Guys, I have got to stop saving all my stories! You guys need to remind me! I was thinking about that today, because at some point over the last week or so I started writing ideas down on post-it notes. I guess Parker didn’t know what it was or needed a piece of scratch paper to write down a recipe, so in my large, almost incomprehensible scribble it says “Making fun of kids on the play ground,” then “4 tablespoons of pepper, 2 tablespoons of corriander…” in Parker’s teeny, tiny man writing of Serious Cooking. I don’t know why I always end up with men who can write in miniature. Unconsciously something I’m attracted to, I guess. (Took that personality test again. Got the high school result again, so I’m going to stop blogging about it, because even I feel like it’s getting monotonous.)
I was on the phone with Bea today, and our entire conversation was about food. It sounds like we have some sort of addiction, but I was asking Bea about kale because she’s vegan. She even has a dress with a saying about kale on it. I never remember what this freaking dress says, because she got it after I moved. I think it’s like “Only Kale Can Save Us” which totally makes me want to name my kid that, but whatever. The point is, that’s how much she likes kale! Anyway, I’m trying to try new things in my diet. Which was how we got on the topic of me cooking salmon.
First, I didn’t start thawing it when I should have. My mom said, “Just start thawing it now, and you’ll be fine.” “Cool,” I said, and then just messed around on the computer because DAY OFF! until I realized that I probably should have started the Anti-Mr. Freeze process. A few hours into the second thawing process (the first time was taking too long), I realized that I should probably come up with a recipe. Most people would do this directly after or before acquiring the salmon, but not me! My mom always tells me cooking is an art as if she didn’t accuse me of not following the box recipes when I was in high school and college (and by the way, I was 9 times out of 10 which is the amount of cooking I did during that time at the house). I agree that it’s an art…but it’s someone else’s art. I want to just be naturally amazing at things, and cooking is one of those constant life lessons that reminds me that I’m not good at it. I’m not even good at it when I TRY.
My mom calls me that night, and I casually mention that I’m making salmon. She’s inquisitive, of course.
Me: Well, first, I dribbled oil on it.
Mom: ON SALMON?
Me: Yeah, what’s wrong with that?
When I told this to Bea she said. “Ewwwww” for a really long time which confirmed that, yes, this was definitely a mistake.
Mom: Why would you put oil on salmon?
Me: I don’t know, because the recipe said so??
Mom: What recipe?
Me: I don’t know, I found it online. It was the simplest recipe for someone who was already making food.
Mom: Well, you found it online, so it MUST be true.
Touché, probably something I would’ve said. Then we were interrupted by the sounds that you hear in Princess Bride when they go into the forest and those lava mounds blow where they have been standing, and they have to jump away at the last minute. I took this to be a bad sound, since that’s immediately what my mind thought of.
My mom: So how are you making it?
Me: I’m broiling it.
My mom: …
Me: IT SAID ONLINE THAT I COULD BROIL IT!
Mom: Well, did you at least cook it first?
This wasn’t a lie, and I was relieved I was doing something right!
Me: Uhhh, Mom?
Mom: What is it?
Me: The salmon is making weird noises.
Mom: Are you going to check it?At this point, I stood at the corner into the kitchen and in my mind, I looked like Rue from Hunger Games. Except, Rue doesn’t look scared in the movie (sorry, book readers), and I probably did. I observed and listened like Sally Who when she’s about to talk to the Grinch. Only for me, the Grinch was actually an oven being engulfed in what I could only assume would be known as the Grease Fire of 2013. Now that I’m not terrified, I realize this is an instance where I would not want to hear the song “Greased Lightning” from Grease. Also, gross.
Me: I’m afraid to.
Me: Because what if I put in too much oil, and the oven is on fire!?
Mom: How much oil did you put on it?
Me: Uhhhh, a fair amount.
