Literally cooking on air, in the figurative sense

I dislike this frying pan.

It’s probably no worse than any of the Teflon pans we have in our kitchen. I hate it because it’s supposed to make Teflon seem like cookware from the Stone Age and it doesn’t. You may have seen it advertised on TV. It’s shilled by a guy with the most delightful British accent. The apex of his pitch is, “It’s lit’rally like cooking on air!”

People misusing the word literally, or even lit’rally, is a pet peeve of mine. Most often, people using the word literally at all is a pet peeve of mine. Yet I was so enticed by the idea of cooking my eggs on air, I let this one slide. Let that be a lesson to me.

I’ll tell you what this frying pan is lit’rally like, if you can forgive me for putting the disqualifying word like after the oft-abused literally.

It’s lit’rally like cooking with any other pan in your cupboard, except the instructions say not to use cooking spray, which makes it lit’rally like having your eggs stick to the bottom. This makes it lit’rally like cooking scrambled eggs instead of the omelet you intended.

It lit’rally makes you shout out words you’ve always been good about not saying in front of the children. (This is the only accurate use of the word lit’rally I’ve written today.)

We did not buy this from the TV commercial. We’ve never bought anything that way. These things end up in the “As Seen on TV” sections of stores, and then they go on sale, and even though nothing else “As Seen on TV” has ever worked like it did when seen on TV you think somehow this one might be the one that does. Because figuratively like cooking on air is, technologically speaking, the closest thing to literally cooking on air, right?

“And I’ve lost the receipt!”

I’m going to be honest and admit this is not the first time I’ve been made a sucker by a product As Seen on TV. There is a NuWave oven that’s been sitting in our closet for the better part of a decade, since the time it taught us to appreciate our regular old oven.

Sometimes infomercial products intrigue me. Air fryers are the latest device I wish I could believe. They are supposed to use hot air to cook chicken wings, onion rings, French fries, and all the other things God made it smelly and inconvenient to deep fry at home so humans might live past middle age. A crispy chicken wing cooked without oil would be the dawn of a new era of hope and joy for me. But I will not be bamboozled by my lofty dreams again. I believe it is Newton’s Fifth Law of Physics that states a warm breeze will never make chicken crispy.

No, I’ve finally learned my lesson. No air fryer for me, because that would be literally like getting ripped off for a hundred bucks, which is lit’rally like £78.

 

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A simple (breakfast) plan

Saturday mornings I feed the boys breakfast. They all like bacon, and some of them like pancakes. Since there are no two foods they all like, this meal choice is the closest thing to a winner. A box of donuts has a greater chance of universal acceptance, but there are only about half of all Saturdays when I consider donuts a meal choice.

Bacon and pancakes are not difficult for a man to cook. They are a considerable challenge for a man and three overzealous helpers.

The electric griddle must be plugged in, and we’ve got a guy for that. Big Man, the self-appointed plugger inner and lighter upper of all things, will lodge a complaint with his union if anyone else attempts to push the cord into the griddle.

Bacon is first on the cooking surface, and everybody wants a part of that wonderment. Bacon is nothing less than a miracle. All the disciples need to be near it, nurturing it along its journey to delicious.  None recall how it spit grease at them last time – how could something so precious do a thing so uncouth? Daddy knows bacon’s dark side; the helpers are moved to pancake duty.

Forget the fireworks next July 4th. We're all going to enjoy the thrill of cracking eggs.

Forget the fireworks next July 4th. We’re all going to enjoy the thrill of cracking eggs.

Everybody wants to pour the pancake mix, but nobody knows when to stop pouring. I make them stand down and pour the mix myself, explaining I don’t want the whole box dumped out. It turns out the box is almost empty so I end up pouring it all into the bowl. “I could have done that,” Big Brother mocks. He’s right, so I quell my impulse to hit him over the head with the empty box.

The egg is the most coveted part of the entire pancaking process. I’m a remedial egg cracker. My wife bought me a special device to help me gain confidence. It was cheaper than a copy of Egg Cracking for Dummies. Everybody yearns to operate the egg cracker. It’s Big Brother’s turn. He cracks the egg flawlessly, but balks at the task of removing the slimy shell from the device.

My egg cracker for the specially challenged with Big Man's best Kilroy impression in the background.

My egg cracker for the Specially Challenged, with Big Man’s best Kilroy impression in the background.

Buster adds the milk as I hawk over him, shouting, “Stop, stop, stop!” after every few trickles, in constant fear he will let it all flow out into our bowl of pancake soup.

When Buster gets the proper amount of milk in the mix, or close enough, Big Man mounts his kitchen stool and stirs. I should be monitoring the bacon, but I’m busy keeping the bowl from sliding off the countertop.

