My father is a notable cook. He is perhaps most notable for his blueberry-buckwheat pancakes, which are speckled gray all over with occasional blackened bits and taste like plastic, and for his hot-dogs-and-rice. Did you know that cooking rice and hot dogs in the same dish results in pink rice? The flavor is... indescribable.
The incident that has gone down in family legend, however, is the time my father received a bread machine for Christmas. While he had never given any indication that he wanted a bread machine, when his friend mailed one to him, he was delighted. So delighted that he insisted on using it RIGHT THAT SECOND. The fact that we did not have bread-making ingredients did not slow him down in the slightest. He was perfectly happy to use half whole-wheat flour and half cake flour, substitute baking powder for baking soda, use the leftover margarine when he didn't have enough butter, and when he ran out of margarine, the last teaspoon was olive oil. Oh, and the yeast packet that had been unearthed from the spice drawer was listed "best used by [three years ago]." (Note: it's Christmas Day, so no stores are open.)
He assembled everything in the bread machine and turned it on. The machine whirred quietly to itself, mixing the ingredients, and then paused to let the dough rise. By the time the dough had risen, we had almost forgotten it was there, but when the machine started to knead the dough, we were reminded. The poor machine started kneading with a gentle "wum... wum... wum..." sound, but soon changed to "wum... wuuuumm... WUUM... WUUUeeeeem... WUU *CRACK!*" At that point, it became completely silent, but the "baking" light turned on.
Two hours later, the house was filled with a not-unpleasant, but not-bread-like smell. The machine gasped that it was finished, and Dad proudly got out a bread knife and the jam. After about five minutes of swearing, a football-sized and -colored mass fell out of the bread machine onto the counter with a clunk. The assembled family began giggling. Dad tried to cut a slice of bread, but even with the bread knife was completely unable to penetrate the crust. At one point, the loaf slipped out of his hands and fell on the floor with a noise approximately equivalent to that of a textbook being dropped from the same height. The family by now was laughing out loud. Dad expressed his firm desire to have a piece of that bread, and got out the hacksaw. Ten minutes later, we were able to stop our hysterical laughter enough to prevent him from getting the hatchet, and someone hid the chainsaw.
The loaf, with a slightly scratched crust, retired in victory. The bread machine disappeared into the attic, never to be seen again. Dad will not allow discussion of his baking skills at any holiday gathering.