Saturday, January 1, 2011

spaghetti wars

Today was not an auspicious start for the new year.  Steve accused me of being grouchy all day and sniping at him (I think he needs a hearing aid with a sweet mama tone of voice built into his ear).  The kids had more energy than the law allows, and they were getting tired of each other after spending a whole week together playing.  Play time had become 'let's see who gets to be the walking wounded first' game and we were all ready to glue their butts to their chairs permanently, and sew their lips shut except for meals.

Then I got a great idea for dinner.  I was going to take a shortcut, and put the uncooked pasta in with the spaghetti sauce.  I figured if I added a good bit of water to the sauce (yes it was Ragu, put your eyeballs back in your head...after a week of meals I was doing good to make it a hot one), then I could break the pasta up and throw it in, simmer it slow, and it would save me a couple steps and pots to clean.

Wrong.  If you've been reading this blog then you know the butter bean story and the ham hocks story too.  I may idolize Julia Child, but I sure don't cook like she did.  Well, maybe her fiascoes are what endeared her to me, but I really thought the spaghetti idea would work.  It did in my mind. 

My mind was the only place it worked.  I looked at the spaghetti after I dropped it in.  And decided that when it started softening up I was going to have one big piece of pasta, because that shit was going to stick together.  So I started stirring it with my favorite wooden fork, to help separate the pieces.  Then I left it for just a minute to go back to what I had been doing.

Which was tackling the wreck room.  It is really the computer room and my (pseudo) painting studio rolled into one.  It is also the medical clinic (Steve checks his blood sugar there), and exercise room (the treadmill is shoved over against the wall), office (read: fax machine/printer/file cabinets), and also bullet making supply room (you don't want to know anymore about that, trust me).  And it is a wreck.  So with my typical first day of the year by golly I am turning over a new leaf and get organized resolve, I was cleaning out a bunch of stuff.  I figured I could have it done in just a few minutes.

About 45 minutes later I smell something and rush into the kitchen.  The spaghetti I left 5 minutes ago is stuck to the bottom of my nice stainless steel Dutch oven bigger than shit.  I grab my trusty wooden spoon and scrape across the bottom seems the pasta is stuck to the bottom, but I figure I can just run the fork across the bottom of the pot and the spaghetti will come loose.

Wrong.  By the time I have scraped and scraped I start seeing some black looking pasta coming up off the bottom.  My mother in law taught me how to handle burned food.  If you don't scrape the bottom, you can pour what's left on top into another pan and finish cooking it.  That rule had saved my butt more than one time in the past, so I poured.  Never mind I had already scraped, I had 3 hungry kids and two adults that expected spaghetti to be done pretty soon.  I looked at the bottom of the pot I just emptied.  It was a charred wasteland of black.  I ran water in it and threw it to the side.  Then I put the new pot of spaghetti on the stove to finish cooking slowly.  Except it was full to the top.  I had misjudged how much I had and if it started flubbing (family word for anything thing that is thick and shoots like a geyser when it boils) it was going to mess up the stove.  Before I could get it off the stove, it flubbed.  I grabbed it and ran to the sink where I had my biggest pot sitting and poured it in. 

I missed the pot with the first 3 or 4 cups of spaghetti.  Never mind.  I just slammed the pot back on my red-freckled stove and scooped the spaghetti out of the sink with my hand and slung it in the garbage.  (I don't have a dishwasher, so it makes sense I wouldn't have a garbage disposal either, kinda.)  I tried three lids before I found one that fit the goliath pot.  I turned the heat way down and that was when I noticed my favorite wooden fork.  I guess I scraped the first pot too hard, because the end of each tine of the fork looked like a badly used toothbrush, all flared out and poofy on the end.  I didn't even want to think about how much wood I left in the spaghetti.  I figured it would just add some fiber, and we could all use more fiber in our diets.

While the spaghetti simmered at crock pot slowness, I got the garlic breadsticks ready for the oven.  Steve had bought some off brand breadsticks and they had used some kind of yellow colored garlic flavored grease on them.  I got the first bag open, and put the bread on the cookie sheet, but had to tear the second bag open with my teeth because the bag kept shooting out of my hand like a greased pig.  After I got the second bag of bread on the cookie sheet, I threw them in the oven and set the kitchen timer (I'm no dummy) and went back to my wreck room project.

About 3 minutes later Jen and Steve start hollering 'something is burning!' but I faked them off by telling them it was just the garlic they smelled from the breadsticks.  The timer finally dinged, I fixed the kids' plates, told Steve to go fix his own, and I ate some of it just to make sure it was ok.  The spaghetti that is.  I survived. Steve and the kids survived.  Jen passed on the spaghetti since she was still digesting whatever she ate yesterday (no it wasn't anything I cooked).  Might also be because she witnessed most of what went on in the kitchen from the doorway (she wouldn't come any closer).

We all finished and I looked in the kitchen.  Three huge Dutch ovens, three lids, one cookie sheet, a ruined wooden fork, a wooden spoon, and red freckles on every surface.  And I just turned around and walked out.  That wasn't on my list of things to do today.  I'll take care of it sometime next week.

We all survived the fiber except Jim, who ate a plate later that day and made a dive for the bathroom, telling us later 'that spaghetti tore my stomach up!'

I just acted like I didn't hear him and checked to make sure the fork was all the way in the bottom of the garbage.


  1. Brilliant work. A chef I can relate too.


  2. My grandmother had the same technique for making spaghetti. Except she used ketchup instead of fancy-schmancy Ragu :) . And next time I burn dinner (i.e. tonight), I am going to try your mother-in-law's trick for salvaging the meal! Who knew? :) Take care! Karen

  3. Glad I am not judged on my culinary skills! Thanks for the comments Alejandro and Karen! I still have hope to be better one day, but I have to learn to like to cook first I think.
    PS, I've gone the ketchup route when my kids were little.. :D

  4. LMAO! You actually can cook - some things. ;-)

  5. shhh dooj, you'll spoil the illusion... haha
    xoxo sissy mine