A little creative writing.
WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT THE FOLLOWING EXPERIMENT YOURSELF. THIS WAS A DANGEROUS OPERATION CONDUCTED BY A PROFESSIONAL TEENAGER UNDER CAREFULLY CONTROLLED CONDITIONS, NAMELY, WITHOUT PARENTAL GUIDANCE.
I have made the most amazing cookies in the world. This is the truth. I really did make some cookies, and they really were the most amazing cookies in the world. The fact that the house is still standing everything I did in the kitchen them is just short of a miracle. Anyhow, the production of these cookies was undoubtedly the...um...highlight of my entire life. You probably want to hear all about it, starting from the very beginning.
You must understand a few things about me first. Like most Americans, I have a morbid fear of both dish soap and kitchen sinks, and for this reason I have avoided the kitchen for much of my life. However, one day I was alone at home, working on homework. The kitchen was sitting between the dining room and the laundry room, very much as it always does. Finishing my homework, I ascended the stairs at about 4 pm, searching for some form of “food.” “Food” in quotation marks means anything with a negligible food value, like Twinkies, potato chips, and/or Mountain Dew. To my great dismay, we had none of the aforementioned “food.” Looking around the clean, empty, quiet kitchen, I decided to ward off boredom and hunger at the same time by preparing a monster batch of chocolate chip cookies, as home-made chocolate chip cookies have very nearly as little food value as Twinkies.
Having never prepared such cookies before in my life, I began to hunt (first and foremost) for a recipe. Looking in the cabinet, I was dismayed to find not one, not two, but an entire stack of cookbooks. After shuffling through countless culinary publications with titles like “Breakfast with the Browns” and “Princess’ Pop-Tart Recipes” I found what I was looking for: Mom’s Best Recipes. An antique, dog-eared book, my mother had received this marvel of maternal cooking instruction for her birthday some years ago. She had used it many times in the past, and was an expert in directing my father to consult it for culinary instruction. After a minute or two of searching through the book, I found the recipe for Colossal Cookies. Propping the book up on the counter, I began to search for the necessary ingredients.
Eggs. Hmmm. Well, I didn’t know for sure if we had any eggs. Opening the fridge door, I was halted in my tracks by a solid wall of food objects. Crouching in front of the refrigerator, I froze for a few seconds. “Careful, commander, we may have a landmine here.” Warily eyeing the precarious pile of victuals, I spotted the eggs. Then, in a smooth, practiced motion, I slid forward toward them. I made my move. Snatching the eggs, I slid back super fast and closed the door even faster. As the door shut, I could hear the pile slide further forward...one step closer to eventual world domination. Smiling in a satisfied way, I carried the eggs over to the counter. “Booby trap setting successful, Commander, over.” Referring back the recipe, my heart sank. The next ingredient? Milk.
Milk. I had dealt with refrigerator booby-trapping before, and I could do it again. Crouching again, I prepared my quick instincts for a sudden defense deployment. Flinging the door open with more force that necessary, I took three shots to the torso (that would be, the butter, lettuce and sour cream). But I was able to keep the other items where they belonged. As I rummaged about for the milk, I failed to see the horseradish creeping forward over the edge of the shelf. Looking down just in time, I saw it sail proudly over the edge and hit the floor with a dramatic, fatal smash. Grabbing the milk, I shut the refrigerator door and stepped away from the broken glass. Placing the milk on the counter, I reached for the paper towels while viewing the damage. Horseradish from the front of the refrigerator to the opposing counters – a distance of over five feet! Amazing. That one must be a record. Mopping the horseradish up, I resumed my ingredient-gathering.
Butter. I grabbed the thawed stick off the counter.
Brown sugar. Scratching my head, I tried to remember where I had last seen the brown sugar. Of course it would be with the oatmeal.... Where was the oatmeal? Cabinet...cabinet...cabinet? Wha- oh. That one. Eh-heh.
White sugar. Raiding the sugar bowl, I was one step closer to completely eliminating the food value of these cookies.
Baking soda & baking powder. Hmmm...wonder what happens when you light this stuff on fire...? Smells dangerous enough....
Flour. Bleached? Unbleached? Baker’s? Not bakers? Whole wheat? White? I picked the closest sack.
Vanilla. Whoa! That has got to be more than 10% alcohol. Ah well, throw it in anyway. Hope no one gets drunk...
Finally! Everything was assembled for my cookies. The recipe now advised me to beat the eggs together with the butter and sugar. After prowling through the Great Under-Counter Drawer, I finally found and wrested from the grip of said drawer the beaters I needed to make my job easier. I started cracking the eggs. As my first cracking attempt failed, I began to think. As my second crack failed, I began to think more. And by the third egg mess I had to clean up, I was ready to take action.
