Thursday, January 31, 2013

Once Upon a Time I Tried Making (Instant) Oatmeal

It is no secret that I am no cook. Here's a timeline of notable events in my cooking career:

1998ish: In english class, wrote a "How To" paper called How To Make Macaroni and Cheese from the Box. I began by telling people it's very easy as long as you know the oven is hot. I showed promise. SUCCESS!

2005: most people have heard about my London Broil fiasco where I wanted to start my sophomore year of college when I was living in my first apartment (no parents! bad ass! we're getting a mini tramp(oline)! let's throw sticky hands into the ceiling fan and see where they land on the wall! typical mature stuff) and wanted to treat my friends to a home cooked meal. The main lesson learned that night is that on some ovens the bottom drawer is just a storage drawer and nothing else (i.e. not a broiler). I just wish I had figured this out before I spent all day letting it cook in there. Embarrassingly I even took it out mid-way to flip it over and did not notice that it actually wasn't cooking...or even hot. FAIL.

2009: I ended up being a huge disappointment to 6th grade me as I messed up making mac-n-cheese from a box. Maybe it's because I was feeding 5 children and 2 adults so was trying to make it from 2 boxes. At least the youngest (less than 2 yrs old) liked it...but we had also once caught her drinking whatever liquid was in the toilet brush holder. She's built up quite the immunity over the years. FAIL.

2010: Made a delicious chicken parm dinner for the roomies and a friends. It was only a success because my sous chef was a roommate who was a good cook and told me about things like "thawing the chicken" and that they do mean to literally beat it down so it's more dense. I still don't get these things. One friend who is really into cooking complimented it and later said his burps even tasted great! SUCCESS!

2010: I let the success get to my head and during a princess sleepover where two of the girls I nannied came over I got distracted by a dance party and burned the frozen pizza. Luckily I had some bread slices and oatmeal to feed them instead. And Diet Coke. FAIL.

2013: Last summer I bought some frozen skinless boneless chicken breasts. They've been in the freezer since. Earlier this week I decided I was going to cook chicken. Sunday night I pulled it out of the freezer and started opening it to only thaw 1 or 2 breasts. But it was like, really really frozen.

Since I was having more success ripping apart styrophoam than chicken breasts I decided my only option was to thaw and cook the entire thing. So I wrapped it up and put it in the fridge to cook Monday evening.

But Monday evening I got home from work and forgot I was going to cook chicken so I popped in a Lean Cuisine, poured some wine, and tried not to cry as I watched 2 episodes of 30Rock (why does it have to end?!), and a random episode of Duck Dynasty. Then I remembered I was supposed to cook chicken, but it was already almost 9pm and I was tired.

Tuesday I was going to cook it for dinner but when work friend invited me to go to a movie I forgot about my cooking plans and went. Again, got home around 9ish, asked the roommate how long chicken can be thawed in a refridgerator before I shouldn't cook it (I'm proud of myself for even thinking to ask this) and knew I had to cook it the next day. It was happening.

Wednesday. Leave work a 5:30. Was supposed to get picked up at 6:15. It was me against the clock. I pulled out a big giant frying pan thing I had bought (it came in a set I don't think I've used yet). I knew I needed to cut up the chicken before cooking and had a brilliant idea to just cut it in the pan so I didn't have to dirty a plate or something with raw chicken germs. I grabbed a fork and a sharp knife and went to town.
I read later that it isn't a good idea to use a sharp knife in the pan like that but then I figured "no worries" because this part was a pain in the ass because the knife isn't very sharp. It's actually our only sharp knife and so it gets used a lot (my roommate cooks) and its performance leaves something to be desired. Oh well...ChefProblems - amiright?

I labored through the chicken cutting process and was now ready to cook. One time when I was trying to cook sausage I was told by a roommate that I don't have to grease the pan because sausage is already greasy. I figured this logic in some regard applied to chicken because it was wet and slimy. I was wrong. It started sticking fairly quickly so I poured some olive oil into the pan because it seemed the thing to do. My mom would sometimes make chicken that was really good. Whenever I asked her for the recipe she would always give the same vague response of "oh I just put a little of whatever is around in it..." which is incredibly annoying to a black-and-white step-by-step accounting/math minded person. But I decided to see what was in the cabinet since it's right above the oven. I saw we have "lemon pepper" and I feel like "lemon pepper chicken" is a thing so I decided that was what I was going to make. So I added lemon pepper.
In the end I had my "lemon pepper chicken" and was proud of myself for remembering to cut into some pieces to make sure it was cooked all the way through (which was the bearded man's immediate response/concern when I told him I had cooked earlier). The bearded man and his ginger roommate were on their way with Chick-Fil-A in tow, so now my culinary creation waits in the fridge to be eaten this evening. Maybe I'll even make some pasta noodles to go with it...since I did buy a pot a few months ago for this very reason. Also, it was only 5:50pm. Cooking chicken is fast. SUCCESS!

2013: Then this morning at work I confidently strolled into the kitchen to make some instant oatmeal for a quick breakfast but before long there was a burning smell accompanied by increasing smoke coming from the microwave vents. I'm going to write a new "How To" paper called How to Make Instant Oatmeal from the Individual Wrapped Bags and I will begin by telling people that it is very easy as long as you remember to put water in the bowl before you start the microwave. FAIL.

Luckily the bearded man and his ginger roommate are domestic enough and cook dinner a lot so I will just resign myself to continuing to shamelessly call around dinnertime and have them throw another burger on the grill, or chicken breast in the pan because I'll be over in 15. I mean they kind of owe it to me...I do let them use my Hulu Plus log in...