Posted on March 16th, 2020
My mom never seemed to be a huge fan of cooking. It was just something she did because she had to, and not something that she ever aspired to enjoy or master. She had a set of recipes that she was comfortable with and got good at making out of sheer repetition. Every once in a while something new would enter the mix, but not often.
One of my favorite things she made was Applesauce Bread. She found the recipe in a Spices of the World cookbook by McCormick (the company who sells all those spices). It's a 1964 edition, so I'm guessing she had it from before I was born. There are a dozen recipes in the book that mom would make, but only the Applesauce Bread was made so many times that the book broke in half at the recipe page. Eventually my mom had to rubber-band the thing and keep it in a plastic bag. You can see the recipe here, right under the instructions for Welsh Pork Cake(!)...
She altered the recipe, leaving out the raisins (gross!) and substituting walnuts for pecans. But here's the real thing she did to make this recipe better... she went from one big loaf pan to three small loaf pans. The best thing about this bread was the crust. We would fight over who gets the "ends." The smaller the loaf, the most crust you get. Genius.
One day I came home from work and she had a surprise for me. It was her Applesauce Bread... BUT SHE FOUND A MINI LOAF PAN TRAY TO BAKE THEM IN! NOW WE WILL HAVE CRUST FOR DAYS! WHOOOOOO!!!
It's the only way I make her bread now...
The eight loaves in the pan she found are perfectly sized to accommodate a full batch of the recipe...
You're supposed to let it cool for 20 minutes but I never can wait. It's just too dang delicious out of the oven. Of course you have to eat it with an absurd amount of butter...
Because I love y'all (and the book is out of print), here's the recipe...
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add beaten eggs and mix together well. Sift the flour, measure, then sift again with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Alternate adding flour mixture and applesauce to the egg & sugar batter until it's all thoroughly mixed. Blend in walnuts. Pour batter into well-greased and floured pan(s). You can use one 9-1/4 × 5-1/4 × 2-1/4 large pan, three small loaf pans, or 8 mini loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes (mini loaves), 50 minutes (small loaves), or 1 hour (standard loaf). Ovens vary, but tops should be golden brown with brown edges and a toothpick should come out clean. Cool on a rack for 20 minutes.
Entirely too yummy.
And now back to our regularly-scheduled coronavirus coverage...
Every day since things started getting COVID-19-serious I've tried to imagine what it would be like if I was still taking care of my mom. If she was here with me, I'd be trying my absolute best to make sure neither of us got sick. Me because I couldn't take care of her while sick. Her because I have no idea how I'd possibly know how to take care of her in that condition. If she was at the care facility, I guess all I could do was hope that the staff could keep her safe while I stayed away. Either way, I'm horrified just thinking about it.
It really makes me feel for those who are actually in this situation right now. If that's you, help is available (link is for the US, if you're outside the US, please Google for assistance near you!).
If it were me, this would probably be what sent me over the edge. Heaven only knows I was already 99% of the way there.
Here in Washington State, which is an epicenter for the virus, our governor has closed down restaurants and bars for dine-in and asks that they continue as takeout or delivery operations until things get under control. Gatherings of 50 or more people is verboten as well. This is a serious problem which demands serious solutions, and it's good to know that our State officials are at least trying to slow down the spread of COVID-19 so that our hospitals are not overrun. Of course, this being Redneckistan, there are local restaurant owners telling the governor to eat shit and they will stay open because it's their God-given right as an American to spread the coronavirus, but that's to be expected here. If it were me personally, I wouldn't want my restaurant to be forever-remembered as ground zero for a highly infectious virus, but I guess that's why I'm not in business.
I mean, we just had a man die from COVID-19 in our local hospital, but I'm sure this is all just a hoax started by the socialist communist godless liberals, right?
I dunno. All I know for certain is that I'll be skipping the Welsh Pork Cake.
Posted on February 25th, 2020
Thanks to Martha Stewart's meal kit service I've been cooking a lot more often. Not just her recipes, but recipes off the internet, recipes friends give me, and recipes my mom collected. I don't necessarily like cooking... I certainly don't like the mess... but it's cheaper than frozen meals and tastes considerably better.
Problem is that my cookware is less than ideal and that makes cooking difficult.
All my pots and pans were inherited from my mom. They are a mish-mash of stuff... some of which was probably a wedding gift over 50 years ago... and some of it just random stuff she purchased as she needed it. The two best pieces are Revere Ware that's in great shape but seems to have problems on my glass cooktop. They don't boil water so much as dance when you attempt it. Likely because the bottom is never in full contact with the element so it never gets hot enough to boil stuff.
