When my husband and I first started dating, we decided to make pizza one night. You know, fun bonding time for a new couple. What could go wrong?
As it turns out, lots can go wrong. At the time, I was clueless when it came to cooking. I rarely cooked anything for myself and when I did, it was usually eggs or boxed mac n cheese. I still lived at home, so I just ate whatever my parents made or I’d go out. Cooking was very low on my radar.
Since neither Justin nor I had much experience cooking, we opted for one of the box mixes of pizza dough — just add water. I’m still not totally sure what we did wrong with that 1 simple step, but it went very wrong. We ended up with this sticky blob of goo that would not come together and did not at all resemble the pizza we both knew and loved. We kept working with it, adding flour, adding water, adding whatever we could think of and nothing worked. It was a total fail. Don’t tell his property manager, but we ended up chucking the failed blob of pizza dough out the window into his backyard and ordered a pizza. Although we didn’t succeed in making pizza, we did make memories and we still laugh about it.
Fast forward a year or so and we’re married and again attempting pizza. This time, though, I bought one of those packaged already cooked crusts you see hanging in the grocery aisle next to the pizza sauce. I wasn’t going to let this be a fail. While I was assembling the pizza, I had a great idea. I like cheese. Justin likes cheese. This pizza needs to be super-duper cheesy. Cheez-alicious! I layered more and more of the bagged shredded mozzarella on that baby and popped it in the oven. This was going to be fantastic. We’d never need to order pizza again! Hah.
At the time, I didn’t pay attention to the cheeses I used and didn’t know the differences. Cheese was cheese, right? Not true. Low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella is NOT the same as whole milk mozzarella. It does not melt the same…or really at all. The cheese got warm and kind of congealed into this 2″thick plastic-like topping. It was dreadful. Not ooey gooey at all. We once again ordered out and I gave up on pizza making. Again, something we laugh about now.
Fast forward to today and now I make pizza from scratch on the regular. A couple years ago, I set out to start experimenting. I was determined to make that pizza obey. I tried tons of different recipes before settling on one I liked. Then I practiced and tweaked. Now I’m really diving deep into all the various methods and varieties and flooding myself with pizza knowledge. I’m making pizza once a week and trying to learn all of the techniques I can. Once I feel comfortable with the dough, I plan to move on to making homemade sauce. Playing with various pizza topping combinations. And even looking into cheese making. I have no end goal for this, it’s purely selfish. I just want to make good pizza at home.
You’d think with all of this knowledge, I’d no longer have pizza fails. Not true. I present you with Exhibit A:
This little blob of pizza dough was just a dumb mistake. I was halfway through kneading when I realized it was tough and not at all normal. I stopped and was mentally going through my checklist of ingredients and realized I forgot the oil. I quickly added the oil, hoping it wasn’t too late, and got back to kneading. It was definitely too late. I ended up with this super tough blob of dough that was coated in oil and slipping everywhere. I was up to my elbows in oil, my counters were covered and it was all over the floor. I finally decided I needed to wave my white flag and call it what it was — a fail. I tossed it and started over.
So what’s the point? The point is that I failed. The point is that you’re going to fail. Over and over again.
I know I sound like a broken record. If you’ve followed me any amount of time, you know that I’ve posted many times on this topic. “We get it, lady. Move on already!” But I can’t. Not yet.
It is soooo important to remember that failure is a part of cooking. The first time you make something you just might fail. The second time, you might fail again. The third time might be passable. The fourth time you finally nail it. The twenty-sixth time it’s a total flop. Failure happens. Don’t let a fail, or even multiple fails, deter you from trying again. Cooking is not genetic. Sure, you might have a bit of a knack for cooking, but unless you get in the kitchen and start practicing and fine tuning and learning and failing and trying again, you aren’t going to progress.
If you hate cooking or feel like you can’t cook, it’s easy to let a fail of a recipe discourage you. It can make you feel kitchen illiterate and want to rely on fast food and frozen dinners. Don’t let it. Try again.
If you follow a food blogger or Instagram page where the author is constantly posting gorgeous food creations and raving about how wonderful it was, it’s easy to let a fail of a recipe discourage you. It can make you feel insignificant and like there’s no point in even trying. Don’t let it. Try again.
We’re all learning and growing and failing together. The only difference between someone who is discouraged when it comes to cooking and someone who loves cooking is perseverance. None of us are perfect and none of us succeed every time.
Don’t compare your fails to another’s win. Learn from your fail and turn it into your own win.