Queen Of The Kitchen - Maggie's winning entry

Wed, 04/18/2007 - 2:36pm
By: The Citizen

Horror Story

Picture it: It's 1992 and I'm 19, living in my college apartment and preparing to celebrate my one-month wedding anniversary. I've finished my last class and my husband is working at the college bookstore. It's 5:30 and I have two and a half hours to prepare a romantic meal. I've been planning for days. I've consulted via phone with my out-of-state mother, a former professional chef, to develop an exciting menu for the evening. I've carefully listed all my ingredients and driven 30 miles to the nearest grocery store since the mini-mart in our small college town doesn't run to Cornish hens. I've splurged $50 of our wedding gift money on ingredients, fresh flowers and sparkling cider (the clerk knows me, knows I'm under age and won't let me buy wine.)

6:00. I've assembled my cooking tools and carefully reviewed the instructions Mother gave me. I've set the tiny table with the wedding, uh, Corelle and our toast glasses... a classy combination. I even own an apron! I'm ready to apply my genius level IQ to the seemingly easy task of baked Cornish hens with herb stuffing and cream sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, fresh steamed broccoli and French bread. For dessert? Home-made raspberry pie... my hubby's favorite! I'm excited and confident. I can bake cakes and cookies from scratch like a fiend. Surely this meal will present no problem.

6:30. The birds have been stuffed and are resting in the pan with the appropriate amount of butter, water and herbs. They were a bit hard to stuff, but I put this down to their small size. I wonder briefly about the large quantity of leftover stuffing, but the pre-heat buzzer goes off and I pop the pan in the oven and turn my attention to cutting the potatoes.

6:50 The potatoes have been peeled and cut up and have just begun boiling merrily on the stove top. The bakery-bought baguette is wrapped in a floral-print cloth napkin on the table. The broccoli is cut and waiting in the steamer. The cream sauce is mixed and ready to be poured over the hens in just a few minutes. Life is good.

7:00 Time for the cream sauce! But, the hens are still pink, there's quite a bit of blood mixed with the stuffing and an odd odor emanating from the hens themselves. I poke at the stuffing, which falls out along with a wee little baggie of wee little guts. Oops. I examine the baggie and deter mine that, as the plastic hasn't begun to melt, all is not lost. I remove both baggies and re-stuff the hens. This time, I need all the stuffing. There's one mystery solved, anyway. I notice that the cavities are still quite cold and wonder if Mother meant for me to defrost the birds first. I wash my hands in hot water and lysol the counters (I fear salmonella). I hurriedly throw the pie together and slide it onto the top rack then pop the hens back in the oven, turn up the temperature and call Mother. She doesn't answer and I'm leaving a message when the potatoes boil over.

7:40 I've cleaned up the mess and assumed that that the boiling-over must be an indicator of potato done-ness. However, I've realized belatedly that I don't own a mixer and the potato halves don't seem to be mashing very well with a fork since the insides aren't actually cooked. In hindsight, the laws of physics suggest that I should have cut them into smaller pieces. The oven timer dings and I check the hens again. Still not cooked. I pour on the cream sauce anyway and jack the oven temp up to 450. The pie filling looks like soup, so I opt to leave it in the oven and hope for the best. I leave another message for my mother and put the potatoes in the blender.

8:10 My husband comes home to find his new bride standing over a pan of lukewarm miniature birds floating in a bright pink creamy mess. The burned out blender is crammed with potatoes and still giving off tiny tendrils of smoke. The pie is a liquidous goo in a blackened crust since I didn't thaw the berries either. I have forgotten about the broccoli entirely.

8:15 My ever-optomistic husband cuts into a hen to see if it might be more done than it appears. It bleeds like it died five minutes ago. We decide that making me feel competent is not worth a trip to the ER. I start spreading peanut butter on slices of French bread while my husband pours the cider that I've forgotten to chill.

8:30 We decide to try the pie filling with a spoon and ignore the consistency. My husband scoops a huge spoonful and pops it in his mouth. He gets a funny look on his face and swallows with an audible gulp. His lips pucker and his eyes water just a little. I take a very small taste and grab my by-now grubby instructions. I realize that the recipe does not call for a tablespoon of sugar, but rather a tablespoon of sugar per cup of berries. I dig two Popsicles out of the freezer.

8:45 My mother calls back.

Submitted by Maggie Worth of Fayetteville

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Submitted by johenry on Wed, 04/18/2007 - 7:31pm.

Maggie can't cook worth a darn. I'm not being mean, she'll tell you the same.

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Submitted by diablo_ogre on Fri, 04/20/2007 - 8:50pm.

I am sure maggie is a wonderful cook now that was not a very nice thing to say. I am sure she has learned from her mistakes and can even cook a wonderful schezuan dinner if she felt like it.

Submitted by gordman on Fri, 02/01/2008 - 10:06am.

You can say that again, I have a lot to learn from her. I never been a good cook and that's because my old appliances didn't help me very much, all the defects drove me crazy. Now I got new Maytag parts and I am really proud of it as I can face any kitchen challenge.

Submitted by MaggieLee17 on Fri, 04/20/2007 - 6:57am.

I dispute! I actually learned to cook as a direct result of this incident. I even get compliments now Smiling

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