Ignore my filthy stove (I filmed this right after cooking lunches for the week)...
In order to boil water, I have to stand at the stove and press down on the handle so it stops dancing. Even then it seems to take forever. For the longest time I blamed my stove, even though I bought it new when I moved in.
And so... I really need new cookware.
But do you know how many different kinds there are? Cast Iron, Enameled Cast Iron, Ceramic, Stainless Steel, Nonstick, Copper, and Aluminum, to name a few. There are pros and cons to each and I spent more time than I'd care to admit trying to figure out which would be best for me.
On Sunday I sponged off a friend's Costco membership to buy a new set (a full set being the most economical way to replace my entire eclectic collection). Turns out I needn't have wasted my time since Costco only had one set I could afford (my budget was $100, the cheapest they had was $119).
Say hello to my Kirkland Signature brand 12-piece Hard Anodized Cookware Set...
I have to say... this is some really nice stuff. Probably not compared to the high-end cookware that's out there, but definitely compared to what I was working with before. It's heavy enough to sit flat when hot. It heats evenly (something I didn't even know was important until I cooked in it*). The surface is phenomenally non-stick. It's oven-safe so I can bake in it. There's a great variety of pieces, including a deep skillet which I love. The lids have a built-in strainer that's awesome.The only down-side is that it's not recommended that you put them in the dishwasher, you're supposed to wash by hand. At first I was disappointed, but once I saw how mind-bogglingly non-stick these things are, it's actually easier to wash them by hand than trying to fit them in a dishwasher. Nice.
And, oh yeah... when it comes to boiling water? It happens SO DANG FAST that I was picking my jaw up off the floor. Turns out that having a good set of cookware is going to really up my cooking game.
I kept my mom's two Revere Ware pieces just to have them. Everything else I tossed. Usually I donate stuff I no longer need, but all the pans were Teflon (which will apparently kill you now) and the pots were banged up so badly that I'm guessing nobody would want them.
As I was going through my kitchen junk to see if there was anything else I could get rid of, I happened upon an enduring mystery... I have a missing bowl. Maybe a houseguest broke it and forgot to tell me or something, but there's one less than I purchased. It's not a big deal. It's not something I'm pining over even a little bit. But I would just like to know what happened to it, you know?
In the meanwhile I'm just going to blame the cats.
*Seriously. My old pots would bubble up in some spots but not others which causes scalding and burning. Even heating makes it so much easier to avoid this.
Posted on December 1st, 2019
Snow may have arrived here, but Blogography will go on as usual, because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Who's Watching... ... the Watchmen? Welp, tonights episode was genius. As was every episode prior. So long as Damon Lindelof doesn't screw this up at the end (as he has a history of doing) this will easily be my favorite show of 2019...
I love a show that's able to jerk the rug out from under you with each new episode. Watchmen excels at this. Probably because HBO doesn't force a 21 episode season and is happy to let the creators determine how many episodes they need to tell the story they want to tell.
• Mando! And then there's The Mandalorian over on Disney+... which is vying for the No. 2 spot in my "Best of 2019" list. I love that Disney spent the money and got all the right people to make this show work. Friday's episode was filled with action and, of course, more scenes with the terminally-adorable Baby Yoda...
Interesting to note that there's this massive social media explosion going around where Werner Herzog saved Puppet Baby Yoda from going CGI. The truth it more interesting. But, then again, the truth usually is.
• Asshole Implosion. On behalf of my friends and co-workers who died from AIDS/HIV-related illnesses... and all those persons, INCLUDING CHILDREN, who have perished thanks to the inaction of those who came before you... those who wrote off AIDS as "a gay disease" while laughing in the face of all who were left behind begging for action to be taken... fuck you, Donald Trump Jr., you inhuman piece of shit...
You and yours are absolute garbage with no redeemable qualities. Nothing more than a blight on all humanity possessing neither compassion nor empathy while recklessly using your power and influence to diminish, discard, and persecute people... all in the name of drumming up book sales. If there is any justice in this world or the next, then you'll be burning in a hell of your own making. I hope I live to live long enough to see these kinds of people in power implode with their homophobia, racism, bigotry, and general assholery. This reprehensible bastard has had every possible privilege handed to his worthless life and this is what he chooses to do with it? Disgusting.
