Lost in a World of Utensils

Posted by Danny

I forgot how to cook.  We were gone so much this summer that I just didn’t – we ate out.

So tonight, I decided I had to get back on the wagon.  School started a couple of weeks ago and we had several meals in the freezer.  Tomorrow, I may have to pull out the pots and pans.

I began hanging out in the kitchen about midnight – trying to rebuild some kharma with the place.  I wiped the stove top off with the sponge and ran my hands across the countertop.  I counted my knives, they all seem present.  I’m coming back baby!  Together we’ll make this happen!

I then opened a random, down low, utensil drawer and I was surprised at what I found.  There are things in there that are unidentifiable to me.

What is this?

It looks sort of like a spoon but there’s a big hole in the bottom.  Actually, I’m pretty sure my urologist used a similar instrument when he gave me my vasectomy – only his was made of cold stainless steel.

And this?

I thought it was a thermometer but there are no numbers.  It’s rough around the sides like a cat’s tongue.  Actually felt good when I used it to scratch my back.  Too big for a skewer.  I’m gonna move it to the bedroom.

This one is clearly for cutting – it has really sharp teeth.  It looks like it could peel the skin off a tiger – nearly cut my finger off when I grabbed it for closer observation.  It too may have been used in a same day surgery procedure or by Anthony Hopkins in the thriller Psycho.  I’m just going to put it back in the drawer, face down.

And this contraption?

If it had more parts I’d think it could be used to mold playdough.  A telescope?  It actually came from The Pampered Chef, says so on the side.  I can almost hear Lisa –

I just had a Longaberger Basket party last week and now the Pampered Chef.  I don’t cook!  Why would they invite me to this?  And I’m going to have to buy something that we will never use!

And clearly, she did.

And this little man is cute – up on three little legs.  But what is his purpose?  Maybe he’s a cake topper.

Wouldn’t want that on my birthday cake.

I feel so inadequate.  How have I made it the past 18 months without these utensils?  What am I missing?  I bet if I could figure out what these things did my cooking abilities would increase three-fold.

One thing I loved about Lisa – I’d bet my life savings that she couldn’t identify any of these gadgets either.  We were kitchen clueless together.

If you’ve got a clue, let me know!

Soft Scrub is Your Friend

Posted by Danny

I think Lisa taught me about Soft Scrb, the all purpose kitchen cleanser, not long after we got married.  We purchased a house that was built in the 1950’s and the tubs were nasty.  She tried everything she could find to clean them and the only two things that seemed to make a dent in the dirt were Comet and Soft Scrub.

We have a housekeeper who cleans for us every other week.  I don’t do very much in between her visits.  Stephanie and Michelle brush their teeth in my bathroom most mornings and don’t know how to wash toothpaste spit down the sink.  About day 5 I get grossed out enough to take a damp cloth and wipe their Crest remnants away.  That’s about the extent of the cleaning in this house by those who inhabit these walls.

But today, I sort of got motivated to do some countertop cleaning in the kitchen.  And I have fallen in LOVE with Soft Scrub!!!

We have a glass top stove.  I never much paid it attention to it until I became the official head of this household last year.  Now, I see how disgusting it gets.  Lisa never cooked that much but when she did, she wasn’t a burner.  I apparently like my food well done because I can burn a boiled egg, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, asperagus, toast – you name it, I can burn it.  My cooking theory memics my outlook on life.  Move on with it – no time to slowly warm things.  On my stove there is really no need for a low or medium setting; I don’t have time for that.  If something needs to get hot, and with virtually everything you cook that’s what you’re aiming for, heat it up as quickly as possisble. 

So, every time I cook on the stove, something invariably overflows onto the burner.  And that leaves a nasty, crispy residue.

I’ve tried glass cleaner.  It is a glass top stove, makes sense doesn’t it?  Doesn’t work.  It does not get spilled, burned on spaghetti sauce off of the burner. 

I’ve tried 409 – when I was growing up, that was like household penicillin.  Not anymore.  Sure it’ll get a fingerprint off a door, but it doesn’t stand a chance to a stainless steel pot stain on a fiberglass sink.

But Soft Scrub – ahh.  The cleaner that keeps on cleaning.

Burned on Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup – no problem.

Pizza pan scrapes on your sink – no problem.

BEFORE...

And AFTER.

Red wine on your white countertops – no problem.

BEFORE...

and AFTER.

I once used it to get steak juice off of my kid’s white shirt.  It works! 

I might try whitening my teeth with it.

When you’re running a household unexpectedly by yourself, it’s good to have help.  Jesse is good.  My parents are helpful.  My in-laws rock.  But Soft Scrub is always there for me.  Day or night – bleaching out the stains of my life.

I Hate Tupperware

Posted by Danny

I’ve always been able to make my way around the kitchen – cooking about half of the meals we ate at home over our 16 year marriage.  I was the only one who could make a pound cake – a recipe passed on by my mother, her mother and my great-grandmother.  It’s all in the mixing.  I also made a killer bean dip that I could only eat when Lisa wasn’t home.  She said it looked like…well, she said it wasn’t appetizing to her.  It was clear that was a meal to be enjoyed without her.

What I had never encountered at our house was Tupperware.  One of many things my wife handled without my knowing or appreciating. 

We have a corner cabinet that glides in a circle and in it we keep our plastic booty.  We have 28 square bottoms and 23 square tops.  Few of the tops fit the bottoms.  It’s the same with the rectangles and circles. 

Plenty of Lids

One day my dad was in town and got frustrated with the Tupperware corner.  He mustered enough energy to sit his 73-year-old inflexible self on the floor and begin the process of mating the bottoms with the tops.  He restacked and found a large container to hold the tops.  My mother helped him off the floor.  When they returned in two weeks, havoc had reigned once more.  And, he tossed one of my favorite pieces, a soup bowl sized purple number that was perfect for a nice helping of leftover bean dip.  I’d had that piece since right after college.  Boy do I miss her.

The worst part of the corner Tupperware cabinet is that the parts fall off the rotating door as you open it.  Then the cabinet gets stuck mid way around.  It’s convenient if you’re emptying the dishwasher, but it just doesn’t look very nice to leave it that way. 

Nice kitchen, why's your cabinet open? Two quart Gladware with a mismatched lid stuck in the back for goin' on two weeks now.

About once a week, I belly up on the kitchen floor and begin digging under the cabinet door.  Invariably I lose the top layer of skin off of my hand in the process of dragging out the lid that fell and that doesn’t fit any damn bottom within a sixty mile radius of my kitchen.  One time this year I drew blood trying to rescue a Gladware throw away, one of 8,976 we received over Lisa’s illness when meals were being provided by our friends four days each week.

If it is a Gladware throw away, I wonder why I don’t throw it away?   I sort of have this bizarre attachment to these containers.  It’s not like they’re expensive, you can by a package of six from Target for $3. 

I’m going to go throw one away.  Seriously,  I can do this.

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