This was an understatement. My assessment of fire was a definite possibility. I put a LOT of oil on it. Since we didn’t have lemons for me to fresh squeeze or lemon in plastic, I poured lemonade on it. No, I didn’t tell my mom.
Mom (as if she’s talking to a small child): Okay, well, put the phone down slowly. Then put oven mitts on, check it, and report back to me.
Me: Wait, why?
Mom: Because I need to know that you’re okay. If I hear you scream, I’ll know to dial 911.
This did NOT make me feel better. At this point in the re-telling, Bea said, “Well, was it okay?” to which I replied, “This wasn’t like the time with the waffles,” but apparently I’d never told her about them. She said, “Wait, what time with the waffles?”
When I told my ex-roommate the waffle story, he sounded happy and said the following word-for-word quotation. “It would always be two events that would occur around the same time. I’d smell burning food. Then I’d hear ‘shit, shit, shit’ and frantic footsteps down the stairs.”
It was lucky I had four roommates though, because I went to the store with one of them on one occasion and when I returned, the kitchen was smoky, and my dinner was burnt. It all worked out, though. He paid me a dollar to eat burnt bacon, when I would have done for free. Joke’s on him, I made money. Guys, it’s bacon. It’s still really good.
Anyway, after we got married (Parker and I, not the bacon), we registered for a bunch of things, because we were told to. We ended up registering for a toaster. I don’t know why. I don’t eat things toasted, and if I do, I put them in the oven. Parker rarely toasts anything except sandwiches which you have to toast all at once. Our in-laws gave us their old toaster oven, because they had two (three?). I got in the habit of making Eggos for breakfast. One day after several days in a row of continuous success, I placed them in, turned it on, and went to take a shower as I had to go to work later that day.
When I exited the shower, I noticed the house smelled like smoke. That was a pretty immediate warning sign, as my nose is nearly immune to smoke “after all these years.” Upon entering the kitchen, I realized the toaster oven was not fucking around. It hadn’t singed frozen waffles then decided, “Well, that seems good enough!” It turns out that even though I don’t like things more than lightly browned, Parker wanted something black. The thing is, the toaster oven just turns off and that’s that. I usually check it, but I hadn’t had my normal full cup of coffee (it still doesn’t account for the rest of my poor food preparing choices).The problem with Parker turning something black is that he checks the toaster oven, and I get confused when the servants don’t check it. Then Parker reminds me that we’re poor and don’t have servants. Not even a tiny robot with an apron. Or maybe I set that on fire too.
Yeah, the toaster oven was on fire. I had never come up against this situation before. For some reason, my years of experience burning/under cooking food had never prepared me for this. I thought of The Santa Claus for some reason, because at some point Tim Allen puts out a kitchen fire. I located our fire extinguisher. Then I remembered I didn’t know how to work it. I don’t do well under stress, so now I was actually starting to panic. I unplugged the toaster oven. I’d eliminated the continuation of the electricity, so that was a good start. My imagination started running wild. I tried to fan out the fire with the dish towel without catching it on fire, but there was a lot of fire and the swooshing noises freaked me out. At that moment, I remembered this awesome scene from Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical where someone leaves the stove on and it catches fabric on fire. The hero grabs a glass of water and throws it on the flame. I’d already unplugged it, so I took a glass of water, stood back, and did just that. The fire went out, and I was staring into completely black waffles, final wisps of smoke, and a burnt and now unusable toaster oven. It was a weird start to the day, but once again, my pop culture knowledge trumped my lack of real world knowledge.
When I told my ex-roommate, his words were, “Good thing you have enough redeeming qualities to make up for starting a few small fires.”
To be fair, my grandma used to set lots of timers when she cooked, because otherwise she would “day dream.” That’s also why she used to drive a stick shift instead of an automatic. I never once saw her burn down a kitchen though.
The salmon ended up being fine, but still not very good. I think I’ll start prepping directions and supplies before I buy it next time, and doing a thorough thawing project. I won’t make waffles.