• Festivo Doble. This year Hallmark is introducing a new Christmas movie which also has Hanukkah in it called Double Holiday. Needless to say, the "Real Christians™®" are having a field day. How dare Hallmark acknowledge other beliefs at Christmastime!! HOW. DARE. THEY! DECEMBER BELONGS TO CHRISTMAS AND NOTHING ELSE!!! My favorite comments are not the outright hate... those are too easy... it's the passive aggressive "Über Christians" who have Jesus as their profile picture. THOSE comments are priceless. This one is my favorite so far. The movie is Double Holiday so they say "We are looking forward to Christmas Holiday!" Just to let you know that they will not so much as acknowledge that other holidays could possibly exist and have no plans on watching a movie that implies otherwise...
How weak these people's faith must be that they feel the need for this kind of nonsense to prove just how "Christian" they are. Well, don't worry. Hallmark developed the movie for a year where Hanukkah is late enough in the season that they'll barely have time to repeat it. This year, anyway.
• Sweetness. And speaking of Hallmark Channel... every once in a while I am completely knocked back by how good some of their movies can be. While eating my Thanksgiving dinner of bread stuffing, cranberry jelly, mashed taters with butter, steamed green beans, baked butternut squash with maple brown sugar, and chunky applesauce crumble, I put on the movie Like Cats & Dogs (from 2017)...
You can read my write-up on my Hallmark Movie Page for 2017, but suffice to say that I enjoyed it quite a lot.
• Later, Tater. And speaking of Thanksgiving mashed taters... that $35 Instant Pot Clone mis-mark that I got makes pretty amazing mashed taters...
Two Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered with a cup of water. Pressure Cook 12 minutes. Drain. Add a half-cup of sour cream and a quarter-cup of butter. Mash... then whip... with a table fork. Add a pat of butter, a little ground salt, and a lot of freshly-ground pepper. Cost me under $1 and is fantastic. The only mashed potatoes I've ever made have been those dehydrated boxed flakes. These are a magnitude better. And cheaper! And, to be honest, easier. Seriously, no need to drag out the hand-mixer. All you need is a fork to mush them up!
And so the snow goes on...
Posted on October 28th, 2019
When I was a kid my favorite restaurant in the world was Gino's Pizza because they had a Pong game hooked up to a TV you could play. I don't remember the pizza at all, but I'm pretty sure I liked it. Eventually Gino's closed. Since I had video games at home thanks to the Atari 2600, I barely noticed.
That being said, my favorite pizza on earth came from Pizza Inn, which is where we ate after Gino's was gone.
The stuff was phenomenal. The crust was crisp like a cracker and had a unique flavor and texture that made it different than every other pizza I had ever had. The sauce was likewise delicious because it had a subtle sweetness and minimized the acid component so the tomato base really hit you. Also? The pepperoni was divine. It curled up like a cup and had these amazing crispy edges that you just didn't find anywhere else.
Whenever my family ate out, Pizza Inn was #1 on my list.
Sadly, they closed up shop. Then a decade ago they came back. Then closed up shop again. Then they came back yet again. Then closed up shop... and have stayed closed ever since. For a while they could only be found in Texas, but now I think they're currently all across The South.
Ever since the last closing in my neck of the woods, I've become obsessed with making Pizza Inn pizza myself. Thanks to the efforts by DKM at PizzaMaking.com, I've been able to play around with his recipe and finally come up with something that works for me.
This past weekend I decided to finally share it with some guests I had staying with me. They seemed to really like it too, so I'm pretty happy about that. Well, mostly.
My pizza stone is fairly small and I was cooking for six people, so I made the mistake of thinking that I'd just make us six individual small pizzas. I could cook two at a time and, since they only take minutes to bake, that would be the easiest way to make sure that everybody got the toppings they wanted. So on Sunday I left work at noon to go home and roll out the crusts. My arms were rubber after two. The remaining four felt like I had bench-pressed 500 pounds a thousand times. The cracker crust is tough. It's mostly flour with very little moisture, which makes it crumbly and hard to roll out. Even worse, I didn't have a little cutter pizza pan to cut the crust to size, so I ended molding around a small plate. It didn't look particularly pretty, but it sure tasted great...
I cannot overstate how tough it is to roll out the crust. It's like taking a rolling pin to a rock. But it bakes up so beautifully that it's all worth the effort. Thin and crispy with no sag. Amazing air bubbles that give you perfect cracker crunch...
The right tomatoes for the sauce are essential. There are few brands I've found that have that hearty tomato flavor without the acidic bite (which I talk about ad-nauseam here).
As I was seeing my guests off, Jake hopped up on the table and decided to lick my last piece, so I guess it was a success for my entire household...
Except I never yell at my cats no matter what they do (I refuse to punish my cats for being cats), so all I could do was wait until his tongue got tired so I could take it away.
I don't think I could do pizzas for a group again unless I buy a $5000 pizza dough sheeter that has the power to roll out very tough doughs (most I've seen under $2000 are not rated for anything less than 1 part liquid to 2 parts flour... this crust is far less than that).
