A Funny Thing Happened in the Kitchen

We go out to eat less than four times a year. Seriously.

John and I might go out for our anniversary, a grandparent might be in town and take the whole family out to dinner a couple times a year, and we sometimes remember to dress up like cows for Cow-Appreciation-Day at Chick fil-A and get a free meal.

Part of the reason we rarely eat out has to do with money, because it is very expensive to eat out, but the primary reason we do not go out to eat is because of health. There are very few restaurants in our area that serve healthy food. We have one or two local restaurants, tons of chain restaurants, and no restaurants that cater to people wanting to have fresh, healthy food that isn’t full of unhealthy fats, chemicals, and sodium. So we skip the restaurant meals and I cook 362+ nights a year.

While I normally plan my meals in advance, there are times like last week where I had to take three kids to the doctor on two different days, stand in the line at the pharmacy forever, and got home later than I expected. I still didn’t swing by a restaurant though, because I knew I could put a healthy meal on the table in no time flat.

Here’s the funny part. On my way home from the pharmacy, I decided to make stir-fry vegetables over quinoa because that was fast and filling. I already had applesauce muffins that I made the day before, and we had salad greens. All good – right?

I got home, grabbed the quinoa from the container, rinsed it, and set it on the stove to cook. In the meantime, I quickly sliced vegetables and threw them in the pan to cook.

The quinoa looked a little weird. Kinda whiteish on the top and the water was milky. “Well,” I thought to myself, “I probably mismeasured the water/quinoa ratio.” I kept looking at the quinoa, gave it a few stirs, turned up the heat, stirred it again. Hmmm. Still didn’t look quite right but the veggies were done, the salad was washed, the table was set, and eight people were in the kitchen ready to eat.

So, I dished out some quinoa on the first person’s plate. It was soupy. No problem, I threw it back into the quinoa pot, rinsed the whole thing under hot water until it looked more “right” and dished some out onto each person’s plate. I then added the vegetables. Here is what it looked like.
Is this quinoa?

Looks pretty good – right?

Well, we ate dinner and I thought the quinoa tasted different but I was in a hurry, a bit frazzled from the whole cooking experience, and just ate it up. So did everyone else. Toward the end of the meal my oldest son looked at me and said, “Mom, are you sure this is quinoa?”

I said, “Yeah, it’s the organic quinoa I got from our bulk foods co-op.”

He said, “Are you sure it isn’ t steel cut oats?” I looked at my plate again and started to laugh. Sure enough, he was right. I had grabbed the plastic bag that was nestled inside the quinoa container thinking it was full of quinoa, but no, it was steel cut oats. On the right hand side is steel cut oats and on the left, quinoa.


quinoa oats l

No wonder the cooked product looked soupy and milky. I cooked steel cut oats instead of quinoa and then put vegetables on it. I laughed so hard I cried and all the family laughed too. We dubbed the new dish Oat-WAA and I promised I would never make it again.

My husband said, “Well, it tasted different but you are always serving us different stuff so I figured it was good for me and just ate it.” That’s a good sport for you. 

I learned that my family is used to getting served strange looking, healthy food. I learned to check my grains twice before cooking them. And I learned that cooked, rinsed, steel cut oats aren’t terrible as a base for vegetables.

Have you ever had a funny kitchen mishap? How did it turn out? Diane

44 thoughts on “A Funny Thing Happened in the Kitchen

  1. HappinessSavouredHot says:

    Hi Diane!

    First, I think quinoa + veggies sounds delicious!

    Eating out makes it hard to eat healthy, but a long multicourse meal in a fancy restaurant once in a while is something I love to do… I keep it for special occasions too. And try to choose between wine and dessert, NOT both. 🙂

    With our busy lives nowadays, and the fast food joints that abound, you have to be very organized and motivated to have home-cooked meals most days. But it’s totally worth it. 🙂

    There is no Chick fil-A where I live, but based on their anti-gay marriage position would make me very unlikely to go there. But that’s just me. 🙂

  2. Laura M. says:

    I’ve mixed up grains before but I have to say that I’ve never made steel cut oats in place of quinoa!

    How funny that your son knew the difference!! I also think it is great that your family just ate it because they are used to you serving them different foods. That says a lot about your healthy life.

  3. Mark says:

    My wife is always making great dishes but we have never tried quinoa. Now that I know it is good with veggies, I will volunteer to make it. We like to try new things and it sounds like quinoa is fast and tasty.

  4. Sarah Kewer says:

    I love quinoa and I can totally see how you could mix up quinoa and steel cut oats because they really do look similar – especially if they were in the same container.

    Love that your family is adventurous! That’s awesome. And I’m right with you on not going out to eat much. It’s terrible for you.

  5. Susan K. says:

    We go out to eat more than I would like, but it is something we are working on. I know it is not great for us but it seems to convenient. You are right though – making something like quinoa and stir-fry veggies is definitely faster. Of course that’s assuming you are doing quinoa and not steel cut oats. 🙂

    That’s funny you accidentially messed them up. I can see myself doing that.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      It can be hard to break the restaurant habit. It took us a while and it also took me a while to develop a repertoire of healthy meals that I really could get on the table relatively quickly.

