started when Marco (my brother) found a recipe for purple potato gnocchi. He had ordered it at restaurants before (and liked it) so, Marco thought he could make it himself. He was almost right (but more on that in a minute).

We got all the ingredients needed, and he started to cook. My Mom and I were surprised about how well it was going. At about this time Marco was making the dough. The dough was a misty gray-purple like color: it was perfect. When he dropped the dough into the food processor, there was a little bit of flying flour, but otherwise, it was working out the way it should.

Then, Marco made his big mistake…

He dropped the whole ball of purple potato gnocchi dough in the boiling water (with a splash)!  

I started laughing, my Mom slapped her hand to her forehead, and Marco asked, “What?”

“You were supposed to cut up the gnocchi first, then put it in the water!” I laughed.

“Oh…” sighed Marco defeatedly.

Then, we all started laughing including Marco, as he scooped the big half-cooked gnocchi ball out of the boiling water.  


Episode 3: Lavender Essential Oil in Meringue


I was having a playdate with some of my friends, one sunny afternoon.

“What do you want to do?” I asked my friends.

“Could we bake something unique?” one of them queried.

“What about a meringue!” I exclaimed!

I kind-of knew how to make meringue but, I wasn’t positive about all the measurements. While I scooped the ingredients into a standard mixer, my friends chose lavender essential oil for the flavoring. At the time, we didn’t know it was essential oil because it said lavender oil in big letters and essential in very small letters (if we’d known that we wouldn’t have used it). So, not knowing it was for your body we put the lavender oil into the mixture. The meringue tasted pretty good, like lavender sweetness, fluffy in your mouth.

Later that day, while I was playing at one my friend’s houses, Marco texted me:

Hi Anna. Just letting you know that the lavender oil you put in your meringue was for your body. It shouldn’t kill you.


When my friends and I read it we laughed, and laughed, and laughed, until our stomachs hurt! And we never used that lavender oil ever again…


Episode 4: The Olive Oil Cake


This cake was the biggest fail yet.

Marco wanted to bake something from a new cookbook he bought, and for some reason, he chose the orange olive oil cake.

Unlike the other stories, this one didn’t start off well…

Marco got 2 sticks of butter and a cup or so of sugar and dropped them into the standard mixer. Then he turned the mixer on high. (Marco, the dogs, and I were all in the kitchen at that point) The butter wasn’t soft enough and the mixer was going too fast so, in slow motion, the butter shards went flying through the air and was followed by a cloud of sugar, like a dessert tornado. We were all (including the dogs) looking up at the ingredients with wonder in our eyes, and then smack, the butter and sugar fell to the floor. The dogs started trying to eat it, and the mixer bowl was rolling around on the counter while the blade was still spinning! And worst of all, I ran out of the way from the food and mixer screaming (just a little bit). Then, Marco was afraid to turn off the mixer, so, we started yelling for our Mom who was upstairs reading. She came running down and started turning off the mixer while I was dealing with the dogs, and Marco stood at a distance away from the mess telling my Mom what was going on.

After we cleaned all that up, he tried again to make the olive oil cake the very same day.

    This time the butter and sugar went smoothly and so did everything else, except for the oranges. He was supposed to zest the orange. Marco did that except, he also got the white bitter pith in with the zest. Later on that day, we all took a little piece of the cake and tried it.  When I bit into it, it was like a wall of bitterness and we could tell that he put the pith in. Even Marco didn’t really like the cake.

Well, in a nutshell, that’s what happened when he tried to make the orange olive oil cake.

Until he tried again…



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  1. annac9 February 19, 2017

    Hi Everyone!

    Each Different Episode of a cooking disaster was supposed to be a picture with writing. Due to some technology issues, that did not happen:(. But, I hope you enjoy the stories anyway!

    – Anna

    • annac9 February 19, 2017 — Post Author

      Also, there was supposed to be more spacing between everything! But NOW it’s not working!!!

      Sorry About the Issues,


  2. natalie dente February 20, 2017

    Hi Anna, I loved the stories and didn’t need to see any pictures, Your story telling was picture perfect. love Grandma Natalie

  3. Marco February 21, 2017

    I love this blog post! This is one of your best yet!

  4. Debbie March 4, 2017

    Hi Anna,
    My epic food failure happened in your CA kitchen. Your mom and I were testing out the Cook With JAMIE cookbook. My job was the recipe “the best shortbread in the world”. It was a disaster – TWICE!! Still don’t know what I did wrong. Maybe you can coach me through it next time.
    xo Aunt Debbie

  5. donna March 6, 2017

    Hi Anna,
    Thank you so much for featuring just ONE of my fails in your episodic writing piece. Why is baking so hard for me? I DO read the directions. I AM a recipe follower. Alas, success usually eludes me 🙁

    At least my misery makes others laugh.

    And.. if you can make that shortbread recipe succeed I will be truly impressed.

  6. Kerstin Calia April 7, 2017

    I liked the stories and the picture 🙂
    You’re a good storyteller. It’s a long family tradition. I tell some of my stories on Facebook now (I don’t have a blog) but some of the best ones I can’t tell because they are more for just the family. Or they involve work somehow. I don’t refer to your cousins by their real names on Facebook- I try to make it very slightly less public for them.
    Grumpy tells some of the best stories…
    Keep trying with the cooking!

  7. Kerstin Calia April 7, 2017

    Hm. Let me at that shortbread recipe…
    – Aunt Kerstin

  8. Kerstin Calia April 7, 2017

    Your text from Marco about the lavender oil reminds me of one I sent from shopping somewhere to Vincent and Roland a couple months ago:
    “You should be getting home about now, Boyz- you will smell something burning when you get in. Don’t worry- it’s just the washing machine. I am dealing with it. Love Mom.”

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