Food Blogging 101: 10 valuable lessons learned from failure

Food Blogging 101: 10 Valuable Lessons Learned from Failure // @speckledpalate

Failing at anything is unfortunate.

Like, really unfortunate.

It’s sometimes painful. It’s sometimes laughable. It’s sometimes frustrating.

Sometimes, it’s all three combined.

Food Blogging 101: 10 Valuable Lessons Learned from Failure // The Speckled PalateFilling chocolate pinwheel cookies with caramel. This totally ends well. (Keep reading to find out how…)

I’ve had my fair share of flops this past year, and I wanted to share some of them with you… and what I took away from these mistakes.

Because, if I’ve learned anything in my 30 years on this Earth, it’s if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we’ll more than likely repeat them over and over again. And I don’t know about y’all, but that’s even more frustrating than failing the first time (or two, or five…)

A few lessons I’ve gleaned in the last year that you should do your best not to repeat:

  1. Salted caramel does not bake well, especially if your caramel was a bit on the edge of burnt when you first threw it together with popcorn. If you do bake salted caramel, keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t get singed in the oven like mine did.
  2. Likewise, caramel filling in pinwheel cookies will make them bleed all over the baking sheet. A lot. However, they will still taste delicious, even if they’re unsightly!
  3. Carrots and Greek yogurt together in a soup sound good in theory, but they can be quite unfortunate when seasoned with too much black pepper.
  4. Turns out, the combination of peanut butter and chocolate can lead to some flops. My attempt at gluten free PB and Chocolate Chip Cookies were a bland experiment that went nowhere with my tastebuds.
  5. Vegan Cheesecake Bites, which sound delightful in theory, could turn into a runny mess if you don’t do a lot of vegan baking, experiment with it the day of a World Cup viewing party and feel overconfident in your abilities. See also: silken tofu and I have a strained relationship, though I definitely want to work on it this year since I fear my lactose intolerance will show its face again once Lady Baby arrives.
  6. Cheese sticks melt in the oven. (“DUH,” said everyone ever.)
  7. Strawberry puree can be delightful when added to cupcake batter, but if you add too much, expect your cupcakes to be gloopy.
  8. Always confirm the oven is turned off before you go to bed. Otherwise, it could unintentionally heat your kitchen all night and into the morning until you discover it while making breakfast. … Yes, I know. We’re so lucky that nothing was left in the appliance and that something didn’t go horribly awry, especially since our oven is original to the house, meaning it was installed in 1958.
  9. Set a timer. Always. Even if your nose is generally awesome at detecting when something has finished cooking. (Overly limp pasta? Check! Incredibly overcooked salmon that’s drier than the desert? Check!)
  10. Making five dishes at the same time? Not a smart idea. You’ll leave out one or two pertinent ingredients (or swap ingredients… like sugar instead of salt, etc.) and then wonder what went wrong.

As evidenced by this very short list of spectacular fails, if I gave up when I flopped, I’d have stopped this food blogging thing a long time ago. However, if I was perfect? I’d have probably stopped, too. Because what the fun in that?

The beauty in cooking is that you occasionally nail the dish the first time around, while other instances, you have to tinker, tinker, tinker until it’s perfect. I absolutely adore that. And I hope you do, too, even if you fall on your face some of the time.

If nothing else, the fail’s gotta make a good story, right?

What lessons have you learned in the kitchen recently?

Which one made you laugh the most? Which was the most frustrating?

Other posts that go BEHIND THE BLOG and the business of food blogging: Behind the Blog: Top PostsBehind the Blog: Frequently Asked QuestionsBehind the Blog: @katiewilliamsen of Twin Stripe InterviewBehind the Blog: Organization, Planning and BalanceBehind the Blog: Social Media TipsBehind the Blog: The WorkspaceBehind the Blog: Behind the PhotographsBehind the Blog: Blogs I LoveBehind the Blog: The Speckled Palate’s BeginningBehind the Scenes Blog Tour: The Speckled Palate

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  1. I love this!! Coming up on my one year blog anniversary, I have had oh so many mistakes. I love hearing I am not alone!! And I love your sense of humor!

    1. You are definitely not alone, Kristen! I think we’ve all gotta make mistakes to get to where we need to be, no matter how horrifying/hilarious/frustrating they are! Thanks!

  2. Lol. So true especially on being over confident of your own abilities. I work poorly under pressure. Especially when people think I cook so well just because I have a food blog. Simple roast chicken was under salted & pasta overcooked during a recent dinner. Ugh. But now that I know, I’ll try to breathe a bit more the next time we have guests. 🙂

    1. Girl, I totally feel you. And I feel like it ALWAYS happens on those dishes that you think/know you’ve got. It happens to all of us, though, and if we didn’t fail, it probably wouldn’t be as fun when we nail a recipe, ya know? Here’s to keeping your cool and breathing more next time you host guests!

  3. I’ve definitely left my oven on my accident. I can’t remember if it was the time I was making baked bries for a potluck, or a separate time… but I came back home after being gone for hours and hours, to see my oven was still on. And then recently I was making muffins and forgot the half batch that I put in… Just the exterior is burnt, but I’ve decided to set those ones aside for the birds.

    I think the biggest lessons I’ve learned:
    1) Just because it says it’s microwave safe, doesn’t actually mean it is… best to use glass rather than plastic just to be safe. (The great Chex Mix microwave fire of 2013)
    2) No no no no no to oil and water on the stove. I just wasn’t thinking and misread instructions and added water to hot oil while making jiaozi… and had 3 foot flames in my (rental) kitchen. Never again. (Thankfully there was no damage, those my pan was scorched.)

  4. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made recipes that have been total flops. The most recent one was probably a butternut squash soup for which I used frozen butternut squash chunks and omitted cream at the end. It ended up being a watery mess that was far from silky and smooth. I’d hoped the frozen squash would help save time. :/ This post is such a great reminder that we should all keep in mind in the kitchen. Becoming a great cook is an ongoing process!

  5. This sounds like my life! As a food blogger, I have can certainly relate to some of these “fails.” It’s a great way to learn, though!

  6. My lesson learned is my cooking skills need a lot of work. LOL! Seriously! Don’t feel bad about your mistakes because my cooking skills is the worst. But hey, I’m still working on it.

  7. I feel like we constantly go back and forth on the fact that we are each other’s blogging soul mates. I have had quite a few failures in the kitchen pretty much my whole life, but I feel it’s been magnified since launching my blog. I never knew how badly I could screw up recipes I’ve made dozens of times, it blows my mind how easy it is to mess things up. The first time I made caramel, I didn’t cook it long enough, but it still did the job. The second time, I made a larger batch…and burned it. Damned if I was going to throw it out. It was still viable caramel, and by God if I don’t have a tupperware container labeled “Burnt Caramel” in my fridge. You’d be surprised what you can do with it! LOL I can’t wait to look back on my first full year of blogging and write a post like this. <3

  8. The timer is DEFINITELY one thing I have a problem with! I set it for the regular baking time but if I ever have to put anything back in the oven, that extra 2 minutes doesn’t necessarily get timed — and then things end up just barely on the wrong side of delicious. Boo! I hereby resolve to set more timers in 2015. 🙂

  9. ohhh man. You make me wanna write down all my failures!! Why haven’t I yet?! The worst one of all came today when I was choooing celery incredibly fast and sliced a good chunk of my thumb off. Ahhhh 🙁 🙁

  10. Oh Erin – this is a great post!!
    I had my share of failures (and I still fail every now and then!) and even though I’m so frustrated once it happens, I do learn from my mistakes

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