The Latest Lost in Suburbia Column: Too Many Slow Cooks in the Kitchen

cavemen cookingI was catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee at her house when my eye caught the gleam of something new and shiny in her kitchen.

“What is THAT?” I exclaimed adoringly. She followed my gaze to the new appliance on her countertop.

“Oh, that’s my new slow cooker,” she boasted proudly. “I LOVE it!”

“A slow cooker?” I echoed. “What does it do?”

“Um… it cooks slow,” she smirked.

“Yeah, I figured that.”

“And it does all the cooking for you,” she added.

I found this piece of news very intriguing. As someone who is severely kitchen-challenged, I was definitely up for anything that could do the cooking for me. I had tried to teach both my kids and the dog to cook so I wouldn’t have to, but that never quite worked out, although the dog was somewhat better at it than the kids. This slow cooker thing seemed like the perfect solution.

“Okay, I’m in,” I announced. “How does it work?”

“Well, you go out and get all your ingredients for the meal you want to make, chop them up and pre-cook them if necessary, and then put them in the slow cooker for four to six hours.”

“Wait, you mean I have to go out and get the food?” I replied. “And I have to prep it and cook some of it before the slow cooker does?”

She looked at me dumbly.

“Well that doesn’t seem like a great deal!” I complained.

I was really surprised. From the way she had raved about the thing, I had actually assumed the slow cooker would do the supermarket shopping and maybe even fold the laundry for me, too.

And the fact that I had to chop and pre-cook, too, definitely seemed like a bit of a scam. If I was going to drop a wad of bills on a slow cooker, I not only wanted it to dice, slice and cook the meal for me, I wanted it to eat it, too.

I had been duped by this kind of bait and switch once before. We had an oven with a self-cleaning feature and when I tried to use it, not only didn’t it clean the oven, it smoked up the kitchen so badly the fire department thought I had torched the place. Of course, I had set several fires in the kitchen before so this wasn’t a completely unreasonable expectation on their part.

Smoke aside, however, the oven was such a mess afterwards I had to spend two hours sand-blasting it. I finally realized when they said it was self-cleaning, they actually meant I was going to have to clean it myself.

Not wanting to get caught in this kind of misunderstanding again, I decided I needed to be very clear about my kitchen appliance requirements.

“Are there any slow cookers that completely prepare the meal for you and all you have to do is just serve it on a plate?” I wondered.

“Yes,” she said. “It’s called ‘Take-out.’”

©2014, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

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Filed under This Old House

Coming out of the Closet

closetNot too long ago, if you said you had a room the size of a closet, it meant the space was probably pretty darn small.

These days, however, it’s not uncommon to have a closet the size of a living room, with more sliding drawers, revolving racks and custom shoe trees than Barney’s or Bloomies or Paris Hilton. So nowadays, if you tell someone you have a room the size of a closet, the room could very well be large enough to seat an elephant, comfortably.

Although I dream about one day being able to fit an elephant in my closet, right now, I can barely fit my clothes in there. We live in an older house, with teeny closets, and apparently, fifty years ago, people either wore significantly less clothes than we do today or they were much, much smaller. Maybe both. Based on the size of my closet, the previous owner was about 3 feet tall and probably spent most of the time naked.

Having come from the city where the rent was actually based on closet space, I was not unfamiliar with the challenges of limited storage. Over the years, I have become the queen of the seasonal changeover; feverishly stripping our closets and drawers bare of winter clothes each spring, packing them up into bins, and hauling them to the attic. Then I do the reverse in the fall. There’s no set time that I do this.

I’m kind of like a bear waking up from hibernation. One day my internal closet clock goes off and then I get the feeling that it’s time to make my family’s life hell once again.

“OK, I need anything that says ‘Summer’ to come down,” I yelled up to my husband at the top of the attic stairs.

“There are ten boxes that say ‘Summer’ up here,” said a miserable voice from above.

“Yeah, I need all those,” I yelled back. Like a well-oiled machine, my son pushed the bins across the attic floor, passed them to my husband on the rickety, pull-down steps, who handed them down to me and my daughter in the garage below. Ten times.

“Wait,” I said, lifting a top off a bin. “This is ‘Camp’ stuff. We don’t need it yet. Put it back.”

My husband examined the bin. “It says ‘Summer!’”

“It is ‘Summer,’ but it’s ‘Camp.’” I responded. “It goes back.” Mumbling evil husband things to himself, he hoisted the bin back up the steps and into the attic. Then he and my son started to come down.

“Hang on,” I said, peering into another bin. “These are bathing suits and towels. We don’t need these yet.”

“The bin says ‘Summer,” protested my husband.

“Well, we’re really only actually doing ‘Spring,’” I explained. More mumbling.

“Wouldn’t it make more sense for YOU to go up in the attic and actually look in the bins before we bring them all down,” he asked.

“No,” I said adamantly. “We have a system. I’m the Ground Floor Gal. You are the Steps Guy. He is Attic Boy, and she is Garage Girl.”

“That’s not a system. That’s a weird bunch of superheroes.”

“Fine,” I said sliding a mammoth bin back across the floor to him. “Then I consider it my duty to make our closets safe for all mankind.”

“Great,” he said. “But who will save us from you?”

©2014, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

Xmas book bundleSave 15% when you order “Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir. How I Got Pregnant. Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs” and “Rebel without a Minivan” together on Amazon! To get your copies, CLICK HERE

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Filed under Cleanliness is Next to Impossibleness, Who Are These Children and Why are they Calling Me Mommy