Kitchen errors

No, we call it cornmeal…i thought it was you lot that call it corn flour?

Are you saying that you call this product cornmeal? Americans call it cornstarch.

I’ve read many British recipes where it’s called cornflour.

I’m American. I use the terms cornstarch for the thickening agent, and cornmeal. I have never used or heard the word cornflour.


Back in my graduate college days, about 40 yrs ago, I was making boiled peanuts for a party the next day. My girlfriend, now wife and I fell asleep with the pot on the stove. Opened my eyes to see a cloud of dense white smoke a few inches from my face.

Opened to door to the balcony and the smoke bellowed out. But we were lucky we didn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning in our sleep. Last time I made boiled peanuts


And don’t forget masa harina and masarepa. I think we did a thread on that .


No, thats corn starch to me (fine white powder used for thickeningl.

Cornmeal is the ground corn product used for cornbread.

Cornflour isnt used much in the US

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A Guardian recipe for corn fritters confused me for a minute, because it uses “cornflour”, describing " microscopic starch granules hydrate and swell into strand-like shapes in the batter and then swell up further when the batter hits the hot oil. As moisture evaporates during frying, the swollen starch granules lock into place, forming a brittle network with lots of holes. The upshot? Lacier, crispier fritters." The photo is clearly what we in the US call cornstarch. It does make fried foods crisper and more delicate.


This isn’t my error, but @Scubadoo97 's college story reminded me of my favorite college food disaster story:

I went to the big state school (U of Illinois, Urbana).The dorm I stayed in was unusual in that the rooms had small kitchens, with an actual stove and oven. Among the residents in my dorm, there were a few from VERY wealthy 'burbs. (Think Cameron’s dad in Ferris Buehler).

Shelly was one of those. Very sweet. Lovely person. But very, VERY sheltered. She caused one of the first fire alarms of the year when she decided she’d make her first grown up dinner by herself and make a frozen pizza. Specifically, a Tombstone, which came on a cardboard disk, wrapped in plastic. Shelly put the pizza without removing ANY of the packaging. Just put the whole thing in the oven and turned it on.

One evacuation later, she was mortified, and legitimately confused when we explained to her that the plastic wasn’t special and didn’t just ‘dissolve in the oven.’


I should add this was 1982

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Going back to Memphis for a 40th anniversary of my optometric graduation

Was thinking of making a bunch of boiled peanuts

My story was '86, so… yeah.

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So good to read these most human experiences. Many thanks.

Sometimes that human error produces something good. Check out James Beard’s broiled bread.

This was a classic. This past Christmas morning I got up to do prep for the family lunch, and roomie started breakfast.

I pulled the green beans from the fridge and set them on the burner, not realizing that the cork trivet had adhered itself to the bottom of the pot.

Put the beans on to warm, and came back in the kirchen to a cloud of smoke billowing from the stove.

Roomie was holding the skillet of eggs in the smoke as I furiously scraped, yelling SMOKED EGGS! We were laughing so hard its amazing neither of us fell down.

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My dorm was like that. 6 people w a living room and kitchen. Lots of smoke alarms.

I’ve done this!

I once lost control of a large skillet-ful of Chinese “fish fragrant” eggplant, which splashed UP TO THE CEILING!

Some kitchen, same time period - I put lumpy molten-hot polenta in the regular blender and forgot to vent the lid. Really painful arm and hand burns from that one.

And more recently - my husband “helpfully” loosened the cap on some hoisin sauce, which I proceeded to shake all over the kitchen.


Once upon a time I worked as a cook in a banquet hall. I was making the pies that day. Lemon meringue pie made from packaged mix - you add eggs and sugar and cook until thick. Well, our bins of sugar and salt looked exactly the same. The only thing that saved the 350 people coming to dinner that night from inedibly salty lemon meringue pie is the fact that when you use salt instead of sugar the filling doesn’t thicken. One tiny fingertip taste just about killed me.


Oh no! That’s what my grilled cheese kind of looks like every time. JK. Well, sort of. My biggest kitchen prob is that I get comf and start to multi-task. That’s when I forget something is on, or on too high. So I don’t often overbroil, but I occasionally oversaute when there is liquid in the bottom of a pot/pan, until that liquid is a faint memory and the maillard effect is in overtime! Our other big “errors” have been overheating (oven) a pyrex and then it shattered into a million pieces when it was removed from the oven. Learning experience! And some well loved canning jars that exploded in our hot water bath. That only happened once. Maybe twice. Who’s counting?

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I recall reading or hearing about a story in which a family member who didn’t live in a house turned on the oven to preheat for making some meal for an elderly relative, only to realize that said relative used said oven for paper/file storage. Doh!

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Matzoh pizza!