Never Try A New Recipe On Friends…If You Want To Keep Them

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Never Try A New Recipe On Friends…If You Want To Keep Them

By Andrea Goto

I get it. You don’t perm your hair the day of prom, wear new shoes to run a marathon, or apply self-tanner before a job interview.

But during a brief bout of dementia, I thought it would be a good idea to try out a new dessert for my dinner party. First, you must realize that I host dinner parties about as often as I remember to remove the hair from the shower drain. Second, my idea of a no-fail dessert is canned fruit cocktail drenched in chocolate syrup. But that’s not going to fly with this group. One of my guests, Nicole, whipped up a French boeuf bourguignon something-or-other for her last party. The sauce alone was so delicious that I poured myself a bowl.

“It’s not soup, Andrea.”

“Hell it’s not.”

Because this is what I’m up against, I hope to flex a little Southern muscle on Nicole’s thin, Frenchy frame. I choose Paula’s Frozen Chocolate Mousse Pie because the only thing better than one of Paula’s butter-infused dishes, is a chocolate one. And this recipe takes it up a notch by adding cream, sugar and liqueur (basically, my Last Meal).

I read over the directions and prophesized, “This is going to be easy.” To which my husband responds, “Your confidence will be your undoing.” (Can all men do a Luke Skywalker impersonation?)

A minute later I’m picking up broken pieces of frozen piecrust from the floor, cursing said husband.

Once I rebuild the piecrust, I crack open the chocolate liqueur, dribble a little onto the chocolate chips, and then pour more than that into my coffee. It can’t hurt, right?


Shortly thereafter, I’m scraping burnt chocolate from the bottom of a saucepan as my 4-year-old daughter stands on a stool next to me dipping her fingers in the char-free remains. She feverishly licks her hands and I think I see her eyeballs shake.

“Mommy, it’s so good I can’t stop eating it!” Addictive personalities run in our family.

In her sugared state, she attempts a grand jette from her perch, spilling all but a tablespoon of the vanilla extract onto the floor. I dump what’s left into the pie filling even though the recipe only calls for one teaspoon.

Moving on, Paula says to whip the cream “as if you are making whipped cream,” which probably means something to someone who has made whipped cream before. I turn the mixer on “high” and beat the hell out of two pints of cream, hoping that this equals one quart (I stopped caring somewhere around my third “coffee.”) After five minutes of trying to control the tornado that is my hand mixer, soft peaks begin to form. I pause to make an appointment to have my kitchen repainted.

Hours later, I humbly present the dessert to my dinner guests. They are good friends, but lousy liars, which makes it all the more difficult to watch them surgically dissect the pie with their forks as I await the verdict.

Eventually someone breaks the silence. “Are there coffee grounds in this?”

They collectively agree that there’s something gritty going on. The vanilla is a bit overpowering, and they suggest letting the pie thaw a few minutes to avoid the obvious frost problem.

As one guest excuses himself to check his insulin levels (maybe the candy-bar topping was overkill), I start to feel a personal rain cloud form above my head. I wistfully hope that someone will throw me a damn bone.

Instead, Frenchy’s husband offers me this: “It’s like ‘Gilligan’s Island.’ You know they’re never going to get off the island, but it’s sure fun watching them try.”

Food Editor’s Note: Andrea…I don’t know what to say. You have good friends.

Andrea Goto lives and writes in Savannah, Georgia. Her kitchen experiments (known as “cooking” in more conventional homes) most often end with a mushroom cloud of smoke or a call to Poison Control. In spite of this, she’s deeply loved by her husband who prefers neon-colored cereals to all foods homemade, and her 3-year-old daughter who will eat almost anything, as long as you call it “chicken.” Need more Andrea? Follow her at

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Reader Comments:

i have been married for 43 years and went with my husband for 4 years before we married i was born and raised in niagara falls n.y . a yankee lol and when i went to his families house for dinner the first time i did not know what the heck wa son that table to eat the only thing i seen i knew was fried potatoes lol . my husband was born and raised in florida and had a very heavy southern accent so after we married and we were at his moms house one day she had made chicken and dumplings and he said sweety would ya make me a bowl of dumplings and milk i thought wow this is wierd but i thought well they eat wierd things so i made him a bowl of dumplings and then poured the milk over the dumplings lol he looked at me and said what the heck is this i said your dumplings in milk he laughed he said no i said a bowl of dumplings and milk we laugh about that to this day of course with his moms help i have learned to cook southern food and love it and he has lost some of that accent when he asks for some thing lol cheryl wilson okeechobee fl.

By cheryl wilson on February 23, 2010

Andrea, your writing is just so wonderful… Tears formed in my eyes from laughing so hard…and a trip to the loo was necessary!  You are a brave heart in the kitchen…Cannot wait for our chef de maison to read this column… Cheers!

