I'm not much of a cook. I don't think that I could compete for the Worst Cook in America or anything, but it's no secret that I don't really enjoy cooking all that much. I do it because, well, I have to. We don't have enough money to go out to a restaurant for every meal where you have nice people bring food to your table, in a clean environment, with varied and interesting menus, then take your plates away and clean up after you. For my money, that's a valuable investment over and above the cost of the food.

That being said, I am awesome at putting together random ingredients that are leftover in my cabinets and/or refrigerator and forming a pretty edible meal over and above nachos and hot dogs. Let's see, the only things in the refrigerator are bread, mustard, and eggs. Hey, that'd make a nice frittata!

Some people must have exactly, and I mean EXACTLY, what the recipe says before they attempt a meal and will send you to the store over and over again until you get it right and then once you've purchased every last item on their list, notice that you got an 8 ounce can of green chilies when all they really need is a 4 ounce can of green chilies and refuse to finish preparing the meal until you go back to the store and get the 4 ounce can and then you will have to go out into the driveway and open the 8 ounce can when they're not looking and empty out half of it, then return to the house after pretending to go back to the store and pour the half can contents into a dish and tell those people that you went to the store and bought their precious 4 ounce can, you just opened it for them.

I don't know anyone like this, I'm just sayin'.

I am the best at making substitutions. No fresh onions? Let's just use these dried, minced onions in the spice rack. Or better yet, send The Dormouse outside to pull up some of the wild onions that are growing in my front lawn. Forgot to get buttermilk? Use warm milk and lemon juice. No sour cream? Use plain yogurt. No yogurt? Sour cream. I think this ability came from the time I lived in South America when we had nothing and even less time to cook it in. Often we'd want to make something familiar from the states and either the ingredients or the equipment simply weren't anywhere in the country. So we made due. Like making toast on the space heater, for example. One of my roommates once bragged that I possessed the ability to make banana bread without bananas.

The Network of Parent Blogginess wants to know our worst cooking mistakes. I don't think I have any real disasters, but I've definitely made a poor substitution choice now and again. In general we eat it and move on with our lives, making a mental note to never do that again.

The legendary story about my cooking comes from the year after The KingofHearts and I got married. I often made this dish I learned about when I was in South America, called Chipa Guazu (translated, it means Big Corn) that The KoH liked and occasionally asked me to repeat. The recipe I have is handwritten in Spanish and given to me by a little Latin woman who was the best cook I ever met. But the trouble with it is it calls for ingredients you would have trouble finding in the states... like choclo, which is not just corn, but big honkin' quarter-sized kernels of corn that taste completely different than the corn available in the States. Or spoiled milk (ok, that can be found in my fridge). Or lard. Or queso blanco; which just isn't the same as Monterrey Jack.

Over the years, I've honed this dish and found appropriate substitutions until I've got a nice little recipe that I can repeat when I want to bring an "ethnic dish" to a church social. The day in question, however, I was making it for The KoH and got about halfway through when I realized I had no onions. I was also out of spice rack onions and was living in an apartment at the time so there were no wild onions growing in my yard that I didn't know to be free of pesticide, poo, and cocaine smoke residue. Taking a quick look through my cabinets, I realized I had onion salt. Substitution complete!

I was even savvy enough to know that if I needed a 1/3 cup of onions, then I would probably need less onion salt. But I guess I misunderestimated (thanks for that word, President Bush!) how much less. I don't know how much I put in but the real mistake was that I didn't bother to put a little in at a time and then taste it. When we sat down to consume it, it was completely inedible and we both began desperately grasping for water glasses after the first bite. The cat even turned up her nose at it (of course this is the cat that won't eat tuna, so I'm not sure she's the best judge of character here). I don't know what we ended up eating for dinner that night, but I do know that it wasn't Chipa Guazu.

That was almost ten years ago.

A couple of weeks back, I found the right kind of cheese at an Hispanic Market and I made an extra large batch of Chipa Guazu, then split it in half and brought the second dish over to my neighbor, who had recently been released from the hospital. The next day, her husband came over and said, "Hey, what was that stuff you brought over yesterday? It was really good."

The KoH replied, "Salt Corn Pie."

Sometimes you never live stuff down.

This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a contest sponsored by the American Egg Board.