Poppy-ing Up from ‘Failure’.

Like most people, I hate failing. The only difference is that sometimes, I fear failure even before I try to take that first step into doing something that scares me, or appears difficult to me. But the fact is, failure is part and parcel of life. And to reframe the idea of ‘failure’, perhaps it might be better to see it as a small success in reaching the peak of successes.

A few days ago, I was excitedly exclaimed to Flo that we would be having a wonderful, sumptuous dinner that evening cooked by yours truly. It was going to be a Korean-inspired Jambalaya. Or maybe Jumble-laya would have been a better name for what I made.

I used whatever I had in the kitchen instead of stocking up on items I might not use up so quickly – seafood, gochujang, brown basmati rice, pumpkin, red spinach… And I followed what appeared to be a simple recipe tweaking bits and pieces of it as I went along.

The myriad of spices that wafted through our home spelled a flavourful, comforting meal. Only, when I checked my jumblelaya, I realised that my rice was still a little on the crunchy side. So I let it sit a while more in the simmering pot of goodness, going back a while later to find that it was adamantly refusing to cook through.

I was far from being pleased as pie and wasn’t too keen on serving it to Flo. But there was not much else I felt I could do to salvage the rice and also nothing more in the fridge to serve as dinner. So I reluctantly plated up, praying that it would still be an enjoyable meal for us both.

Flo, my number one supporter, said that it was delicious even though the rice still had some crunch. And I also found myself lapping up the sweet from the pumpkin, tanginess from the tomatoes and the spiciness from the gochujang. The rice didn’t hurt the overall dish altogether but at the back of my mind, I kept trying to pinpoint what I did wrong.

I scoured the internet post-dinner, scratching my head as to how I can do it better, do it right, make it perfect the next time around. Then I decided that in my next attempt, I’m just going to cook my rice separately and then mix everything up at the end. It might mean an extra pot to wash but at least I have less room for error.

The perfectionist in me thought many times about whether I wanted to share this ‘failed’ try at Jumblelaya with the Internet, but it is a good reminder to me that I am human and it’s ok to make mistakes whether in cooking, or at work, or at school. From failure we learn and that’s what’s most important. We grow as individuals and we try to take away lessons from where we went wrong.

I’ll be back to whip up another round of jumblelaya for sure so watch this space!

In other news, as much as I hate messing up at cooking, what I hate even more is messing up at baking. So thank goodness when my Poppy Seed Cake came out of the oven in all its princely gorgeousness.


We’re used to having poppy seed cakes with lemon or orange, but this cake highlighted poppy seeds as its main ingredient without any other flavour, apart from a touch of vanilla, to taint its nutty crunch.

Poppy Seed Vanilla Cake

70g Poppy Seeds (You can reduce this to 50g if you prefer less poppy seeds)
120g Milk
240g Butter
190g Sugar
3 Eggs, Separated
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
240g Plain Flour
10g Baking Powder
2g Fine Salt

  1. Preheat oven to 175deg C and line a 9×4″ loaf pan.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring poppy seeds and milk to the boil then set aside to cool.
  3. Cream butter with sugar. Then whisk in egg yolks, vanilla and poppy seed mixture. 
  4. In a clean mixing bowl, whisk egg whites until they develop stiff peaks. 
  5. Fold dry ingredients and egg whites alternately into the wet mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. 
  6. Pour batter into lined tin and bake for 45-50min until top is golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean. 
  7. Cool cake in tin for 10min before removing. 

And just because I felt pretty the other day…

Hello. And good day to you! 


2 thoughts on “Poppy-ing Up from ‘Failure’.

  1. Pingback: Pots & Pans. | Chewing On Life

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