Thursday, July 18, 2013

When Cookies Go Bad: Craft Fails & a Giveaway

by Kathy F.

In a little under 2 weeks, July 30 to be exact, the 6th book in my favorite UF series will be released: Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) by Ilona Andrews.

Phenomenal world-building, fascinating magic system, kickass action, wonderful characters and sparkling humor throughout, this is my go-to series to reread when I need an escape from the real world.

This time around, Kate, Curran and company are going on a trip. We've spent 5 books (plus a spinoff) around Atlanta. I'm really looking forward to what the magic shifts have done to other parts of the world. Of course, I'm also really looking forward to the next baddie and to see what Hugh will bring to the party.

I do enjoy celebrating releases with something special. In the past, I've done cocktails, but I was feeling in the mood for something different, and since I am always looking for activities to keep the childrens occupied, a project they could do too. I recently got the Gingerdead Men cookie cutters from ThinkGeek. I thought: oooh, maybe I could give them fangs and make them vampires (Andrews' vampires are closer to the dead look - no sparklies here). Then I remembered in Magic Gifts (short story included with Gunmetal Magic) that the vampires were covered in neon sunscreen. So I thought, neon frosting! Then, maybe if they turn out all right, I could make them into ice cream sandwiches, because it is summer after all.

Yeah, I get a little ambitious sometimes. My dreams of Pinterest glory cruelly eclipsed by the simple fact that I can't draw for shit. I barely make it past stick figures on paper.

I had a feeling things would not go my way as I piped the neon orange frosting onto the skeletal body. The red sprinkle eyes were a vain attempt to salvage something of a bloodthirsty monster in cookie form. Alas, it was not meant to be.

I solemnly swear I will not attempt this again.
Just no, no, no. Now, the skeletal body is maybe OK (you have to give me that) but the rest... I have achieved cookie fail. Even the boychild said that the head looked horrible.

At least he didn't call it "poo" - little man
is learning restraint.
Considering once I let the kids loose with the remaining frosting he covered his in an orange "lava" pile, his sense of "horrible" might be skewed, but I had to agree.

I think I also might be too old to enjoy neon frosting. I really did not want to eat it.

However, both kids had lots of fun, and even ate some of the cookies. All of their chaos was confined to one table and I got the seal of approval.

Things rarely go according to plan for Kate, and if at the end of the day, she can settle in at home with a cold one, it is a good day.

So I will await the release of Magic Rises with a glass of this:
Sweet Pea Apple Wine - dessert in a glass
It's in my fridge (on sale at Cost Plus World Market) and requires little effort.

How about you? Do you have any kitchen or craft disasters to share? Let us know and you could win the Kindle version of Magic Rises (or the equivalent in an Amazon gift card).

It's easy, just comment here with your kitchen or crafty fails. Bonus entry if you include a photo (e-mail to, post on our Facebook page or tweet it to us @StellarFour). Be sure you leave a way to contact you. Open internationally! Send in your entries by July 29, 2013.


Ilona Andrews:

Magic Rises Pre-order Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

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  1. Well, this isn't really a craft disaster, but it turns out gingerbread houses can look quite unappetizing and messy after you pile 3 inches of candy on all sides. It eventually broke from all the pressure!

    PS. emailed a picture.

  2. Made a cheese tart with phyllo dough when my mom and aunt came to visit. The phyllo broke and all the cheese oozed out onto the pan to be a big flat unappetizing mush. So much for impressing them!
    And I LOVE the skeleton cookie!

  3. yesterday i made cookies and forgot to put eggs in it

  4. I think the cookies look fine. I'd eat them. Looks JUST LIKE A VAMP skeleton to me!!! I saw one just yesterday when walking in the woods and I am telling you the similarities are striking. Could have been the exact same guy only taller...

  5. My fails always get bigger. Like, I make a huge mistake and I double the recipe to fix it, then I stay up until two o'clock in the morning to make all the disgusting, runny, strange desserts in perfect miniature form.
    My favorite was when I decided to pin a recipe that was since deleted by the user. It was a healthy chocolate muffin recipe-things always go wrong with healthy recipes. When I followed the pin the first time it was all there, but the second time it had been deleted. By this time I'd already bought the ingredients so I refused to give up! I found one of those copycat sites that had the recipe. Eureka! It would all work out, right? No. To keep from being sued for copyright infringement the new site only listed the first five words out of each line of instructions. So not a whole lot of instructions on how to put it all together. With a normal muffin recipe I might have been good to go since it's pretty straightforward. Healthy recipes that are notoriously finicky? Not so much. I put all the ingredients together and it was soup, not dough. So I added some flour (or which there was none in the original recipe), a few other things until it looked right, and decided to call it a day. They were rubber! They would literally bounce when you dropped them on the counter. Of course I didn't try them first. I just packaged them up for a youth groups early morning meeting on Sunday. I didn't take a bite until after I got home. This teenagers choked them down and told me how delicious they were so as not to offend me. It's not just that I made bad food, it's that I didn't catch it before everyone had to suffer for it. So everyone at church now knows about how fabulously horrible of a baker I am. I may never live this down.
    I'm afraid I don't have a photo. They looked fine! That was the problem!!! Anyway you can contact me at

    1. Actually here is the copycat site/recipe. The muffins I made looked just like this sans the cute cupcake liner. I'm way too cheep for those. If only they tasted like they look instead of vaguely chocolate flavored doorstops.

