So my brother, Graham, came into town for my mother’s birthday this week. My kids love their Uncle Graham. He has a wicked sense of humor. And he doesn’t get to come very often, so when he does make it down here, it’s a special occasion.
Put together Mom’s Birthday, and Uncle Graham visiting, and boy howdy is it a special day! This calls for an extra-special dinner, so I rolled up my sleeves, and made a casserole with anything (read: everything) I could find, and copious amounts of butter and cream. We’re talking rice, chicken, ham, bacon, broccoli, cheese, ….all the things that make life happy.
Now, see, usually I’d put a cookie sheet under a casserole dish to catch any spills. But this time it didn’t seem like the dish was so full that it would be necessary.
Yeah….that was a serious mis-calculation.
The smell told me so.
It also told me that maybe, perhaps, it was potentially possible that I might have used a slightly excessive amount of butter and cream.
You should have seen alarming amounts of smoke spewing out of the oven vents as that grease hit the bottom of the crankin’ hot oven.
I would like to take this moment to review the importance of the efficacy of oven fans.
But we don’t have time.
So let’s take stock of my situation:
- We have a strong smell of burning food.
- We have a heavy show of smoke.
- My husband is a firefighter.
- My brother is in town which happens like, once a year, so I’d like to impress him if at all possible.
- AND, my mother’s birthday meal is in question at this point.
What did I do?
Did I panic? Did I cry? Did I suggest we go out to dinner instead?
No sirree, Bob.
I acted like nothing was amiss, as if it was absolutely, totally normal to have the entire downstairs of the cottage filled with lung-choking smoke. And God bless my family, they played along. I don’t know if it was because they were being kind, or if it was an indictment of my cooking in general…. as if all of my meals do this. But either way, they were just going on about their business, like “there is nothing to see here folks…move along.”
All, that is, except for Uncle Graham. The funny one.
“The house isn’t burning down, right? We know this for sure, right?”
This of course was all the invitation Critter and Varmint needed to start snickering. And Grandma was not far behind.
My Captain reached up and turned the kitchen ceiling fan up to high-speed.
(Let me insert here that I always, ALWAYS keep my kitchen ceiling fan on low, just to keep air moving comfortably. So if there were, say, an ungodly build-up of dust, grease, and other indefinable particles on the fan, I would be ignorant of it. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.)
So My Captain reaches up and turns the kitchen ceiling fan on high. Uncle Graham is standing next to me in the kitchen, he’s just made the joke about the house burning down as we choke on the grease smoke, and as the fan begins to speed up, all this CRAP (for lack of a better term) comes snowing down on us from the fan. It was like our own Mt. St. Helen ash falling down all around us.
And not just a little bit.
It’s a good thing my family loves me, because they sure as hell don’t keep me around for my cooking and cleaning abilities.
Later on, the casserole DID taste yummy, and as we ate, I felt vindicated.
All was forgotten when that yummy goodness hit my tongue. At least, until, with twinkling eyes, Uncle Graham reached over and plucked a piece of Mt. St. Helen ash out of my hair.
Did I mention that my family loves me?