Monday, January 10, 2011

How long have I been cooking again?

I started cooking -- really cooking -- when I graduated from college and got my first job. I had my grandmother's copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volumes 1 & 2 and I enjoyed myself a great deal cooking for myself and a couple of teacher friends. Then I got married and cooking became an everyday thing, especially in the first honeymoon year when I got up every morning and cooked breakfast for my husband, stuff like scrambled eggs and bacon, pancakes and homemade oatmeal, and then packed him a big lunch and then had dinner ready when he got home from work, in spite of the fact that I was working full time, giving piano lessons and doing some tutoring.

Then I was expecting Meelyn and throwing up every fifteen seconds and that put an end to the cooked breakfasts and the packed lunches. I did manage to carry on with cooking dinner, although it was quite often late and sometimes things got burned while I was vomiting in the bathroom. Pregnancy loved me. My husband still speaks of the days of his crashing fall from the culinary wagon with a reproachful note in his voice. I don't know if he blames me for not being made of sterner stuff or Meelyn for her fetal assault on my digestive system. Possibly both of us. Being a wise man, he doesn't say.

So, all this cooking, right? A great deal of experience in the kitchen, all the way from the lofty heights of French cuisine down to the lowly down-home goodness of Hoosier home cookin'. That leaves me with no explanation as to why I would throw a truly enormous ham bone I took from the freezer in to a small Dutch oven along with a great many dried beans of mixed varieties plus a very large sweet onion, covering it all with water and then being surprised -- stunned, even! -- when it all boiled over and made a hideous mess on the stove, illustrated above.

I had to hastily transfer the whole contents of that Dutch oven into my large soup kettle, a process which saw me nearly drop the extremely hot ham bone on the kitchen floor as I unsteadily maneuvered it out of one container and into another, using a wooden spoon and a meat fork. Then I used a one-cup measure to scoop up most of the beans and water, which ended up being more splashy than anticipated: I burned my hand. Then I picked up the Dutch oven to pour its remaining contents into the soup kettle and nearly caught the kitchen towel I was using as a hot pad on fire when it made brief contact with the gas flame I'd neglected to turn off. I shrieked and threw it in the sink, kind of lost my grip on the Dutch oven, and burned my hand again. A chunk of onion, irretrievable for the time being, slipped out of the Dutch oven while I was trying to keep my towel from bursting into flame. It landed under the soup kettle and is sitting there growing squishier and squishier.

It's going to be so fun cleaning up that mess, once it's had a good hour to harden in a starchy and difficult-to-remove-without-sandblasting manner.

Doesn't this all sound like the silly fiddling of a new bride bravely making her way through the kitchen's unfamiliar territory? Good grief....

1 comment:

Kayte said...

OMW, Lucy and Ethel could have used this in an episode! Okay, I'm not supposed to laugh, but if it wasn't you and you were a mouse in the corner, wouldn't you be laughing??? I made the beef daube for FFwD finally today...oh my word is that stuff good. Might have to make it again before winter ends. Or maybe two more times. Three too many do you think?