Assembling my assorted chisels, picks, and scalpels, I put on my safety goggles. This was going to get messy. First I tapped the egg with a scalpel. Judging by its diameter, it would take an 0.6 inch pick to get a functioning hole through it. After that, I’d attempt to use my 3.3 chisel to open the hole up safely.
A 0.6 inch pick didn’t work. And come to think of it, a 3.3 chisel didn’t cut it, either. (Keep in mind that this operation took place on the kitchen floor.) After exhausting my tools, I finally by complete accident broke an egg and maneuvered it into the bowl without any egg shell spillage! Well...none that I cared to take note of anyhow. At this point, I was more that slightly frustrated. But my innate dedication kept me going until I had all ... well ... one egg in the bowl.
The butter was soft enough to not be a problem. The sugar blended effortlessly, and everything was peachy for awhile. But the flour presented a problem. Every time I went to pour it into the bowl, it thumped into the bowl with a soft, giant white explosion. By the end of this step, I was covered in a thick, unflattering coat of flour. Gritting my teeth, I blended it all together. The vanilla was uncooperative. By the time I got the lid off the grimy bottle, the rest of the ingredients had begun to set. Looking into the bowl at my achievements, it dawned on me that cookies were not intended to set. At this point, I have to admit I completely disregarded the recipe and threw everything into the bowl with a gusto that would have made Martha Stewart cringe. Whipping it all up, I began to spoon it onto the cookie sheet.
It was about at this point that I realized I hadn’t turned the oven on.
I took a breather from the kitchen for a moment.
Returning, I turned the oven on and finished spooning the first batch of cookies to be baked onto the cookie sheet. Glancing at the clock, I remembered that my mom would be home in less than an hour. To hasten the cooking process, I turned the oven up (mistake number one) and put two cookie sheets into the oven (mistake number two). Then I realized that the kitchen needed to be cleaned. I got out the mop (mistake number three). I turned the water on for the dishes and turned my entire attention to cleaning the floor.
The flour, combined with the grease from the butter, along with the egg goo from my earlier experiment combined with the spilled sugar to create a veritable batch of cookie dough on the floor. And adding water and a mop to the mixture did not help things. “Commander! This looks like a quicksand!” The thick goo on the floor was not diminishing in size, so I decided to get the snow shovel from the garage. On my way to the garage, I realized that the trashcan was overflowing. Running it out to the garbage bin, I grabbed the shovel on my way back into the house. When I saw the kitchen I almost had a heart attack.
Soapy water flowed over the edge of the sink, spilling onto the floor to combine with the cookie gook. The entire kitchen was bathed in a foamy, gooey, substance not unlike cookie dough. To top it off, a burning smell began to permeate the kitchen as smoke circled lazily up from the oven.
I didn’t panic. I didn’t scream. But I did realize that I would need much more than just a shovel to clean this mess up. Dashing through the slippery, scummy, ankle-deep swamp, I turned off the water and opened the oven. Black smoke poured out of the oven as raw cookie dough dripped over the sides of the pans. Wrenching both from the oven, I turned the oven off and opened the kitchen window. Putting the cookies out of my mind, I began to clean up the swamp. I settled on using the soapy water to scrub up the stubborn goo. Strapping kitchen towels to my feet, I skated industriously about the kitchen, shoveling the mess into trash bags. Soon the floor was visible again. Wiping my brow, I carted all eight trash bags out to the trash bin and returned to the kitchen to clean everything else up. Washing the dishes was easy with five hundred gallons of hot, soapy water. It took about ten minutes to clean all the dishes. Scrubbing the oven was less enthralling. The cookie dough had burnt itself stubbornly onto the walls of the oven and required several hard scrubs to remove (most of) the residue. After I had scraped, scrubbed, wiped and washed everything in the kitchen, I had finally returned it to good shape.
When my mom got home, she thanked me for freshening and cleaning the kitchen. I didn’t say anything. And I certainly kept my mouth shut the next time Mom was cleaning around the bottoms of the cabinets and asked, “How did I get cookie dough in all these cracks?” I just shrugged.
What did I learn from the Cookie Incident? Cooking can be hazardous. As a safety precaution, you should never cook anything, including toast, without wearing a welding helmet. And resist all urges to make something in the kitchen unless you feel like paying for flood & fire insurance.
Next time, I resolved, keeping in mind that a good cook makes substitutions where necessary, I decided to use my cooking skills to make Dave Barry’s sweet potato soup with lobster and orange crème fraichè. I plan to follow this creative gentleman’s recipe: 1. In a medium room, remove wrappers from eight miniature Three Musketeers bars left over from Halloween.2. Eat bars.3. Feed wrappers to dog.And after that, I’m never going to cook again.
25 May 2007
A little creative writing.