Practice makes perfect.
It's a skill that needs to be finely tuned. It's not a past-time that you can really indulge in half heartedly, just letting stuff fall out of your cupboard and into a bowl and expecting it to be edible. You need planning and preparation, oh and carefully documented results
My own field of expertise is the carbonification of a wide range of food groups. This extends to, and far beyond, the simple assassination of a slice of bread. In my household people fear for the safety of their pans.
My technique is easy to learn but difficult to master. Simply leaving the oven/hob/grill/bbq to it's own devices is not enough, there has to be a degree of time and urgency involved. For example, with toast it must be the last edible piece of toast in existance within the vicinity of the house and you must have only 5 minutes left to eat in before you run out to gibbet hill for a 6 hour lab session. The only clean cutlery will be a whisk, a potato masher, a novelty peeler, a carving knife and a teaspoon and the only clean surface a placemat that you grab from the top of a cupboard. Mould limits you to a choice of marmite or pesto. No. Wait. That's not… Ok marmite it is then. Ponder on the irony that marmite is the only edible topping available and it's actually made from bacteria. And suddenly the toast is gone. Replaced, while your back was turned, by a flaming lump of curling embers. Flaring up as if to say to the grill "now this is what a fecking fire looks like you pansy".
Stab with carving knife and deposit in sink. Swear. Run out of house.
Pasta is a lot more impressive, for starters it's in a pan full of water. daunting for the amateur but not for the more experienced 'chef'. Ideally start with twice the amount of pasta you intend to eat, add water and place on hob. Go play minesweeper. Forget about food just long enough for the bottom half to have fused into a large brown mass. carefully remove top half, rinse, serve, then throw away; because it'll just taste of disgusting burntness.
Hmmm what else. Rice is also good although the best results require substantial distraction. Maybe a very involving msn conversation. Or a film. Get into a good book or immerse yourself in a computer game. Having a very poor sense of smell is the speshul gift that helps me here.
The rice will have gone black except for a small patch in the centre which will be a less-than-appealing shade of brown and issuing forth great plumes of black smoke into the kitchen. Scream and wave hands in the air. If it is dark outside open the back door to let the smoke out and get accosted by huge winged insect beasties; again, scream and wave hands in the air. Plunge pan into sink and use a fork to remove the encrusted rice-shite. At this point your fork will snap, but it died for the greater good. Salute fork and ceremoniously bury it… in flatmates head. The words "cooking? *snigger*" were not appreciated. Resort to using a knife, boiling in vinegar, boiling in coke, scouring, soaking, in bleach, water, flash and ajax. Discard housmate and repeat process on pan. Give up and leave pan at the mercy of the thing that lives at the back of the kitchen cupboard.
At this point it could be argued that maybe I only consistently burn things suspended in water; this is not so. To disprove this theory I attempted to cook a turkey fillet and hash browns. For this great task I summoned the procrastinative powers of the blog. And family guy. 2 hours later I assessed my 'meal'. Much to my surprise the fillet had gained weight and the hash browns had lost some; paperlight and black and shiny they were hollow inside and could be crushed between my fingers. The fillet on the other hand could have had it's edge sharpened to a fine blade and used to part our noisy (ex) neighbours from their heads.
However, today I surpassed all my prevous attempts and managed to burn soup – and a pretty watery soup at that. One day not too far away I will burn water; I've already managed coffee, I think tea is the next step.
I must admit, not all of my success can be attributed to my own endeavour. Genetics surely comes into play and credit must here be given to my mother, a woman who once tried to toast crackerbread – with spectacular results. Bless.