Homemade pizza sauce has no preservatives and will spoil fairly soon (even when refrigerated), so I don't usually make a full 28oz. Can of tomatoes worth. I take 1/4 of it so I can experiment with making homemade ketchup. Because boy do I love homemade ketchup. "Regular" store-bought big-brand ketchup tastes like tomato water by comparison. There are a few "boutique" brands I like... Portland Ketchup Co. is great... but even they seem lacking when stacked up against homemade. Problem is that I still haven't formulated the perfect ketchup after nearly two years of experimenting.
Right now I am leaning towards a recipe with onion, garlic, cayenne, red pepper, brown sugar, white wine vinegar, ginger, allspice, celery seed, black pepper, salt, and nutmeg (in addition to tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and oil). I'm unsure about turmeric, Tabasco, bay leaf, and oregano. I've abandoned mustard seed powder, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, cloves, maple syrup, and seasoning salt.
Maybe one day. In the meanwhile? I'm not going to complain about needing to experiment making ketchup. Even the worst ketchup I've made still tastes great!
Posted on October 2nd, 2019
This afternoon I had to leave the office early so I could run home and wait for the people to come clean out the dryer vent so my home doesn't burn down in a lint-related disaster. It is a lot of noise as a metal wire with a brush on the end reams out the pipe leading to the vent (which is all the way across my home). Jake and Jenny were not happy about this intrusion on their nap time. At all.
After that was over, I boiled eggs and cooked Simply Potatoes so I could make potato salad. I then proceeded to eat potato salad for the rest of the evening because, let's face it, I make pretty dope potato salad.
But let's back this up for a second.
If you are not aware of Simply Potatoes, they are pre-peeled, pre-diced potatoes that cost ten times what regular whole potatoes cost. I refer to them as "luxury potatoes." Usually I don't have the money to be throwing away on such conveniences, but they were on sale for only five times what regular whole potatoes cost, so how could I say no to not having to peel and dice them?
I could not.
Hence the unnecessary expenditure and the loads of potato salad I've been eating...
Cook one bag of Simply Potatoes Dices in a 2-1/2 quart covered dish for 10 minutes, 20 seconds with 1/2 cup of water in the microwave on high. Microwaves vary so you will need to adjust the cook time accordingly, as you do not want tough, gummy potatoes.
Peel 4 hard-boiled eggs, then slice into small cubes in a large-ish bowl... then blend together the dressing ingredients in a separate small bowl...
Add cooled potatoes to the bowl with the eggs, then gently fold in the dressing until everything is evenly coated. Garnish with paprika and diced scallions (green onions) or chives.
NOTE: Some people who have tried my recipe like less onion or... God help us... prefer something totally gross like celery instead. Or they want no crunch and leave the onions out entirely so they can use onion salt and garlic powder for flavor. Some people prefer dill weed instead of celery seed. Some people prefer sweet pickles instead of dill pickles. You do you, of course, but this it the recipe I've developed after trying countless others and I loves it just like it is!
Hmmm... now that I think of it, I really should have bought Luxury Eggs instead of fresh eggs. Pre-hard-boiled and pre-peeled, and only double the cost of boiling them yourself!
Or I suppose you could just skip making potato salad entirely and buy pre-made at the grocery store. Except... I don't know about where you live... but pre-made potato salad where I live is a grotesquely bland excuse for food which I avoid at all costs. I mean, sometimes they put celery in there! Yes, abhorrent celery... IN POTATO SALAD!
If your potato salad has celery in it? Then YOU, dear reader, are what's wrong with this country!
Posted on March 10th, 2019
Stop worrying your pretty little head over whether Spring is here or not here... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Free! As I've mentioned more than a few times on this blog, I'm a huge fan of Alex Honnold. He's a world-famous free solo rock climber who recently rocketed into the limelight because of the Oscar-winning documentary film Free Solo (sadly, I didn't get to see it in IMAX like I wanted to, and ended up renting it). I first heard of the guy in 2007 or 2008 after he free soloed Yosemite. At first I thought he was a lunatic with a death-wish, but after reading numerous interviews over the years, I found him to be one of the most philosophical, funny, genuine people on the face of the planet. And the most talented athlete on earth...
If you haven't seen free Solo yet, it's absolutely worth your time. It's an amazing film that changed my perception of Honnold yet again. But if you want to see Alex being the Alex that I became obsessed over the past decade, here he is (watch to the end, because it gets better as it goes on)...
