There are two similar incidents I thought I would relate to you today. Both deal with cooking and both, though funny now, weren’t at the time.
Let’s drop back a few years (more than 2 less than 6) to when I was not on a cane and was able to really do one of my favorite things with zest and speed: cook. I had gotten into the habit of having from 3-7 guests over on a Saturday evening and providing a full meal to them all. I would cook it from scratch and, usually, make something from one of my variety of cookbooks.
It always seemed funny that I have around 20 cookbooks and use about 3 of them to cook from. Anyway, this particular evening, was having Marisa and her family over for the meal (Marisa’s post here) along with a mutual friend or two, I believe. I don’t remember what I was making for that evening (It was liked), but what made the night so memorable was the preparations.
I get my meal laid out and begin what I have to, and then I wash all the dishes from the previous day (or so). This night I was trying to hurry a bit (something, I believe, was taking a little longer) and so had several pans on the stove while doing the dishes. I started running the water for the dishes and was watching a couple of pots that were heating. The pots began to bubble too much and I grabbed a mitt and a spoon and tended to the food. I thought it had been just a second, but the dishwater had filled and the suds began flooding over onto the kitchen floor (followed, of course, by the water).
I released the food and shut off the water. This was when Marisa and the guests arrived! I was nearly in tears. I was always doing so well at my timing (There was once, but that’s another story).
Marisa and her mom took over the kitchen from me, cleaned the mess, and helped me finish the cooking. We had a wonderful meal. If I had to try and figure out what God was doing in all this, I soon learned. Marisa’s mother came to me and said,
“Thank you so much for all you did. I haven’t felt that useful in a while. It was fun to help.” That’s a close quote. So, she needed to be needed and I needed someone like that, so it all worked out.
Now, let’s shoot forward to Sunday evening. My sister was coming over to watch a movie with me. She wasn’t hungry, so I was just fixing for myself. I had decided to try something new. I was going to cook Chinese vegetables with some tuna (cat loved that) and make curry sauce to put on it. I know, mixing cultures, but it sounded good. Since my stroke I can eat spicier foods, for some reason, so I wanted to try it out.
The curry sauce was the new part. It was a solid light green mass creased into 5 sections for servings. The instructions had been taken from the Chinese and were a bit difficult to figure out. Best I could reason was to take the mass and heat it with several tablespoons of oil until it resembled sauce. My stroke has, at times, caused me to miss things. Normally, I recheck and then go.
That night I took the sections, put them into a microwaveable dish, and put them on a low setting (2) in the microwave for three minutes. I returned to getting the vegetables out of the can and doing the same for the tuna. The cat goes a bit nuts when I open tuna (heck, anytime I open a can) because she gets to lick out the can when I am done. I noticed the nice smell of curry (so far so good).
Then, I thought that, perhaps, it was going to be too spicy, too hot (little did I know), then I decided it stung my nose and I wasn’t going to like it. At this point I turned around. The entire microwave was full of thick white smoke to the point that it was pouring from every crack and crevice in it! I knew it was a bad idea, but I turned off the microwave (56 seconds left) and opened the door. The little bowl (we are talking about 4 by 4 inches and 2 deep with a much smaller piece of green (now black) mass of curry in the bottom) was creating more smoke that most of the campfires I had seen made with green branches.
I have decided that I can save the military a bundle with this new smoke grenade. Even swat teams will be able to use this small device to clear out two-story crack houses. Regardless, the smoke was horrible and it was stinging my lungs and I was having problems breathing.
I removed the bowl from the microwave. I then ran a little stream of water on it so it wouldn’t crack, then filled it with water and sat it in the sink. I took a small fan and put it in the middle of the adjoining room, aimed it at the kitchen door, then opened the door. This was when my sister called to say she was on her way. I told her fine and told her what I was doing. She had a little laugh to keep her going while she headed over. In the meantime, I realized that this small fan was not going to keep the billows of smoke from filling the house. So, I opened the other door, the bathroom windows, and turned on the stove exhaust (this scared the cat who left the room in a hurry).
I took my remaining food (which I cooked) out to the front porch and ate until Sis arrived. She sat in her car and told me she could smell the kitchen from the car in the driveway. We talked a bit and headed into the house. After a little while, we adjusted to both the smell and the haze, watched the movie (“This Means War”), and chatted awhile.
When I got up this morning, little over 12 hours later, I could still smell a trace of the curry, but the haze was gone. I am not certain what the lesson here is other than before the stroke I went to pieces and the other night just made me smile. Life is funny and you need to laugh. It’s the problems that can be the funniest, if you will let them. I do now, a lot.