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My Mother-in-Law Is America's Worst Cook. No, Really.

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When I moved to Houston a couple years ago, my gal and I lived with her mom for several months to save money. We all got on well, except that we were charged with doing all the cooking. Melissa’s mom never cooked, and sometimes we complained about it. Turns out, we should have considered ourselves lucky.

My mother-in-law Shannon Mountjoy, who lives in Meyerland with her three cats Elizabeth, Larry and Toby (who made an appearance in our Hair Balls column after Hurricane Rita), has won the American Egg Board’s “Search for America’s Worst Cook” contest. Her sister Debbylou, who writes our weekly Stirred and Shaken column and happens to be a stellar chef, nominated her by submitting an essay about a Thanksgiving dinner gone bad.

Here’s the story, according to the press release, which was lifted directly from Debbylou’s original award-winning essay:

The setting is Thanksgiving Day. Shannon is cooking for her mother-in-law for the first time. Of course she is a bit nervous. Our mother is there, but is really no help since she was on her second hot toddy when my sister started cooking.

My sister realized that she hadn’t taken the bread for the stuffing out of its package to allow it to dry out. There wasn’t time to go buy breadcrumbs and pure panic started to set in.

She took several loaves of bread, cut them up and put them in the clothes dryer.

…She went into the laundry room after 15 minutes and saw breadcrumbs shooting in an arc across the room. The hot air in the dryer was pushing the breadcrumbs right out of the air vent.

She grabbed a clean garbage bag and tried to catch the airborne main ingredient to her stuffing. She caught enough to make one pan of stuffing (which actually wasn’t that bad). Her new mother-in-law complimented her on the stuffing (sigh of relief all around). Then, she turned to my sister and said, ‘You must give me the recipe.’ It took supreme will for my mother and me not to spit out our food in laughter.

Right now the sisters Mountjoy are in New York City on a publicity tour. The award for America’s worst cook came with two free plane tickets to the Big Apple, some spending cash and free cooking classes. – Todd Spivak

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