A Good Home, An Honest House, Cooking, Family Moments, Floral Arrangement, Garden Humour, Gardening, Giant Pumpkins, Humour

I Deserve a Prize, I Do

I was once the proud recipient of the Pumpkin Princess Prize – awarded by Scotland’s pre-eminent herb-blogger, The Hopeful Herbalist.

Was Miss Hopeful smoking her own herbs when she did so?

Don’t know, don’t care. I took the title seriously.

Pumpkin photo of our tiny pumpkin and peach

Actually, what my lovely blogger friend said was: “Award yourself the pumpkin princess crown!”

Which to my deliriously happy state of mind, meant much the same thing.

And now I wonder: if my tiny imperfect pumpkin could win me that regal honour, perhaps the next thing is my cooking? Or baking? Or floral arranging?  

Let’s face it: It takes tremendous effort to be really bad at something.


A lot of trial and error is required. Mostly error, mind you. 

Take my cooking and baking (please — someone has to).

I famously made a two-ingredient dish – cauliflower and cheese – and forgot the cheese.

The harder I tried, the worse my cooking got. I forgot half the ingredients, or doubled them — or burned the dish. Husband added ketchup, salt or spices to everything I cooked. Yegads! Ketchup!

I’d  perfected the art of  truly bad cooking.

But do you hear anyone giving me the title for worst borscht?

Perfectly pathetic pie?

Instead, they flock to stories of delicious dishes and beautiful bouquets. I’ve never understood it.


 Meanwhile, we lesser folk never give up trying.

And still, our creations are catastrophic.

But consider this:

It takes a lot of work — and maybe even a strange type of talent — to turn out truly awful stuff.

So I think it’s time our efforts were acknowledged. Don’t you?

(Tee hee….)



80 thoughts on “I Deserve a Prize, I Do”

  1. My worst ever dish was a soya bean casserole. I think the beans were old. That’s my story anyway. I’ve never bought/eaten them since.
    Speaking of borscht, my partner thinks the worst dish I made was a beetroot mousse. It was dire. Totally inedible. On this occasion it wasn’t the fault of the ingredients but the recipe. Note, on neither occasion do we blame the cook 🙂
    I tend not to repeat disasters, although I have tried to make both croissants and pasta twice. There will be no third time lucky. No third time.
    Still, you must be good at cooking something …? 😉

    1. Okay, alright, I am good at three dishes. My good man says even when I get it right, I don’t focus enough on Presentation — making the dish look Appetizing. My defense: I am focusing so hard on Getting It Right, that I am knackered by the time Presentation comes around.

      1. I’m lucky. My good/bad (depending on the day) man doesn’t give two hoots about presentation so long as it is soaked in vinegar and tabasco. Yeah, I did all the pres thing in the past, but really, food is fuel to keep us going. I am not spending hours on it. If it tastes good, that’s what matters. To us. Which is why I quit entertaining years ago.
        You tell Hamlin if you remember to putcheese in with the cauliflower that’s one big achievement. I’ve got some good pix of my broccoli/caul bake dishes. Somewhere. Might even get a half star from YGM.

  2. I agree with Automatic! My worst dish ever was an ingredient faux pas, never use green bell pepper instead of red in a dish with lemon. You get the bitter nightmare chicken. The pumpkin is cute!

      1. Try the mini Sweet peppers, they are really good. I meant to tell you – we are having a dry spell and the Rose Apple dropped all of the fruit! There is always next year.

  3. I think you summed it up Cynthia when you said “we lesser folk never give up trying” – it’s a good motto to have. And let’s face it even geniuses have failures! So maybe we are geniuses in disguise..

  4. When I was a child, I remember listening to the story of Bambi on an old 45 vinyl record, narrated by Shirley Temple in her sweet, lovely voice. There was a line at the beginning, which struck me even back then. “If it weren’t for December, how could we ever appreciate May?” Never give up trying to reach May. We all have things that didn’t turn out the way we wanted. The journey is the important part. Enjoy the Pumpkin Princess Prize, cooking, baking and floral arranging! May will come.

  5. What a delightfully fun post Cynthia. I needed a good laugh and appreciate you poking fun at your cooking talents. I’ve been learning to relax about the need for perfection. I do ok at cooking, but baking is a disaster for me. 🙂

    And we know you have a great talent for writing and connecting to people. Thank you.

    1. You can cook? That’s a great talent, Brad. I baked a cake — once. Then, many years later, I baked another. And last year I made peach cakes. I shall try it again!
      My readers say I write a lot about delicious food in An Honest House. Maybe it’s because I dream of cooking great food?

  6. Thanks for a hearty chuckle. I can’t speak for your cooking, but those floral arrangements are…how shall I say….beyond compare. And I’m still trying to get my teeth around “worst borscht”…

      1. Oh but I do, the last photograph of the greens – with a little playing around of darks and lights, they would make for a very interesting painting.

      2. You just never know when you open a door where it will lead. Your surroundings and gardens are gorgeous, scenes that would make for some great subjects. Yes, I think you have the spark of creativity ~ would love to see you try.

      3. Gardening was a great creative outlet for me. Writing is the next one. But two things I used to wish I could do: sing and paint. When I see your work, I can’t helping wondering: how on earth does she do that?

      4. You know how I feel about your comment? Love it ~ your gardening is a showcase and mirror of your talents. No need to cook, let others fill your stomach while you fill the soul with your flowers and writing. Have a wonderful weekend Cynthia.

  7. At my age I can relate to having to focus on my cooking lest I leave out an ingredient! lol But I have had my share of cooking failures even when I was younger. You have a kind husband to just add ketchup…sounds good to me!

