Monday, August 16, 2010

Cooking...condensed (and someone will win $150!)

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and The Laughing Cow.

This month, my task was to share a cooking or eating mishap.  And folks, if you've read my main blog (Smaller Fun Pants) for long, you know that I don't do a lot of whatever it is that people do in the kitchen.  I think people call it "cooking."

Alright, alright...I may not be THAT bad.  I know how to make a mean grilled cheese sandwich, a good bowl of cereal, and a boiled egg - but not a whole lot else.  Recently, I decided to try one new recipe a week for myself and my boyfriend, Joe.  We have this deal, Joe and I  - if I cook and its absolutely horrible, we get to throw it away and go out to eat.  It's worked out well so far but as luck would have it, everything I've made is edible.

Incidentally, I blame my lack of natural cooking ability on genetics.

My father is a good man; a smart man.  He, however, does not have any interest in cooking.  Truthfully, when my sisters and I visit his house once a year, we're surprised that he's been able to live on Ramen, Hungry Man dinners, and Easy Mac and Cheese for as long as he has.

This past Christmas was no exception.

My two sisters and I live in various parts of the country so while arranging the flight schedules, we decided to make something special for my Dad that Christmas...a family tradition that has no actual recipe and has been passed down to us.  Chile con queso.  Since I know not everyone will know what that is, think of it as awesome, spicy cheese dip.  Although writing such a description of this wonderful dish makes me want to cry a little inside.  In fact, if I had the time, I'd go into all the wonderful details that is our chile con queso, but I'll just say that my father hadn't had it in over 15 years and STILL salivated over the thought of it.  It's that good.

Since we were all arriving and leaving within a day or two of Christmas, we told my dad what items to pick up at the store for the queso.  Dad carefully made a list of the ingredients and assured us all would be taken care of by the time we arrived.

So picture this: it's Christmas Day and it's snowing A LOT.  The grocery stores in his Chicago suburb are closed.  We are all flying out the next day.  We decided it was the perfect time to start making the much anticipated queso - the queso that beats all other queso - a queso WORTHY of celebrating baby Jesus's birth (or Santa's arrival depending on what you believe in).

We start making the roux (base for the dip) and then ask our dad for the rest of the ingredients.  My father comes forward with a bag of groceries and proudly places it on the counter, much like a hunter would display something he had just slain for his family's nourishment. 

As we're shuffling through the contents, my older sister says something like, "Uh oh.  This is NOT good."

I look over and realize that my father did NOT buy the right ingredients.  Instead of normal condensed milk, my father bought SWEETENED condensed milk. For the non-chefs out there, sweetened condensed milk is condensed milk with eleventy billion pounds of sugar in it.  It's like cotton candy and whipped cream got together, had a baby, and then put it in a can so that people could make pies with it. 

We asked him about it and he shrugged his shoulders saying, "What? They didn't have any other kind of condensed milk -that's all they had in the store.  I looked.  It'll be fine."  He then left the kitchen to go read in the den, as he is wont to do.

Of course, it was NOT fine and even thinking about making the queso with sweetened condensed milk was likely causing the person who created the recipe to roll over in her grave, rise up as a ghost, and immediately start making plans to haunt us starting that very night.

But, it was Christmas.  And my dad had been looking forward to it.  And isn't Christmas all about miracles?

So we quickly tried to think of alternatives for condensed milk.  It was like we were the MacGuyvers of the kitchen.  What could make the queso creamy but not soupy?  What could we add that wouldn't change the taste but would could take the place of condensed milk?

AHA!  We had it.  We would just take the 2% milk in my dad's fridge and reduce it (which is a fancy word for heat it up until it thickens).  Then it would be like condensed milk.  We congratulated our quick and resourceful thinking by drinking a bottle glass of wine.

So we poured the milk into a sauce pan and heated it, stirring the whole while.

My younger sister and me stirring.
My two sisters...still stirring.

We stirred.

And stirred.

And stirred some more.

Want to know what takes longer than watching a pot of water boil?  Watching milk thicken. 

I wish I was kidding.

After about 45 minutes of non-stop stirring and a few glasses of wine, we decided to just use the slightly thickened milk anyway.  Dad was getting grumpy - and besides?  What's the worst that could happen?

When we added the rest of the ingredients to the milk, we were left with the runniest queso ever.

"I know!" I exclaimed, "let's just add something to the queso to make it a bit flour!"

"Yes!" my younger sister exclaimed.

"Sure, why not?" my older sister agreed.

(Wine may or may not have been a contributing factor to their quick agreement.)

