Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I Never Learn

Cooking with Stupid II: Out of the Frying Pan

Originally, ‘Cooking with Stupid” was going to be followed by the further tales of that night, namely the midnight plumbing that took place.

“Honey, really, it’ll wait. I just won’t put anything down the drain. It’s 12:15. Let’s just go to sleep.” Alas, this is not the nature of my Accountant Boy. Drain is clogged. Find clog. Fix drain. Problem à Problem solving à Problem Solved. We’re alike in this, except that I’m willing to admit temporary defeat.

“That’s just stupid. We’re not going to wait until the weekend to use the sink. Have you tried the disposer?”


“With HOT water running?”

“No, DON’T!!!...May I get you several towels for your face and the kitchen ceiling, sir?”

Modern kitchen plumbing is so neat. Who knew you could unscrew all of the parts of your sink and look that the densely packed mush inside each pipe? The clog, the disputed onion clog? It was actually sweet potato scented with especially garlicky water. Did you know that sweet potatoes will turn into a heavy paste and clog up the pipes just beyond the disposer, and that the disposer only makes this worse by mashing the paste finer? Now you do. You’re welcome.

So I was going to finish there, but then an even stupider Cooking with Stupid episode happened.

First, some tiny amount of background. My friend Daisy lives next door. She’s married to our longtime friend, Falstaff. They rent their house, and as a consequence they are stuck with the worst freestanding gas oven/range I’ve ever used. I’ve only used it once, during the remodel of my own kitchen, and afterward I decided that microwaving everything for two months was a viable option. They’re good cooks in a bad kitchen. We offer them the use of our award-winning kitchen, and they very occasionally accept.
“Did you know that your oven mitt has a hole in the thumb?”

“Which mitt?”

“The green one that I just used to pull my dinner out of your oven. It’s right at the point where your thumb would touch hot metal.” She paused to inspect her burnt thumb. “It’s interesting, the difference between Falstaff and I. Maybe I’ve learned to not make startling movements or noises because I’ve spent so much time around horses. If Falstaff had burned his thumb, you’d hear him screaming about it from three blocks away.”

“I’m the same way. When I cut my finger…” I went on to explain the first Cooking with Stupid, leaving out the bloodier parts because Daisy does not handle blood well. “…anyway, I bandaged everything up and kept right on cooking. You’d never know I was injured. I’m cat-like in that regard.”

Ten minutes later, I was standing at the cooktop with a tortilla in one hand and a couple of forks in the other. I’ve got taco shell folding down to an art form. I was staring into the hot cooking oil, thinking it looked a little too hot, kind of wavy at the bottom of the pan. But I was hungry, and I knew A.B. was hungry, and I’ve never been good at guessing how long it will take to cool the oil down to a safer tortilla frying temperature. It probably would have been about five minutes, once I turned down the gas. “I can’t wait half an hour to eat! I’ll just work faster.”

I slid the tortilla into the pan and it immediately inflated to the size of a small throw pillow. “Holy SHIT! I’d better poke a hole in it to flatten it out.” That’s when things started to go bad. Oil flew out of the pan onto the inside of my arm. I wanted to run some cold water over it, but the tortilla was still in the pan. I only had five tortillas, and I knew we’d want all five tacos. No time for triage. In the ten seconds I spent contemplating my options, the tortilla had almost become unfoldable. I did manage to fold it into a reasonable taco shell.
Then, rather than taking the oil off of the heat and finding some burn cream or asking for help, I figured the best plan of action would be to continue cooking. I’d already burned my arm; it’s not like I was going to be able to un-burn it. (I think I get this attitude from my older brother, Big Guy, who once crashed on his dirt bike and injured himself, but kept working at his landscape maintenance job for a month. When he finally went to the doctor, he learned that he had fractured his wrist and torn ligaments in his knee. “How are you even WALKING? Why didn’t you come in sooner?” said the doctor. “Grass doesn’t stop growing,” replied Big Guy.)
After two more minutes of high-intensity frying action, a new speed record, I had the remaining for taco shells done. We sat down to dinner.

“You know your burnt thumb? I got that beat.” I pulled back the sleeve of my sweater.

“When did you do that?!” said Accountant Boy.

“A few minutes ago.”

“Why didn’t you say anything? Shouldn’t you run that under cold water, or maybe put something on it?”

“Tacos don’t fry themselves.”

We had burritos for dinner last night, and A.B.’s making dinner tonight. But trust me, as soon as the splotches fade, I’m back in the game. You won’t get the best of me, kitchen!

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