In which we never had a problem with vampires

I didn’t cook a lot as a teenager. It was not for lack of trying on my mother’s part. I simply wasn’t that interested. And I came to pay for that lack of interest.

When I moved away at 18, I subsisted on the cafeteria’s vast cereal bar and whatever could be heated up in my hot pot. After three years of macaroni, ramen noodles and canned soup, I was nearly pickled with salt like any self-respecting college student.  Brian graduated when we were 21 and moved into an apartment (with a laundry machine! And a stove! And an oven! And a fridge!) with one of his best friends. Suddenly, we had the option of cooking.

That year, due to overwork, he fell very sick with pleurisy. After his lab work ups, the doctor, unsurprisingly told him that he needed to reduce the salt in his diet. So Brian bought a cookbook for heart health which was for low-sodium diets and set about becoming healthy. He cooked almost every night. On Sundays, we’d spend the afternoon in the kitchen, making sauces and soups from scratch for the week.

However, we quickly discovered that while we may have cut down the salt, everything we cooked was UNBELIEVABLY GARLICKY.

Like, we’d finish our spaghetti and our mouths would be burning. I’d go for a work out (back when I, you know, worked out) and I could literally smell garlic coming from my pores.

Our breath stank so badly, it was the best deterrent for hanky-panky that any abstinence-only educator could have dreamed up.

We reeked of garlic.

We could NOT figure out what the problem was. We were following the recipes exactly! We were doing everything it said to do! What was the problem!?

One day, after weeks – literally weeks – of the Great Garlic Stink of 2000, we happened to catch a  show of someone cooking. They were adding garlic to the dish and they picked up a clove of garlic (or what we thought was a clove….can you see where this is going?) and peeled off two or three of the little buds on it.

We were dumbfounded.

THAT is a clove?

We thought a clove of garlic was, you know, the WHOLE BULB of garlic.

A bulb vs. a clove. You’re welcome.

So everytime a recipe called for 4-6 cloves of garlic, we painstakingly added 4-6 BULBS of garlic. (That’s easily 80 cloves of garlic for one dish of spaghetti sauce.)

It is the mark of our truly mature relationship that we

A) Tell the story to everyone who comes over for supper and

B) Each blame the other one entirely for the entire debacle (but really, it’s all Brian’s fault) and

C) That we now roar with laughter over the fact that we actually ate those garlic concoctions for all of those weeks because we were so afraid of offending the other one by not eating their cooking. Ah, dating.

Anyone else have a cooking disaster story to tell to make me feel better?

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  • Teresa

    That is beyond funny Sarah! I really didn’t see that coming :)

  • Ed_Cyzewski

    Ah, the good old days when every new recipe is a mine field! Classic story. I feel like we need more recipes with bulbs of garlic what with all of the vampire stuff out there. Maybe you guys were just ahead of the trend. It could be the Twighlight Cookbook…

    • Sarah Bessey

      I could make MILLIONS……!

  • Glen

    I did the exact same thing a couple months ago. I don’t cook often. You made me feel better, and I enjoyed showing my wife that I’m not the only one! Thank you.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Nothing quite like knowing you’re not alone in your foolishness, eh? πŸ˜‰

  • Meg

    So Christmas last year, I made dinner for my whole side of the family. I decided to make blackened chicken alfredo… it smelled wonderful… I thought, “it just needs a pinch of cumin” and put a sprinkle in the pot… except… it WAS NOT THE CUMIN BOTTLE!!! IT WAS CINNAMON!!! oops… turned out ok… tasted a little moroccan…

    • Sarah Bessey

      Oh, gracious, that’s hilarious! I remember once going to a dinner where the lady didn’t know turkey gravy wasn’t a dark brown so she freaked out when it was the dull beige colour and promptly dumped in a bunch of food colouring to try to make it “look brown”. We had GREEN GRAVY over everything. I still laugh when I think about it, bless her heart!

  • Aislingdream75

    Actually garlic is known to be an aphrodisiac so possibly not best encouraged by abstinence groups :) That’s funny! I’m sure we all have stories like this but I’m not sharing mine!!!!

    • Sarah Bessey

      I never knew that about garlic! Maybe that was the problem in those years….. Ha!