Buster chides me for letting the bacon cook too long. I don’t believe it’s overcooked, but Buster is not completely confident in my ability to help him cook bacon.

We cook plain pancakes first. Then Big Man and I add blueberries. Big Brother doesn’t like blueberries. Buster only likes blueberries when they’re in a muffin I’ve been saving for myself.

Despite too many cooks in the kitchen, breakfast happened, but everybody lost their lust for helping when it came time to clean up.

The vast potential for growth in this job means he'll be able to see what he's mixing one day.

The vast potential for growth in this job means he’ll be able to see what he’s mixing one day.

 

 

A boy’s recipe for toast and good will

Whenever my wife has to work a morning shift, I go in to work late so I can take the boys to school. I don’t look forward to these mornings for many reasons. For one thing, I am using up my vacation time on something that is anything but a vacation. Also, none of the men in our household are famous for being morning people. The most infamous non-morning person is Big Brother.

It can be quite a struggle to get this sleepy 2nd grader out of bed and into his morning routine. But the last time this duty fell to me, he woke up by himself at the same time I did. This was a pleasant surprise, and it was only the beginning of his pleasantness.

As I was showering, a young voice was directed at me from beyond the shower curtain. “Daddy?”

“Yes?”

“I think I’ve done all my responsibilities. I got dressed and brushed my teeth. I made my bed and I got out the ingredients for toast.”

soon to be toast

Sorry, Soft ‘N Good bear. You’re about to be toast.

Dressing, brushing his teeth, and making his bed are all elements of the morning routine expected of him, but, to my knowledge, he has not been asked to help make toast. That he made his bed without being reminded was a good start, but getting out the ingredients for toast proved he was reaching above and beyond. He was spreading helpfulness around like sweet frosting on the cake of good behavior.

It was obvious which cake he was trying to frost. Since he woke up early, he figured why not try to get some screen time in before school. And what better way to get permission to play than to act like you’ve earned it?

“So, can I play on the Kindle?” he asked.

Just the fact that I didn’t have to drag him out of bed made it worth letting him play, but I wasn’t going to act like a total pushover. “Did you turn off your fan?” Everyone loves the white noise at night.

His answer was to leave the bathroom. Ten seconds later, he was back. “I turned off the fan. So can I play?”

“Okay. But just until your toast is ready.”

“I’m not making the toast,” he clarified. “I just got out the ingredients to make it, except the butter. I couldn’t find any butter.”

So, in other words, he got out the bread. But he couldn’t just say he got out the bread. It sounds much more impressive when you get out the ingredients to make toast, all of them except for one.

Hello, butter!

Sometimes you’ve got to open two refrigerator doors to find precious butter.

Usually, I prefer an economy of words, but I’m glad he chose to get out the ingredients for toast, minus the butter, rather than just getting out the bread. It tickled me, which probably made me more likely to let him play on the Kindle.

But then I bet he had taken all that into consideration already.

Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s hoping you find all the ingredients for your Turkey Day toast.

 

Conversations with my wife: Boob on fire

I was in the dining room, helping my son with a school project, when my wife hurried up to me and grabbed my hand. She clamped my hand over her left breast. She was clearly alarmed.

WIFE: “Feel that. My boob feels like it’s on fire!”

She had on a sweater over her shirt, but I could still feel that it was hot. It was very hot, chemical reaction hot.

ME: “Is it just the one?”

WIFE: “Yes. The other one’s fine.”

She lifted up her shirt and put my hand on top of her bra. We’re married and everything, so there was no danger of this act leading to anything sexual.

WIFE: “What’s going on with my boob?”

I could see a wet spot on her bra.

ME: “Is it sweating?”

WIFE: “I don’t think so.”

She stretched her bra and sniffed the wet spot.

WIFE: “It doesn’t smell like sweat.”

I sniffed it.

ME: “No. It kinda smells like pork.”

I pulled her sweater back down and noticed that the wet spot went through.

ME: “Did you spill something hot on yourself?”

WIFE: “I don’t think so. I was just cutting up an apple for the baby.”

ME: “Show me what you did.”

She led me into the kitchen and pointed to the fruit bowl on the shelf above the counter.

WIFE: “I just got an apple out and started cutting it up.”

In front of the fruit bowl, the crock pot sat on the counter, gurgling hot little bubbles in the condensed water around the edge of its rattling lid as it slow cooked a pork roast.

ME: “You leaned over the crock pot to reach the apple, didn’t you?”

WIFE: (Relieved) “But why didn’t I get burned right away?”

ME: “It took a minute for it to soak through to the skin. Your boob got slow cooked.”

WIFE: “That’s why my bra smells like pork.”

ME: “I sure hope so.”

crock pot

The culprit. My wife wouldn’t let me post a photo of the victim.