Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Nuggets Made Me Do It

I blame those blasted chicken nuggets.

I really feel that is the point at which my night began its downward spiral.

A few weeks ago, I spent the day in Leavenworth and headed home around 5ish to begin our running around for the evening. David was in Dallas and I had timed my pick-ups and drop-offs perfectly.

I grabbed McDonalds and made my way home to tend to all the creatures living there, both human and canine.

I unloaded my haul onto the table. Four drinks. Four fries. Three burgers....

They had forgotten Tate's chicken nuggets.

(Insert dramatic heavy sigh.)

Yes, I should have double checked the bag. But I just glanced in, saw the 4 fries and a bunch of other stuff at the bottom and hoped for the best.

My irritation subsided once I made it back to McDonalds. Honestly, this was small potatoes (french fry pun) compared to my other worries that week.

Drue met me in the driveway when I returned home, anxious we were going to be late to volleyball. I dropped her off at 6 on the dot, rounded up Tate at 7:30, swung by and grabbed his buddy (thank goodness for carpools) and dropped them off at basketball.

I made my way across town to pick up Drue by 8pm and home we went.

Feeling rather rockstarish about how my night had gone thus far, I slipped into my PJ pants and settled in to watch "This is Us" (thank goodness for DVRs).

Tate usually hangs out in the man cave if we're watching girly shows upstairs. The animal shelter had emailed earlier asking for the names of our foster puppies so they could enter them into their system, so I texted Tate, "Think of 2 boy puppy names".

I texted him again after the show (which I miraculously made it through with dry eyes), "Time for bed". He hadn't responded about the puppy names and when he didn't respond to my text about bed, I sent, "I'm not sure why you never text me back. Ever.".

A few minutes later there was a knock at the front door. It was close to 9:30pm by then and Drue casually headed down the hall saying, "I got it." I leapt from my bed yelling, "Noooo! Don't open the door at this time of night!"

The dogs were barking and I slithered down the hall turning off lights as I went so whoever it was would go away. I heard the doorknob turn and Tate's little voice in the entryway.

I stared in disbelief, "Tate! Was that you knocking on the door?! Why were you outside?"

"Yeah," he said hesitantly, "I was coming home."

He spends most afternoons at the school park with his buddies but knows to head home when the street lights come on. I couldn't believe he'd been outside at this time of night. I felt angry, scared, and guilty all at once.

"From where??" I pressed urgently, already thinking up an appropriate punishment for giving me heart palpitations.

By this point, Drue was looking at me like I'd gone bat crazy and said very slowly and in question form, "B-a-s-k-e-t-b-a-l-l  p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e?"

They watched as I processed this information, unsure of how they should react. When I collapsed on the stairs in laughter, they followed suit and started recounting all the ridiculous things I'd said in the last few minutes. Then gladly reenacted the whole scenario for Reese when she got out of the shower.

This will be one of those topics of conversations that resurface for years to come, "Remember that time Mom freaked out on Tate for coming home from practice?!"

And I'll just shake my head and say, "It was those blasted nuggets..."






Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Love at First Bite

I adore the handy dandy cooking apparatus that is my crockpot. Toss stuff in in the morning, a lovely meal awaits you at night.

But, I began hearing about another magical gadget...the Instant Pot. Basically, instead of needing 8 hours cooking time, it only needed 20 minutes. A procrastinator's dream! No more fretting a day ahead about what to make for supper. I could decide on my way home from work and just plop it in.

I began hinting around that an Instant Pot would make my life complete.

Years ago, we knocked out the upper cabinets in our kitchen so we could actually see people's faces on the other side of the counter, rather than just their torsos. Therefore, we have ZERO extra storage space for anything. I had to include a solution to this problem in my pitch to David.

"My crockpot has a crack in the bottom. Nothing leaks out or anything, but it could literally shatter at any moment. If I get an Instant Pot, I can throw the crockpot away and a storage spot will become available."

Come Christmas morning, my shiny new toy was waiting for me all wrapped up amongst the gifts. I admired it from afar for a few days. When I finally opened it up and perused the manual, panic set in. So many steps to follow. And the words "pressure cooking" kept taunting me. I quickly shoved it all back in the box.

David inquired from time to time if I had tried it out when he was traveling.

"Well...no," I finally confessed. "I'm scared of it, ok?! I'm afraid I'm going to blow the whole house up!"

As is his response to most of my life crises, he laughed.

He retrieved it from the box when we were both home one afternoon and said, "Here, let's try it out together. I'll make sure you don't blow anything up."

Something seemed off about the kitchen. I gasped, "Where's my crockpot??"

"I threw it away. You said if you got an Instant Pot, you'd throw out your crockpot."

"You know full well I never throw anything out! I was going to store it in the basement as my backup!"

"I know. Exactly why I got to it first and threw it out."

He walked me through the steps of securing the lid, punching in the right setting, preheating and pressurizing. As the pressure whistled out at the end, I hit the deck and exclaimed, "I am never using this!"

Now that my overreacting was out of the way, I was able to move on to a more rational way of thinking, as is my pattern. I was going to conquer this pressure cooker if it was the last thing I did. And I still believed it might be.

Since Drue was pretty sick today, I stayed home with her. I had to run to the store for a few things and decided it was as good a time as any to face my fear of that darn pot. I texted David my plan so he wouldn't bring home something super awesome for supper, ensuring nobody would want what I prepared.   

Next, I Googled super easy recipes for beginning instant potters in the parking lot. Some recipes had no business popping up in that search. Way too many steps and ingredients. If I have to scroll down a screen or two to read all the ingredients, nope, next. I was getting anxious to get back home to my little patient, so I just picked a super short recipe and went on my way.

Heading home, it dawned on me.

I picked BBQ spareribs!

Why on Earth would I have done that? Meat is David's specialty!! There's no way I can even compete with him on that level. Sigh. The deed had been done. The slab was in the backseat. There was no turning back.

Tate was curious what I finally decided to make.

"Ribs!" I said proudly.

"Hmm," he thought aloud, "Will Daddy be here?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"Oh, nothing. He just usually cooks ribs on the Traeger. But...he might like these too," he said, sounding unconvinced.

Blast! Even my 10 year old knew this idea was doomed from the get go.

David meandered into the kitchen when he got home and I shooed him out. He came in a time or two more, looking quizzically at my technique, but I continued to kick him out and hiss, "Don't. Say. Anything."

In went the apple juice, onion, vanilla, water, meat, oh, and the liquid smoke David brought home after my frantic text asking if we had any, followed by my threat to give up completely if we didn't. When the main course finally emerged, it looked, and smelled like ribs.

"Reese, you eat the first one," David suggested, then eyed her cautiously, "Do you feel ill?"

Wanting to remember everyone's first impressions, I grabbed a pencil and started jotting down their comments.

"Are you taking notes?," David asked, then continued, "These are delicious! I'm so proud of you! You are the best wife a man has ever had!"

I promptly put down my pencil. Which was for the best, because Tate had splattered sauce all over my notes.

I timidly sunk my teeth into the ribs, "Wow. The Instant Pot could take the place of the Traeger," I proposed.

David paused with a rib halfway to his mouth, "Why would you even say something like that?"

I think I'll just start hinting I need a personal chef. Now that would make my life complete.











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