Grace in the kitchen
Sharing kitchen duties is common for many married couples. The traditional nuclear family with a dog and 2-1/2 children is becoming less mainstream. The wife smiling, in a cute little dress, dutifully waiting at the door for her husband to arrive home from work is a fable from the 1950s. While some may recall those images with pleasant memories, it usually isn’t the wife. Now, more often than not, the first one home after a busy day is the one to start supper, and sometimes it is the child.
In my experience, those without children seem to have the best or most advice on how children should be raised. It is the same with cooking. Those with the fewest cooking skills are often the most critical and that is why having the ability to prepare decent food is something everyone should acquire. I have heard women state with absolute certainty that if they were to leave for an extended time, their beloved husbands would likely starve to death lying next to a pantry full of food. I actually have my doubts that anyone would starve, more likely he would eat plenty of toast and frozen pizza. Maybe if he was motivated the menu might include fried eggs or cereal and milk.
I have prepared my share of the food we have eaten over the years but somehow I have fallen into a niche of making Saturday morning breakfast and coffee. Actually it has become my accepted position of making the coffee every day and often I will make breakfast for my wife on work days as well. Saturdays, the meals tend to be a bit more involved because I have the time. More often than not I have been making a baked pancake, so simple even I can make it. Combined with natural northern Wisconsin maple syrup, a steaming mug of black coffee and some sausages or strips of bacon, it is a fitting way to start the weekend.
I prefer to have my bacon slightly on the limp side but she would rather have it so crispy that it crumbles. It is hard to compromise on something of this importance. Usually I will serve it my way and she has to live with it. This was a problem last week.
The cast-iron skillet was a temptation too great for her to ignore. Rather than simply accepting the bacon the way it should be served, she turned the burner back on and commenced to char her strips of bacon. When she was satisfied with the way she thought it should be served we finished our early morning dining experience and went about our activities.
It wasn’t until later in the day I re-entered the house to the smell of smoke. As any homeowner knows, the smell of something burning within the house is generally to be avoided. The smoke alarm hadn’t sounded and that wasn’t so reassuring either. I found the cause, a bit of cremated bacon, eternally bonded to the bottom of a smoking cast-iron frying pan. For a brief moment I thought I was in trouble but then I clearly recalled the additional cooking time required by my dining partner. Rather than confront her on the neglectful, forgetful, dangerous activities she participates in, I decided to hold it in reserve for the next domestic discussion.
The next day I was up with the chickens and set about my coffee-making duties. We have a coffeemaker that will grind the beans and brew the coffee so you always have the best coffee available to the civilized world. The machine grinds the beans which fall into a filter basket. The heated water drips into the basket and percolates through into the pot. One of the great simple pleasures of life, only this time I failed to put the coffee filter into the allotted place.
The beans ground, the water heated and I decided to spend my waiting moments out on the deck breathing in some of the freshest air of the day. Returning to the kitchen to serve myself the first cup, I was greeted with a steaming mess, coffee grounds and hot water all over the counter and down the front of the cabinets and onto the floor. Water tends to seep into cracks and each of the drawers below had collected its share of the mess.
I hurried to clean the mess but after 20 minutes of mopping and wiping my wife caught me red-handed. I reasoned that if I could get this cleaned up without her knowing, I would still have her burnt frying pan as ammunition. Now that I was found to be guilty as well, I had no option other than keeping my mouth shut. And with my cooking abilities maybe that isn’t a bad idea. In the kitchen, the best approach is simple; he who is without mistakes can throw the first pancake.