I’m a Dork in the Kitchen

As you learned in an earlier post, for the safety of human life and property, I really should stay out of the kitchen. But, alas, I cannot resist the occasional urge to try and cook something.

Several weeks ago, I was at a friend’s house. We made up sandwiches and they warmed them up in a toaster oven. I was amazed at how much better it tasted warmed up with the cheese melted…mmmmm. Last night I was home alone (perhaps a dangerous thing just by itself) and decided to duplicate this yummy concoction. We don’t have a toaster oven, so I thought a normal oven on broil would probably accomplish the same thing. I turned on the oven, then went over and slapped some turkey and cheddar on a couple of slices of bread. Then I placed it in the oven. I then took about 5 minutes to check out some of my favorite blogs. I mean, what else would I do right? When I opened up the oven, I found the bread on top burnt to a crisp. Then when I actually ate the sandwich, I found the meat on the bottom side still cold. Sheesh…I should have just stuck with an entirely cold sandwich. Oh well, The Wife brought home pizza and saved the day!

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Childhood Flashback: Saturday Nights

As a child, I lived in a small town and we were pretty poor. So Saturday nights were pretty simple. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m actually thinking back on those nights with a great deal of fondness. The evening largely revolved around watching TV. Let’s take a look at the Saturday evening lineup that dominated most of my first 12 years:

  • Wild Kingdom: Marlin Perkins was a pioneer of wildlife shows filmed in the field. He set the stage for the many shows that would follow–arguably even the development of the Animal Planet network. I have always loved animals, so I enjoyed his weekly adventure in the wild. Having said that, he certainly was not as brave as people like Steve Irwin. Do you remember that he would be hovering in the safety of his helicopter while his staff would do much of the dirty, dangerous work? Just an observation. I also remember the annoying Mutual of Omaha (the show’s title sponsor) commercials . I can still hear the song to this day: “Mutual of Omaha is people…you can count on when the going’s rough.”
  • Hee Haw: This was a corny, but enjoyable, country variety show. It had a mix of country music, comedy skits, and corny jokes and puns. For most of the years, I enjoyed the corny entertainment. However, as my teen years approached, I also developed an appreciation for the buxom Southern belles that adorned the show.
  • Lawrence Welk: This was another variety show, but more sophisticated than Hee Haw (okay, that’s not saying much). It was also corny, but on a different level. I see it today and say to myself: “What were you thinking?” Yet every year, when PBS has it’s annual fundraiser, I find myself watching the Lawrence Welk special and enjoying the quick trip back 30 years.
  • Portland Wrestling: Prior to the 80s, “professional” wrestling was largely a local affair. Each large city had its own wrestling association. The matches were held in relatively shabby buildings. The wrestlers were gritty, working-class guys that just wanted to beat the crap out of each other. Of course, it was just as fake back then as today. However, it seemed more realistic than today’s highly commercialized, glamorous, wrestling productions. We lived in western Oregon at the time, so we tuned in to Portland Wrestling every Saturday night without fail. Throughout the 80s, these local venues slowly faded away. Very few of the wrestlers were able to make the transition to the new, highly polished package of the new professional wrestling. One notable exception was one that you might recognize. Former wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura got his start in Portland back in the 70s. I even have his autograph from attending a live event!

Another memorable part of Saturday night: popcorn. I’m not talking about microwave popcorn or a popcorn machine–I’m talking about cooking it in a pan! First, pour in enough oil to cover the pan bottom. Next, add the corn–but not too much or it will push the lid off during popping and popcorn will go every where. Once the corn starts to pop, slide the pan frenetically back and forth across the burner to keep it from burning. When the popping stops, dump the popcorn into a bowl. Top it off with melted butter and a few shakes of salt. It may just be fond memories, but I don’t think any of our “modern” methods of cooking popcorn has yet topped the popcorn I last had over 20 years ago now.

If you grew up during the 80s or after, this may have been a fairly boring post for you. But for those of you that lived through the 70s, I’m hoping that I was able to spark a fond memory that you haven’t thought about for awhile. Feel free to reply with your own Saturday night memories or post your own and give me a shout back.

She Inherited My Crappy Cooking Gene

I’m no genetic scientist, but I think that the crappy cooking gene must be dominant. The Wife is a wonderful cook, but as you heard earlier, I can burn water. Unfortunately, the Younger Daughter is following in my glorious footsteps. She wanted some macaroni and cheese recently. So she pulled a box of Easy Mac out of the pantry (remember now, easy is part of the name). She dumped the ingredients into a bowl, put it in the microwave, and fired that baby up. A few minutes later, a horrid smell filled the house. I mean this was really bad. Something along the lines of how smoldering cardboard might smell–only not that good.

I noticed smoke pouring out of the microwave, so opened the door and pulled the bowl out. Looking inside, I saw a very think, brown liquid along with some very nasty looking noodles. It was obvious that she had missed a step–that is, adding water. The noodles were actually starting to melt/burn. The microwave still really reeks, even after cleaning it. I’m not sure if the smell will ever disappear. (One last reminder: This was Easy Mac.)

You’re very welcome kids–no extra charge for the dysfunctional kitchen tendencies you got from me.

Her Place Is in the Kitchen

No, no, no. I don’t really think that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Unfortunately, I can tell you that it is definitely not this man’s place. I have had several interesting cooking incidents over the years–some funny and some that could have turned horribly tragic. So here are the top 3 reasons that I need to stay out of the kitchen.

I have burner knob dyslexia

I cannot for the life of me properly interpret the four little dots by the burner knob that are supposed to tell me which burner it corresponds to. It shouldn’t be rocket science, but after all these years I still have trouble with it. I first learned of this disability when I was probably about 10 years old. My dad asked me to heat some water so that he could make tea. I filled the pot with water, placed it on the stove, and twisted the knob to its highest setting. I then stepped out of the room for a few moments. When my dad and I returned to the kitchen, flames were shooting 3 feet into the air from a pan on another burner that had bacon grease in it. He grabbed the pan and took it outside to put it out. Thankfully, it had not been burning long enough to set the wall on fire. However, just another minute or two and it probably would have caught the house on fire.

I burn delivered food

One time when we were in the middle of a move, we ordered pizza delivery. When it arrived, I paid the guy and went to set the pizza down. However, since we wanted to finish loading up the moving van before dark, I was afraid the pizza would get cold. So, I placed the boxes in the oven and turned it on the very lowest setting. We finished loading up the moving van, then headed back in the house to have dinner. By the time we got in there, the boxes were starting to smolder and the smell or burning cardboard was terrible. Oh, and the second box didn’t have bread sticks like I thought–it had salads! Nothing better than a 150-degree salad served out of a partially-melted plastic container.

I can’t barbecue

A few days ago, The Wife called and said she was about 20 minutes from home. She asked me to fire up the grill and throw on a couple of steaks. A whined and whimpered in protest, insisting that it would be a disaster. But she insisted it would be fine–just put it on low heat to slow cook them. So I did it. I put the steaks on the grill then stepped back into the house. About 10 minutes later, I went out to check and everything was fine. I was gaining confidence. A few minutes before she was to arrive home, I went to check a final time. I opened the grill and flames were shooting up and completely enveloping one of the steaks. I hurriedly shut down the grill and pulled the steaks off. When I surveyed the damage, I saw that the one steak was completely burnt to a crisp on one side, but the other side was completely raw. The other steak (the one not consumed by the inferno), was still completely raw all the way through.