  8. Your post reminded me of a recent article about the transformation of our eating habits. It seems that very few know how to actually cook a meal. In my day, the home economics classes were filled to the brim! Now it’s the techie classes that are filled. I confess I didn’t take home economics and I am glad that I am not the only one that has interesting dishes!!!! Your post is a celebration of perseverance. Hugs

  9. Hey, we all have talents. Maybe cooking and baking are not your strong suit, but you can write about them and make people laugh, not to mention write about all manner of other things. And garden!! I have a standing joke that my indoor plants only survive because they live by their wits, but I can turn out all manner of successes when in the kitchen. Perhaps we do best at what we love? (And that pumpkin IS adorable.)

    1. Hmm… if you come to visit, you can cook and I will take care of the indoor plants? Mine thrive on neglect, but I like your turn of phrase — wits may be more apt.

  10. I burn everything and that can be good with some dishes. My son (the chef) showed me how to make perfect roast gravy by (you guessed it) burning it! I don’t do a lot of cooking because there are so many good cooks in my house (luckily) 😀

    1. Dianne, my friend! You know that misery loves company don’t you? Thanks for inspiring me to burn the gravy deliberately next time. You’re so lucky. I have one great chef here, but he is the breadwinner so I try to be the meal maker as often as I can these days.

  11. One of my worst cooking disasters occurred on Thanksgiving several years ago. I attempted to make my first homemade pie, crust and all. I decided on chocolate, my parents favorite. I never figured out what went wrong, but when my father cut into it, a river of chocolate emerged. He then said, “I think I need a straw to eat this.” The pie was officially named, STRAW PIE.

    1. Hmmm… I was about to say thanks, but my inferioirty complex kicked in. You don’t say what the prize should be for. My special brand of foolishness, perhaps?

  12. I am the better cook but my heart is not in it, so my hubby does most of the cooking. I confess I use a lot of ketchup, and no complaints from me!

    1. Deb, I wish I could say I’m the better cook – just once! Good you’ve got a hubby with culinary skills, right? Nice to hear from you, and take care of yourself.

    1. Absolutely! Isn’t that just the way? I DO sometimes have successes, but try repeating them and — catastrophe. I am banned from cooking for visitors, with good reason.

  13. I agree totally with Allan’s lovely comment. A prize for trying hard (but still not doing very well) is in order I think. I never did well in my Home Economics (cookery) classes at school and was for ever getting told-off for carelessness. I never quite understood how I got things so very wrong!

    1. Okay, if that’s what Allan meant, I’ll take the prize for perseverance. I took Home Ec too and was surprising good at basic embroidery and smocking. (There’s a strange word.) But look at you now: you cook for family, and you bake great stuff! Brava!

      1. Thank-you! Home Ec was compulsory and just involved cooking. I voluntarily took needlework but never did smocking though my Mother was an expert at it!

  14. I never cook now as I have a live- in chef. Years ago, I cooked for friends and faced with one of my less successful dishes, someone said: ‘ And how is the dog feeling now?’ That sort of comment rankles for years.
    We can’ t all be good at everything. I admire your tenacity. I never go near sewing needles or any kind of a ball to avoid humiliation.

    1. Oh dear. I’m sure family members have said worse to me – especially during the most terrible years -but luckily for them, I would likely have forgotten it within minutes or hours. (But I’m also sure that if I checked my journals, I’d find a few, written down, if only for the degree of cleverness!)

  15. I feel the same way about sports that you do about cooking. I want to be athletic but the harder I try, the worse it goes. I wonder how much our lack of confidence is the root of the problem?

    1. I think so. I get anxious, and it sometimes feels as if several years of failures come to roost in that single moment in front of the stove. I like being a sous-chef who prepares the ingredients, but the rest is a recurring mystery….

  16. Well said. Reminds me of when my college roommates tried to make garlic bread, but were unclear on the concept of a garlic “clove” vs a garlic “bulb”. There is such a thing as too much garlic.

  17. I keep Cajun seasoning on the table to cover all lack-luster dishes. Tonight’s main meal was grilled duck with Zatar seasoning (norther Africa) and mixed grilled vegetable with Berri-berri (Ethiopian) seasoning. We were sweating. No need for the Cajun spices.

  18. I’m good at what I call, throw it in a pot and leave it cooking. However, I am catastrophically untidy, as is my son, and our house is a midden. Poor McOther, the personification of the neatbot, is incredibly patient with us.

    As others have said, no one can be good at everything.



  19. Despite what teachers tend to say to kids, not everyone is good at everything. Cook? I can make the salads and plain stuff, then there’s always the places that sell delightful, healthy things to make the dinner table look like a magazine if needed. No fretting. I can totally amaze people with other things and am content with that. No point in attempting to “shove a square peg into a round hole” sort of thing.
    (I really like that green plant picture with all the textures.)

  20. We all have talents to compensate for our weaker attributes, lol. Your writing makes up for your cooking skills. 🙂 As writers, we deserve awards for juggling life and writing, the attempts to cook are just an added bonus. 🙂

  21. The final arrangement with the allium heads is utterly delightful. Successful people rack up more failures than unsuccessful people, I’ve been working on this principle for years.

  22. Thank you and everyone else here for the smiles as I read. My mother managed to find a way for me not to take compulsory Home Ec – declaring that since I could read I could learn to cook. Then she proceeded to teach me, with some critical input from my grandmother. Many near-misses and several failures later I’m a decent cook. But I prefer not to entertain (family is an exception, and so are very close friends – they understand), since I don’t like tempting fate. Besides, our space is much too small…

  23. Ha ha…this post gave me a great laugh for a Monday!! I am so ridiculously “uncrafty” that it is sad! Just this past weekend I painted picture frames and the tape I used to protect the corkboard pulled most of the paint off as I put it on thick. I’m going with “I wanted it to look distressed”!!!! (only I know the difference lol)

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