Friday, 6 December 2013


Today the discussion over at Midwest Homesteading and Permaculture is about things that we've tried and then failed at. Also, about how dangerous and violent emus are, but that I already know all 

Music. I have tried and failed to learn to play a number of instruments. It is hard, I have a lot of respect for those who can do this, but it is not something I enjoy enough to keep trying.

 See these? Oh, the picture is gorgeous but the filling had so much salt that we had to scoop it out and just eat the pepper and the bacon.

These fried green tomatoes were way too salty too. Salt has been a problem in my kitchen lately. I am having a hard time finding the balance since I switched from Kosher flake salt to fine ground pink sea salt. I have since switched back. One year I put too much cayenne in everything, or so I thought. I have since decided that there is no such thing as too much cayenne. Maybe that's why I can't taste salt...

Failure, as I tell my writing students, is an indicator of what needs improvement. It is a chance to revise and do better. If you always get it right then there is no learning, or if no one pointed out that you needed improvement, that is even worse. Revision is learning. Life is about failing over and over again.

When I was in the sixth grade I came home sobbing every day for a week and hid all my homework from my parents. A teacher had told us that if we failed an exam we would fail the class and that homework was just as important. It was history and the homework was stupid map colouring. I pointed out that one of the maps was wrong and I failed the worksheet. I got so anxious over failing the class that I couldn't eat or sleep for a week. I finally broke down crying to my dad and he called the school.

I had a B in the class. Also, failing that worksheet for pointing out an outdated borderline and country name is bullshit. I should have gotten extra credit.

Failing is not something to be afraid of. It is what life is all about, learning holds a lot of it intrinsically, and kitchen failures? My mistakes make me a better cook. Yes, I still have a fire extinguisher and activated charcoal in my first aid kit- I have set the oven on fire too many times and spent too many nights in the ER with Chad over food poisoning when we were first married to not be super aware of that. Those experiences made me research fire safety, food safety, and general health. Bonus is that I am pretty sure Chad is now immune to most food poisoning bacteria. So there is that.

I want my kids to fail too. Lily has burnt eggs so many times that she knows now how NOT to burn them. She used the wrong kind of paper to paint with and the paper ripped when she tried to move it, she knows now that details like paper thickness matter. She cut herself with her new pocket knife. She knows now not to cut toward her hand AND she knows how to deal with a deep slice of a cut. She is my brave girl and being fearless of failure has led her to fail a lot. Instead of shaming her and internalising it, we focus on how failure is part of the process and not a destination. It is only the outcome IF you stop there and do not keep trying.

Sometimes failing is a good place to stop though. Sometimes relationships fail and you just have to walk away. Sometimes there is nothing that can be done for the lamb attacked by a fox during birth and the vet has to put him down. Sometimes failure is a sign that it is time to move on. Is it still failure then? Maybe. Maybe we have too much tied up in that word as a culture to really embrace it?


I usually only blog success in the kitchen. Should I start including the failures too? What things have you tried and failed at?

1 comment:

  1. Every now and then I'll see a blog post about kitchen failures and I think they're refreshing. When I have fails, I move on without sharing them, but I want to change this because failures can be educational, interesting, challenging, humbling. . .I get caught in my perfectionist trap so I need to work on this.


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