Saturday, June 21, 2008

Domestic Black Arts for Guys: Death Traps to Avoid

I, Popften, who have been married 25 years, will now impart to you single guys or newly married guys some of the helpful wisdom I have been privileged to learn the hard way. More than once. "Why would I want to know such things?" you might ask. A reasonable question.

Indeed, you may not want to know. When I was in college, living off campus, I survived quite nicely on a freezer full of … well, frozen pizzas. A fair percentage of them did get burned, but hey, my roommate and I were happy.

Except, in the interest of full disclosure, it wasn't quite that simple. You see, well, cough-cough, my then-future wife allowed me to come over to her apartment, contribute to her and her roommate's food budget, and enjoy their evening meals of well-balanced real home-cooked food, which was the real key to my physical survival.

So. Here we go with a domestic black art referred to colloquially otherwise as "cooking", "preparing a meal", "baking" and the like. Here are some death traps to avoid.

First, if you need to know how to cook something, a real helpful thing for said adventure is a "cook book". Joy of Cooking is a pretty good one. Contained within the gilded pages of the cook book are something called "recipes". Guys, now pay close attention here. Recipes are not written in runes of elven-languages of middle-earth from millennia gone by. They are actually written in English!

HOWEVER -- here is the key to a proper understanding of recipes, which, if missed or ignored, will result in kitchen-carnage of a scope and scale I shudder to think about. SO. Are you ready for the key to all cooking wisdom? The key is…. Ta-daaa! Read the recipe all the way through BEFORE you start. Yep. It’s that simple. But are not the profoundest truths of life simple ones? But wait, there’s more. After reading the recipe all the way through, you actually FOLLOW what you read step-by-step. This will maximize the probability of you ending up with something resembling edible. It took me almost twenty years to learn this to the point that I do it every time.

Why? you ask again. Well, let me just say that cooking is a highly technical process, rife with death traps for the naive or uninitiated. Sometimes you gotta do stuff like mix a bunch of dry stuff in one bowl, then deftly, athletically, and with aplomb, set that aside. Then get another bowl and, with power, authority, and a massive show of raw strength, combine a bunch of wet stuff. And finally, ruthlessly, and remorselessly, mix it. Or something. Look, I know it makes NO sense WHATSOEVER. But you need to comply with instructions like that or, trust me, you are going to get hungry, and you'll find yourself driving to Outback yet again for another one of those juicy, sizzling, ambrosia-like sirloin steaks with a loaded baked potato and Caesar salad that you know you can't afford 'til next month.

Don't say I didn’t warn you.

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