stove-fire1Last night, I stood over the stove and knew I was screwed. No matter how much I mixed, there was a frightening glob in the pot that was slowly but surely sticking to the bottom, thus turning into a frightening glob that was burning. I looked frantically around, wondering if there might be a Food Network star nearby who could help me with this culinary horror. But, alas, no one was there.

Actually, that’s not entirely true: My husband and Gabrielle were there. And, frankly, they looked pretty hungry. But guess what they were eating if this glob didn’t suddenly turn into a lovely meal? Yeah, that’s right: toast. They were going to have to eat toast.

The mess all started while Gabrielle and I were waiting at the pharmacy. Not to digress, but can we all agree waiting at the pharmacy sucks? It’s like, you’re sitting there on that metal bench thinking, “OK. So I was here first, but my prescription is somehow not ready even though I called three hours ago and now there is a line of 40 people. So when my prescription is ready, will I get to go to the front of the line and be that person or will I have to go to the back of the line? And if I have to go to the back of the line, I will be here for approximately two more hours. In that event, how will I possibly be pleasant to the pharmacy tech, who is cheerful but very chatty and so not moving things very fast?”

Anyway, Gabrielle and I were ripe for making a bad decision and a bad decision we made as we sat looking at the Epicurious app. See, we wanted something healthy for dinner, that’s one. We were going to the grocery store next so a decision needed to be made fast. We wanted something Mediterranean as I’m pretty sure my husband will divorce me if I make another dish involving rice or soy sauce. And we were hungry to boot, so our decision-making skills had been reduced to just salivating over pictures.

And what looked best and fit the bill most conveniently? A ratatouille with goat cheese polenta. Sure! Of course! Because doesn’t everyone want stewed vegetables for dinner? Yum, yum. Bound to be a winner.

Anyway, fast forward to the grocery and there we stood packing our basket with eggplant, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, red onions and basil. All the while, what were Gabrielle and I both thinking about? Goat cheese. If we eat all these damn vegetables, we get to have goat cheese.

So by the time we get home, it’s nearly 6. And hello, I suddenly have to chop all of this stuff into a half-inch dice. And whoops, the recipe was meant for a crockpot and is supposed to take four hours. But I plow through and fry up a bunch of veggies in my Dutch oven. Then I pull all that out and I fry up another batch of veggies. And finally that’s done so it’s time to add butter and flour and tomato paste.

Hmmm. That’s a lot of tomato paste. And hmmm, I’ve never added so much flour to so little butter and added tomato paste at the same time. But whatever, it’s nearly 7.

So, against better judgment, I follow the bad recipe for the meal that, guess what?, I don’t even want to eat because no amount of goat cheese is worth this amount of vegetables. Except guess what else? I have enough of it to feed a bloody army.

Of course, you know what happens next because what else can possibly happen with that amount of flour and tomato paste and so little butter.

Glob. Instant glob.

So I grab a carton of broth and start pouring. In fact, I pour in the whole carton even though broth isn’t even listed in the recipe.

You know you’re in bad shape when you’re so frustrated you just slam the lid on the cottonpickin’ pot, beeline to the wine and consider drinking it directly from the bottle.

Luckily, husband stepped in and rescued me from that indignity. Instead, for the next hour, I sat clinging to my glass listening to the stew gurgle under the lid.

In the end, it made the list of worst three meals I’ve ever made. It may top that list because we have enough leftovers to feed us for a week. What’s worse is the other bad meals on the list? I made them about 12 years ago when I was learning how to cook.

Ultimately, last night I learned four lessons that should have been branded on my brain more than a decade ago. One: Recipes online can be crap; use your cookbooks. Two: Never trust the picture. Three: Read the recipe through before you commit. Four: Don’t meal plan at the pharmacy.

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