  • Rooney Sarah

    Lol! Hilarious. I can’t believe you could consume that much garlic! You must have had the healthiest immune systems. Wish I had a funny cooking story. But alas, I don’t.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Now you’ve tempted fate. Beware, Sarah…. Karma and all that…

  • Rachel

    I am CRACKING UP at this! I can’t wait to read it to my husband when he gets home! When he and I were dating, I did the EXACT same thing! I was making a White Chicken Chili recipe that called for 2 cloves of garlic. I had never used “real” garlic before, only garlic powder or garlic salt. I put 2 bulbs of garlic in that pot! WE REEKED! The house stunk for a week! Bless his sweet heart, he ate two bowls of that stuff! I was begging him to stop because it was terrible. He didn’t want to hurt my feelings. I am so glad that I am not the only one who has done this! When I was pregnant with my first baby, I was cooking a big dinner, and while everything was on the stove and in the oven, I went out to feed our dog, and locked myself out of the house and inside the backyard fence. No phone, no way to break in. I had to wait 2 hours outside (in the drizzling rain) for my husband to get home and let me out of the fence and back in the house. We had pizza delivered that night. Needless to say, everything was scorched. I even had to throw out a couple of my pots.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Oh, i’m so glad I’m not alone in this!!! Ha! Bless the boys that eat the food, eh?

  • Mum

    This is hilarious! I remember those days when you finally found out what had happened. Too Funny!

    • Sarah Bessey

      Oh, my shame! My shame! It was hilarious, wasn’t it?

  • Marilyn (A Lot of Loves)

    I love garlic and I usually double the number of cloves in a recipe but even I doubt if I could manage that much at a time. Your blood would have been nice and thin.

    • Sarah Bessey

      The funny thing is that we did develop a real love of garlic once we realised how to do it properly. And we do purposely add more garlic now to a recipe, just like you.

  • Tamara


  • Jamie

    That’s hilarious. When my husband and I were dating I made meatloaf and mashed potatoes. He commented that he liked the pepper in the mashed potatoes. Half-way through our meal I realized I hadn’t added any pepper to the potatoes…it was teflon! I had mistakenly used the mixer in the non-stick pan! Woops!

    • Sarah Bessey

      I have so totally done that. And I am not kidding. Ha!

  • KathleenBasi

    I just read your post out loud to my husband and we both laughed until we cried. (But know that we are laughing WITH you NEAR you, and never, ever AT you. NOT!)

    I once put 2 Tablespoons of salt instead of 2 teaspoons into a cake. Does that count?

    • Sarah Bessey

      Totally counts! I’m shameless…anything so I don’t feel so alone. And don’t worry – everyone else laughs AT us too…

  • Jan

    I made the same mistake when I first starting cooked. Not only that, but I chopped up the whole thing, papery skin and all.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Ha, ha!!!!! I am so glad to hear this!

  • Lori

    I had a major boo boo with a low fat banana bread recipe recently – first I forgot to add the brown sugar, then it was the banana bread that just wouldn’t bake – that’s right, it was a Half Baked Banana Bread. The good news is, this cooking disaster actually gave me the name for my brand new blog!!

    • Sarah Bessey

      Oh, this is making me laugh! I feel so much better! (Off to check out your blog now….)

  • Susan

    I needed a little laugh this morning…so hilarious:)

    • Sarah Bessey

      Glad you can laugh at my expense. ;-p

  • Stephanie

    Funniest story ever! I’m literally laughing right now (quietly – because I’m holding a sleeping toddler). πŸ˜‰

  • Mary1912

    Sarah…that is hilarious! Let me just say that nearly every day in the kitchen is a disaster for me…so consider your incident mild in comparison! BTW..Steven has had pleurisy twice. He was never told it was due to too much salt so I find it so interesting Brian got that information! It makes perfect sense to me….sometimes docs just don’t think of prevention…only fixing it after it’s a problem. I’ll mention it to Steven.

    • Sarah Bessey

      I don’t know that the pleurisy was directly connected to the salt/high blood pressure/cholesterol thing. But they did a full lab work up on him when he was there because he was in such bad shape. That’s why they made the recommendations but I don’t know that they were necessarily connected. But still – it made a big difference in his health and he still reverts to that old battered cookbook when he’s feeling crappy or bloated etc.

  • Mary @ Parenthood

    I bake a lot, so I have my share of accidentally used baking soda instead of baking powder stories (result: inedible to all except very small children who will cry when you take it away!)

