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Failed recipes

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

If I want my kids to try new things, I have to be willing to try new things, too.

Like many people, I have reached a comfortable place with cooking. I know what I like, what the family likes, I know what I like to make, and it works out pretty well. That said, that range of cooking with which I am comfortable is fairly broad.

I reach outside that cooking comfort zone every now and again. I try something new, or the kids will ask for something different. A recipe they saw in a magazine, or on TV. Most of the time this experimentation is great and expands our culinary repertoire. Sometimes, it's a total disaster. Occasionally, it's a mixed bag: the grown-ups like it and the kids hate it, or the kids love it but the parents hate it.

Such was the case this weekend. The boys saw a recipe in a magazine and asked me to make it. It was a cake.

The skills and the individual ingredients weren't so unique or different or out of the ordinary for me or us. It was how it was all put together that wasn't my/our usual style. As I was assembling the cake, my husband looked over my shoulder and said, "Huh?"

I looked back at him and he raised his eyebrows. I asked what he meant by that. He said, "Oh…nothing." I gave him a look myself and went back to what I was doing. I know what he meant, though. This recipe was not my — our — usual kind of thing.

When I finished my fairly time intensive preparations, I put the cake in the fridge and put the rest of the dinner on the table. After dinner, after the kids ate their requisite fruit course, I brought the cake out of the refrigerator. The boys oohed and aahed. Sunshine grinned. My husband smirked.

After cutting sliced for everyone, we dug in. The kids loved it, and I mean LOVED it. My husband and I? Not so much. It was cloyingly sweet and sticky. It was too many different and competing flavors. It was too much. Way too much.

Now we have something of a quandary. Do we forget about this dessert just because Mom and Dad aren't fans? Do Mom and Dad's taste trump all? We don't forego the asparagus because the kids don't like it. Rather, we tell them that it often takes a few tries to really determine whether you like something new. Keep an open mind, we say. Try again and again.

Yes, my kids used this argument on me over the cake. Guess I'll be "trying"" this cake again. Sigh.

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