Unable to follow directions

Do you remember those tests they gave you in elementary school where the teacher told you to read the directions as she passed them out? The first two lines read, “Read all of the directions before beginning the test. Write your name at the top of your paper and put down your pencil.”

There were students who did just that and then sat, swinging their feet and twisting around to spy on all the students who raced to finish and answer number 15.

I made it all the way to # 15.



I think this might be why I’ve always struggled in the kitchen.

“Cooking is fun,” My man announced while we dated. “It’s just procedural compliance,” he said, rolling homemade pierogies.

“It’s just what?” I asked him, incredulous that I’d waken from a nap after a killer hike to find this anomaly cooking me a homemade meal in his kitchen.

“Following directions. Procedural compliance.”

It was a pivotal moment. Maybe even the moment I knew I was in big trouble and that I wouldn’t be going anywhere, ever. He was also a navigator of a naval vessel, and I couldn’t find my way to the store in D.C. without my GPS.


When my car was broken into and they stole the GPS, I was at a loss of  how to get to the store to buy another one. So I could get to work.

So, it’s no surprise that I tried to make pumpkin bread (with homemade pumpkin I cooked myself, mind you) and banana bread (with a batch of blackened bananas) in two bread makers just to see which one would come out first and best.

AND I used a recipe that said to bake it, in the oven. There was nothing at all on there about “this is a recipe for a bread machine.” Well, apparently they take two different recipes, the oven and the bread machine. Now, how in the hell was I supposed to know that?

I didn’t take a picture of the mess because I was too busy punching the air and cursing anything and everything I could see. (The baby was asleep, okay?)

(My poor husband.)

My husband says, “Just put them in the oven for 20 minutes. Maybe cut them open down the middle or something.”

Uh, yeah. That made them no longer a wet, soggy mess in the middle and perfect on the outside, but perfect on the inside and slightly burnt on the outside. Let alone, dry.


Sigh. When will I ever learn NOT TO GO ALL THE WAY TO NUMBER 15???

So, there isn’t anything green about this post unless we ate it anyway which equals zero waste. So, guess what we did?

Oh, yeah. You’re not going to see anything but dust in my trashcan–IF IT KILLS ME.

(My poor husband. )

What have you refused to waste—-for whatever reason, I don’t care.

Other lovely bread making recipes and stories, mostly of pumpkin:


7 responses to “Unable to follow directions

  1. Jennifer, I was one of those mean teachers who gave that test. I always did it right before the kids took a standardized test so hopefully I could teach them one last lesson about reading all the instructions. Alas, perhaps I only made soggy pumpkin bread! Humorous post and laughter is always a greener way to live!

  2. You are funny….imade a meat pie when I was first married in 1956 and I put a green plastic egg cup in the middle to hold up the pastry. When opened it was lovely meat and onions together with rivers of green plastic..no sign of an egg cup……that is the fun of life..learning by making mistakes….never done that again….

  3. HI, there! Thanks for giving me a shout out for my cinnamon bread recipe. And I’m sorry for your difficulties in the kitchen. Trust me, when I was a newly-wed (like 2 years ago) I wanted to be the perfect housewife, who greeted my husband, wearing a pretty little apron, and displaying beautiful cupcakes, pies, and other dishes, you know, stuff that should’ve been in a Good Housekeeping or Martha Stewart magazine! What did I get, the first few months of trying? I got desserts, and dishes that looked like an angry child and an easy bake oven. I tried to make doughnuts, and they were like hardened rings of floury death! I tried to make my first pumpkin pie, and when I served it to my husband, it was sweating like me on a summers day, and the bottom was so soggy, it fell out! It was maddening!! But after a while you start to learn from your mistakes. (except the doughnuts, I doubt I will try that again..I still have night terrors from the whole experience! Lol) Just keep trying, and as much as it may suck to try and fail at making your own bread, and whatnot, just remember, you can throw it out for the birds; they won’t be discriminate! Anyways, great article!! Take care!

  4. Ah that’s what I find so hard too – reading cooking blogs and them saying that they tweak recipes til they get it – do they eat it all or toss some? Surely they make WAY too much for their household. I’m sorry it didn’t work for you – I made banana bread, super healthy, using rice syrup as the sugar. It worked in the oven, but I did almost forget the syrup, and then it would have really been tasteless (it’s also gluten free!)

  5. I think you have lots of company at #15!

  6. I’m married to a “follow the directions” kind of guy who also puts things back in the same place every time, makes for an interesting marriage.But here’s the deal, I can assemble something without the directions and believe I’d be better lost at sea . . . just saying

  7. Any recipe which requires more than 5 steps is not for me!

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