I was raised by an amateur chef. When I was a kid we would regularly eat a different, new meal every night without repeats for months on end. I have a Rolodex full of recipes from all nations with many, many different flavor profiles. I rarely have the energy to cook these days, but I'm a pretty darn good cook and I don't often encounter ingredients I'm not familiar with. (Oh, and I'm in on the 'I hate coconut' club, too!)
Funny story before my cooking stories: When my husband and I were dating, he asked if I wanted to take cooking lessons from his Mom. (Yeah, I know. How insensitive. It was a good thing I was already in love with the guy.) I told him to let me cook for him and then let him decide. He agreed. So I made chicken picatta (chicken breasts, pounded, lightly floured, and then browned in a lemon/caper/garlic sauce) for him. He devoured the meal and didn't mention cooking lessons again for a few months - when he mentioned that I should give lessons to his Mom. :)
My biggest cooking disaster came from a simple ingredient mistake. I was making spicy orange beef and you're supposed to add cornstarch at the end to thicken the juices into a sauce. I accidentally grabbed the baking soda instead of cornstarch. The soda turned the juices a flourescent shade of green that bubbled like a witch's cauldron. We promptly threw that away and went to Taco Bell.
I've had a quiche boil over in my oven. Scraping burnt eggs, cheese, and ham from the bottom of your oven is not a fun job.
Last but not least: This Thanksgiving my sister hosted the family at her house and asked me to make rolls. I have a great egg bread recipe that makes delicious rolls, but it only makes half a dozen of them. Not terribly familiar with the ins and outs of bread, I just tripled the recipe and went about things as usual. Well, instead of a nice, firm dough after the first rise I had goo. And I didn't realize that until I'd poured the entire (triple) batch onto my countertop. I then proceeded to try to knead some flour into it, thus getting the sticky goo all over another countertop and my hands. I had to get my husband to help me scrape it all off me and half of my kitchen and into muffin tins in an attempt to salvage the bread. It took half an hour to get it all cleaned up (on Thanksgiving morning), but the good news is that the rolls were scrumptious. :)
Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson