Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Mom Can Burn Water, Can You?


My mom can't cook. She says its because she is the youngest of 6 children and she never got to practice on anyone. Unfortunately that meant that my dad and I got to be her guinea pigs. I think its a crap excuse though. All of my aunts can cook or bake pretty well. My mom can do neither. I think the cooking gene just passed her by.

Now here's how talented my mom is with her lack of cooking skills. She can burn water. Really, water!

Okay, fine, I'm exaggerating a little bit, but 99% of its true! My mom is an avid ice tea drinker. She makes about 1-2 gallons a week. Back before she switched to artifical sugars, she used to make sweet tea. And herein lies the issue.

To properly make ice tea, you boil water in a large pot, then add in the sugar once its boiling, stir to dissolve and then add in the tea bags and turn off the heat. Pretty common sense, huh? Well, experienced cook that my mom is, she also likes to cut corners. So instead of adding the sugar once the water was boiling, she liked to do it beforehand. Which lead to a lot of problems. On multiple occasions.

Here's an example: I was 11 years old. It was fall. My mom had decided to make a pot of ice tea. While she was waiting for the water to boil, she got on the computer. On the 3rd floor of the house. Then, because my mother also possesses the attention span of a goldfish, she was tired and decided to go to bed.

A bit later, all of the water has evaporated from the pot. The sugar is now corroding into hard, burnt sugar bubbles all over the bottom of the pan. Smoke is filling the kitchen. The smoke detector goes off. My dad comes in my room and tells me "Mom's trying to kill us with the ice tea". Its about 2 AM. So, I grab the cat, put shoes on and go stand outside on a busy street while my mom and dad open all of the windows to air out the house. Do you know how bad burnt sugar smells? Did you know that it takes a long time to go away too?

A few months later, she does it again. Same scenario. But this time its colder out, so I'm standing outside in pajamas, a coat, and shoes waiting for the house to air out. In the middle of the night. When I had school the next day.

Would you believe in the dead of a Maryland winter, with two feet of snow on the ground, she does it again?!?! At this point, I'm pretty used to being woke up in the middle of the night. This time, all my dad did was yell "Nichole, your mom did it again." And I knew exactly what it was. This time was the worst though. Every other time, it was white smoke. This time, it was black smoke. Acrid black sugar burnt smoke. And this time we needed to involve the fire department because it was so bad. Needless to say, I was pretty cranky. And it didn't help that when I went to school the next morning, I was sitting next to the boy I liked and I opened my bookbag and out came a gigantic whiff of burnt sugar. He gave me a disgusted look.

My mom would joke that she was just testing the smoke detector. Ha. Ha. Not funny! I was pretty tired of this little outdoor field trip in the middle of the night because my mom couldn't be bothered to remember she was making something. So, I bought a Mr. Ice Tea Maker. If I could find the creator of this invention, I would hug them. Repeatedly. And tell them just how awesome I think they are for saving my life.

Since that fateful day when the Mr. Ice Tea Maker entered our lives, we were able to sleep in peace knowing that my mom was not trying to kill us with burnt sugar any longer. So, she just moved on to the toaster oven.

Seriously. She has got to have the attention span of a goldfish. I can't figure out how you can decide that you are hungry, put something in the toaster oven, knowing it doesn't take very long and then just completely forget about it. Not just momentarily forget either, I'm talking have no recollection of even putting something in the toaster oven. Many, many times have I saved a slice of pizza, piece of bread, or whatever the hell else she was heating up from being charred beyond recognition.

One night I even woke up in the middle of the night because I could smell something burning. I went downstairs and lo and behold, the toaster oven was left on. What does my mom say when I asked her why she is trying to kill me? "Wow, you could smell that from all of the way up here? Thats impressive."

When she did manage to cook, it was always burnt. Sometimes even charcoal-y. I guess she figured I might as well burn it to make sure that its completely cooked. Meat typically represented shoe leather. Vegetables were mushy. Everything generally had that overall taste of being overdone. My dad decided her new middle name should be Burn It.

I was on vacation and I found a sign. It read "When the smoke detector goes off, dinner is done." This summed up my mother completely. Thank God my father can cook and he passed on the ability to me. I might go crazy if I cooked like my mother.

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