Have you ever had a kitchen disaster?  You know.  The kind that you can’t forget – not even years later?

Not me.  I am a goddess in the kitchen.  Never made a mistake.  Never over- or underseasoned anything.  Never had my family turn up their noses at anything I’ve prepared.  Never stuck a serrated knife through my hand while stupidly trying to separate frozen hamburger patties.

Lies.  All lies.

If you cook, you’re going to mess up now and then.  That’s part of learning.  If you never make a mistake, you never learn anything.  And honestly, the more you’re in the kitchen and making new things, the more mistakes you’re likely to make.  It’s a Law of Averages kind of thing.

Right after Michael and I got married, I decided to make a cake using some pear preserves that a sweet little old lady had given us in one of my bridal showers.  The cake was bad.  I mean, really bad. So bad that I didn’t even know what was wrong with it.  My daddy had come over to help Michael do something and he and Michael tried to choke down a piece, but it was bad.  Not even the cat – the cat who routinely ate garbage – would go near it.  Michael still brings that cake up – twenty-three years later!

He likes to keep me humble.

More recently, when I was writing my first cookbook, my family endured a lot of new recipes – and a lot of old ones.  I almost never measure when I’m cooking, so writing a cookbook meant that I had to make each dish and actually measure the ingredients.  They were my guinea pigs for new recipes and offered critical suggestions about seasonings and what I might consider adding or taking out.   The process took over a year, but the end result was awesome!

One night, I was trying something totally new – a citrus orzo salad.  I had tasted it as I was making it to be sure the seasonings were right and that I had just enough lemon and lime.  I thought it was great.  I made a beauty plate and took a picture and then proudly served it alongside grilled tilapia.

My family – every single one of them – hated this dish.  And I don’t mean, “Hmmm.  This is interesting.” or “Mama, I think this needs a little more salt.”  I mean, “Gross!  What is this?”  and “Mama, this is nasty!” and “I can’t eat this.”

Stunned, I tasted the salad on my plate.  I seriously liked it.  I love citrus and I love orzo.  I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t like it.  The next day, I even took some to school and every single person who tried it, loved it.  Asked for the recipe.  Wanted more.

Or maybe they lied.

Needless to say, I didn’t include the recipe in my cookbook.  And I deleted the picture.

The point is, to this day, Michael and both kids still bring up that stupid dish.  “Remember that time Mama made that nasty orzo thing?”  They shudder.  They continue to make rude remarks, expounding upon the utter grossness of this dish.   And I just smile.

But inside, I am seething.  Can we not just move on from this train wreck and go along with our happy lives?

I’m not bitter.  Really.  I’m not.

It was months before I could even look at a bag of orzo, but I am so glad that I finally did.  This orzo dish is actually one of my family’s favorites – although they were cautious when I first served it and asked if it contained any citrus.

It doesn’t.

What it does contain is outright yumminess!  I love orzo – it’s pasta, but it kinda looks like rice.  I love the “mouth feel” of it.  And there’s not a whole lot that can ever be wrong about onions and mushrooms and butter.  That’s right.  There are only four ingredients in this one.


Mushroom and Onion Orzo Pilaf

  • 1 pound of dry orzo pasta
  • 2 cups of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons of salted butter

In a large stock pot, bring salted water to a full boil and add orzo. Boil for 10-12 minutes until orzo is tender. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet and add onions and mushrooms. While sauteeing, add salt to taste. When onions are translucent and mushrooms have softened slightly, remove the skillet from heat. Drain the orzo completely and return it to the pot. Stir in the mushrooms, onions, and butter. Stir until butter is melted from the heat of the orzo and vegetables. Taste and add salt as needed.


Well Duh #1:  I prefer cremini mushrooms – which are baby portabellas – because I love their earthy flavor.  You can use any mushroom you like.  I’ve made it with regular white mushrooms and it’s still great!

Well Duh #2:  For the picture, I spooned the orzo into a small bowl and pressed slightly.  I topped the bowl with an inverted plated and flipped them both.  The butter in the orzo will keep it from sticking to the bowl.  This isn’t necessary, but it’s pretty!

Well Duh #3:  If you’d like the recipe for citrus orzo salad, you’re on your own.  Go Google it or something.  I have banished it from my memory!

Well Duh #4:  I’d love to hear some of your kitchen disasters.  If you’re brave enough to share them, just include them in the comments below!