Cooking Catastrophe Stories: Wrong Ingredient Ruined Pudding

A personal account of a cooking catastrophe.

HOH-Pudding

Wrong Ingredient Ruined Pudding

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When I got married summer of 1961, I knew very little about cooking. I had two older sisters who helped Mom in the kitchen, but I preferred to help Dad outside. Mom always expressed some doubts as to whether I would be able to cook well enough to keep a husband happy.

I was determined to prove my mom wrong, so the month after my husband and I were married, we invited my parents over to our house for my first company dinner.

Ready, set, action!

Wanting to make a perfect meal, I pulled out my handy cookbook and flipped through the pages, looking for a menu of foods that didn’t look too complicated, yet would be delicious. I opted for fried chicken, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and a made-from-scratch chocolate pudding for dessert.

I set about making the pudding first, so it would have plenty of time to set up. I mixed the ingredients, and I stirred and stirred, but it wouldn’t thicken. Finally, I spooned the mixture into custard cups and put them in the refrigerator, sure they would firm and chill in time for dessert.

Then I prepared the rest of the meal.

Dinner’s ready

The meal was pretty good. Nothing was burnt and nothing was undercooked. Pretty good, I thought, for someone with my cooking experience.

Finally, it was time for my big surprise: the homemade chocolate pudding. I brought the dessert cups out proudly.

Dad and my husband took a bite, and then they both made a funny face. They didn’t say anything, but they didn’t have to – their faces said it all.

Mom tasted it and said, “This isn’t quite right. What did you put in it?”

“Milk, sugar, cocoa, cornmeal ...”

“Corn-MEAL?” Mom asked. “Don’t you mean corn-STARCH?”

I got up and ran into the kitchen to grab the cookbook. I opened it and discovered that my mom was right! I had somehow misread that crucial ingredient and had used cornmeal instead of cornstarch. No wonder it wouldn’t get thick!

I tasted it, and it was horrible. It was like eating chocolate-covered sand. I burst into tears. My first company dinner had not gone as well as I had hoped.

My pudding fiasco taught me a very important lesson, though. Always read the recipe carefully and make sure to have all the correct ingredients before you begin.

No more disasters for me after that!

Monica
Jordan, Minnesota