I don't claim to be Paula Dean. For that matter, I am no Julia Child or even a Sara Lee.
I microwave with shear precision. I can reheat a dish like no one's business. I have mastered the art of kilowatts, which in layman's terms comes down to knowing the difference between High and Low heat.
If there was such thing as the Microwave Queen, well, my dear friends, I would have earned my crown years ago.
Despite this fascination I hold with appliances that cook food in the blink of an eye, every now and then I turn to that square piece of steel for added support....the oven.
It was another simple night of fast food at the Brennan Ranch: spaghetti and meatballs with a side of garlic bread. "What could go wrong?"
I had cooked this dish many times before. I generally heat the water and the sauce on the stove. I defrost the mini meatballs in the microwave (sometimes they are made from scratch, but only on the weekends). I dump the meatballs in the sauce, and the spaghetti in the boiling water. Once the oven is preheated, I place the garlic bread on broil.
I stir, sniff, then taste every minute or so until things are just right.
But sometimes, despite your greatest efforts, every minute or so is just not enough. Every minute or so can be the difference between a tasty cuisine and a charcoal brick.
One minute I was starring at a delicious loaf of garlic bread; the next minute I was starring at a fire ball.
It's amazing at how quickly these things can happen. I was looking so forward to a nice meal, even if it wasn't made from scratch.
I quickly removed the flaming pan from the oven, chucked it into the sink and blew it down with a stream of water. What began as a loving family meal ended in a mushy burnt mess.
And just when you think you've destroyed the meal for the night, out of the corner of your eye you catch your children nibbling on that fantastic dish.
They're field mice I tell you! You can't get a vegetable in them, but serve a loaf of charcoal, and it's a feast!
I savor these moments because I know that I will most certainly burn more meals. But there will come a time in my children's lives when they realize that charcoal belongs in the bottom of a grill; not in their diet.