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Do’s & Don’ts of Cooking

Anyone that knows me knows that I am not a fabulous cook. I have never claimed to be. I try though and somehow the boys all seem to be very healthy. Once upon a blue moon, my favorite hang out place was the kitchen. I stayed in there practically all day. If I wasn’t cooking, I was cleaning, or sitting at the table reading or paying bills.

Over the years, I have had some serious fiascos in the kitchen.  In the past, I would deny my bloopers, but the more I think about them – I think hey why not share? After all, I may not be the only under-achieving cook out there.

Do: Make sure you have all the ingredients before you begin cooking.

Don’t: neglect this small yet very important 1st step, you may be running out to a close by local small store to buy important items like (cheese, milk, bread, the main ingredient)

Do: Announce to everyone in the house that you need the kitchen all to yourself if you have a small space.

Don’t: Attempt to do the tango with a blazing hot cast iron skillet, a cat underfoot, and kids ducking & weaving in and out of the kitchen. Someone, probably you, will get burnt.

Do: Mix all dry ingredients first

Don’t: Throw all ingredients into a bowl and mix on high-speed. (Egg is difficult to remove from the ceiling and dries quickly.)

Do: Clean as you go. Wash your cookware and utensils as you dirty them up.

Don’t: Hope the kids will appreciate the meal so much that they will help with the dishes afterwards. Instead they will have a cut on their hand and therefore be disabled for the evening, have a belly too full to help, start their nap early at the kitchen table, have a game that has been on “pause” too long and just have to go, need an hour-long shower, or some other random excuse.

Do: Only make portions small enough to fit into your left-over storage containers.

Don’t: Cook a 25lb turkey or ham without enough storage space for left overs!! You’ll end up with the left over meat in every type of container in the refrigerator – Ex: Tupperware, Ziploc bags, Rubbermaid containers, left over butter bowls, Jelly containers, cheese cellophane, Drinking cups with lids, plastic shoe boxes (cleaned of course), sour cream containers, and anything else that has a lid!!  The day after said feast will result in frustration as you cannot find the REAL butter, jelly, sour cream, cottage cheese, etc.

Do: Wear an apron or keep a hand towel handy.

Don’t: Forget you are cooking and wipe your hands on your pants.  If you do, you may stick to your chair when you attempt to stand at the end of the meal.

Do: Ensure that any frozen ingredient is not freezer burnt before using.

Don’t: Attempt to convince the kids that it’s suppose to taste that way!

Do: Check all dates on canned or dry goods that you bought on sale and found in the very back of  your cabinet before using.

Don’t: Try to convince the kids it’s suppose to taste that way.  (If they’ve fallen for this once, they will be wise to you the 2nd time around!)

Do: Dispose of food packaging in a safe way.

Don’t: Leave a can lid standing erect on a can after opening. Gently push the lid down inside the can. Those things will cut you as you take out the trash.

Do: Remove all decorative stove burner (eye) covers before turning the stove on.

Don’t: Turn on the wrong stove burner element before you remove decorative covers. Those things are totally flammable!

Do: Keep tongs in the kitchen at all times. They prove to be most handy to remove burning element (eye) covers if you should forget to remove them.

Don’t: Make microwavable macaroni and cheese without adding water. It is flammable without water.

Do: Watch boiling noodles on stove top and stir regularly.

Don’t: Walk away from boiling noodles on stove top. Again, those noodles are totally flammable!

Do:  Stay in the kitchen when you cook.

Don’t:  Lay on the couch to take a nap when cooking.

These are just a few helpful do’s and don’ts that may help someone new to cooking. You’d think all these things are common sense, but they aren’t. Some of these were my mistakes when I was very young and others have been made by my kids.

We have a great deal more of these I could share. Let me know if you want to read more 🙂

Celebration of Life

Recent family issues have prevented me from writing lately about our Celebration of Life. Our little family is approaching the 2 year mark of losing the kids’ father, my husband.  All the girls, the boys, his mother, step father and I all grieved at different times and in different ways. Since loss and grief are strange monsters that haunt people on different time frames, the family split & everyone went off in their own worlds.
So, instead of writing about how my oldest son is just now starting to grieve, or about how the family is just getting acquainted with each other again; I’ll write of the good memories that should never fade away because they are our Celebration of Life .

I, being the butt of most jokes, made for some great comedic material for Nick to discuss with his friends, co-workers, and family. 

Almost 16 yrs ago, I was pregnant with my first child. Learning to cook was so exciting for me. On one special spring day, I decided I would make homefries.
(For anyone who doesn’t know what homefries are; a 3 quart pot of oil is heated on a stove and sliced potatoes cut into long slivers are lowered into the oil until they are golden brown. Then the potatoes are lifted out of the oil and placed on a plate to drain the excess oil from them. Uhm, they are Yummy. Lightly salt the fries while they are still wet with oil and you have a very tasty treat!)
So, back to the event. I had lowered some cut up potatoe slivers into the oil, but the oil was too hot. The oil boiled over the pot and made contact with the stove eye. Needless to say, a fire errupted. I immediately grabbed the salt…then hesitated. I ran a huge pitcher full of water…then hesitated. I stood there thinking, “Now, which is it? Salt for electrical fires or water?”

Nick (my deceased husband) was outside mowing the yard & couldn’t hear me pecking on the window. I left the blazing kitchen and called my mom. When she answered I asked her which was better, salt or water for the fire. She said, “What? Surely I didn’t hear you right, …Chrissy?” I declared I didn’t have time to talk anymore cause the flames where getting to hot & I dropped the phone. I sware, pregnancy made me lose some valuable brain cells (which have led to a glorious Celebration of Life)!! I proceeded to the kitchen where I started fanning the fire!!! That wasn’t smartly thought out. The stove, wall and now ceiling were ablaze and I was still holding water in one hand and salt in the other.

What I couldn’t see was how funny it all appeared to my family. First my mom ran across the road, stopped to waive her arms in the air to signify help to Nick. Nick thought it was amazing my mom was being so nice to waive at him and kept on his path mowing the yard. Then my dad came running across the yard, stopped, began waiving his arms in the air at Nick also. Nick waived back and thought something weird was up possibly. Last, my brother came running across the street in nothing but his underware, waiving his arms at Nick. Nick knew something definitely must have happened at that point. He turned the riding mower off and ran inside the house.

Meanwhile, when my Mom came in the house, I showed her the flaming kitchen and said, “salt or water?” She screamed at the top of her lungs for my dad – queue dad running across the yard. Mom grabbed me and took me out of the smoke filled house. Dad, my underware wearing brother, and Nick put the fire out.
After everyone calmed down, Nick said, “Chrissy, why the he** are you holding water and salt??” I replied, “Cause when I remember which one to use, I’m gonna put that fire out, that’s why!!! Problem is, no one will answer my question!!”

At that point, I was pretty angry with everyone, but…they were all laughing to hard to answer me! I finally realized how silly I must have sounded, chalked this experience up to another Celebration of Life, hung my head low and just went to bed for the evening.

This is one reason I don’t cook!

By the way, did you know the water macaroni noodles are cooked in is extremely flammable? That’s another story for another day in our Celebration of Life 🙂

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