• Published 14th Nov 2016
  • 2,802 Views, 360 Comments

Canterlot Cooking Calamity! - MythrilMoth

CHS holds a fundraiser bake sale and cooking contest.

  • ...

The Impractical Approach!

Apple Bloom and Scootaloo stared in mute horror at the tray Sweetie Belle placed on the table in front of them.

One of the plates bore a bowl full of an ashy black mush. A bubble rose up in it; the bubble burst with a loud blorp sound, and the surface of the mush cracked and sank.

The second plate held something that looked and smelled like a donkey turd. A burnt donkey turd.

The third had a mangled old shoe covered in an unsettling red ooze.

"Uhh...Sweetie Belle," Apple Bloom said, tilting her head. "You know we're supposed to cook food, right?"

"This is food!" Sweetie Belle protested. "Come on, you guys, I spent half an hour in the kitchen!"

Scootaloo prodded the shoe with a knife. "You know people only cook shoes in cartoons about hobos, right?"

"It's not a shoe!" Sweetie Belle squeaked. "It's a steak! How do you confuse a steak for a shoe?"

"That's what I wanna know," Scootaloo said. "Do I even wanna know what that stuff on it is?"

"Well we're out of steak sauce, so I improvised!" Sweetie Belle said. "I mixed some ketchup with some olive oil and soy sauce, then I added a little—"

"Just...just stop right there," Apple Bloom said, holding a hand over her bulging cheeks. She pointed at the donkey turd. "An' whut's that'n supposed t' be?"

"Salmon croquettes!"

"Of course," Apple Bloom said, her eyes half-closed. She glanced at the bowl of ashy mess and shuddered. "Ah know Ah'm gonna regret it, but..."

"No, I gotta know," Scootaloo said in a tone of sick fascination. "I mean, at this point, nothing would surprise me, but..." She glanced at Sweetie Belle, then pointed at the bowl. "What kind of soup is that supposed to be?"

Sweetie Belle blinked. "Soup? It's a grilled cheese sandwich."

The other girls blinked.

"A gril—" Scootaloo stood up suddenly, shaking the table. "No. Just...no." She stormed out of the room, muttering angrily. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle watched Scootaloo stomp into the kitchen. They heard pots and pans banging, cupboard doors slamming, and Scootaloo grumbling angrily.

Sweetie Belle looked at Apple Bloom. "What's she so mad about?"

Apple Bloom looked at the tray of unidentifiable 'cuisine'. "Gee, Ah dunno," she said sourly.

A few minutes later, Scootaloo returned, holding a paper plate which she practically threw into Sweetie Belle's lap. "THIS. Is a grilled cheese sandwich."

And indeed it was. A perfectly browned, melty, delicious-looking grilled cheese sandwich.

Apple Bloom blinked. "Ah thought you said you couldn't cook," she said.

"I can't," Scootaloo said. "I mean, not like, mom cooking. But kids our age should at least be able to make grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, that kind of thing, right?"

"Well, that's true."

Sweetie Belle looked from Scootaloo's grilled cheese sandwich to her bowl of ashy mush. Her lip quivered. "But I don't understand," she said. "I..." She wrung her hands. "I mean, I made the mixture and I dipped it and coated it and I, I mean it..."

Scootaloo and Apple Bloom exchanged a glance. "Whut're you talkin' about?" Apple Bloom asked as she snatched the plated sandwich from Sweetie Belle's lap and tore a large piece off, taking a big gooey bite.

"Dipped and coated? What?" Scootaloo asked. "Sweetie Belle, who taught you how to make a grilled cheese sandwich?"

"It was in Mom's notebook," Sweetie Belle whined plaintively. She dug an old, dog-eared notebook out of her pocket and handed it to Scootaloo even as she took half of the remaining sandwich and chewed petulantly.

Scootaloo flipped through it and frowned. "Well, yeah, there's a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich here," she said. "Not that you need a recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich. I mean, you butter two slices of bread, you put two pieces of cheese between them, you brown it on one side, you flip it over, finish browning it, and you're done."

