I suppose I should’ve seen it coming. The pink stain on the kitchen ceiling in my childhood home should have warned me that my genetics were against me in the culinary department.
My mother had been cooking beetroot in a pressure cooker, if I remember correctly, and I’m not sure if the pressure cooker did something wrong or she did, but the net result was a fountain of beetroot that shot up to the ceiling and left its mark forever.
Several years later, there was I, a fully-fledged adult in my own kitchen, constructing a makeshift double boiler out of two pots to make something or other – I forget what. I managed to make whatever it was I was cooking, but I realised that as the pots cooled, one had been sucked into the other, and a hefty vacuum had formed. They were stuck. Well and truly stuck.
But I am a girl of great resourcefulness. “I know!” I thought to myself. “I shall use Science to sort this out. I’ll reheat the water in the bottom pot and use the steam to push the top pot out!”
My cunning plan was highly successful: in releasing the pots, anyway. The water started to boil, the top pot started to loosen, and I gave it a good tug to help it on its way. The pressure released, and as the pot sprang free of the vacuum, so did an avalanche of boiling water. It splashed everywhere – my arms, my neck, my face.
Rude words may have been uttered. Very rude words. It hurt like hell, and I was on my way to take my kids to a playdate at one of my dearest friends’ houses. I wasn’t prepared to miss out on that.
So I cried all the way to the doctor and returned home looking like a mummy, not a mommy, swathed in Burnshield and bandages to soothe the fire on my skin.
We made the playdate, but I never made a double boiler – or that mistake – again.
Mandy Collins is an author, journalist and coach who lives in Johannesburg with her family. She believes life is far too short to spend slaving over a hot stove every day, but she also loves to eat, so she is constantly looking for ways to make delicious, nutritious meals for her family that can be thrown together with the minimum of fuss.
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