a homemaking secret, fail, & lesson learned: dessert-style

I have a secret (I probably already told you, so I doubt it's much of a secret):

I prefer brownie mixes over homemade.

Yes, the ones with all the strange, unpronounceable ingredients in them. Somehow, Betty Crocker found a way to make brownies even better than they should be. (Though I once read the secret to that crunchy, smooth top is the chocolate chips...).

Because it makes irresistible brownies in five minutes flat, I keep this delicious mix from Sam's Club in my pantry at almost all times:

It's always there for me when I need to whip up a quick dessert, or when I have a craving for a fudgy, perfect chocolate brownie.

So of course, when I needed to make dessert for an event last week, I took out my last two bags and whipped them together with their three additional ingredients in a flash. I tasted the batter (because I can't help myself), and I'm so glad I did. 

Because it tasted like dog food. Or maybe more like a mix of dog food and rotten, moldy hay.

But... I followed the instructions precisely! I even used a measuring cup!

Turns out, that last bit of vegetable oil I found in the pantry was rancid. Like disgustingly, awfully, rotten.

I knew we wouldn't be able to eat them, but I hate wasting food, so I baked them to see if the taste might fade. Near the end of the baking time, my kitchen began to reek with the smell of hot, moldy dog food, so I took them out of the oven early, shaking my head in displeasure at the sight of an entire 9x13 pan of potential goodness being tossed out the window.

Later that night, Robert spotted the cooled brownies on the stove, and insisted that it was probably just my over-active postpartum senses that made me reject our favorite dessert. He asked if he could try one, and I replied with, "I think the oil was rancid. I definitely wouldn't try them, but they probably won't hurt you."

He can't say I didn't warn him. :) We all watched as he took a knife, sliced into the center to check for doneness, then cut into the corner, and quickly raised the brownie to take a bite. The children and I waited with bated breath, intently watching his face for even the slightest hint of change.

Two chews in, his face began to completely contort with disgust.

"Is it okay, honey? What's wrong?" we all laughed and cringed together, as he unhappily swallowed.

"You know what it tastes like?"


"Fish food."

We laughed again, and left the brownies to be dumped in the trash. Only later did we notice the irony of how he had unintentionally cut into the center of the brownies:


Yes, it was a definite F in my book. :) Really though, who in the world can precisely follow the instructions of a four-ingredient mix and still fail?

Me. :D

But there's always something to be learned in failure, right? Take a lesson from my mistake:

When you're cooking, always smell the vegetable oil before you use it. :)

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