Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Neglected Chef Foibles: Part One


Easy Read Slant Sided Measuring Bowls

   If not for her chiropractor appointment today, she might be outside gardening.  The day is perfect for it.  The sun is bright but not hot.  The breeze is gentle.  Last night’s rain has already loosened the weeds and eliminated the need to irrigate.  I could get straight to grooming the tomato plants and harvesting some basil.

   But no.  She had been to a Pampered Chef party earlier in the month and unwittingly altered her immediate future.  She enjoyed the socializing of course but resisted sales pitch after sales pitch, inwardly congratulating herself for her sustained frugality.

   Among other things, she declined purchasing the easy read measuring cups.  She just had to insist that her regular glass measuring bowls, the traditional upright Pyrex kind with red measurement lines on the side, were all she needed for measuring liquids.

  Today she regrets that pridefulness.  

  Last Wednesday was her sister’s birthday, and per tradition she had determined to bake a short cake and deliver it with fresh strawberries.  Premeasured dry ingredients sat in an orderly row across her smooth, clean countertop.    A cake pan was buttered and dusted with flour, awaiting the lumpy, delicious batter.  The oven dial had been twisted to preheat to 350 degrees.  Her apron was tied neatly around her ample middle.  John Phillip Sousa was playing in the living room.

   She had positioned her very old and well used two-cup Pyrex glass measuring bowl on the kitchen counter to pour in buttermilk.  She took one step back and leaned forward to get a close up view of the fluid level (the buttermilk should be measured precisely, after all).  The red lines had faded over the years, and the glass was a bit clouded by time and heavy use, so she had to step back further still and lean in even more closely to focus on the 1 ½ cup mark.  This put her in an unnatural position with her rump more in the air than it usually is, and without warning she felt something catch in her lower back.

   A knifing sensation on either side of her spine, a shooting numbness up her back, and then sudden and extreme immobility brought the cake baking to a complete halt.  Buttermilk exploded all over the kitchen while she crumpled gracelessly and face first to the floor.

   As she surprised herself with cursing and writhed in pain on the kitchen floor now slick with buttermilk, the oven beeped its cheerful arrival at the needed baking temperature of 350 degrees.  It would sit, preheated but empty, oblivious to the drama, for the rest of the evening until her husband would exhaustedly stumble in for a midnight snack and notice the lone red light signaling readiness.  He would twist the dial back to “off.”  Mission aborted.  Oven unfulfilled.

   It had been a humiliating phone call to make, reporting that she had fallen and may have broken her back while measuring buttermilk.  But her dutiful husband had of course rushed home from work and taken her immediately to the emergency room.  There, she had to reexperience the accident nine or ten more times to different nurses and physicians with clipboards.  More than one younger, slightly more elastic woman had to restrain smiles of either pity or unfeeling laughter, it was hard to tell.

   Her back was not broken, but she was seriously injured.  Her jaw bone and right shoulder were bruised, too.

   If only she had shelled out the money at that Pampered Chef party for the slanted-sides measuring bowls!  The extra expense seemed too large at the time, wasteful even considering her arsenal of Pyrex sitting at home.  But now, seeing the hundreds of dollars being paid to the chiropractor’s office for back adjustments, to the pharmacy for muscle creams, and to fast food restaurants for take out dinner because she is in too much pain to cook for her husband, a trip back in time to buy those Pampered Chef mixing bowls would fix everything and save a small fortune.



   But to the injury tending she returns, and her garden sits, unattended, becoming slowly reclaimed by the wild.  The tomatoes will rot on the vine, she thinks.

   Across the street her neighbor is drinking iced tea on her own front porch, enjoying a perfectly manicured lawn and a thoroughly weeded flower bed.  I bet she ordered the easy read measuring cups.

pinnable

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