  6. Nearly all of my attempts at anything in the kitchen end in disaster. I've put too many eggs in by forgetting I'd already put them in or didn't have an ingredient that I thought I had and had to substitute (always bad) or I'll over or undercook - mostly for fear of ruining it. My worst disaster though was from when I was a kid and both my parents worked. I had to prep dinner for the grandparents before mom got home. The problem was that I took the instructions literally (put the roast ON the stove) and put the Pyrex dish with the roast and veggies ONTO the burner on the stove instead of IN THE OVEN. It blew up. There was meat, glass and veggies everywhere and mom had to run out and quickly buy some steaks to put on the grill.
    april dot vrugtman at gmail dot com

  7. Hmm, when I was first married and teaching myself to cook, I decided to make brownies. What could be easier,right? I put the margarine (couldn't afford butter at the time) in the microwave and assembled the rest of the ingredients. Combined said ingredients according to directions and placed in oven for 20 minutes. My husband was excited. When I took the brownies out, they were a BRICK! So, so, so, hard. But being newly wed, my husband kindly soldiered on and soaked them in milk and said nice things. A week later, I opening the microwave to find congealed, melted margarine! Ewww! It is amazing what fat does for a recipe! (BTW, it is still my go to brownie recipe! I just make sure to add the butter!)

  8. I recently tried making salted whiskey caramels (and can I precede this story by saying the second attempt turned out much better!). I borrowed my grandma's candy thermometer because I've never needed one before and Mom refuses to do anything that needs that much supervision. I, on the other hand, am a scientist. We once spent three hours boiling water and cooling it back down, one cup at a time, to measure rates of heat transfer. And that's nothing compared to the time we had to do a life history for a duck. Ever tried to track a single duck in a pond full of identical freaking ducks, for two hours, writing down what the duck is doing each minute? It's harder and more boring than it sounds. But I digress.

    Anyway, so I mixed up the first half the ingredients, set them aside, and brought the sugar up to 310 degrees as the recipe indicated, then added the bowl of stuff I'd set aside. Now, here's where the issues start.
    See, the recipe says to add the set-aside stuff to the 310 degree sugar, and when it reaches 248 degrees, pour it into a 9x9 pan. I took this to mean: add the cool stuff to the hot stuff, and continue cooling until the resultant mix is 248 degrees or cooler, then pour into a pan. I had to keep it on the heat because the sugar crystallizes as the cool mix hits it, and I had to melt it again, but it was still under 248 degrees. I poured it in my 9x9 pan and waited.

    And it was delicious whiskey-flavored caramel sauce. If only I'd had some ice cream or apple slices. (Mom ate it in 48 hours anyway. She may be slightly addicted to caramel)

  9. My most recent disaster was trying to make individual spice cakes for my husband's co-workers at Christmas. I had a special recipe from a gourmet store for a Fig Preserves cake which tasted delicious when the nice lady at the cooking school made it. I also had an individual size cake bundt pan from our Williams Sonoma wedding gift registry, which not only make small bundt cakes, but also made them in special shapes which sort of resemble cathedrals.I had dreams of very impressive cakes which would elevate my crafty rank to Martha Stewart levels.

    The first problem was the cakes didn't want to come out of all the intricate grooves on the special bundt pan. So chunks stayed behind making my cathedral cakes look like they had lost a battle with a trebuchet. I managed to smooth out the chunks on enough cakes to proceed. To cover the problems, first I coated the cakes in icing then I thought perhaps distraction would help as well. So I went to the local craft store and bought pearl dust from the cake decorating aisle. A few attempts at applying the dust taught me that the only way to evenly apply a lustrous glow to my cakes was to put a small amount in my hand and then blow it over the cakes. Unfortunately the dust had a will of its own and after covering the cake went on to swirl throughout the whole kitchen giving it a pearl dust covering. I cleaned up as best as I could, but we found pearl dust everywhere for months. The worst was when my husband pointed out that both dogs were also glowing. At this point I crammed the cakes into the gift bags which, of course, were too small and handed them off for delivery. God only knows what the cakes looked like, but the feedback I received via the husband was that they were very tasty. Of course this is the South, so those nice ladies would probably also say that about dog food if it was presented as a gift. Somewhere one of them right now is saying, "bless her heart...".

  10. Some would say any attempt I make in the kitchen is a disaster, but I this k the worst was making a friend a birthday cake from scratch and decorating it. I was making a 3 layer cake wiith 2 layers chocolate and 1 layer vanilla cake. To start with the layers were uneven so the cake had a warped effect. The my dreams of piping liking the Cake Boss was dashed as a simple border out did me. Part of the border was falling off the side of the cake. My Happy Birthday was unreadable. My poor friend put on a brave face and we cut the cake. The cake was aweful and tasted like flour. I still don't know where I went wrong.

