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Four Years at the Mount

Senior Year

Picture perfect meal gone wrong

Samantha Strub

(4/2013) I hear a knocking at the door. Amidst the smoke, I know who it is without opening the door. When I open the door and see Public Safety standing there, I’m defeated. I’m done. My picture perfect meal blew up in smoke.

The fire extinguisher is pulled out and its contents are poured out onto the remains of my meal. Once that clears, the Public Safety officers ask what happened. I take a deep breath, not knowing where to begin. My mind goes back to where it all began…

The image was in my head when I saw the "pin" of the delicious-looking dish on Pinterest. I immediately got the idea of making a feast for my roommates. It was a picture perfect moment. I knew exactly how I wanted it to turn out. I had seen the pictures and the directions on Pinterest. It all looked so delicious. The expected result was set at a high standard. I knew how I wanted the meal to turn out. I could just imagine my roommates and friends all seated around the table complimenting me on the hard work that I put into the feast that was there before them.

This crazy idea ended up taking on a whole other life, which was why I was standing in my smoky room with Public Safety in front of me. It started out with mentioning the idea of a "family dinner" to my roommates. They got excited and immediately began discussing what we would make. I quickly showed them the picture that started this crazy idea in the first place, and all discussion ceased. It was the picture perfect meal.

What was the recipe that was so perfect it was impossible to resist? Spinach-stuffed chicken breasts topped with marinara and mozzarella cheese. Does that not sound heavenly?

The preparations began. It started with returning to Pinterest to find ideas for the rest of the meal. I was drawn toward the roasted mushrooms while Kirsten was drawn toward roasted potatoes and Colleen toward the Caesar salad. It was going to be a wonderful meal.

We decided to have our meal on a Friday night, that way we could go grocery shopping after classes and cook. We were going to be culinary chefs. We were undaunted by the task even though we probably should have been. We thought we could do anything, including cooking this meal.

We studied the recipes in order to make sure we had all of the ingredients. We printed out the recipes so we would be able to easily look at them while we were cooking. The Friday came and the three of us went out grocery shopping. It was defiantly an interesting shopping experience. We did not know where some of the ingredients were, so we ended up walking aimlessly up and down aisles in order to find the correct ingredients. We did succeed in this part of our picture prefect meal, obtaining all of the necessary ingredients for our splendid plan.

We brought the grocery bags up the four flights of stairs, which was an impressive feat in itself. We unpacked the groceries and began making the necessary preparations in order to begin the cooking. We decided while we were at the grocery store that we should make brownies as well, so we figured we would make those first. That was probably our first mistake. Kirsten said she would make them. Allowing her to make the brownies was our second mistake. Kirsten succeeded in getting the brownies prepared and in the oven. However, not realizing she did not set a timer, we went along on our merry business. The brownies were out of our minds until we smelt something burning. Realizing our mistake, we rushed to save them, but it was too late. The horrible smell overtook the apartment. The attempt to remove the smell was futile, even with the windows open and fans circling the air. The only solution was to remove the brownies from the room. We scraped the rock hard brownies from the pan and brought them outside, but the smell still lingered. We were disappointed that the dominate smell was the repulsive smell of burnt food instead of the tantalizing aroma of brownies.

This night would turn around...or so I thought…

We moved our focus onto the main event. The main meal would go according to plan. We had the recipes and ingredients. All we had to do was mix it all together and keep an important focus on the timer.

Our attention became divided. Kirsten focused on the roasted potatoes and mushrooms. Colleen focused on the Caesar salad. I focused on the main course—the spinach-stuffed chicken breasts topped with marinara and mozzarella cheese. We cleared the table and each took over a section of it in order to prepare our portions of the meal. The spinach-stuffed chicken breasts topped with marinara and mozzarella cheese would take the longest to cook, so I asked Kirsten and Colleen to assist me in grating the cheese and stuffing the chicken breasts. This was a time-consuming process, but it was enjoyable because we listened to music and chitchatted while we waited.

Once the main dish was in the oven, Kirsten and Colleen focused their attention on their parts of the meal. It was looking delicious and the main dish was tempting us with its aroma. The meal was coming together. We washed the dishes that were dirtied so far and made sure to keep eye on the mushrooms and potatoes.

It appeared as if we had the situation under control, but things are not always what they seem…

The spinach-stuffed chicken breasts topped with marinara and mozzarella cheese were simmering, but somehow some of it fell onto the bottom of the oven. This is generally a minor mishap that sometimes happens during the cooking process. However, our oven thought that it was a mishap that should haunt us. When I checked on the food I did not notice the food that was at the bottom of the oven. The food was being cooked very nicely but in the midst of cooking, the food that fell to the bottom of the oven was burned.

This went unnoticed by us until we saw smoke coming out of the oven door. We quickly opened the door and smoke poured out, spreading all over the room. We had trouble seeing and started tearing up because the smoke was burning our eyes. I closed the oven door in order to grab a towel to spread the smoke around but suddenly I heard a loud beeping noise spreading across the apartment. The smoke detectors were going off…oh no…

The buzzing continued as I attempted to clear the smoke by turning on the fan, opening a window and waving a towel. The attempt was futile. It was only a matter of time before Public Safety showed up.

Then there was the knocking at the door. The smoke swarmed out of the apartment while the officers stepped in. They put out the small fire that had started in our oven.

My mind went back to the memories of my excitement when I saw the "pin" on Pinterest, but the Public Safety officers sure did not look as excited as I was when I saw the pin. The Public Safety officers were understanding and merciful though, and I cannot help but think they were laughing at me while I explained the story.

We will forever be known as that apartment that started a fire attempting to cook dinner.

Read past editions of Samantha Strub's Four Years at the Mount