Sweetie Belle blinked. "Huh? But...but what about the egg coating, and sifting the sugar? When do you add the milk? And what do you mean flip it over?"

"Huh?" Apple Bloom asked as she finished off her piece of the sandwich and wiped her fingers on her shirt. "Umm...you don't do any of that for a grilled cheese—"

Scootaloo frowned and paged through the book. "I think I see what happened here," she said grimly. "Sweetie Belle? You got five different recipes mixed up."

Sweetie Belle blinked. "Huh? I did?"

"Yeah, everything you just said is on like, five different pa..." Scootaloo trailed off, then narrowed her eyes. "Did you mark your page in the book while you were cooking?"

Sweetie Belle's eyes widened. "Oops," she said in a defeated tone. She glanced at the mess she'd made, spread out on the table like a cable reality horror show. "Wow, no wonder it all looks so...huh."

"Have you...ever cooked before?" Apple Bloom asked. "At all?"

Sweetie Belle sighed. "Nuh-uh," she admitted. "I mean, I tried to make cereal for breakfast once, but there wasn't any milk in the box."

Her friends facepalmed. "You're...you're kidding, right?" Scootaloo asked.

Sweetie Belle blinked. "What?"

* * * * *

Apple Bloom stared at the lifeless-looking hamburger which sat on a paper plate in front of her, one large bite having been taken out of it. "Okay, two things," she said, holding up two fingers. "First of all, you used them pre-made patties from th' store instead of makin' your own from fresh ground beef. Pretty sure that'd count against you."

Scootaloo frowned. "Okay. Second?"

"Second thing," Apple Bloom said, "it's awful. Ain't got no flavor."

Scootaloo picked up her own burger, took a bite, and made a face. "Okay, yeah, it's not very good," she admitted. "I've never tried making a hamburger before, though! I mean, I can make easy stuff." She shrugged. "I thought a hamburger wouldn't be that much harder than a grilled cheese sandwich."

"Yeah but it is," Apple Bloom said. "If'n you want it t' taste good, it is. You can't just throw some meat in a fryin' pan an' slap some ketchup an' mustard on a bun an' a piece o' cheese an' call it a burger."

Sweetie Belle frowned. "But...that's what they always do at Burger Hotep," she said.

Apple Bloom shot her a half-lidded glare. "We only eat Burger Hotep cause it's cheap an' fast," she pointed out. "Not cuz it's any kind'a good."

"I like their Pharaoh Fries," Sweetie Belle said petulantly.

"So how do you make a burger then, if you're suddenly the expert?" Scootaloo asked.

"Ah ain't no expert," Apple Bloom said, "but Ah know Big Mac's burgers are better than anything any fast food place in town has, an' Ah know he puts a lot of time into it. You gotta make your own patties from fresh ground beef, you gotta season 'em just right before you even cook 'em, you gotta warm up th' buns, put good fresh stuff on th' burger when you finish it..." She waved her hands expressively. "Good hamburgers take a while."

"Huh." Scootaloo took another bite of her failburger and frowned.

"But on th' bright side," Apple Bloom said with a game smile, "you got th' cookin' it part right. Ah mean, these ain't all that good, but they're edible." She grabbed the ketchup, poured a generous blob of it onto her plate, swiped the burger through it, and took another bite.

Scootaloo groaned. "Great. I can just barely make teenager-home-alone food, Sweetie Belle can't even make a bowl of cereal..." She shook her head. "I sure hope you can do more than just point out how bad a cook I am, or we're in a lot of trouble."

* * * * *

Apple Bloom hummed to herself as she tilted the paprika over the deep mixing bowl in front of her. It was already half full of flour, salt, and pepper. "That oughta do it," she said, nodding as she capped the bottle and set it aside. She gave the mixture one good stir, then turned to the cutting board next to her. "Hand me th' buttermilk, Scootaloo."

