SLICE OF LIFE: Mistakes Happen

by Eileen Goltz, Food Writer, Lecturer & Author


KosherEye is delighted to welcome back our guest columnist, Eileen Goltz. She is sharing her interesting article on food related mistakes that have resulted in some very famous products. So who knows, maybe one of your kitchen mistakes will take center stage! If you are making a recipe and happen to not have one of the listed ingredients, don't worry...Eileen has come to the rescue with her Baking Ingredient Substitution list.

We’ve all had moments in the kitchen when we’ve screwed up. Not big screw ups like putting the oven on broil instead of bake, or even forgetting to turn it on, but rather those moments where the cake didn’t rise because you forgot an ingredient or rose too much because you added one twice. Maybe it's when you got halfway through the recipe and discovered what you were sure you had in the panty, you didn’t. Those are the time when creativity can give way to discovery or disaster, depending on what you do.

Some of the inventions that happened by accident are the most appreciated ones.

Good recipes and foods discovered by accident are typically infrequent events (except in my house where I never met a recipe I didn’t try and change). Spectacularly delicious or disastrous anomalies most often happen when you’re in a hurry and do something stupid − like try and substitute one or two ingredients for ones you don’t have. Examples of these kinds of “oops what the heck did I do” can be found throughout all the grocery aisles:

Let’s look at refrigerator rolls: In the early 1930s a baker of some renown, Lively Willoughby, was in a hurry one day and wrapped her unbaked biscuits in foil then stuffed them into cardboard tubes and then put them in the refrigerator to be made at a later time. When she finally got around to taking the dough out to bake the tube exploded.  Referencing notes from the Encyclopedia of Consumer Brands it’s said that her son had to scrape the dough off the ceiling with a knife.

We pretty much all know the story of chocolate chip cookies. Toll House Inn's Ruth Wakefield ran out of baking chocolate and she chopped up a bar of semi-sweet chocolate and added the pieces to her dough. The cookie put her Inn on the culinary map and got the attention of Nestle.

Wheaties, the breakfast of champions, was also a delicious boo−boo. A worker at a Minnesota health clinic spilled some of the hot bran gruel onto a hot stove top. It cooked up into tasty flakey clumps. George Cormack, a local miller, heard about it and tinkered with the process. Fast forward to now and his company is now called General Mills.

Popsicles are also another happy accident. On a cold and freezing day in the early 1900’s, Frank Epperson (an 11 year old) accidently left his soda making paraphernalia on his porch. When he went to get it the next morning he discovered that the stick he'd been using to stir the flavoring into the water had frozen in the middle of the mixture. Deliciousness was born. He patented the process, changing the name from "Epsicle," to “Popsicle," and we’ve all enjoyed them ever since.

The first sweetness without calories concoction kudos belong to chemist, Constantine Fahlberg, who, while working at John Hopkins in the late 1800’s, spilled a chemical on his hands and forgot to wash them before sitting down to eat his lunch. He noticed the chemicals very sweet taste where he had touched the bread and then eaten it. After a little experimentation and a lot of tasting saccharin was born.

Cooking mistakes like accidently using Worcestershire sauce instead of vanilla (come on, the bottles are the same size and color, it happens) or forgetting to take the paper insert out of a premade pie crust before baking the filling (yes, it happened once) usually don’t make it to the table. However, the following recipes are all happy accidents that should be repeated.

Deep Dish Rhu-Ras-Blue Pie, Chocolate Cherry Almond Cake and Last Minute Spinach Pizza.

KosherEye loves Eileen's list of Baking Ingredient Substitution. Did you know that 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce equals 1 egg? Print and keep this list with your recipes.

Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics for various newspapers, magazines and websites across the U.S., Canada, and South Africa as well as the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen's blog at

June 10, 2011

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