  6. Kelly says:

    We are venturing into new food and I think I will try Quinoa next. Most of my attempts at healthier food have been a huge fail but I think that is just because I have no idea what I am doing trying to cook them!

    What do you season your veggies with? I tend to season with stuff out of packets which of course I am trying to get away from.


    • Diane Carbonell says:

      Quinoa is super easy Kelly! Just don’t cook steel cut oats instead.

      As far as vegetables go, I season them with herbs and spices. For that meal, I started out by sauteeing a half an onion and 1 clove of finely minced garlic in some coconut oil. I added the veggies and when they were almost done I sprinkled about 1 tbsp. of Italian seasoning on them. I also use rosemary on potatoes, basil on Italian vegetables, curry on Indian dishes, dill in healthy dips made with Greek yogurt and cucumbers, thyme on potatoes, asparagus, and steamed carrots, and cumin on lentils and beans. I hope that helps!

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      It will be one of those “mom” stories that we tell after dinner. That’s one of my favorite parts of any meal – sitting around and talking after it is all over.

  7. Dr. J says:

    I don’t know if I could tell the difference!

    I like going out to restaurants, but I’m very careful what I order. It’s a nice break from having to make all the meals.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      I bet you could have! I might like going out to eat more if I didn’t have such a large family. I sure did go out to eat a lot when I was obese and I was never careful about what I chose – that was a huge problem for me. Like you, when I go out now, I am very careful.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      No Tim, it’s not wrong at all. I often felt as though people were looking at me when I sat down in restaurants and that they were judging what I ate based on my size. The good news is that it is never too late to make changes to positively affect your life.

  8. nancy says:

    The best part of this story is the wonderful cooperative eaters you have created in your house. They trusted you were giving them something good and healthy and ate it like the good sports they are. Let’s just say it would have gone down differently in my house 🙂

  9. Katrin says:

    I think you husband’s comment about the meal is great. He is a good sport! I am sure some great inventions were discovered by accident. You did give me a new supper idea now with the quinoa and veggies.

  10. Babbalou says:

    While I’ve certainly made more than a few mistakes while cooking, I’ve usually realized the error as soon as I’ve made it so was able to correct the problem or change what I was making. I’m famous for freezing things without labeling them, so have on occasion taken something out of the freezer thinking it was spaghetti sauce and as I’m heating it realize it’s a curry or something. It helps to be flexible! My worst mistake was cooking for a dinner party when I was pregnant – between my pregnancy brain and my fatigue I added baking soda instead of cornstarch to thicken a sauce and had to toss it and start the sauce over. Early in our marriage, my husband was trying his hand at making a stir fry and totally burned the chopped garlic but proceeded to add the chicken anyway, because “the recipe says to cook the garlic over high heat!” He ended up having to pick out the cooked chicken pieces and give them a rinse and dry before starting over with new garlic. The second time he didn’t blacken the garlic.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      It does help to be flexible when cooking! I can see making the cornstarch/baking soda mistake pregnant or not!

      We have a similar story about garlic and John. We had not had children yet and John and I were both trying a diet where you ate a special soup for most of your meals. It called for 1/4 tsp. of minced garlic. He didn’t think that sounded like enough so he put in 4 tsp. We had to throw the whole thing out!

  11. Sandi says:

    That is hilarious, and I love that your family ate it!
    Those quick meals at home are so much better than anything from a drive through.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      You are so right. When I think back about some of the awful things I ate from restaurants I shudder. Yuck to double cheeseburgers dripping in “special sauce” and chicken that bore no resemblance to real chicken.

  12. Maureen says:

    I am laughing so hard because the reaction your husband had would be EXACTLY how my husband would react. We are lucky to have adventerous husbands! lol

  13. Fran@BCDC says:

    This is too funny, Diane! You should link this up with Strange But Good that Laura at Sprint 2 The Table sponsors every Friday. Perfect for that! Doesn’t sound like it would be awful and hey, it shows you can pull together a meal with unexpected ingredients if you need to!

  14. Alejandra @ wishfulshrinking says:

    HAHA this is amazing! My husband usually just eats what I give him because he wants to be supportive, so this can be my life too! My favourite hot cereal? Steel cut oats with quinoa, coconut milk, a drizzle of maple syrup and sliced banana… just don’t put any veggies on it. 🙂

  15. Amber says:

    I would love to see a weekly/monthly meal plan. I can’t remember if you have done one before.. I cook 6 nights a week and finding something healthy, cheep, and fast isn’t always easy. I like to try new recipes and often do, but you can never have to many ideas.

  16. Janis says:

    Also have to say I’m unlikely to stop into a Chick-fil-A, but I have had some kitchen mess-ups with mistaking one ingredient for another. The most recent one was sort of an avoided mishap that involved a container of something that I couldn’t identify. Was it semolina? Was it cornmeal? Could have been an ugly mistake, so I didn’t use it. Now, unfortunately, I have a container of Mystery Grain that I have to get rid of because I can’t actually use it without risking screwing up a recipe!

  17. Noemi Bostrom says:

    Hi Dianne,

    I would really like to cook healthy foods but my work is so demanding and I don’t have time to cook in the evening. I usually buy my food at a restaurant. I only have time to cook during weekends. Anyway, I envy you since you can cook whatever you like for 362+ nights a year. BTW, your recipe is great. I will definitely try this. 😉

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