Not too long ago, I made a mistake. It was a cooking mistake, and I knew better. All you ever hear in the food world is the importance of good ingredients. Why can’t I just learn from the experts? Why do I have to fail myself? Sigh… I wasted a huge pot of food that Cooking Day.
Here’s what happened. My husband brought home a sample six-pack of beer from his job. It was cute packaging (I’m a sucker) and Friday night, so what the hey-hey, right? We opened one and promptly spit it back out. It was vile – a vanilla-scented sugar bomb that exploded at all the wrong times. But… I always save beers we don’t love to make chili out of. Without thinking, I relegated it to the chili beer cabinet and went on with my evening. First mistake.
Weeks later, I wanted to make chili. It was going to be my lunch for the week ahead. I got sweet potatoes boiling and dumped tons of awesome veggies and spices in Dutch oven. Then I went to the chili beer selection, and pulled one out. Popped the lid, in it went.
A sickly smell of peppers and vanilla started filling the air. Oh no, I remember you, gross beer, I thought. But I always use reject beer in this application. Surely my superior cooking skills can overcome this difficulty. Second mistake.
So I added tomatoes and beans. Then lentils. And tomato paste. And more spices. Onions. Pepper juice. Honey. Harissa. Another kind of beer. The chili grew and grew, but nothing could shake the completely inappropriate stink AND flavor of vanilla.
An hour and a half later, I had to admit I’d thrown good product after bad. The vanilla chili was a complete waste. All because I chose to use an ingredient I knew was not good.
Don’t be like me. Use stuff you like in your food. But also be kind to yourself. No matter how long you’ve been meal prepping, mistakes are bound to happen. It’s always worth it when we’re learning.