Thursday, December 12, 2013

Feelin' the Burn

This morning I heated the cream before I added it to my coffee, just because...just because I needed to begin the day with a little warm happy moment in case today careened out of control... yesterday.

Everything began well enough. We were up, dressed, school started, piano lesson underway, ham and beans in a pot simmering with in plenty of time to make a cozy dinner, multiplication tables humming along swimmingly and then it was time to take on lunch. Lunch is cryptonite to me. Love to eat it, hate to stop the momentum of the day to fix it and clean up after it.

Lunch, nonetheless, is helpful when it comes to keeping my students happy and able to concentrate. I had in my cabinets and freezer sufficient ingredients to make Kate's favorite Stuffed Spud Soup and I put it together in the pot, turned on the burner, set a timer, and left the room to read Little House in the Big Woods to Molly. The timer buzzed, Molly and I continued to read, and the soup continued to cook and cook and then smolder and by the time the acrid scent reached my nostrils it was too late. I dumped Molly unceremoniously to the floor and did the slow-motion scramble to the kitchen.

Kate, not wishing to admit her mother's defeat beat me to the kitchen and had begun dipping the soup into six bowls which only served to cause the bitter burnt smell to escape into the whole house. Determined, Kate sat down to her soup, sprinkled cheese on top and plunged her spoon into the bowl. After a few bites, even Kate gave up. "Please make us more," she asked, blue eyes doing their best to convince.

I sent her to the pantry to get what we needed, my gut tightening as I considered the ingredients I'd just wasted. To clear away the mess, I placed a bowl in the sink only to hear a tell-tale ting as the bowl broke. I tossed the pieces into the trash and dumped the burnt soup down the disposal trying not to breath in the odor. Thinking how very thankful I was for the disposal that could make this culinary catastrophe disappear, I flipped the switch and a horrible crunch let me know that a piece or two of my broken bowl had fallen into the disposal.

I flipped the switch off quickly and removed the pieces from the murky depths. I turned it back on once more and heard more grinding just before the machine's motor stopped all on its own. Because of another disposal incident I knew that there was a reset button at the machine's bottom which I pressed. The motor came to life once more only to turn itself off again. When I reached for the reset button this time, the canister in the cabinet was warm to the touch and was beginning to out pace the soup with its burning smell.

I called the number on the side of the disposal and talked to a lady whose voice I could barely discern but whose instructions, which involved a quarter inch allen wrench and a little elbow grease, I followed to the letter. After twisting the wrench left and right and feeling the mechanism give a bit and then move freely, I tested out my favorite kitchen appliance and it worked like a charm.

I dumped more soup down the drain and came head on with the burnt thick crusty solid bottom of the pot. Just then, Kate came back into the kitchen and asked how the soup do-over was coming along. I explained that there would be no potato soup for lunch.

She was NOT happy. That made TWO of us.

We'd have to have peanut butter and jelly instead and then sent her to the pantry once more to collect the necessary staples. She reappeared with the peanut butter in one hand and the jelly in the other. I sent her from the kitchen until I could get sandwiches made and hit reset on my nerves.

Then I realized we were out of bread.

I looked sadly at the ham and beans that were bubbling away for dinner. Lunch was ready.

My main goal for the day was to bake cookies for my Wednesday night class at church full of third through sixth graders and bake I did. I colored the dough a tie-dyed green color and put the Christmas tree cookie cutter to work. They baked, they puffed, they were lovely, they did not burn. I put them on the cooling racks and started dinner...again.

Just as I was getting the chopped onions into the oil to begin cooking in the newly cleaned (after a four hour scrub) pot, a visitor dropped by to pick up a package.

One line of conversation led to another and soon the scent of onions came wafting through the house. I asked Kate to go to the kitchen and turn off the burner. When my guest had gone I returned to the kitchen to find in the bottom of my newly cleaned pot blackened bits of ash that had been onions.

I cleaned the pot and began dinner preparation once more.

I made it to church without further incident except that I'd almost forgotten my lovely Christmas tree cookies which I tossed carefully into a container and headed out the door. The evening at church was soothing the nervy failures of the day. It came time to pass out the cookies to my students one of whom is Kate who had been looking forward to the snack all afternoon.

I had passed the bowl along to nearly half of the kids when I heard Kate's voice..."Um, Mom...these smell like onions."

And they really did. They'd been cooling right beside of the burning onions.

Yes. Really.

I'd have cried right then and there but the sight of those kids trying not to hurt my feelings by  attempting to eat those beautiful sulfurous-smelling cookies melted my heart. I told them to trash the cookies. Some did. Some powered through, bless 'em.

And so this morning, I heated the cream for my coffee and thanked the Lord for the mercies of this new morning. Then I heated some more cream and enjoyed some more coffee, realizing that if today was half as harrowing as yesterday I'd need at least two cups to get it started.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

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