  11. This wasn't my kitchen fail, but it amused me greatly. My college roommate (who had no previous cooking experience at all apparently) decided to make Jello one day. Three days later there was still a container with green water in the fridge. Not knowing what it was, I asked her about it and she told me it was going to turn into solid Jello. Riiight. When I asked how she made it, she told me she'd followed the instructions and added cold water like it said. Then I asked about adding the boiling water. She told me that it was either hot or cold and she'd used cold. It got even worse for her when she argued with me about the need for boiling water. I still bring up the Jello incident to make her mad.

  12. My biggest kitchen fail was the time that I tried to make bagels at home. Between boiling them too long in the soda water and then baking them for too long, I ended up with very brown bagels that were as hard as rocks. They were how I always imagined Hagrid's rock cakes to be in the Harry Potter books. The sad thing was that I followed the recipe exactly. I decided that it's just easier to buy them.

  13. Let's see, I have 2 notable kitchen fails recently.

    I was making an angel food cake. All was going well. The meringue whipped up perfectly, the batter was light and fluffy, the birds were singing and this cake was PERFECT. I stuck it in the oven and went on about my business. When I came back to check it 20 minutes later, I noticed that it was rising awfully high. I had put it on the middle rack in the oven and it was getting awfully close to the gas broiler. I made to open the oven door and move the cake down, but my mom stopped me. Apparently, if you jostle an angel food cake while it's baking, it falls. So I could only watch in horror as the cake rose and glommed onto the burner. When I finally took the cake out, the entire bottom portion had stuck to the top of the oven. Oy.

    Disaster 2: I was making some roasted chicken for a party, and I put the chicken on racks in the oven, to get the outside to brown and crisp more easily. I was running out of racks so I grabbed one of the ones we use to cool cookies. About 10 minutes later, I smelled something burning and rushed to figure out what it was. Plastic. The rack was coated in plastic. 3 chicken pieces, one pan, and one plastic coated, pumpkin-shaped cooling rack destroyed.

  14. Darthk@hotmail.comJuly 19, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Not my disaster - but remember a distant past where my sisters made sugar cookies with salt instead of sugar.

  15. I am not a huge cooking master at Mom and Grandma can walk into a kitchen, never look at a recipe and some how turn out food you could serve to any cooking chef master guru. My experiences in the kitchen, even from an early age, led me to conclude the only thing. Magic exists. Second conclusion, magic exists but not for me...unless you count curses...and who wants to count those?!

    So here is my kitchen bafflement: I have been using the same chocolate chip cookie recipe for more than 2 decades. I follow recipes or curses happen so I do not deviate. YET I can never predict from one batch to the next if I will get cookies to rival heavenly states of nirvana or substances unknown to man and even rejected by dogs. The other puzzler is if I have cookie bliss...I can share the recipe with friends and they cannot duplicate my cookies either. (However I suspect they are using imitation vanilla whereas I go buy the fancy stuff 100% pure and more worldly travelled than I am.)

    So I know how frustrating the kitchen can be! And I commend you for trying artistic feats of grandeur. :) I cannot draw with a pen....and yes, I have confirmed with trial and error that I cannot draw with icing either.

  16. I once attempted to make hot fudge cake. I forgot most of the cocoa powder since it was supposed to be added in a later step. What came out was an excellent skin graft option in terms of texture and color and there was definitely no hot fudge about it. Worst part was that my brother in law was there to see the results and hasn't let me forget about it since. Ever since then I've been "supervised" while working in the kitchen by my hubby and his brothers-who are all amazing cooks.

  17. My sister and I loved to surprise our mom when we were children. Sometimes (twice in 5 years) we would organize and clean the house, most times we would make breakfast (and don't clean the kitchen). This one day we decided to bake a chocolate cake. Yeah, it didn't work out AT ALL. First we were kids, so we ate half of it (most of which was raw), second the recipe we got our hands on was complicated, and then, of couse, we burned the thing. I'm very grateful my mother is a kind and patient woman who doesn't believe in phisically educating children.

  18. My husband and I were just married and we went mushroom hunting. It was rather late in the season so it really was more for walking in the woods than in expectation of finding anything worthwhile and most of what we found was already slightly frosted and not too good, so we were really excited when I found a beautiful porcino. My husband had asked for a soup and I was happy to oblige but I put too much onion in it and so in the end the soup had no smell of mushrooms whatsoever. I was completely crushed despite the fact that it was edible and my husband was very supportive. I still have the picture of me proudly holding this porcino and smiling to the camera although it never crossed my mind to take a picture of the soup itself.
    And also I had a number of baking failures while I was getting used to my electric oven, since it is sligntly "colder" than the one I was used to, so I had some underbaked quiches and a cake with prunes that I actually brought with me to my sister's only to discover that it was slightly brick-like on the outside and still tacky inside.

    ulca [at] mail [dot] ru