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Killing it in the Kitchen

“Show me your spatula,” ordered my friend Hildie as she stood in my kitchen with her hands on her hips.

“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” I replied.

“Show me your spatula,” she repeated, ignoring me.

“I’m sorry, but I just don’t think I know you well enough to share something so personal,” I responded.

She reached behind my back where I was hiding my spatula.

“THIS IS YOUR SPATULA?” she gasped as she peered at the undersized plastic utensil she had grabbed from me.

“Yeah…”

“Where did you get it? An Easy Bake Oven set?”

I guffawed. “No!” I looked at the sad little excuse for a spatula. “I’m pretty sure it came with a Happy Meal.”

She shook her head at me. “I can see we have a lot of work to do.”

The work in question, was me, in my kitchen, cooking. Or rather, not-cooking, which was my problem. My friend Hildie was there to rescue me from myself, turn me into a world-class cook, or at least make sure I didn’t burn down the house. This is her business… helping moms with little time and few skills become moms who can whip up delicious, nutritious dinners that everyone in the house will eat. She is really, really good at this and has a wait list a mile long for desperate moms, like myself. But she decided to take pity on me and bump me to the top of the list after I undercooked something and gave my family food poisoning.

In my defense, the meat thermometer was broken and the food looked done. Or at least done-ish.

The first thing on her to-do list was a pantry and utensil assessment.

“If you want to be a good cook it helps to have good cooking tools,” she told me.

“I have two hammers, a wrench and a screwdriver,” I informed her.

“Not the right kind of tools,” she assured me.

We quickly discovered that, in addition to my sorry excuse for a spatula, I also had the wrong kind of whisk, lousy knives, and a twenty-year old blender that I also used as a juicer, a food processor, and a Play-doh mixer.

“You made PLAY-DOH in here?” she asked incredulously.

“No! Not made. Mixed. We only had blue and yellow and we needed some green, so we mixed it together in the blender. But that was at least 10 years ago so I’m sure it’s all cleaned out by now.”

She sighed. “Buy New Blender!” she said, adding it to my master kitchen purchasing list.

Next she opened my pantry and jumped back in fear.

“When was the last time you bought new spices?” she asked, holding up an ancient jar of cayenne pepper.

“What was the year that ‘Rock the Casbah’ was popular?” I asked. “I think I was listening to that on my walkman when I went shopping for spices.”

“Buy New Spices!” she said, adding it to my growing kitchen purchasing list.

She peered into the pantry again. “… And balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and chicken stock,” she continued, looking at the expiration dates on those bottles, wincing, and throwing them in the trash.

“Good news, though!” she said to me dryly. “You have plenty of macaroni and cheese.” She pulled out four cartons of mac and cheese from the pantry. “Were you expecting an instant mac and cheese-loving crowd to drop in unexpectedly?

“Hey, that stuff is great,” I said proudly. “It doesn’t expire until 2045!”

“Yeah… I’m not sure I would want to eat any food that could outlive me,” she said.

Once we established that I had nothing in the house that was edible and nothing to prepare my non-edible food with, we rolled up our sleeves and got started cooking.

Fortunately, I had filled out a pre-questionaire so, knowing that I had some deficits in certain areas, Hildie had brought some supplies of her own.

“You take this simple grilled chicken and you add pesto and fresh mozerella and it is just YUM!!” she declared.

“Ooh. Ooh! I have some pesto mix in my pantry!” I shouted gleefully.

“Mix?” she said in horror. “No mix! We’re going to make it fresh!”

“I don’t have to raise my own chickens, do I?” I wondered.

“No.”

“OK. Just checking.”

We pounded chickens, seasoned them, made up a batch of fresh pesto, sautéed some portobello mushrooms, layered it all up and added the mozerella on top.

By the time we were done I could make shrimp oreganata, chicken quesadillas, chicken pesto paninis, and turkey bbq meatloaf. I learned the difference between virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil (which shockingly, has nothing to do with virgins). I was instructed how to crush dried herbs in my palm to release the flavor, and scores of other cooking secrets that only Hildie and Wolfgang Puck knew. In three hours, I had become a cook.

And I didn’t even burn the house down.

But I did singe the dog’s tail a little.

 

©2017, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

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Steve Carell and the Case of the Giant Chicken

chicken-647226Our New York City vacation did not necessarily include a shoe shopping expedition.  But when I saw the sparkly, black leather platform booties in the widow, I knew they had to be mine.

Although I am usually fairly immune to these SOSUs (Sudden Onset Shoe Urges), I felt my resolve dissolve when the shoe salesman told me the manufacturer only made 10 pair of the shoes in different sizes to see if they would be successful, and mine were the only size 9, I snatched them up like a mom grabbing the last Kit Kat in her kid’s Halloween bucket and ran out the door in my new shoes.

That night, I dreamt we went to the tax accountant’s office to deal with some tax issues and suddenly a huge commotion broke out. Apparently a giant chicken was attacking the city and the tax accountant’s office was actually a front for a special forces team called The Poultry Patrol that was organized to fight giant chickens. The chicken was frightening, about the size of Godzilla, with mean red eyes and an enormous threatening beak. When it clucked, the ground shook.

I tried to sneak out, because really, what did I know about fighting giant chickens.
Cooking them? Yes. Fighting? Not so much.

However, I was stopped and told I had to join the special forces team since I was there and I had on the special shoes I had bought that day.  I failed to see the connection between my shoes and being picked to fight a giant chicken, but I went with it. Still, everyone had training and I did not so they paired me with Steve Carrell as my partner and he led me to a secret bunker where all the special forces teams were preparing to fight the giant chicken.  steve_carell_2_2013They were all geared up in flight suits and I suddenly noticed they were wearing the same sparkly leather platform booties that I had bought earlier in the day. I didn’t realize then that the shoes had jets on the soles which made the wearer able to fly.  Steve Carrell instructed me to turn on my jets and lift off, but I couldn’t fly high enough to battle the chicken because I’m afraid of heights.

So instead of fighting the giant chicken, they assigned me another vital task. I had to fly into all the public bathrooms and rescue any extra rolls of toilet paper before they would be destroyed by the giant chicken.  As the only person in our house who seems to know where the extra toilet paper is kept, this seemed like the ideal job for me. After the chicken destroyed much of the city, it was finally defeated by the special forces team and we all returned back to the tax accountant’s office where Viola Davis, the chief of the task force, thanked everyone for saving the city, but especially me for rescuing the toilet paper.
toilet-roll-220415Steve Carrell was of course annoyed that he didn’t get the recognition he thought he deserved and said it was like “Bruce Almighty” all over again. He then banished me from the tax accountant’s office and told me next time I should go to H&R block where they only do taxes, not save the world from giant angry chickens or a worldwide shortage of toilet paper.

I woke up suddenly and looked outside. There was no evidence of any prior giant chicken rampage.  Then I checked the bathroom and saw that we were well stocked in toilet paper.

Gratefully, I realized it was all a dream,

…except for the shoes, which are awesome, even though they don’t fly.

 

©2016, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

bookbutton-04“Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir. How I Got Pregnant. Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs” makes a great gift!! To get a copy for you or a cool mom you love, CLICK HERE

To become a fan of Lost in Suburbia on Facebook, Visit me here
To follow me on Twitter, visit me here

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