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November 9, 2008

Is this the worst mistake ever in a recipe?



The answer is no. Here's the e-mail I got from my friend and grammar guru, John McIntyre:

Fred Vultee at Headsup reports this delightful correction:
"A recipe for Ginger Apple Stir-Fry in the Oct. 29 Food section was missing two ingredients. Add 2 cored, sliced apples and 2 tablespoons minced gingerroot while stir-frying the vegetables."
Perhaps you could ask your readers to supply a list of the top 10 errors they have found in published recipes.

I'm not going to ask you because who can ever remember something like that?

Well, I can. And that's how I know this isn't the worst error in a published recipe ever. ...

The worst error was in a recipe from some edition of The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken. It was a recipe for Pedro's Omelet, which my husband made for me when we were newlyweds. He hadn't done much cooking, and didn't think it was odd that a recipe for an omelet for two called for six onions. But he was good at following directions.

In all the years of our marriage since, he has never had to cook another meal.

Which is why I say it's the worst mistake ever made in a published recipe.


(Photo of a ginger apple stir-fry courtesy of the U.S. Apple Organization)


Posted by Elizabeth Large at 5:59 AM | | Comments (11)


Well, perhaps not too surprising in a cookbook with that title.

How about worst mistake in interpreting a recipe? The husband of one of my friends wanted his wife to make a dessert for a company picnic, but she said she had to go out and he could make brownies using the boxed mix in the cupboard. He said later that as soon as he plunged his hands into the goo he realized that probably wasn't what they meant by "mix by hand."

That's a winner. :-) EL

I have a cookbook that calls for the Jewish apple cake to bake at 350 for 30 minutes which makes it only baked on top and raw in the middle. It really needs about 90 minutes which I discovered from the first fiasco.

I've also seen recipes that suddenly call for an ingredient not listed in the ingredient list above the recipe. Which for people with ADHD and no patience (such as myself) means we're scrambling to find something which (of course) is not in the house to complete the dumb recipe!

Oooh, oooh...I have one. More about the interpretation of a recipe. The cook who read the recipe about separating the eggs and put one in the dining room, one in the living room and the last one in the bedroom.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Joyce W.--I've also made that Jewish apple cake! It came out more like apple pudding.

I remember the time many decades ago when I was first learning how to cook that I made a recipe using garlic for the first time. I thought a clove of garlic meant the whole bulb.

Then there was the time I made a beef stew recipe that called for a three cloves. I'd never used whole cloves before, and they looked so small I didn't think three would be enough and added a handful instead. My roommate at the time referred to that event as "the day Hal made pumpkin pie beef stew".

There was a Sun recipe several years ago for hearty cheese soup.

The correction, as I recall, said that the recipe should have included an instruction to add, at such and such a point, two quarts of warm water (or maybe two gallons).

A very hearty cheese soup indeed. No doubt anyone who attempted it is receiving high colonics to this day.

Hal's comment about garlic reminds me of the time I was picking up my 6-year-old son from a play date. On NPR someone was interviewing a woman who had written a Jewish cookbook, and as they talked she had him peeling garlic cloves. They were making a special Friday night soup which was going to have a whole head of garlic in it so that the husband could perform his husbandly duties with vigor. Suddenly my son piped up and said "Mom, I have a question." I thought, Oh boy, is this going to be about sex or religion? but he said "what's a whole head of garlic?" Whew!

Hal, a *handful* of whole cloves? Did your mouth go numb when you ate the stew?

Lissa, it was probably only a dozen or so cloves. But it had a quite powerful taste. :-)

At least anybody who ate any of the dishes above would still be alive. In August this year the British chef Antony Worrall Thompson meant to advise readers of Healthy & Organic Living magazine that they could use a few leaves of fat hen, a tasty wild plant, in salads. Unfortunately he named henbane, an extremely poisonous weed, instead. The magazine was forced to issue an urgent warning on its website that henbane was a very toxic plant and should never be eaten.

Many, many years ago, probably in the mid-60's, the Baltimore Sun Magazine (remember that?) did an article on wild mushrooms and how to forage for them in the woods. They included two sets of photos of mushrooms in the wild: one set of edible wild mushrooms, the other of poisonous mushrooms.
The following week, they issued a Correction, stating that the photos and captions had been mixed up: the edible mushroom photos were actually the poisonous ones, and the poisonous ones were actually the edible ones. I always wondered if anyone....

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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