6 July, 2015
10 Kitchen Confessions
Nobody’s perfect. The kitchen is a place of art and mastery, but before we reach that level of skill, we’ve got to make some mistakes.
If you’re ever feeling like a bit of a klutz in the kitchen, here’s an article that will hopefully make you feel a bit better about yourself, knowing that you are not alone. A recipe wizard I may be — but boy, have I made some beautiful mistakes in my time. My mom and I put our heads together to come up with a list of 10 mishaps and quirks to share with you.
#1: Wrecktonic Plates
My parents have ceramic plates. Ceramic plates are heavy.
When I was in middle school, I used to have to get up early to get ready before the bus came to pick me up at 6:45. I would get up around 5:30 and my mom got up around 6.
One morning, my mom and I were standing in the quiet kitchen, chatting as I got stuff out for breakfast. I walked over to the cupboard and started opening the door to get out a bowl for my cereal when I noticed a pressure. I looked in and noticed the plates sitting too far forward. I called my mom over to help me, and she asked me to step aside.
Though she tried opening the door slowly, the plates had already been set in motion.
Stacks of dishes, bowls, and Pyrex plates cascaded from the broken shelf, onto the countertop and the floor, shattering and making a huge mess. Somehow, amidst all the ruckus, my dad managed to stay asleep. That being said, I’m pretty sure my dad could sleep through a dump truck driving through a nitroglycerin plant.
#2: Unintentional Pyrotechnics
As I mentioned, I used to wake up really early for school. For a time, I used to bring my lunch, so I would occasionally have leftovers. Sometimes, I ate those leftovers for breakfast. Usually, I was half asleep while preparing them.
I used to have this thermos. It was plastic and metal, like most thermoses. I no longer have this thermos because I decided to heat up some soup in it at 5:30 in the morning.
In the microwave.
In case you didn’t know, metal, when microwaved, sparks. Plastic, when heated, melts. At a certain point, it catches fire. Luckily, I stopped the microwave before it, you know, exploded or burst into flames or anything. The kitchen (and, subsequently, the entire house) smelled like burning plastic, which brought my mom flying down the stairs and into the kitchen to see what was on fire.
I stood there, staring at the open microwave, guilt, exhaustion, and bewilderment painting my face into a strange expression of awe. I stepped aside as my mom extracted my deformed thermos from the microwave, threw it in the trash, and handed me the bag to carry out to the dumpster.
I came back inside and poured myself a nice, cold bowl of cereal.
#3: May Contain Traces of…
While I’m not entirely sure how this one happened, it’s still a story that comes up a lot in my family.
Growing up, my mom often made smoothies for dessert. They were really yummy, and probably contributed a lot to why I like smoothies so much, today. One thing I’ve never quite been able to master is that special homemade taste my mom always managed…
When making smoothies, sometimes the blender can’t quite get a few pieces or you need to add more liquid or stuff gets spattered on the sides of the glass — whatever — and you need a spatula to help things along.
You see, most people turn the blender off before they insert the spatula. However, my mother is not always one to follow the status quo. On this one particular occasion, she, for some reason, decided to use the spatula while the blender was still running, thereby introducing the soft, pliable plastic to the rapidly spinning metal blades.
The spatula was quickly removed from the blender, escaping with just a few slash marks, so it was otherwise intact. The smoothie and the blender were no worse for wear.
I think we still have the spatula.
#4: *Pan*ic in the Kitchen
This is something that just about everyone I’ve spoken to who has ever used an oven has been guilty of at least once: preheating the oven with pans still in it.
Sometimes, you want to preheat the pan, like you do with a pizza stone. Most of the time, though, that’s a) not the case and b) only for one pan, not all of the pans that don’t fit in the drawer under the oven.
While accidentally heating up a bunch of pans, in itself, isn’t a big deal, the problem tends to come in finding a place to set them while they cool off. Someplace that is out of the way, not going to be damaged by the hot pans, and away from any innocent bystanders who may accidentally touch them.
#5: Holy Duck!
My mom is a great cook. She can cook pretty much anything, but there is one dish she will no longer prepare, and that is duck.
She’s made it twice, in the past. Both times resulted in the same painful outcome.
For those of you not familiar with the preparing of pan-roasted duck breast, it goes something like this:
Prepare duck, cook briefly in pan, transfer pan to oven, cook, ???, profit.
Or something like that, anyway.
It’s pretty straightforward, though it gets a little confusing once you take the pan out of the oven, because, normally, when you have a pan sitting on the stove, the safe way to pick it up is by the handle. If it’s fresh out of the oven, you pick it up by the handle with an oven mitt on.
Both times that my mom made duck, she forgot the oven mitt part. Both times, she burned her hand. And both times, she miraculously ended up with no blisters or scarring.
