A few months ago my patio cover suddenly caved in. Apparently, the 17-year-old wood is beginning to rot. I blame the cats. I suspect one of our daily visitors tried to jump up there and caused it to let go. In any event, it’s been dangling ever since.
I called in two contractors to get estimates on fixing it, but kept dithering about whether to try to just patch it up or re-do it completely. Since no one but the cats ever uses the patio, I really didn’t relish spending any money on it.
This week my friend Erwin zipped into town from the oil fields of North Dakota, and in a couple of hours he had the patio cover looking good as new. He came while I was at work, but he told me the cats kept him company, staring at him as if to say, “Well… are you almost done up there?”
He refused to take any money for the job, so I decided to have him over for dinner. I invited my mom and dad too, so the first challenge was to come up with something to make for a carnivore (Erwin), a vegetarian (my mom), and two picky eaters (Shaylie and my dad). Shaylie voted for our usual Oscar’s take out pizza, and I was very tempted, but decided take out pizza wasn’t really much of a thank you for repairing my patio. After much perusing of on-line recipes, I decided on fajitas, since I could keep the meat and the veggies separate, and Shaylie could always just eat her usual beans in a tortilla.
I’d never made the recipe before, and, in fact, I don’t think I had ever purchased a flank steak! But I made my massive grocery haul last night, and whipped up the marinade first thing this morning. I chose my marinating dish based on the size of the steak package, and separated the marinade into two dishes—one for the meat, and one for the veggies. I popped open the meat packaging, ready to lay it neatly in the perfect-sized dish, only to discover that it was folded into thirds in the package, and was three times as long as I thought!
I dug around for another pan, chose my biggest pyrex baking dish, had to scrub the cooked-on remains of Shaylie’s last baking adventure out of it, and poured the marinade over the massive slice of beef. Half done.
Next I started chopping vegetables. The first onion went smoothly, but it practically filled the whole other dish of marinade, so back I went for another extra large pyrex pan. As I began chopping the second onion, my nose started running, my eyes started burning, and I felt like I’d been attacked with pepper spray. Eyes squeezed shut, tears pouring down my face, I blindly groped my way to the back door to air out my mucous membranes. That didn’t really help, but eventually my tears washed away the burning, and I threw the second onion in the dish, along with three chopped peppers, stirred it all up in the marinade with my hands (as the recipe instructed), which released the pepper spray gases again and sent me running out of the room with eyes and nose pouring.
Whew. Next came the “easy,” no-bake cheesecake in the simple, store-bought Oreo crust. Of course I had to add some melted chocolate chips because I don’t consider dessert worth eating unless it’s chocolate. But mixing it all up in the KitchenAid mixer was pretty easy. I poured it into the Oreo crust, only to realize that it was still a bit lumpy and might need a little more mixing. No problem… I just tipped it upside down and dumped it back into the mixing bowl—oops, Oreo crust and all!! The whole crust crumbled into pieces and tumbled into the bowl along with the cream cheese mixture. Rather than traipse back to the store and start over, I decided I would just invent a new dessert. I stirred the crumbled crust right into the cream cheese, dug around and found some old Oreo cookies with which to make a new crust, and poured the whole mess into a pan!
Meanwhile, my kitchen looked like a tornado hit it, with all my wrong-sized bowls and dishes strung about, blobs of chocolatey, crumb-filled cream cheese mixture dangling from the mixer and plopped on the counter. Plus, my kitchen table was covered with newsprint, my art journal open to two pages filled with wet gesso, alcohol inks in every color, paper towels, baby wipes, Q-tips, an ink dauber, wax paper, and who knows what else. I had figured I could start my latest art project and let the gesso dry while I whipped up dinner on the other side of the room. ha ha
Mid-afternoon, I ran a load of dishes through the dishwasher so I would have a fresh start with an empty dishwasher for dinner that evening. And guess what? My dishwasher stopped working! It decided that today was the day it would stop draining. It seems like every time I try to put on some sort of a dinner, one of my appliances bites the dust. It’s usually my garbage disposal. Hoping for a quick solution, I looked up the error message I was receiving online. I even watched a youtube video on how to resolve the problem, and took out a VERY DISGUSTING, slimy, grungy filter and attempted to clean it, then cut my fingers on a few pieces of broken glass that had gotten wedged in there. 30 minutes later… nope. Still no dishwasher.
The dinner turned out pretty darn tasty in spite of all the mishaps. We ate off paper plates while the dishwasher continued to mock me with it’s flashing error 25 message. The wine and the company were good, and even the lumpy, crunchy cheesecake seemed to be a hit. Divergent appetites were satisfied.
So, that was my art in the kitchen morning. While chopping, mixing, and messing, I remembered why I only buy prepared food at Trader Joe’s to pop in the microwave. Why make such a HUGE mess in the kitchen when someone else can make it for you and put it in a nice little box? This really might be the last meal from scratch I ever cook! Cooking is NOT my idea of art!
I did manage to create an experimental background page in my art journal amid all the cooking and cleaning and messing. I used alcohol inks for the first time, and just played around with different colors. I have no idea what, if anything, I will add on top of this background, but it was a lot more fun than cooking.