By Theresa T Simmons on February 18, 2010

Angela Jett of Alabama: Your husband is a LOT nicer than mine. You better keep him, and hope your cooking doesn’t kill him off. (Pre-made whipped topping all the way, girlfriend!)

By Culinary Coward on February 18, 2010

Elizabeth of Baton Rouge:

Thanks for reading and taking pleasure in my pain! Look for new Culinary Coward articles each month. You won’t want to miss the next one—it’s a doozie.

By Culinary Coward on February 18, 2010

Oh what a laugh, reminded me of makeing my Aunt Pauline’s Mandrine Orange Cake my family in particular my daughter Marcene who decided to make one for herself and friends, not understanding that the pudding in the mix is dry she attempted her cake makeing the pudding up with milk then adding to the cake, needless to say it wsa a desaster and now she refuses to me it and old mom here has to.  I loved the laugh and girl I’m all about that wine with making the meal makes it all taste better according to my George. Smile, Tina Mae Aldridge, in Marion, Ohio

By TinaMae on February 17, 2010

I loved reading the stories, I have never laughed so hard . Thank you thank you , for your gift of laughter

By Elizabeth on February 16, 2010

Wendy of South Jersey: I can totally relate. As you can imagine, I too overbaked a crust once. I cut entirely through the foil tray but I’ve never broken a fork. Well done, my friend.

By Culinary Coward on February 16, 2010

Perfect!!! What good are friends if they can’t be used for furthering our careers (use your friends wisely)!  Humor is the best medicine, meal, or just the blood that binds us as humans….. love, love, love!

By Joy on February 16, 2010

My husband and I have been married almost 20 yrs. And following after my grandmother, eventually I became a good cook.  Eventually.
That was after we had been married about 6 mos, and I decided to make my husbands favorite banana pudding. The pudding, was, edible maybe.  But I had never made meringue.  My mom who was not so good a cook, always just slathered banana pudding with cool whip.
So I proceeded to “beat” the meringue, but I just assumed that it “puffed up” in the oven.  So I pour the mixture on top of the pudding, throw it in the oven and surprise, pudding with fried egg on top.
My husband didn’t have the heart to tell me how bad it was until years later.  He even took it to work and the guys laughed when he would dump it out so I would think he ate it all.
Fortunately he says now I make wonderful banana pudding…

By Angela Jett on February 16, 2010

This ranks right up there with the “crunchy” spaghetti I served my husband shortly after we were married.  Needless to say, I have come a long way since then!!  LOL!!

By Dottie Davidson on February 16, 2010

Love it!!  The first Christmas I was newly married I decided to make ginger bread men. They were so hard I’m sure they could have been a lethal weapon had I thrown them at anybody. 
Great story!

By Jill on February 16, 2010

I subscribe to Paula Deen’s Newsletter.  This is a link to an article she reads often.  It made me laugh out loud. I’m’ all by myself and was cracking up.  Anyways, Just wanted to share.  I hope it makes you laugh.  Love you Jill

By Jill on February 16, 2010

I remember making a cream pie for my parents for our desert. Obligatory graham cracker crust and the aforementioned cream filling. Cream pie was one of Dad’s favorites. When it came time to cut said pie, he couldn’t. The knife would not go through the crust which had apparently baked to hardball stage prior to my filling the crust. He tried and tried and finally managed to chisel a wedge out, put it on his plate and proceeded to put his fork in it, tine points down to have the best chance of chipping a piece off. When the fork broke through the crust, the bigger portion of the pie wedge shot across the table, over the side and landed on our Chihuahua who was dutifully standing by my side of the table waiting for whatever tidbit would be handed to her. Nervous Nellie was a mass of quivering pooch-flesh who had to have thought the sky was falling. Needless to say, I never again made my own graham cracker crust, but that dessert was never forgotten. We laughed and simply ate our slices by hand to enjoy the candied graham crust.

By Wendy on February 16, 2010


By EDIE MOSLEY on February 16, 2010

This was wonderful. Lord knows we all can relate to days like that in the story.

By Wanda Graves on February 16, 2010

I’m certainly no coward when it comes to cooking, but I gotta admit, I have made my children suffer and a few friends too.
Like the time I added coffee creamer to the mash potatoes. Not a major problem unless you were using Amerreto flavor. Or, if a half teaspoon of ground clove tastes good, a full teaspoon must taste better.
Anyway, it made me smile and I found my head nodding in agreement so many times.
Cook on!

By Mark J on February 03, 2010

I love The Culinary Coward!

By Sharron Kelley on February 03, 2010

i hope you like this as much as i did!!!

By Nancy on February 03, 2010

I just love this column!

By Jessica Fricke on February 02, 2010

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