#6: Some Assembly Required
In middle school (I sense a common theme), we had to take a music theory/appreciation class, for which we had a final project. The project required us to pick a song about food, do a little presentation on it, and make the food to go with it (or something like that; this was almost a decade ago)
I have no idea what song I chose, but it was about buttermilk biscuits. I think it was a jazz song. Anyway, I made buttermilk biscuits, or, well, I tried to.
They ended up tasting okay, but I overworked the batter, so they were more like buttermilk cookies by the end of it (I guess you could say they never *rose* to the occasion…). The larger problem wasn’t so much with the biscuit, but with my mistreatment of my mother’s appliances.
Stand mixers, as you may or may not know, have a right and a wrong way to orient the beaters. With the traditional cage beaters, it’s easy enough to figure out which one goes where, but with the spiral dough mixers, it’s a little more complicated. Especially if you’re a sixth grader.
It turns out that if you put the beaters in backward, they make the mixer dance.
Toward the edge of the counter.
Thankfully, like with the microwave, I turned the appliance off before I did any real damage. Courtesy of this mishap, though, I now no longer wonder what a tiny, compact hippo tap dancing on a kitchen counter would sound like. The answer is: kind of like a unbalanced load of laundry during the spin cycle.
#7: Princess of Swan Break
Speaking of bad dancing, here’s a quick screw up.
Until very recently, my parents’ kitchen sink had two basins, one for washing and one for air drying. I always remember the drying side being piled high with various pieces of kitchenware. More often than not, these items were balanced rather precariously upon one another.
It’s no secret that I’m a spaz. I’ve got a long history of hazardous encounters with various objects, and I never had the blessing of a sibling to blame stuff on. If something broke, it was pretty much always my fault (unless it was my mom’s fault).
One afternoon, I came home from school and was in a particularly dancey mood. I enjoyed the linoleum dance floor in the kitchen most of all. I spun and slid and jumped and relevéed gleefully until one particularly reverberent landing caused the dishes drying in the sink to shift. I stopped dancing.
I don’t remember if I discovered the fallout of my miniature ballet or if one of my parents did, but my they ended up ordering a new coffee pot. It turns out that cracked glass containers don’t hold water (or coffee) very well.
#8: Splatter Painting
I’m pretty sure this one happened when I was either very young or before I was born, so I don’t know the whole story. I do know that the, uh, colorful aftermath of the incident remained visible for long enough that I remember asking about it.
The story as I know it goes something like this:
My mom was at the corner counter in the kitchen, cutting… something (no idea what; let’s guess it was fruit, maybe she was peeling it). The knife slips and she cuts her finger.
In response does she:
a) Run her finger under the water to wash away the blood,
b) Wrap and apply pressure to the wound, or
c) Flail wildly and panic
If you guessed c, you probably know my dear mother (or you’re just good at seeing obvious plot development).
She flailed about wildly, spattering blood on the counter, cabinets, and ceiling. Two out of those three surfaces can be cleaned. The ceiling isn’t one of them.
Years after the incident, the line of browned blood spots remained on the ceiling, eventually prompting the question from little Jeanette: “Why are there spots on the ceiling?”
We finally repainted the ceiling, a few years ago.
#9: Repurposed Appliances
My whole family is kind of weird (in an endearing way).
My mom’s mom (I call her Grandma) moved out of her house and into an apartment a few years ago. Her little apartment is cute, with probably about the same floor space as mine, but divided into a couple of rooms. Perfect for one person. Her apartment, being newer than her old house, happened to come equipped with a dishwasher.
One day, my cousin, Laura (the Pampered Chef cousin from the salsa post), went up to visit Grandma in her new apartment. She asked her, “Grandma, do you even use the dishwasher in your new apartment?”
She responded, “Ya, open it and see.”
This was what she found inside:
Apparently, when you live alone and generate only a few dirty dishes per day, a dishwasher really doesn’t get much use. Mine certainly doesn’t. I suppose I should give her credit for putting it to good use.
The weirder thing is, I went over to my Poppa’s house (Nana’s house, too, but she is currently living elsewhere for medical reasons) and noticed that he also had non-dish objects stored in the dishwasher.
It must be an old-people thing.
#10: Shake Well
This one is about one of my mom’s sisters. Again, I wasn’t there, so I don’t know the story super well, and I’m writing this at one in the morning, so I can’t exactly call and ask for the details. I used to ask to hear this story all the time, so I know it fairly well.
I don’t know the circumstances surrounding the incident, but I know that my aunt, who was presumably rather young at the time, was trying to make Kool-Aid. She poured the powder into the container, followed by water, and had moved on to the mixing bit.
Sadly, she didn’t think to put the lid on the container properly before she started to shake it, and once she had started, it was already too late. The story goes that she shook the Kool-Aid all over the kitchen, whooping (out of what I can only assume was panic and confusion) all the while.
I never heard what the repercussions were, but considering she was the second-youngest child (out of seven), she probably got away without much ado.
So there you have it! Ten goofy tales of kitchen snafus.
Please, if you have any of your own anecdotes, please share them in the comments!