So we added flour.   At first, it seemed to be working - it was thickening!  This was working!  We celebrated by drinking more wine.

Only, after a few tastes it was like tasting runny bread dough because it was well...doughy.  So basically, it was a cheesy doughy (and yet still runny) mixture with onions, chiles, and jalepenos. 

I'm not going to lie to you.  It was pretty much the worst thing I've ever made...and that includes any baking I did via my Easy-Bake Oven when I was 6.

At that moment, my father walked into the kitchen, grabbed a chip, and used it to scoop up some of the queso from the pot.

"Great job girls," he said.  "See?  I knew it would be fine."

It turns out a Christmas miracle DID happen that day.  Well, either that or my dad's taste buds had dulled over 15 years.

So now it's your turn. 

Laughing Cow (and BlogHer) are giving away another $150 Visa card in return for a laugh. 

Share any funny story, video clip, picture etc in the comment section (it doesn't have to be cooking related) and you will be entered to win $150. Please keep your comments G-rated as any profanity or offensive content will automatically disqualify you from sweepstakes entry. You should also visit The Daily Laugh hub to read funny content each day and for weekly chances to win $100 at the “Play For Laughs” game. If you share something really funny, we may even use it in The Daily Laugh!

Click here for the full rules.

Want more chances to win? Visit the The Daily Laugh hub and comment on the other funny bloggers and their cooking/eating mishaps.

Bon appetit!



  1. At the time this wasn't funny but looking back I kind of think it was. When I was 12, almost 13, there was a 16 year old boy who wanted to be my boyfriend (I was very mature looking). He came to my house and tapped on my window because he wanted me to sneak out to talk to him. Just as he was tapping on my window, my mother walked into my bedroom with just her bra and panties on. All 3 of us got the shock of our lives! Needless to say, she forbade me from talking to him anymore.

    mami2jcn at gmail dot com

  2. The first time I "cooked" for my now husband, I lured him over and told him I was making crab cakes. Turns out I forgot to buy mayo, crab and bread crumbs, then nearly set the smoke alarm off. ha! Who needs crab in crab cakes anyway? Not us! We'd been dating a couple months at the time, and now we've been together for almost 9 years. Do I know how to woo a man or what?!

  3. Living in California, people put avocados on everything out here. We had a nurse move here from back east. She came to work all distraught. She could not figure out for the life of her how to "cook" an avacado. She had boiled and baked them. She was embarrassed when we all told her you dont cook them at all!

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  5. During summer breaks from college I often helped my mom cook the evening meal. I had never used a grill before, but when my mother asked me to heat it up, I told her, "Sure, tell me how." My mom said, "Just go out and turn the knob." (Mistake #1 was listening to her. I figured that since she was a kindergarten teacher she would give good directions. I was wrong.)

    So I went out, found the knob, turned it, and nothing happened. So I closed the lid (mistake #2), went back in the house and told her, "Mom, I turned the knob and the grill isn't getting hot."

    "Did you turn the top knob or the bottom knob?"

    "I didn't know there was more than one."

    "Go back out and turn the bottom knob all the way, then turn the top knob. You'll hear a click, and then a 'poof' and it will be lit."

    So I went back through the house, went out onto the porch and found the 2 knobs. The bottom knob was still turned all the way to the right, the way I had left it (Mistake #3). I turned the top knob and heard the click, but no poof. So I turned it a second time (Mistake #4).

    It wasn't a "poof," it was a BANG. An enormous fireball shot out of the grill, blowing the lid off it (along with my eyebrows, eyelashes, arm hair, and bangs).

    The next thing I remember was my mother running towards me...and then past me. That's right. To Check. The Grill. Not her only daughter, but the inanimate object that tried to kill me. When she was sure the grill was OK, she finally asked me if I was all right. I couldn't answer her (probably in shock).

    And then, in her best calm kindergarten teacher voice, she says the sentence I will never forget. "Audra, your hair is smoking."

    Wow. Thanks Mom. Never volunteering to help you cook again.

    To this day, I don't have a grill. I did finally buy a grill pan, but I much prefer my slow-cooker, as I am practically guaranteed to avoid a fireball aimed at my head.

  6. Haha. I seem to have some sort of "can't fuck cooking up" gene. The only story I have is when I first started cooking, when I was away at college, I tried to make a lasagna. We always used dried herbs at home, but I wanted authentic (bechemel sauce and all). The recipe called for two cloves of garlic.

    I thought a clove was a head of garlic.

    It took me forever, but I had two "cloves" of garlic!