    But the story I’m best known for is really, positively not MY fault :)

    The background:
    I was in my mid-twenties and halfway through university. I had recently purchased a small condo about a ten minute drive from my folks and moved out for the first time.

    It was our family tradition to get together every Sunday for dinner, and that summer my mom took the opportunity to send me home with vegetables from her garden. Zucchini, lettuce, peas, tomatoes… Lots of tomatoes… It happened that year that our first frost warning was quite early and she was stuck with baskets of green tomatoes. So she asked me if I would like any green tomatoes.

    What would I do with green tomatoes, I asked? Oh, she replied. You can just substitute them in any recipe that calls for apples.

    Intrigued, I took a bag of green tomatoes, cut them up and made… “Green Tomato Crisp”. I imagine that if you liked brown sugar, cinnamon and oatmeal with your tomatoes this would have been quite good. It certainly smelled good, if a bit unusual to our North American noses. Valiantly, being poor university students we tried to eat it. My then-boyfriend (now husband) declared it inedible.

    My mom now claims she never meant to imply that I could use green tomatoes instead of apples…

  • Stephanie_kh

    haha I love this story! Once I was planning to make meatloaf, and we try to eat healthy, so I cook a lot with ground turkey in place of red meat. Well I was in a hurry to get to work, so I grabbed (what I thought was) the turkey out of the freezer to thaw during the day so I could cook as soon as I got home that afternoon. When we sat down to dinner, we took a bite of the WORST meatloaf you’ve ever had. I dug in the trash for the meat container, and…. I had accidentally grabbed the Italian-sausage flavored turkey that was supposed to be used for some stuffed mushrooms later that week. So it was Italian-sausage-flavored-turkey-loaf! And my husband at his whole plate, bless him. I ate cereal.

  • Stephanie

    I made hashbrown casserole for my boss once…took it out of the oven looking amazing, set it on the stove and left the room to go get ready. What I didn’t realize was that I had turned on the eye of the stove, and had to run back a few minutes later because of a loud boom…my casserole literally EXPLODING all over the kitchen, just as my boss and her husband walked in! We went out to eat instead.

  • Hank

    That’s awesome! Don’t feel bad. I probably wouldn’t have known the difference if Kelsey hadn’t showed me. After I graduated from college, I discovered that onions were actually good for adding flavor to dishes rather than just good for making your breath stink and making you cry. Well, I made this enchilada dish that called for chopped onions. I called Kelsey for the best way to chop the onions and, after laughing, coached me through it. The dish turned out fine, but it seemed that there were really thin, clear looking pieces of onion in the dish. I asked Kelsey about it later and after she burst out laughing, she asked, “Did you peel the onion?” Well, no, nobody told me……

  • annaliseree

    I just have to tell you that I cracked up reading this! Β Thanks for brightening my day!!! Β :o) Β HA!!!!

  • Kristen

    HAHAHAHA, Sarah, this is awesome! I just found this post linked to another one (and I LOVE garlic so clearly I clicked on it), and I laughed so hard! A great story for sure!!

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  • afollower

    haha! ~ that kept ya healthy – garlic has *lots* of health benefits… though keeping people away is a negative side-effect πŸ˜› ~ thanks for sharing :) If it makes you feel any better, we worked for an owner of a spice shop and he was very healthy – My Dad asked what his secret was – he said, it was garlic :) ~ So, we use a whole bulb (yes multiple cloves πŸ˜› ) to make real garlic butter and garlic bread :)

    It reminds me of my almost flops this year with cooking pumpkin pies – I carefully wrote out our favorite recipe and followed it detail by detail. Mixed everything just right and then put in pie crusts, sprinkled walnuts on top and stuck in the oven… only to remember about 15 minutes later that I had forgotten the eggs… so I had pumpkin soup in pie shells πŸ˜› – I did this not once, but twice! πŸ˜› ~ thankfully, both times worked out just fine – empty pie crust, mix in eggs, stick back in pie crusts, finish cooking πŸ˜› ~ my second one, I forgot for over a half hour… I sarcastically called them ‘twice-baked pumpkin pies’ – but the cool part is it worked πŸ˜› ~ haha… anyway ~ God bless you and your family ~ a growing servant/life-slave of Jesus, SH :)