"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Moms Cooking Badly

by Julie on April 27, 2012

in Good Ideas Gone Bad

Every now and then I start to think, “Maybe I’m getting the hang of this…”

Recipes will turn out edible.  I’ll try something new and discover it’s not as hard as it sounds. I’ll innovate on my own to household accolades.

And I start to think that I’m becoming not such a bad home cook after all.

But then things like mashed sweet potatoes and kale with bacon happen. And I am reminded of who I am all over again.

In the last post, we learned that I don’t care for kale. Really dislike it, in fact. But this recipe from the delicious Sarah Gim stopped me in my tracks: Mashed Sweet Potatoes with kale and bacon. With this photo, taken by Sarah herself.

Go on — look at it….soak it in…tell me this doesn’t look like heaven…

Sarah Gim mashed sweet potato and kale with bacon

Food porn

Can’t you just taste the fluffy, warm sweetness of the potatoes and butter? Feel the crunch of that bacon in your mouth?  Even kale must taste divine with all that butter and bacon. Admit it: you want to bury your face in this.  And it sounds so simple to make!

So I thought I’d try this myself. The recipe sounded simple:

About 3 pounds of sweet potatoes (I bought one 3-pound bag of nice looking specimens from, where else, Trader Joe’s.) Scrub and cut into big old chunks.
1/2 cup olive oil. Ish
Salt and pepper
1 bag of kale. Yes, damnit from Trader Joe’s.

Scrub and chop your potatoes into big chunks. Bring to a boil in a pot with water to cover by two inches, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until done, about 15 minutes. At this point the skins should come off easily.

Meanwhile, boil the kale, about 10 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Mash the potatoes with the oil, season expertly.  Stir in kale, add a pad of butter and bacon if using.

Sounds straightforward, right?

Here’s what mine looked like:


So much for simple recipes.

The Drama Teen even laughed at me. “You suck,” she said. And it’s true.

But at least I’m getting better enough to suspect what I did wrong.

I over-cooked the sweet potatoes. They started out too soggy, and things went from bad to worse when I added the oil, and not even the whole 1/2 cup either.  And why the hell am I adding olive oil and not butter and milk? Is this some sort of weight loss thing? I don’t need to lose any weight. Not one single pound. But if I keep making soupy, gloppy, tasteless crap like this, I’ll be losing plenty of weight indeed.

At that point it just became a science experiment. I stirred in the kale, which tasted like kale. I crumbled my fake veggie bacon on top.

Pearls on swine...

Nothing mattered. I could have deep fried the whole thing and covered it in chocolate, although that sounds even grosser than the photo above looks.

The bottom line: I am still a very bad home cook and I need to start paying more attention. To everything. I’m sure this is a delicious recipe, but one of you guys will have to try it and let me know how it came out.

With grave apologies to Sarah!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jayna April 27, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Oh, for the love of glop! Kind of happy sad that our focus isn’t actually on the kale this time. I totally get it: half a cup of olive oil does not = that lovely picture. Ghost writer? Bullshit recipe? Sometimes I wonder if we are not set up to fail by those who want us to worship in their recipe footsteps… probably not all a conspiracy but let us rejoice in the progress and good food we HAVE made! Also, we’ll drink wine too. A lot of it.


Julie R April 28, 2012 at 1:32 am

I guess you haven’t had kale chips yet?


Julie April 28, 2012 at 9:24 am

I’ve had kale chips and found them OK…until about the third one, then I feel like I need to re-hydrate myself…I’d rather just eat Nori…


Bonnie McCarthy April 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I have to admit…it looks tempting…suspiciously like guacamole…I agree with Jayna, bring on the wine!


Laura February 19, 2013 at 11:12 am

Love the name of your blog!


Jamie October 1, 2013 at 11:40 am

Stumbled across your blog via a search for cashew butter. I love your attitude, it has given me quite a great laugh today!

So, on this recipe, I think I would have baked the sweet potatoes instead. I rarely boil them anymore because they just don’t taste as good. I think you loose a lot of flavor to the water and then they are just to wet. I wash them, then cover the skins with coconut oil, bake them uncovered in the oven at 350 until my house smells like Thanksgiving, and then add about 10+ min from there. The potatoes always have a richer, sweeter taste and the skins really just peel right off once you let them cool. Definitely would have subbed butter for oil because oil just sounds gross. Also noticed she used white sweet potatoes, which I have never cooked with, but maybe they behave differently? Anywho, just in case you wanted to try it again.. that’s my unsolicited advice. lol


Julie October 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Jamie – I love this! Your description makes a lot more sense…and sort of makes me want to give it another go…since this one was such a complete and epic fail! Glad you laughed, though, as that’s the whole point. Thanks for reading! Join the Bad Home cooking group on Facebook if you’re so inclined, and join in on the convo!


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