...which may or may not conclude in my burning the house down.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Bean. (Though some would argue that since she'd recently married her one true love, her name was now Hawks and not Bean at all.) She lived a charmed life in a cottage (starter apartment) with her prince (husband) and unborn baby (Luke?) whom she loved. While her husband was hard at work, Bean made it a daily goal to be a good Mormon house-wife. She cleaned, straightened, organized, dusted, looked up do-it-yourself projects so that she could develop every good intention of being creative someday, and occasionally, she cooked. (She cooked more often than occasionally if we're being honest, because she was kind of a foodie. But I digress.)
One day, Bean wasn't feeling too hot because she had a womb-dweller kicking her in really unfortunate locations. (She has since forgiven said womb-dweller and is still somewhat fond of him, though she has every intention of kicking him out in the next few months) Evening fell and Bean's most recent dinner plan began to slowly lose appeal. It began to look daunting and unappetizing despite it being one of her husband's favorite dishes. For the intention of pointing out a cruel irony later in the story, I should mention that the original plan for dinner was something called "Chicken Bundles" which take about 15 minutes to throw together and 20 minutes to bake and involve opening a can of crescent rolls as one of the most tedious steps. It came down to the fact that she'd forgotten to previously boil the chicken and now she had not the energy to do so. It started looking like Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches might be on the menu again that night. (Did I say again? oops. Pretend you didn't hear that.)
So, Bean, begrudgingly peeled herself off of the floor where she'd been laying in attempts to make her head stop spinning and her baby child to stop head-butting her in the cervix (this was a fruitless attempt) and made her way groggily into the kitchen to see if she could scrounge up something simple but tasty. She was thinking maybe tuna melts with a can of soup. So, being short in stature, she pulled a chair up to the soup cabinet to check out her stores. Alack! No soup. Nothing but chili and chicken broth (with seasoning!). Not having remembered ever buying seasoned chicken broth, and not knowing exactly what seasoned chicken broth was, she became intrigued and looked at the back of the can. There it was! A dinner idea! A recipe for garlic mashed potatoes. And she'd just bought a 5 pound bag of Idaho's best. Eureka! Excited, she started wracking her brain about what would go well with garlic mashed potatoes and she remembered her husband mentioning how fond he was of fried chicken. Bean knew she'd never before attempted that dish, but hey! it involved egg wash, flour and a whole heap of hot oil. How hard could it be?
Knowing the fried chicken would be the dish that would most give her grief, she took the most care preparing it. The mashed potatoes would be nothing. She'd done them a million times. And sure, she'd never used this particular recipe, but let's be honest, it involved throwing the can of seasoned chicken broth in with the potatoes as they were being whipped and then tossing in some pepper, so she really wasn't concerned. So she peeled, washed and began boiling the potatoes before beginning the nerve-wracking process of making fried chicken without a recipe.
Bean carefully tossed in tasty seasonings with her flour and made a delicious breading for the chicken, she then prepared an egg wash and started thawing her miraculously still frozen chicken which she had thought had been thawing for days now, but apparently had just been pretending. She poured a boat-load of canola oil in a pan, got it hot and began the process of dipping, coating and frying her chicken. In the meantime, she was wrestling with her oh-so-simple potatoes.
Everything had been going smoothly until it came to the pepper step. At which point, Bean lost her mind. (Frequently this happened to Bean...particularly when she had some sort of seasoning in her hand and was adding it to a dish) She's still not sure what happened, but looking back on it, she thinks she entered what she likes to call a 'flavor trance' in which she began to highly over-estimate the amount of potatoes which were in need of pepper. In short, the potatoes began to turn a startling shade of gray before Bean realized what she'd probably done. In the desperate attempts to neutralize the ample pepper flavor which just about caused her ears to burn off as she tasted it, she momentarily neglected the sizzling chicken which was now on it's second side.
With a jolt, she remembered to check the chicken and for one heart-breaking moment, she thought they were lost. She sprinted to the cupboard, grabbed a big plate, covered it with a paper town and ripped the sizzling hot chicken out of the now boiling hot oil....just..in...time. Overcome with relief, she again momentarily lost her mind and thought that no harm would come of leaving the boiling oil on the burner as the range cooled down from 'high' to 'off'. She turned her attention, once again, to the lost potatoes and the vegetable dish which has until now gone unmentioned because sticking sticking frozen veggies in a microwave is too boring an element to be mentioned in a story as intense as this one.
As thick vapors of smoke began to surround and suffocate her, she realized, too late, that there actually had been harm done from leaving that hot pan on the burner and she jumped to her feet and attempted to throw open the back window before anything horrific could happen. But sure enough, the fire alarm had had enough. It screamed in protest. At that moment, Bean was very grateful that she didn't have a sleeping infant in the next room because holy CROW that thing was loud. And shrill. And piercing. Luckily for Bean, her husband had just gone on break and as he fanned the smoke away from the fire alarm, he calmly suggested that she take the smoking pan off of the oven so that it would...you know...stop smoking. It was then that Bean revealed her naivety when it comes to crises. She grabbed the pan, hung it out the open window and watched smoke continue to barrel from it's burnt contents. She then looked at her husband helplessly as her arm hung out the window, "Now what?" I'm sure it took every ounce of self-restraint for her husband not to roll his eyes.
A few minutes (and a pot holder to put the pan down on) later and some of the smoke had cleared. They breathed again. Bean surveyed her somewhat destroyed kitchen realizing slowly how much easier her original dinner idea truly would have been. She was pretty sure she'd used every single bowl, utensil, knife, cup and rag she owned during the creation of the dinner and it was all currently sprawled out on every surface of her kitchen, including the dinner table. The smoke still hung low despite both fans and all three windows and a door being flung wide open. She looked at her almost burnt fried chicken and her pepper with a dash of mashed potatoes and made a sad, sad face at her husband to whom she declared, "I will never cook again."
He, being a prince, graciously took his helping of pepper-potatoes and blackened fried chicken and nuked broccoli and corn and said, "Mmmm! Looks tasty!" (All princesses everywhere scoffed with jealousy at this prince's gallantry) They decided to have a 'picnic' in the living room, which really just meant that they ate on the floor since the table had smeared egg yoke and other such undesirable messes strewn about it.
First bite aaaaand....a genuine 'yum' came from Bean's handsome prince. She could scarcely believe it. She tasted the chicken. It was yummy! Hallelujah! A miracle had occurred. It wasn't so burnt after-all. She thought BBQ sauce might compliment it. Sure enough, it was somewhat delicious!
Sadly, the same could not be said for the potatoes which caused allergies to both parties, but luckily, if you ate the chicken and the potatoes in the same bite, it cut through a lot of the peppery flavor and you could hardly tell that it had once been a risk factor for esophageal burning.
For dessert, Bean had an oatmeal brownie that she had made the night before.
And they continued to live happily ever after.
Until the next mashed potato attempt.