I was feeling pretty good this afternoon. I was way ahead on dinner, which is always a plus on Mondays, when M has a short window of time between track practice and soccer practice to scarf down some dinner. The main dish was chicken Italian dressing bake, which M had particularly requested, and I was pleased with myself because I’d noticed a large container of plain macaroni noodles in the fridge, which meant that I could kill off some leftovers while making what we call “naked spaghetti,” which would be a side dish for three of us and a main dish for mostly-vegetarian J. I made some carrots that M loves (“the only thing wrong with this carrot dish is that you never make enough of it,” she says) and I unearthed the bunch of asparagus that I’d meant to cook, like, ten days ago, and it was miraculously not rotting away. I cannot say the same for the fresh parsley it was nestled up against in the produce drawer, but that green slime rinsed right off!
I had put the asparagus in the oven to start roasting and was getting the chicken ready when I noticed something unexpected. Sparks, possibly a small flame, in the oven. Well, that’s not good. I turned off the oven and cautiously opened the door. It wasn’t airtight, right? I wasn’t feeding the flame oxygen, was I? Nope, it sputtered out quickly. Some people might have called it quits on the oven, what with the fire hazard and all, but I had a fully-developed meal plan in place, and every deviation equals delay. I waited a few minutes and turned the oven on again. Hmm. . . . seemed okay. The aspara-guys, as I like to call them, continued to roast. After a bit, I slid in the pan of chicken. Not too much later it was time to get M at school, and since the oven had been going another 25 minutes or so without bursting into flames, I left it on in the house with my second-born child.
And then, disaster struck.
No, not really! I got home and everything seemed fine. In fact, it was only as I started to recount this episode that I processed that perhaps leaving the oven unattended with a minor was a bad idea. I started to reference a popular tv series here, but I don’t want to spoil that show for anyone. Some of you no doubt know what I’m talking about.
Like I said, everything seemed fine, but in fact, apparently those were death sparks that my oven was throwing. Or, at least, the heating coil was shuffling off its mortal coil. The oven was warm. . . ish. But not hot enough to cook the chicken. Which was especially a bummer because that was M’s favorite part and of course she wanted to eat asap and digest before it was time to start running around again. And it was really quite raw. But then, DUH-duh-duh-DAH! I was rescued by one of our most recent acquisitions, our new toaster oven:
What have we here? Well, Bob, it’s the Panasonic NB-G110P Flash Xpress Toaster Oven, and it’s a beauty! With its double Infrared Light, it cooks up to 40-percent faster than conventional toaster ovens. . . okay, I just totally stole that line from the Amazon description in my attempt to act like we’re on the The Price is Right. Which maybe you didn’t get, but you totally would have gotten it if you were here at my house, where I am wearing a clingy silk dress and fake nails and gesturing gracefully around the appliance. Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m not actually doing that.
Like some kind of kitchen ninja, I distracted M with a pile of carrots and pasta while I cut one of the biggish pieces of chicken into five different smaller pieces of chicken and put them into this magnificent toaster oven. In six minutes, they were miraculously cooked through! After this stunning success, I somehow managed to stick all of the rest of the pieces of chicken onto the Easy Bake Oven-sized pan and cooked them in, oh, about ten minutes. It was Ah-Maze-Ing.
You know what makes this feat even more amazing? In the middle of me playing presto-bake-o with the chicken, M arrived in the kitchen with some toxic waste. In the form of soccer socks. Now, she practices on Mondays and Wednesdays, which means that there has to be a relatively quick turn-around on the regulation training uniform soccer socks (why don’t I buy a second pair? you’re right: I totally should. One pair was in the kit, and it didn’t occur to me to drop even more cash on soccer. But anyway).
Last Tuesday and Wednesday I was less on-the-ball than today, because I somehow hadn’t washed her soccer socks. Sadly, this was only discovered moments before it was time for M to leave for last Wednesday’s practice, and she had to suck it up and just wear the dirty socks from two days before. First, you should know that these are not, like, cute little toddler socks or something. These are socks that have been placed onto feet that have already done a track practice, and then they get an extra 90 minutes of sweaty exercise. Ugh. She put a brave face on it Wednesday because she is well-trained. A few years back I started using the phrase, “Anyone who feels this passionately about laundry should be doing all of her own laundry,” and I only had to say it maybe twice before she realized that the only acceptable laundry comments are compliments, not complaints. She’ll even start a load of laundry, but the truth is, that girl’s busy, so I’m generally happy to do it. And I felt responsible, because she’d put the socks in the hamper. Now I’ve added a note to my Google calendar to do a Wednesday morning sock inventory. I seriously couldn’t survive without my Google calendar. But anyway, back to today.
Today as I was hustling around, baking chicken at a rate that approaches the magical, poor M entered the kitchen with the socks. Last Wednesday she had been so disgusted by how horrifically stinky they were that she’d removed the socks immediately after practice. And stuffed them into a corner of her backpack. And forgotten about them. So now the same pair of socks had been through two different soccer practices and had, since then, been curing in a confined space for five days. My daughter was chagrined and pleading. Was there anything we could do to improve these within the next half hour?
And, heroically, I did a lickety-split hand-washing of the socks in a bowl full of warm water and Vapor Fresh sports detergent (that’s right: designed to get the nasty stink out of clothes that still have a nasty stink after going through the wash, and it works). Then I wrung the heck out of them, squashed them between some towels, and popped them into the dryer. Both of my daughters dropped their phones, stood up, and applauded.
No they didn’t. M was too busy shoveling in carrots and chicken and getting changed, and J was frowning over some homework. But I was so pleased by my double dose of creative problem-solving that I’m imagining a standing ovation. Go, me!