"Okay," Scootaloo said, jogging over to the Apples' refrigerator and pulling out a glass milk bottle. "It's this one, right?"

"Yeah." Scootaloo brought the milk over; Apple Bloom filled a smaller mixing bowl with it, then handed it back to Scootaloo.

"Shouldn't you put it in the flour?" Scootaloo asked as she put the milk away again.

"Not for this," Apple Bloom said as she picked up a piece of chicken from the cutting board and dipped it into the bowl of milk. When she pulled it out again, dripping milk, she quickly dunked it into the bowl with the flour, rolling it around for a minute before transferring it onto a cookie sheet covered in wax paper. One by one, she did the same with each piece of chicken, then spread another piece of wax paper over the top of the chicken. "Now we wait a few minutes," she said. "Gotta let it thicken. Which means..." She pulled a large cast iron pot out of a cabinet with a grunt, then plunked it onto the stove. She took a bottle of vegetable oil out of the cupboard and poured a good third of it into the pot, then turned on the heat.

"W-wait!" Sweetie Belle cried. "You're gonna burn down the—"

"Relax," Apple Bloom said as she put the rest of the oil away.

"Wow, Apple Bloom," Scootaloo said as she looked around at the impressive (but somehow tidy) mess the redhead had made. "Why were you so worried about entering this contest? You really know your way around the kitchen!"

Apple Bloom shrugged. "Not really," she said. "Ah only know how t' make a couple'a things we do here at home all th' time, cuz Ah help Granny or Applejack in th' kitchen sometimes." She laughed nervously. "T' tell th' truth, Ah ain't never done this all by mahself before. It's kinda excitin'!"

"I'm not so sure you know what you're doing," Sweetie Belle said doubtfully. "I mean, you cut up a chicken, you dipped it in milk, you dipped it in flour, you put some stuff in the flour, now you're just letting it sit there while you burn down the house with a pan of hot oil..." She shook her head. "How is any of this anything but making a big mess?"

Apple Bloom cast her a sidelong glance. "Really? You're askin' me that?"

During Sweetie Belle's entire rant, Scootaloo's eyes had been moving rapidly left to right, as though mentally scanning the entire list of Apple Bloom's actions. Toward the end, her eyes grew wider. She let out a sudden gasp. "Apple Bloom...you're not making what I think you're making...are you?"

Apple Bloom smirked, fanning herself with one hand. "Whut else could Ah possibly be makin'?" With that, she walked over to the chicken and peeled back the wax paper. She pursed her lips. "Yeah, Ah reckon it's ready." She rummaged around in a drawer and pulled out a long pair of metal tongs with plastic handles, then wrangled the cookie sheet over to the stove, setting it carefully to the side. The other girls watched as Apple Bloom carefully placed one piece of chicken at a time in the oil, which sizzled loudly. For several minutes, she tended the chicken in the hot oil, carefully turning each piece and checking it. After a while, she nodded, turned down the heat, and covered the pot with a lid. "Okay, now we gotta wait a bit," she said. "It's good an' browned, but th' chicken's gotta cook through. Gonna take about half an hour."

"It already smells so good," Scootaloo said, drooling slightly.

Sweetie Belle's confused expression finally gave way to comprehension. "Wait a second," she said. "Do you...you mean you're making fried chicken?!"

"Well someone dang sure is!" Granny Smith cackled as she wandered past the kitchen door. "Smells mighty good, too..." She peered in. "Apple Bloom? You fryin' up a chicken?"

"Yeah, Granny," Apple Bloom said. "Don't worry, Ah bought th' chicken an' th' milk with mah own allowance. Mighta used some'a your flour though."

"Oh, that's alright, chil'," Granny said dismissively. "Mighty surprised you're in here cookin' instead'a off playin' or doin' homework, though."

"We're entering the cooking competition," Apple Bloom said. "We're just trying to figure out what level we're all at."