  7. I am not a good cook either... Here's my story:
    About 2 months ago, I put a toaster strudel in the toaster. I didn't even leave the room, I turned around after about 1 minute, and the there were flames coming out of the toaster!!! I set the srtudel on fire!
    That's how food of a cook I am :)


  9. I've always have an issue with the Thanksgiving bird, it seems like no matter what I just have to burn one for each holiday. DDs learned from experiences and once reminded me to get at least two birds on the grocery run.

  10. well this is my sister's story, but i have permission to use it. When she was learning to bake, she couldnt tell the difference betwen salt and sugar, so she added 1.5 cups of salt instead of 1.5 cups of sugar to a cookie recipe, and needless to say they were NOT edible!

  11. My husband works in education and his kids were coloring pictures of themselves, and this one little boy walked up with a picture that was only half done, so my husband asked the kid, why didn't you color the boy in the picture in? He's blank, and the boy replied "I can't find the caucasian marker" We thought it was cute :)

    Mjf926 at mail dot com

  12. Here is a "funny" story, but more like frustrating:
    Our brand new Amana dishwasher broke 10 months after we got it, so we had one ocmpany out, then another company out to fix it, only to find out the part we needed was backordered for 2 months, so they decided to replace it, so we waited 3 weeks for that to come in, and when they came to deliver it, we found out it wouldn't fit . . . so now it's been 3 months and we are still without a dishwasher . . . funny, isnt it? :-P

    seanm1999 at hotmail dot com

  13. My two and a half year old recently decided that picking his nose was really funny so we have been subjected to constant fingers in our face with him yelling 'booger' over and over again.

    Last week he came up to me and said 'Look mom, isa (it's a) booger!'...only this time it wasn't a booger. He had stuck his finger in his diaper after having a bowel movement.

    What am I in for?!


  14. One time I went to introduce my Sister and I could not remember her name! I just went blank. We only lived together all of our life's! gmissycat

  15. Denny's restaurants are open 24 hours a day. We had gone there to eat last Christmas Eve When they decided to close (first time ever), they realized that a lot of doors did not have locks, most of those that did have locks, no one knew where to find the keys! We laughed out of our minds! Poor people!

  16. I was walking on the treadmil at the gym, minding my own business when this gorgeous guy decided to walk past me. I turned around to watch him go by, lost my footing and proceeded to do a face plant on the treadmill making a fool out of myself in front of someone I was hoping to perhaps get to know in the future. Several people around me were trying their hardest not to laugh but I must admit it was pretty funny.

  17. This is as funny as I get (I’m pretty serious)! My son always hated sweet potatoes when he was little–this was to the point where if we asked him to try one he would gag. One day, we had lunch at my sister’s. We had burritos. My son said they were the best burritos he had ever had. Guess what? There were sweet potatoes in them! We tease him to this day!

  18. When I moved to Montana the agreement was I would make dinner once a week for my aunt and uncle in exchange for lower rent. GREAT. Then for Christmas I got Julia Child's cookbook. GREAT.....

    I tried to make scalloped potatoes. Julia has this thing where she puts a casserole dish on top of the stove. Well I tried that to heat up some beef broth but instead of a casserole dish all I had was a pyrex 4 cup container. Once the broth was boiling it was time to pour it over the potatoes. I picked up the container and moved to the sink and heard a CRACK and the GLASS container SHATTERED all over the potatoes ruining the entire dish. And somehow while picking the pyrex up off the stove I must of touched the coils because the oven mitt started burning. Complete with a little flame.

    Once everything was thrown away and cleaned up I had to start all over. The next day my cousin got a Bottom Line. It had a small article saying Pyrex made in America can shatter if it's heated too much and then cooled. She thought that was hilarious!

  19. When I first got married years ago, I kept potatoes in their bag in a cabinet under the kitchen counter. One day I reached in there feeling for the bag and felt something that scared me so bad I screamed. I got the broom and finally managed to pulled the bag of potatoes out with it.

    I was shocked and even more scared by what I saw so I quickly backed away and picked up the phone and called my mom in a panic. When I told her I didn't know what was going on but my potatoes had long white ugly looking things sticking out of them she busted out laughing. Then she told me what they were.

    How was I supposed to know? I'd never seen anything like that before. I guess my mom used her potatoes up quicker than I did.


