The first time was right before I was first married 30 years ago. I remember the situation like it happened yesterday. Oh yes, that’s because it did happen again yesterday and countless times in between the first and most recent incident.
Every person has strengths and weaknesses. If my family was to fill their stomachs with my strengths, they would starve because cooking would be listed on the weakness side. My husband has said it is an easy problem that I could solve with one simple gadget that has been around for decades — a timer! I say it’s more complicated than that.
The Wall Hanging: The first time cooking baffled me was before I was married and living in Dallas, Texas where I met my husband. We were gathering with friends to celebrate Thanksgiving that year. I was 24 at the time, old enough to read directions, but the interpretation of what is firm I still protest can be debated. I was assigned the beloved of all delicacies, the pecan pie, and given a trusted recipe on a 3 x 5 where I still recall the last line saying
“cook until firm.”
Firm? Firm? I checked that pie for over an hour and my interpretation of firm was never met, so I finally took it out of the oven. When we attempted to cut it that afternoon among gathered friends, it was definitely firm. After hanging it on the wall as a decoration for awhile, we took that “firm” undigestible pie and broke it in two pieces with a hammer. My reputation had begun.
Rice Casserole: This one happened right after we were married. A recipe should not assume that one would know to cook the rice before it was added to the ingredients and baked. But to this day my husband still says it was a no brainer and step that should not have been overlooked as he recalls almost breaking a tooth crunching through the uncooked rice in that casserole.
Who can mess up frozen pizza? I think it was my mistake of leaving the card board under the frozen pizza in the oven, setting off the smoke alarm, and almost starting a fire that caused pizza companies all over the world to add that Mr. Obvious step to the packaging “remove cardboard before baking.”
Oh, the countless times the hint of the aroma of freshly baked warm cookies would start to make our mouths water. This tease of that beginning smell so many times turned to the smell of death– the death of another batch. It happened again yesterday. They were even frozen cookies, but my husband was so looking forward to these speciality lemon cookies for which I spent too much money. Eighteen cookies were in the bag. The first 6 I burned the week before, but I didn’t panic because I had 12 left. Then compassion overtook me and I gave six more to a friend who just had surgery. That leads to yesterday and the pressure was on. As I put the last 6 in the oven, I could hear my husband’s words echo in my mind, “timer, timer, timer.” Nah, I’ve got this. At first I was committed to those cookies, but I became restless. The piano called my name. the laundry called my name. My phone called my name. In the middle of that multi-tasking, the smell of death entered my nostrils and the panic set in, and attempt to cover up the crime scene began. My husband was on a conference call upstairs, so I didn’t have much time to hide the evidence. I turned off the oven, threw the cookies away, sprayed air freshener, and jumped in my car to go take back the six cookies I had given away. To my disappointment, my friend did not answer phone. Rats! Now I had to go from cover-up to grovel and redeem. There is a place in my small town called “My Sugar Pie.” I had found my peace offering– a cherry pie. When I walked in the house to present my pie perfectly “firm” that I didn’t cook, my husband stood waiting for me with a huge smile on his face. “You did it again,” he said. However, through his teasing, his hug told me everything.
He loves my in spite of my cooking ability.
I don’t know why I refuse to use a timer. Stubbornness. Laziness. My husband thinks there is a deep seeded reason to my refusal to use a timer. He has tried many interventions. I have no excuse, but I’m not going to change. I think I’ll go out and buy a package of Oreos. It’s hard to mess up opening a package of Oreos. So far, I am an expert with a pack of Oreos!