Kitchen Failures — Sometimes They’re Delicious

This weekend, the Son and Heir was indescribably excited about making Gjetost (yay-toast), a Norwegian “cheese” produced by simmering whey for 12 hours until it reduces to a creamy, caramelized concoction. Norwegian children apparently eat it spread it on their breakfast toast.

Gjetost is a warm, rich, gold color — along the lines of the hues in this painting, Break in the Weather by Steve Henderson. Available as an original or limited edition print.

Maybe it was the terms “creamy” and “caramelized” that fooled the Son and Heir into thinking that this highly ethnic dish — which the recipe mentioned one acquires a taste for (that’s always a warning sign) — would be delectably different.

Well, it was different all right, and our first thought upon tasting it was, “Those poor Norwegian children,” and the second thought, mine, was,

“All that time and anticipation is not going to waste. We are eating this stuff — not on toast! — somehow.” (You mothers understand this, I know. Our children are always our little cherubs, and their sad faces — even when they’re covered with beard stubble — spur us to action.)

“I don’t know, Mom,” the Son and Heir dejectedly replied. “This looks like a failure to me.”

“Kitchen failures are opportunities, son,” I replied. “And this is a greater opportunity than most.”

It doesn’t matter what age they get, our kids pretty much stay this size in our minds. Bold Innocence — available as a print and poster — at Steve Henderson Fine Art

I made pizza, topping a Kamut flour crust with mozzarella cheese, roasted bell pepper, caramelized onions, garlic, and — shredded Gjetost. Even Small Person, our three-year-old grandchild, ate her portion, although, admittedly, that was after we told her she couldn’t have dessert until she did. But it was excellent pizza, really, and the unique salty flavor of the Norwegian product complemented the rest of the toppings. (By the way, the Norwegian Artist had no choice about eating the pizza, whether or not he wanted dessert, because he’s Norwegian after all, and this is in his heritage. If he has a problem with that, he can always take it up with his mother.)

The next day, Gjetost transformed dull, boring bean soup into Wow! This is really Norwegian! fare with its husky, deep, complex personality, and we all agreed that we’ll make it through the rest of the stuff yet, especially since it looks like it has a shelf life of 25 years.

The point of all this is not to urge you to flip past the page about Gjetost in your new cheese book — although I would encourage you to consider doing so — but rather, to reassure you that seemingly failed kitchen experiments can rise up out of the ashes (sometimes, if you’ve baked something too long, there are literal ashes, by the way) to a new, different, intriguing, and mildly edible concoction.

The very worst thing that can happen is that the dog will get an extra portion at dinner. Well, okay, the very worst thing is that the dog will refuse the extra portion and the compost pile will be enhanced, but worms eat anything, don’t they?

The garden is always there — awaiting our visit, or a truly failed kitchen experiment for the compost pile. Promenade — available as an original painting and signed print — at Steve Henderson Fine Art

But the best thing that can happen is that you will have experimented — several times — and wound up with something edible, maybe even tasty, and you will have survived. And you’ll keep experimenting and trying new things, and each time you do, you’ll get more and more adventurous, and better and better about what you create, and increasingly versatile about what you eat.

You may not be invited to a lot of potlucks, but you’ll be able to eat anything at any of them once you get there.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, we have a fairly large chunk of Gjetost in the refrigerator, and I need to figure out what to do with it. Toast, anyone?


One area, outside of the kitchen, where many people feel like failures is their writing — they have bad, bad memories of too many English essay papers spattered with red ink. If you are one of these people, and yet you want or need to write, consider purchasing my book, Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say him and me or he and I?” It’s fun, user-friendly, and inexpensive — $8.99 for the paperback$5.99 for Kindle, through Amazon or directly from the Steve Henderson Fine Art website.

This article is linked to Holistic SquidCultured PalateGnowfglinsSmall Footprint FamilyFood RenegadeThe Chicken ChickDeborah Jeans and Dandelion HouseOur Heritage of HealthButter BelieversThe Prairie HomesteadLittle House in the SuburbsNourishing JoyReal Food ForagerHealthy Roots Happy SoulGranny’s Vital VittlesKelly the Kitchen KopTilly’s NestDeep Roots at HomeHope in Every SeasonRaising HomemakersOur Simple Farm


7 Responses

  1. Ludmilla

    How strange. I’ve never eaten salty gjetost. It’s an odd tasting, but definitely sweet, goat milk cheese that I rarely buy, because I can’ t stop eating it. (Congratulations on saving the meal! Waste not, want not!)

    1. Ludmilla — this is good to know. Ours was definitely salty, which we attributed to the natural salts of the whey boiling down and concentrating. I hesitate passing this comment on to the Son and Heir, because it will make him rethink making this again, but you know — I think I’ll tell him, and we can give this another try!

  2. Isn’t experimenting with food FUN? I love that you turned your flop into a few great dishes! Thank you for linking up at the Make Bake Create Party!

    1. Brandi — yes, indeed, experimenting with food is fun. And the beauty of it is, we eat three times a day, so there’s plenty of opportunity. Thank you for opening up your Make Bake Create Party — I look forward to participating in the future.

  3. What an excellent lesson for your son and opportunity to turn the situation into something wonderful. I love your writing style! Thanks for linking with Make Bake Create. I’m sharing my Fresh Strawberry Cream Torte today for my Homemaking Linkup. I hope you’ll join us if you haven’t already!

    Mrs. Sarah Coller

  4. Hi! Just wanted to let you know that I’ve featured you on my Make Bake Create Round Up today. There is a “featured” button for your blog within the post if you’re interested.


    Mrs. Sarah Coller

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