See, the other day I was cooking chicken. Let me just say right now that cooking meat is not my thing. I don’t really care to eat meat myself, but for some reason my family likes it—still—even after eating my charred attempts throughout the years.
I fail no matter what cooking method I use, but the other day I was using a particularly troublesome stovetop grill doohickey. My mom picked up this gadget in one of her optimistic attempts to help me not ruin dinner. Theoretically, it combines grilling with the healthful benefits of steam cooking. You add liquid (we’ll talk about what constitutes liquid in a minute) to the metal ring that circles your stove top burner. Then, you place a metal plate on top of the ring, and you’re ready to half-steam, half-fry your food.
Naturally I’ve lost the directions to this device, which is why I have to call it a device when it probably has a catchy name like Food Blackener or The Inferno. But I did remember the crucial step of adding liquid to the ring. I remembered you could add water, broth, or even juice for added flavor.
Since I was making Italian chicken, I thought I’d use the Marsala wine I’d had in the garage fridge for ages. Wine is liquid, right? Well, it pours anyway.
I had the chicken sizzling and the water for the pasta boiling when a high-pitched screech blistered my eardrums. Being an idiot, I started for the smoke alarm, realized I couldn’t reach it, turned around and grabbed a kitchen chair, then dragged it across the floor and stood on it. I yanked the battery out of the alarm while yelling at it to “Shut up!” It didn’t.
The boys were now circling me, Chunky crying, “It hurts my ears!” I got down and grabbed a paper bag to fan the malfunctioning smoke detector and told Chunky to find my cell phone so we could call Dad.
I climbed back on the chair with my paper bag and phone and dialed my husband’s number while frantically waving the bag at the alarm. I can only imagine what he heard when he answered.
Smoke Alarm: SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!
Me: THE SMOKE ALARM IS GOING OFF!
Kory: You don’t say.
Smoke Alarm: SCREEEEEEEEEEEEECH!
Me: I TOOK THE BATTERIES OUT AND IT WON’T SHUT UP! HOW DO I MAKE IT SHUT UP?!
At this point, for reasons unknown, the smoke alarm stopped beeping.
Kory: What are you doing?
Me: Cooking dinner.(Duh!) When will you be home?
Kory: 15 minutes.
I hung up and went to burning the chicken, but no sooner had I returned to my domestic duty when the blankety blank thing went off again. This time I decided to try a different approach. On a different device. For grins, I unplugged the carbon monoxide detector which promptly changed sounds from a horrendous screech to an equally piercing series of beeps. It also started flashing codes at me. So while yelling at my crying children to open the windows (did I mention it was raining?), I ran upstairs and grabbed the other carbon monoxide detector which was also going off, wrapped them both up in a sleeping bag, and chucked the whole thing into the garage.
While all this was going on Monkey doubled over and complained that it hurt to breathe. We searched for his inhaler, and I made him stand by the door where the rain now pelted into the kitchen. But the fresh air and Albuterol quickly counteracted my poisonous food preparation.
Ah. No more beeping. Child breathing. I finished burning dinner.
Kory came home to a quiet house and a disgusting meal.
But before we sat down, he retrieved the carbon monoxide detectors and read the instructions on the side. (There are instructions on the side!) Then he started quizzing me on what the beep sounded like.
Me: Awful! Horrible! My brain was bleeding!
Kory: Was it a continuous beep or a series of beeps?
Me: I don’t know! It just wouldn’t stop!
Kory: And that didn’t concern you?
Me: OF COURSE it concerned me!
By now we were both wondering if we shouldn’t get out of the house all together. I finally determined that the beep was continual, and Kory went to look it up online. I called after him, “It displayed some kind of code. 228, I think.”
A few minutes later, he said, “I couldn’t find 228, but did it maybe say GAS?”
Me: Um, yeah, it said GAS too.
Kory: It was detecting explosive gas. What were you cooking with?
Now, people cook with wine all the time. In fact, there are sites you can go to that will tell you HOW to cook with wine, such as the very helpful What's Cooking America which told me this:
All wines contain at least some small amount of sulfites. They are a natural result of the same fermentation process that turns grape juice into alcohol. …
When cooking with wine containing sulfites, you do not concentrate them as you would flavor, but rather they evaporate like alcohol. The sulfite goes through a conversion in the liquid of the wine to produce sulfur dioxide. This is actually the compound that prevents the oxidation. It also is a gas, and when subjected to heat, it dissipates into the air.
Well, ok, now I know. I still don’t know why it set off the carbon monoxide detector. Maybe I used too much wine. Maybe it was too old. Maybe the carbon monoxide detector, like all the other members of my family, just doesn’t like the way I cook meat.
One thing’s for sure, I found a good tactic to get out of cooking. Now if I could only find a way to subsidize our restaurant budget.