We’re so lucky to live in this modern era … oh, and dinner may take a while

Midlife Sentence | Dinners Not Ready

When I’m cooking dinner – any meal, really – I hate having people in the kitchen with me.

So, of course, that’s exactly where 60% of my family was last night as I was trying to concentrate on the complex set of instructions that came with my new gadget.

“I wonder how long before they start cooking food by splitting an atom,” Colin said.

“I can’t tell you for sure that’s not what this does,” I said, only slightly kidding.

“It looks dangerous, you should wear these,” Mike said, holding out a pair of safety glasses (I really have no idea why we keep a pair of those in the kitchen. I don’t think I’m the reason).

Honestly, the thing did look dangerous after I unpacked it. The box had been replete with pictures of roasts and steamed rice and sautéed vegetables and all kinds of promises of health and convenience and wellbeing. Inside, there were no fewer than a dozen warning labels about not touching this or that part of the thing, or putting your face or any exposed skin directly above the valve that lets steam escape, or immersing particular parts in water, or moving the thing while it was on.

Jeez, what had I gotten myself into?

We’ve been living practically like pioneers for the last nine months or so after our microwave broke and we were too lazy busy to replace it. The situation would never have gone on so long had I not been struck with the vague thought that maybe there was something kind of noble about living without a microwave (spoiler alert: there isn’t. You just get familiar with the inability to reheat your coffee on demand, and any adolescents in the household get to come to grips with the lack of Hot Pockets and pizza rolls). I felt like I needed to regain some footing in the kitchen, technologically speaking.

I’m not much of an instruction reader, I’m more of a “just do what seems logical, and see if it flies” kind of gal. If things work out well, then I’m just brilliant. If they don’t, then by default whatever it was I was trying to do isn’t worth doing anyway, or the thing is broken. That’s my mindset, and it’s also a personality trait that drives Mike a little batty – documentation and instructions-writing and like activities being how he’s made his living for the past couple of decades.

Anyway, I bought one of those do-hickeys that’s supposed to roast an entire chicken in 37 seconds while baking a cake and steaming a vat full of vegetables and rice for dinner, or something along those lines. It’s all the rage these days. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be able to do all of those things at once, and for the low, low price of eighty bucks, but I have faith in things like that. I figure if they can put a man on the moon, they can sure as heck make it easier to help me feed our tribe every night without needing to self-medicate with a pint or two of IPA. Right?

Anyhow, we’re starting that Whole30 nonsense again to detox from the holidays and pretty much the entirety of the six months before that, and this gadgety-thing keeps coming up in all these Whole30 recipes and it just seemed like a good investment. I’d pulled a recipe from the internet earlier in the day for Greek Chicken, in which one plops a bunch of ingredients and some poultry into the thing and, BLAMMO, a tasty, crowd-pleasing dinner is ready in seven minutes.

With all the pretty pictures on the gadget box, it didn’t occur to me while I was pulling it off the shelf that the thing could be dangerous, although I knew like products had that kind of reputation, historically. As we were unloading the groceries, I was telling Colin all the stories I remember hearing about pressure cookers when I was a kid, about how they were responsible for the maiming of scores of innocent housewives throughout history, but now we’re advanced and can enjoy things like an entire chicken roasted in 37 seconds, not to mention warm cups of coffee, and Hot Pockets (since we also replaced our microwave just after Christmas).

I was nearly giddy thinking about the possibilities. That is, until I opened it up and saw all the warnings plastered all over the thing.

Which is how I found myself shooing everyone out of the kitchen, including Mike with his offer of safety glasses, and actually reading the instructions. I washed the inside parts with sudsy water, and after some consideration placed it carefully where it wouldn’t accidentally be tipped into the sink or get up on two legs and impulsively jam a knife into the toaster or something. I filled the container with two cups of water, and, as instructed, set the thing to two minutes as a test.

It purred and whistled at me, as it warmed up and got to work. At one point steam blew out of a valve on the top, and I was glad it was nowhere near the sink, or the toaster, and that I had avoided putting my face over the steamy thing, all as per instructions.

Finally, it beeped to tell me it had miraculously transformed my regular, old, lukewarm tap water into hot-as-beejeezus tap water in just about twice the time it would have taken my just-replaced microwave.

Having successfully completed this required test of my ability to follow directions, I felt like the Indiana Jones of the kitchen, with the level of confidence required to outrun boulders and probably even convince knife-wielding kitchen appliances to turn away from the toaster.

I pulled my recipe out and got cracking.

Which is the story of how my seven minute BLAMMO chicken recipe ended up taking about a full hour and forty-seven minutes, but at least I fed my family and no one ended up getting maimed. And dinner was yummy.





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  1. The instructions that come with the Instapot are hideous. I didn’t spend much time reading them either. I have a really good recipe for veggie chilli if that is on your diet.

  2. My Weight Watcher’s pal regales me every Saturday with tales of her latest Hot Pot wonders. I’m positively agog. Both of you have got me regretting my decision to not take Amazon up on their pre-Christmas offers.

    1. I found mine in an after-season sale. Still a little pricey. Fingers crossed it’s worth it (night two, jury is still out).