Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In case you are wondering . . .

I have never claimed to be a wizard in the kitchen. It's not that I hate cooking, but Phil loves it and he does such a great job with it that I tend to do whatever I have to to get by and then let him handle the meals that outsiders might need to eat. One of my students asked me today who does the cooking in my house. I told her that I probably get food on the table more often than Phil does, but he definitely does more actual cooking. It's the difference between quesadillas (me) and enchiladas (Phil), or spaghetti - with bottled sauce, of course (me) and Shrimp Scampi (Phil), or tater tot casserole with whatever can of fruit/veggies happens to be in the pantry (me) and cranberry pork roast with parsleyed potatoes and freshly sliced mango (Phil). By the way, I don't even know if mango would go with pork so Phil may roll his eyes at me for that one. Anyway, you get the picture.

With that as the background, this past week, I have managed to have multiple food items boil over on my stove top on my watch. Given the following options, what do you suppose would make the biggest mess? (They are listed in order of the boiling over.)

a) Chocolate sauce - Saturday night while getting ready for our 2008 Spring Crepe Fest that was held on Sunday morning

b) Quaker Oatmeal (The whole kind out of the big round tub, not the instant stuff from the little packets which is more likely to boil over in my microwave because that's where I happen to cook it.) - Monday morning when Adam stayed home from school with a smashed tooth (thanks Noah) and a tummy ache (thanks crepe fest) and oatmeal is the only thing he was willing to eat.

c) Spaghetti water - Monday night because the compassionate service leader in my ward clearly doesn't know that Phil is the person who cooks for outsiders so she asked me to take dinner to a family in the neighborhood

So, what's your guess? Here's what I found out.

Chocolate sauce really, really sticks to the burner and really, really smokes up the house, especially if you are making chocolate sauce that includes Karo syrup in a too small sauce pan because you tend to use the smallest containers that you think will work anytime you cook in order to have fewer dishes. In reality, you probably end up using more dishes when you realize that your too small container isn't going to cut it. In this case, I didn't use more dishes, because it boiled over and enough of it ended up on the burner that I no longer needed a bigger pot. It wasn't too bad to clean up though. I just turned the burner back on and after it crispified, I scraped it off. I think I permanently damaged the burner though because there are pock marks in it that weren't there before.

The oatmeal was relatively easy to clean, because as it burns, it really dries out and you can kind of flake it off.

The spaghetti water, that you would probably assume wouldn't be too bad (it's mostly water after all) was surprisingly nasty, mostly because of the sheer volume and at least partially because of the method I used to clean it up. I had a huge pot filled with water for this family with 4 teenagers so there was lots of pasta. It didn't take long for me to realize that there was too much water for the size of the pot. Not long after I put the noodles in, some water started boiling out between the pot and the pasta basket. In my defense, I was using my new pots and I had never used this particular set-up before. When the water started bubbling out, I decided to bail some of it out because I didn't want to dirty a new pot. I thought I bailed a sufficient amount, but it kept boiling out. I finally just decided to let it spout out - again, thinking that it was just water so not that big of a deal. By the time the entire stove top was under water and the noodles still weren't done, I had a brilliant idea. I turned on all of the burners thinking that I would just boil the water off of the top of the stove. It would heat up, evaporate, and then I would wipe up the remnants. Just so you know, that didn't turnout to be so brilliant. Even though it was mostly water, pasta leaves something behind as it boils and all of that pasta film burned onto all four of the burners, instead of just one. The smell was naaassssty, and I found myself scraping my stove top for the third day in a row. This stuff was by far the hardest to scrape off.

Even for me, it was a bad week in the kitchen. I did learn some valuable lessons though, besides the obvious:

1. Ceramic stove tops RULE. I can't even imagine the profanity that may have come out of my mouth if I had to clean any of this stuff off of an old-school stove top. Okay, not really, because I don't really swear, but I can't promise that something profane wouldn't have crossed my mind.
2. The best tool for scraping anything off of a ceramic stove top is a little Pampered Chef brownie spatula.
3. We apparently need new smoke alarms. The chocolate sauce mishap filled our house with smoke to the point that Phil was worried the neighbors were going to call the fire department after he opened the doors and windows to let some of it out. In spite of that, our smoke alarms remained silent.
4. Phil takes some sort of sadistic pleasure out of me messing up with things like this. He had a great time in spite of the odors and smoke. When he came downstairs to investigate the spaghetti debacle he scooped Noah up and said "Well, Noah, it looks like mommy's at it again. But she's smart and she's pretty so I guess we can't have everything in a mom." Awwwwww . . . Phil's so nice. I think.

So, in case you are wondering, spaghetti water is worse coming off of the stove than chocolate sauce or oatmeal.


Kristi said...

Julie- I love your blog, I enjoy reading about Noah at home now! I always thought when things boiled over it meant they were done cooking.