When Recipes Go Awry

The moment I saw this recipe cross my google reader feed, I knew I had to try it. It wasn’t just a vegan mac & cheese, it was a vegan butternut squash mac & cheese. With kale. Oh dear. “Hey, I have a giant bag of kale,” I soon realized,  “and a butternut squash, too!” I had the ingredients to make my dream come true.

I’ve been following Angela’s blog, Oh She Glows, for quite some time now. Her recipes are creative, her photos are gorgeous, the results are delicious, and the stories are entertaining. If I wasn’t destined for Philadelphia, it would be my dream to have a garden as beautiful as the one she created from scratch.

That’s why I was so excited to make her “Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze.” Unfortunately, I had a cooking fail. Don’t get me wrong: Angela’s recipe was perfect. I just made some simple mistakes in the kitchen that quickly derailed the process.

Shaun would like it to be known that the end result was delicious and that I’m being “dramatic,” and it definitely was and there’s a 0.0001% chance that I am. The problem? My blob of stuff was certainly not photo-worthy, and I had to depart significantly from the recipe by the end. Oh, and it was a blob, which does not exactly equal the creamiest of macs. Even so, I’m glad I gave this a shot and can definitely see myself making it again, especially the stellar “cheese” sauce base.

Each kitchen adventure is a learning process, and here is what I learned tonight:

  • Don’t take on too much. Shaun: “Do you need help?” Me: “No, I’m good.” I wasn’t good. I had three pans, a blender, and a cutting board. I should have asked for help, but I didn’t, and that is how I got distracted and the kale started to burn.
  • Halve recipes with caution. Probably due to the limits of my machinery, but potentially due to the fact that I halved the liquid, the cheese sauce, when mixed with the squash, wouldn’t blend properly. That led to a frantic dumping of more ingredients into the blender to compensate, and in the process some of the cheesy taste was lost. Moreover, because these extras weren’t cooked, the creamy texture was immediately lost and the sauce got, well, blob-ish. In retrospect, I should have just made a full batch of sauce and kept some in the fridge for another night.
  • Accept “failure” and move on. I failed to follow the recipe line by line, but the dish certainly did not fail. It just didn’t come out as picture-perfect as I wanted. I got caught up in my internal stress-fest and lost sight of this, probably increasing the burning of the kale and the over-cooking of the pasta. Food doesn’t have to be gorgeous, gorgeous is a plus, just make sure it’s not going to kill anyone.

We haven’t died yet, and we’re both full, satisfied, and thrilled I gave Angela’s latest a try. Next time I make this dish, I’ll conjure up more patience and have a little bit more fun.


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Categories: Food


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-marello/1a/375/b30 Tumblr: http://abarrelofoddsandends.tumblr.com/


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6 Comments on “When Recipes Go Awry”

  1. October 6, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    I’m so glad you gave it a try too! That is great to know about it not blending well when cut in half. I will make note of this. I’m sorry that it didn’t turn out exactly as planned! I hope if you make it again the next time is a success! 🙂
    Another reader commented that she added more nutritional yeast and some minced onion too. I will have to try that myself.

    • October 6, 2011 at 11:37 am #

      You can’t go wrong with more nutritional yeast 🙂 It also could be that our blender is one of those ones where the blades are on the lid, so you have to flip it upside-down to blend. It makes it such that small amounts just don’t work out well, because you have to wait for it to basically drip toward the blades. I might try to blend it in the food processor next time, or just buy a vitamix 😉


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