  20. Not a “real” cooking story, but so very funny. My husband had to dig up a pipe in the backyard to fix it. When he was done, he was going to seed it over, but the boys loved to dig in the dirt, so we decided to leave it for them to play in. A few weeks ago – the day after a rain – they went outside to play and I was getting dinner ready, doing chores, etc. I could hear them, but was so surprised after almost an hour that there was no fighting, yelling, crying, etc. I was thinking to myself, boy, they are getting along so nicely, I have such good boys maybe we can go out for ice cream after dinner as a treat. I stepped outside to compliment them on their behavior, and this is what I was greeted with

    I must have said something like “What possessed you?” and my youngest (the one covered from head to toe) said “I was making mud pies for dinner, but the recipe went all wrong!” I could not do anything but laugh, but needless to say, the area was seeded by the weekend!

  21. tweeted

  22. I wanted to fry some fish recently and was out of breading for it. I looked in my freezer and found what I thought was some flour breading from the last time I had fried fish. Not exactly - it was powdered sugar left over from Christmas cookie baking. Luckily I figured this out before I started frying them.

  23. tweeted:

  24. One time, I made a pot of spaghetti with my grandma. She had a can of dog food on the flat top stove and it overheated and exploded...we can assume, there were "bits" (or kibbles maybe) in the sauce. When I suggested throwing it out, my grandma just smiled and fed it to the (unaware) family anyway.

    I didn't eat that night ;)

  25. Was blessed with an old-world grandmother. Although she didn’t teach me how to cook, I had an expectation of a high level of home cooking.

    When I went to college some young women tried to impress me with a “home cooked meal.” Well, they (the dinners) were disasters.

    I learned to feed myself, simple meals, likely solely by osmosis.

    The young women would throw up their hands, as if in surrender, and I had to do the cooking.

    scoopster(nospam)at yahoo dot com

  26. I was supposed to make deviled eggs for a party, so I put the eggs on to boil and sat down at my computer. I became engrossed in what I was doing and forgot about the eggs...until I heard a small explosion in the kitchen. All the water had boiled out of the eggs and the eggs had gotten so hot, the yolks were exploding out of the eggs and shooting across the room! I'll never live that down!!

  27. I was making cookies just the other day. My kids were helping me. I cracked the eggs into the mixer bowl. I must have been tired as the WHOLE shell fell in with the eggs. Before I could stop them, my kids turned the mixer on! Laughing the whole time as they watched the beater break the shell into thousands of tiny pieces! We had egg shell cookies instead of chocolate chip cookies!

  28. My husband and I pride ourselves on being excellent cooks but we've had our share of flops...I still tease about the time he made a concoction of canned Clam Chowder and Oyster Stew and decided to throw in the left over Caesar Salad Dressing home made with real anchovies.... Well after one taste of what I call Anchovy Soup we tosses the whole mess! It was BAD!

  29. Well, I recently blogged about my first experience trying to debone a chicken, which was QUITE a disaster:

    Here's a little excerpt:

    "I decided I'd give it a try and picked up a whole chicken the next time I was at the grocery store, and took it home to discover the pastime of carving your own chicken.

    As I pushed and prodded the poor creature, memories of 9th grade biology class and frog dissection came back. I couldn't figure out where I was supposed to cut and tried to pause and rewind the video tutorials to get a better understanding. It felt like the videos were in fast-forward mode, as the chefs sliced and diced with super-human speed. It wasn't nearly as easy as they made it look. Perhaps that's why they're the professionals?

    Whereas the videos took less than a minute for the adept cooks and butchers, it took me about 45 minutes of snipping and tugging and sweating (seriously) to finally get my chicken carved up, although one drumstick and both wings got mutilated in the process (not sure how).

    I shoved the cuts into the fridge, and washed my hands about 5 times once I was done, slightly grossed out by the hands-on experience I just had with my dinner. (Not to mention the extra parts that rolled out from the inside of my dinner during the operation .)"

    lifeblessons at gmail dot com

  30. My sister was sitting with my 4 year old teaching her some Spanish words. My daughter successfully practiced the words and then began making up a string of gibberish-sounding words on her own. At some point, my mother interjected with an actual Spanish word to which my daughter replied, "No Grandma. I'm speaking Spanish not you." My mom, my sister and I cracked up!
    sazzyfrazz at gmail dot com

  31. For husbands 1st married birthday I baked an apple pie. His favorite. But I used self raising flour. Dog enjoyed that tough apple cake.

  32. I have a funny story. I told my daughter that I could change the color on tv. We watched the Wizard of Oz and I told her I would change the color after Dorothy’s house crashed in the tornado. Her eyes opened up wide, and she was like, “Wow, Daddy, you were right!”

    pauleyd68 (at) yahoo (dot) com