Part II: Fire!
(See yesterday’s post for Part I)
Little leapt on top of me at six a.m. “Mom! Let’s make the chili! Chili! Chili! Chili!”
“Urghh,” I responded. I hauled myself out of bed and poured a cup of coffee, completely aware that I was not awake at all. But what did that have to do with anything? Dinner party tonight. Chili to be made. Excited culinary intern ready and willing to help.
I positioned Little over the crockpot on a chair next to the stove with instructions to spoon beans into the pot while I began ineptly doing six things at once. Chop onions, unwrap sausage, broil chicken, peel garlic, get the ugly pies out of the way so they don’t end up uglier or on the floor.
I lit the burner, pulled a skillet out of the cupboard and threw it on the stove.
When I turned back from the onions a moment later, flames were shooting from the skillet. Nice, healthy flames, maybe eight inches high, licking skywards a foot or so from my baby’s perfect self.
Now, as y’all know, I’m married to a fireman. And though I hadn’t actually seen him yet on this particular morning, I knew he was on the premises somewhere. Thirteen years ago, when I set fire to my grandmother’s kitchen on the day of her funeral (another story), my instant reaction was to holler his name at the top of my lungs.
But this time, I just sort of decided to leave him out of it. I mean, of course I’d started a kitchen fire at six a.m. After the antics of ugly pie day, this was hardly a shocker. How many people really needed to be involved in my little start-of-day drama?
So without saying a word, I turned off the burner, grabbed the skillet, threw it in the sink, flipped burning pieces of rubber in the opposite direction of my baby using the knife I still had in my hand (yes that makes perfect sense) while blowing out the flames.
“Wow,” said Little. “Cool!”
A few minutes later, roused by the exotic stench of burning rubber emanating from his kitchen, Captain Daddy appeared.
“Can I help?” he asked calmly, which in my experience typically means, ‘can I show up after you’ve solved whatever problem you created and point out all of the mistakes you made to create said problem?’.
“We’re fine,” I said.
“Mommy started a fire,” said Little, still perched over the crockpot.
Chicken Noodle wandered in and took in the scene.
“Little and I are going to write a book,” I said, waving my knife in the general direction of the half-chopped onion, the raw sausage and the pile of smoking burned up stuff. “It’s called Cooking with Children.”
Little shot me a look. “This was all your fault, Mom.”
“True story,” I admitted.
Noodle, who (like me) hates to cook but (like me) is the resident writer and illustrator in the family, knew material when she saw it. She struck a pose and spoke dramatically. “Cooking with Children: The Graphic Novel.”
Look for that one to come out sometime next year. But don’t expect the publication to be celebrated with a dinner party. At least not hosted by me.
P.S. In case you are wondering, Captain Daddy insists we put these rubber mat thingys between our pots and pans in the cupboard to protect them. One stuck to the bottom when I pulled the pan out threw it on the stove. Voila! Instant kitchen fire. Try it! It’s fun.
Cooking with Children, The Graphic Novel
Part I: Ugly Pie
Those who know me know I hate to cook. I say it’s because I have better things to do, but it might just be that I suck at it.
My sister can cook a gorgeous Christmas dinner for 12 in heels, diamonds and a crisp apron that never seems to get soiled. I can cook chili in my pajamas and still ruin it and nearly burn the kitchen down.
Still, I come by kitchen ineptitude honestly. When I was a child, and my mother had to cook, which was as infrequently as humanly possible, she would throw an illogical collection of food objects into a crock pot as quickly as possible and yet still end up screaming and collapsing in a chair with a glass of wine within minutes.
My birthday is next week. What I want more than anything is a personal chef for life. But since I haven’t been gifted one yet, I’ve been making attempts to grow my own.
Chicken Little was born with a good dose of Martha Stewart in her, something she must’ve inherited from my sister (can that happen?). That kid loves to cook and clean. So of course I enlisted her to help me tidy the house and cook two pies a few days ago for this dinner party I was throwing (Book club. Apparently I’m only willing to cook when there’s a literary payoff).
She loves this entertaining stuff, but she’s still also six years old. Henceforth, antics ensue. A few scenes from pie making day:
“Mom, let’s make the pie! Mom, let’s make the pie! Mom, let’s make the pie!” (She boings around the kitchen like Tigger as I haul ingredients out of long forgotten crannies of my kitchen, trying to remember how in the hell one exactly makes a pie).
“Mom, I’m just going to eat a little tiny bit more” (She stuffs berries in her mouth).
“Mom, I can totally do that” (Sugar hits the floor).
“Mom, you’re not letting me do anything!” (She grabs the fork from my hand and makes “patterns” all over the top of the pie).
“It’s cooking with children!” (She says, repeating something I’d just mumbled. Then she laughs maniacally and throws a fistful of flour in the air before landing two perfect white hand prints on the front of my shirt).
Two hours later, Little and I had indeed produced two pies, albeit the ugliest pies ever created. The kitchen was covered flour, sugar, pie dough and strawberry juice.
I spent an hour cleaning up and decided to leave the rest of the party prep for the next day. One can only do so much, I self-consoled, and poured myself a large glass of wine.
I can only hope that all of this experimental theatre will mean that one day Little will have far superseded my culinary skills, and yet will think fondly back on those long-ago days when I was willing to ‘teach’ her to cook, and therefore will prepare me meals on a regular basis.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installation of Cooking With Children, The Graphic Novel, in which mommy sets fire to the kitchen.
This morning, Chicken Little took one of my business cards.
She crossed out “author” and “writer” under my name and wrote “my mom.”
You know it, baby.
Best job ever.
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