ONLY when I leave the kitchen

Jack Deatherage, Jr

"Dad. I found a Molluskmon "Ocher" Guide Book on the Internet. Can you order it—now, PLEASE?"

I grumbled curses on the Net as I dropped two Shriver’s hamburgers into the cast-iron frying pan. The Italian meatballs I’d just finished browning were moved to the outer reaches so they could simmer while the burgers got direct heat at the center. Water had been added so I could put a lid on and steam the meatballs.

I turned the heat up past medium on the electric stove, checked the 12-quart stock pot of simmering meat/vegetable stew on another burner and headed for the computer. Placing the order would take a minute and there was plenty of liquid to cook off before the meat would need turning.

The web site Jack had found was an "official" site. Meaning every kid who could drag an adult with a credit card to the Internet was buying something. We waited as each page was slowly sought, found, and opened. By the time I had placed an order Jack had memorized the credit card number. (Fortunately his memory is shorter than mine. Too much TV and video games. No thinking necessary.)

Before I could get back to the kitchen Jack asked if I could find a "back-lit screen light bulb" for his machine. So on we went, clicking, waiting, searching, and waiting.

"Stop there! No that’s not it. Wait, what’s that? No, go on. There it is! What’s that smell?"


Once more I am reminded that meat burns in the pan, pasta boils over and, chili scorches ONLY when I leave the kitchen! I don’t understand why these things happen, but they do. I can stand at the sink or root through the ‘fridge and rarely does anything get out of control. But let me leave the kitchen for "just a minute" and everything goes wrong. And I always make sure the heat is right and the liquid content is correct for the time I will be away. But things still burn or boil over.

I dumped the Internet, knowing that it will operate without my ever logging on again, and returned to my kitchen. The hamburgers were barely edible with enough mustard, peppers and salt. The meatballs were mostly unhurt and went on to prove a second mistake. Don’t season food when you have a head cold! My pasta sauce was bland, salty and over done with hot sauce. (The dogs are eating it happily, I can add.)

With two meals ending up far from perfect, I turned my attention to the 12 quarts of stew. The broth was weak. Dare I add anything to it? Wanda hadn’t begun complaining about the greasy smoke that filled the kitchen, living room and hallway— I had every candle burning I could find but messing with the stew she had asked me to make was pushing my luck.

I added salt, hot sauce, marjoram, thyme, rosemary and 4 cubes of Knorr’s™ beef bullion. The stew tasted salty!

My stew/chili mantra began running through my head. "Let it simmer and blend, four days without end."

To my horror, Wanda ladled out a bowl of stew on the second day. "Perfect." She sighed filling the bowl again.

"But it ain’t ready." I protested. "It needs at least two more days on the stove!"

"If you want to poison yourself, go ahead." She said smiling. "It’s good and I’m eating it now."

How could I argue? I still feel the charred burgers in my stomach and have two pounds of pasta in the ‘fridge to feed to the dogs.

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