"So far it looks like Apple Bloom's the only one of us who can actually cook," Scootaloo said glumly.

"Yeah, well, you can't be an Apple gal an' not know how t' fry a thing or two," Granny Smith said with a chuckle.

"Ah don't think it'll carry us through the contest though," Apple Bloom said.

"Well now," Granny said, "as long as y'all have fun an' do your best, that's all that matters, right?" She frowned. "Now...y'all are plannin' on cleanin' up that there mess, right? Ah reckon you got time afore that chicken's ready."

"Oh, shoot! Sorry, Granny! Come on, girls, help me clean this up."

The girls hurriedly cleaned up the mess; once they were done, Apple Bloom checked on the chicken, then turned off the heat and started moving the chicken off to a platter lined with paper towels. "Okay, gotta let it drain an' cool a bit," she said.

"Oh my god it looks amazing," Sweetie Belle said.

"Yeah, it looks better than Chicken Shack!" Scootaloo agreed.

"Wish Ah knew how t' make some coleslaw t' go with it," Apple Bloom lamented. "Maybe Ah'll git Applejack t' teach me one day."

"So you have homemade fried chicken a lot here?" Scootaloo asked.

"Well, maybe about once a week," Apple Bloom said. "Usually on weekends. It don't take that long t' make, but it's a lot of work."

Once the chicken had cooled, each girl grabbed a plate and took two pieces. When Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo took their first bites, their eyes flew open and their mouths watered.

"This is...!" Sweetie Belle gasped.

"This is the best fried chicken I ever tasted!" Scootaloo exclaimed.

Apple Bloom nibbled on a wing. "Hmm. Yeah, Ah guess it ain't bad," she said. "Granny's is better, but not bad for a first try."

Granny Smith wandered in at that moment and plucked a thigh from the platter. "Well now, let's see here," she said. She took a bite, chewed, and smiled. "Well Ah'll be!" she said delightedly. "Mighty good chicken, Apple Bloom!"

Applejack and Big Macintosh wandered in. "Ah smell fried chicken," Big Mac said.

"Yep, looks like Granny's been fryin' one up," Applejack agreed.

"Weren't me, yung'uns," Granny said. "This here's Apple Bloom's cookin'!"

The elder Apple siblings drew up short. "Apple Bloom?" Applejack asked. "You fried chicken? By yourself?"

"Sure did!" Apple Bloom said with a bright smile.

"And it's delicious!" Sweetie Belle added.

Applejack and Big Mac exchanged a glance, then headed over and grabbed a piece each. After taking a hestitant bite, they both turned to Apple Bloom with wide eyes.

"Well Ah'll be," Applejack said. "Mah first time didn't turn out this good!"

"Good chicken, Apple Bloom," Big Macintosh grunted before taking another bite.

It didn't take long for the six of them to finish off all the chicken Apple Bloom had fried. The rest of the Apples scattered as quickly as they'd been drawn by the chicken, leaving the Crusaders to clean up the mess. Once they were done, they sat down at the kitchen table with glasses of iced tea.

"Well, Apple Bloom's good to go," Scootaloo said to Sweetie Belle, "but you and me, we need help."

Sweetie Belle sighed. "Yeah..."

"Ah ain't so sure Ah'm good t' go neither," Apple Bloom said. "Ah mean, this is about all Ah can do." She frowned. "Maybe we should call this off."

A long moment of silence passed.

"Or maybe," Scootaloo said suddenly, "we should just take a cooking class this weekend."

The other girls looked at her. "Huh?" Sweetie Belle said.

"Whut good's that gonna do?" Apple Bloom asked. "If we could even afford one."

"We can afford a free one," Scootaloo said, sliding her phone across the table. "And there just happens to be a free cooking class at the youth center this Saturday."

The other girls leaned in, read the site Scootaloo had been looking at, then looked at one another.

All three girls slowly smiled.

"WE'RE BACK IN BUSINESS!" they cried.

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