A while back I got together with my good friend Dustin. I had an evening free, wanted to cook, AND hang out with good friends. I wanted to try a really good looking recipe, and watch Django Unchained.
The cooking instructions for the recipe was "cook on low for 7-9 hours". I did some mental math. If I turn it on as I'm walking out the door to work, at 8:15, and get back by 5:30, that could work. I'll have to run some errands on my way home, but if I had 10% to the cook time, it can't be terrible, right?"
Well... it turns out I was gone more like 10.5 hours, and my crock pot's low temperature setting is a little higher than expected.
I got home about 40 minutes before Dustin was to arrive, and something didn't smell quite right. I popped open the crock pot, and saw some very dry, very warm meat. It was 175 degrees. So much for not overdoing it.
We got take-out from Tara Thai. Zero harm, zero disappointment, and we had a great time.
The biggest take away for me had nothing to do with cooking. (I already knew that cooking a piece of meat for almost 11 hours is usually a bad idea.)
I could have freaked out when I got home and immediately learned that my dinner plans were ruined. I would have been stressed, and probably a little angry. I wasn't. This was a learning experience, and I love Thai food, so I learned, and we ate Thai.
My learned lesson was this: A good backup plan allows for one to try hard, and even fail, with very few repercussions. There was nothing to freak out about, because dinner was not ruined. It was simply modified. We went from pot roast to cashew chicken with a phone call.
A few days later I tried the roast again. After it was rescued from the crock pot at an appropriate time, it was delicious.
Failure can be made safe, and therefore stripped of all those annoying negative associations.