Sooner or later, everyone who knows me learns that I am not a cook. I am so glad that others actually enjoy cooking, because in my experience, it can be a pretty dangerous undertaking. It’s not that I can’t cook, it’s just that I find the process so boring that I tend to look for shortcuts or I wander off in the middle of it to do something more interesting. I often joke that I should write a cookbook called “When the Smoke Alarm Goes Off, It’s Done.”I thought I’d jot down a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the years. You’ll note that I made a few discoveries in the field of molecular something-or-other during my cooking career.

  • You should not broil brownies. Of course I didn’t set out to broil them, but at the time I had a cheapo oven where you flip the switch one way to bake and the other way to broil. After the smoke cleared, I found I had created a lovely black shiny rectangular “brick.” I used it for a trivet for years. People would ask what kind of material it was. I told them it was obsidian.
  • You should look for that absorbent pad that stores sometimes stick in before sliding packaged meat off the foam tray into a pan. It’s fairly disgusting to fry that sucker or fish it out of soup.
  • You cannot heat bread or anything with gluten in a microwave on high power for more than a few seconds. However, when you need alternative building materials (think plastic “wood”), nuking old bread is a dandy way to create them.
  • When cooking instructions say “Simmer for twenty minutes,” do not assume you can go out into the yard and work on the garden and return in that time frame. The buzzers on those timers are just not loud enough. The smoke alarm usually gets your attention, though. But it’s not a good feeling to suddenly remember, “Oh, yeah, I was cooking…”
  • Do not store air freshener next to spray-on cooking oil. While Febreze gets rid of that pesky burned odor, it does nothing for the flavor of food.

I am pleased to report that I have never burned down my house (or anyone else’s). I only set a potholder on fire twice. And it’s probably a good thing to check the smoke alarms regularly, don’t you think?

Stay safe out there. And invite me over for dinner once in a while.



    • I should mention that since my original comment, I was at Denny’s with my critique group and we ordered a chocolate brownie to share. Well, somebody there didn’t observe your 3rd point — the thing was cement by the time we were halfway through…

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