I wrote a column about my husband's love of kitchen gadgets and he reminded me of other fiascos he has had in the kitchen. In fact, for probably over a decade I did not allow him to cook in the house.
Not that that deterred him. Just like kitchen appliances, he began collecting outdoor cooking equipment. I could not count on my fingers and toes the number of grills he has purchased - some gas, some charcoal, some portable, one as large as a coffin and even one on wheels which could be towed behind a pick-up truck. He even brought home the rotisserie from Kitchen's market that would cook about two dozen chickens at a time. Anyone need 24 chickens cooked at one time?
Then there was a very large and very heavy gadget which took a whole potato and sliced it into French fry-sized pieces if you could manage to lift the lever and pull it down. It took considerable force. He bought turkey fryers, at least two. A trailer to store all his cookware in. Some sort of gas ring thing over which you put a large pot filled with grease to fry fish. He is known for his hush puppies and fried fish. Then there were various smokers and all the equipment needed to poke, prod, retrieve and turn whatever he is cooking, various electronic gadgets to measure the temperature of the meat and light the charcoal, finger-like plastic things to pull pork, various types of wood chips to flavor the food, scoops to make hush puppies and many other gadgets.
That doesn't count coolers. We must have over 20. We even have one that plugs into your car lighter (Cars don't have lighters anymore, so I don't know why we are keeping that one.) and stays cold without ice.
But why, you may ask, was he banned from cooking in the house?
Again, my children were little, it was a Saturday and it was after Thanksgiving. I asked him to keep the children while I did some Santa shopping. A few of his friends came over, and one of them brought a venison roast. He decided to cook the venison and some turnip greens he had just picked. But he was in a hurry.
He thought the turnip greens would cook faster in the pressure cooker. He washed the greens and put them in my pressure cooker, but he could only fit half of them in the cooker. Not to be defeated, he went across the street to Mrs. King's and borrowed her pressure cooker. Mrs. King was known in the neighborhood as granny and she had wonderful stories to tell about traveling on the train to Atlanta to shop at Rich's. It was somewhat disconcerting to talk to her on the phone, however. She had a habit of saying "well" and then hanging up. You never got any warning she was through talking. I imagine her pressure cooker had seen considerable use in its time. But I think that when my husband borrowed it, it probably had not been used in a long time.
With both pressure cookers hissing on the stove and the venison in the oven, my husband and his friends were anticipating a tasty lunch. Then the dried ring on Mrs. King's pressure cooker went and the top flew off, knocking my pressure cooker and setting its top off as well. The turnip greens went straight to the ceiling. My kitchen ceiling is wooden and over 12 feet above the floor.
When I got home, his friends, hysterical with laughter, were wandering around the kitchen with plates waiting for the turnip greens to congeal and drop from the ceiling.
It took more than a paint job to cover that mess and more than 10 years before he was allowed to cook in my kitchen again.
I threw the pressure cooker away.
Paula Travis is a Newton County resident and retired schoolteacher. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.