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Kitchen Fails: Memoirs of My Cooking Disasters

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By Emily Gatlin

We want you to know that here at Food Riot, we aren't always rockstars in the kitchen. Sunday night, one tiny tweet from me inspired our newest feature: Kitchen Fails.

I'm a total klutz in the kitchen and on the street (hold the phone, I'll get to that in a few). I tried to make a smoothie one time and my blender failed. I can burn a grilled cheese sandwich like a champ, so my husband Robby G makes them for me. I accidentally scrambled the eggs in my pecan pie one Thanksgiving. DISASTAH. I left a bread basket in the oven once and nearly burned my parents' house down. That's when I learned how to use a fire extinguisher.

The Tupelo fire department has no problem finding my house. They have paid us a few visits in the five years we have lived here. Our kitchen wall caught on fire. A tree fell on the house. The neighbor had a fire and they showed up here out of habit. We're totally besties.

I'm not a pyro, I'm just frying pan challenged.

Enter pan fried tilapia. I am of the "tilapia is not fit for human consumption" school, but Robby G is all "FISH! FRIED! FRIED! FISH!" so I thought I'd give it a go. Everything was going just dandy until I sneezed a few times in a row, my eyes started crying, I looked away for a second, and HOLY CATS there goes the neighborhood. FIRE! FIRE! BLACKENED NASTY FISH! Because he is a genius AND a risk management specialist, Robby G quickly put a lid on it, removed it from the heat, and put the fire out.

It's been 18 hours, and my house still smells like dead fish and tastes like burning.

Sadly, my kitchen fails never ride off into the sunset. Some of them become legendary, like the time I made ASSEROLES. I'm about to put y'all in my DeLorean, gun it to 88, get my 1.21 gigawats on, and go back in time to Easter 2009, when I hosted lunch for six giants (how pretty was my tablescape?!).

Being the "new girl" in town, my in-laws volunteered me all the time to do crazy things so I could meet people. Very kind in theory. Not very kind because it's me, and I fail big.

My mother-in-law was on the altar guild at our church. The lady who was supposed to carry the big candle ceremoniously back to the altar on Easter Sunday was sick and couldn't make it. Who were they going to get to carry a surprisingly heavy LIT CANDLE all the way from the back of the church, down the aisle, up the stairs, and place it on the altar? DING DING DING. Me. Of course. Because I am the most trustworthy person with a FLAME. I was at the very end of the line directly behind the man with Parkinson's disease who carried the big Bible. My mother-in-law got her business back to the altar, and walked gracefully down the stairs to the Gatlin pew. The man with Parkinson's disease put that big Bible on the pulpit and made it down the stairs no problem.

Me? I managed not to set HUNDREDS of people on fire. The candle made it back to the altar in one piece. But y'all, that second step down was a bitch. My left Jimmy Choo failed me, and my ass hit EVERY. SINGLE. STEP. ON. MY. WAY. TO. THE. BOTTOM. To make matters worse, my shift dress shimmied its merry little bottom up to my boobs. My 84-year-old boss had a front row ticket to the peep show. AND you guessed it: the entire thing was broadcast on live television.

I'll let that sink in for a minute.

With no time to cry about it or put ice on my bruised up ass, I went home to fill the oven with Easter casseroles to feed my tiny house full of giants (seriously y'all, my in-laws are giants). Cooking times varied, so I had a rotating schedule happening. I was prepared. When the last casserole went in, I closed the oven. Oh wait, no... I tried to close the oven and the DAMN DOOR FELL OFF. I had 30 minutes to go, a house full of hungry giants, and no oven door. HOLIDAY MEAL KITCHEN FAIL. What's a girl to do?

Yup. I held the oven door in place with my ass until the casseroles (or as they were called that Easter Sunday, ASSEROLES) were ready. It was hot as hell. I still had my heels on. And like any newlywed surrounded by her IN-LAWS would do, I John Daly-ed my Arnold Palmer (which is code for I PUT VODKA IN MY SWEET TEA+LEMONADE) and took the pain like a champ.

So yes, ladies and dudes. We have our kitchen fails, too.