It used to be that every year on Christmas as a part of my "End-of-Year Checklist" I would Google Alex to see if he was still alive. Now that he's so incredibly famous, I don't have to. If something were to happen to him I'm sure the entire world would know.
• Zero Stars! When I had to start eliminating carbs, the transition from "regular" to "sugar-free" sodas was a tough leap to make. What made it easier was Coke Zero, which is far and away my favorite carb-free pop (followed by Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet A&W Root Beer, and Sunkist Orange). One of my favorite sodas, Stewart's Orange Cream, has no diet equivalent... which is why I was thrilled to see "Coke Zero Orange Vanilla" at my local Safeway...
Holy shit what a horrendous load of toxic sludge! It tastes nothing like an orange cream soda, but instead tastes like an extremely artificial vanilla cola with a weird orange aftertaste. Really gross, which is why I am mad I bought an entire 12-pack. Looks like I need to investigate adding a hint of vanilla to Sunkist Diet Orange Soda to see if I can get what I'm looking for.
• Life! Ricky Gervais is one of the most brilliant minds in entertainment, and I'm always looking forward to what he's doing next. Turns out it's the Netflix series After Life, and it's one of my favorite things he's done thus far...
The show has a rocky start because his character is pretty awful. But the 6-episode series is a journey that ends in a very different place, and it's a worthwhile trip to take. With all the horrors I've been facing these past couple years, it's nice to run across something that is saying exactly what I need to hear. Highly recommended.
• Stick! One of my favorite kitchen brands is OXO Good Grips. I ended up replacing almost all my bakeware with their stuff and was happy with that... at first. Then I found out that my "non-stick pizza pan" can't even cook biscuits without them sticking like cement...
Even worse? The bread pans and jelly roll pan are rusting under the folded edges. And so... I guess OXO Good Grips is no longer my favorite kitchen brand. Really sad that I wasted my money on this garbage.
• Billions and Billions! Wealth inequality is something that I don't really think about because there's nothing I can do about it. Obscenely wealthy people own this country and get to decide how things are going to be. The fact that what they decide inevitably benefits only them (and their pocketbook) regardless of how it screws the rest of us... or the environment... or whatever else is in their way, is just our sad reality. Which is why shit like this is so unsurprising...
Thinking that these horrible people will ever have to pay for the lives they've destroyed is laughable.
And, on that note, I guess we're out of bullets...
Posted on December 21st, 2018
When I was a kid I wanted to be a chef (also a fireman, airline pilot, doctor, and astronaut). I loved cooking and would goof around in the kitchen whenever the mood struck me. But that was decades ago. With the exception of an occasional falafel, I haven't done any serious cooking in a very long time. But recently all that's been changing.
It all started when I saw the frozen burritos I used to buy for $1 were costing me $3 to $4, which is absurd. And so I started making my own. They ended up tasting far better than the frozen burritos I had been buying (and were far cheaper), so I started wondering what else I might be able to cook better for less money.
Bread was the easy answer. Before I moved, I was flirting with different kinds of bread-making, and found it tedious fun. But to start saving money, I'd have to branch out and start making my own hamburger buns and sandwich rolls too. That will take some research, because I'll want the same light-and-fluffy buns I get in the store and the same crusty rolls I get from the bakery.
Next up is pizza. I loathe every frozen pizza I have ever purchased, so coming up with my own recipe for the perfect crust, sauce, and seasoning is something I'm anxious to try.
Then there's pasta. This is one area where it would undoubtedly taste better, but I'm doubtful it will save any money.
Last up? Baked sweets. I'm not supposed to have them any more, but I do like an occasional cupcake, cinnamon roll, or sticky bun. This type of baking isn't that difficult once you find a recipe you like.
The trick is finding a recipe you like.
A Facebook friend sent me this video...
And so... sticky buns it is then!
I watched the complete video, wrote out the recipe, then I was off to the races. It was all fairly easy. Except for patting the dough out into a 15 x 18 rectangle. The stuff was springy and kept snapping back. Eventually I kinda managed it by scraping the flour from the edges so it would stick a little bit. Then it was time to rise...
They looked pretty great out of the oven...
And on the plate...
I cut the amount of pecans in half because I didn't want too much crunch intruding on the fluffy texture. It was perfect. I wouldn't want any more than half the nuts.
The flavor was really good. Not orgasmically good like they lead you to believe... but incredibly tasty. What lead me to try the recipe was the light, airy texture (I don't like dense sweet breads), and on that front it totally delivers.
Not sure how they'll freeze, but I'll be testing that out. There's no way I can (or should) eat an entire pan of these before they start to turn stale.
And... next up? I'm thinking hamburger buns.
Posted on December 22nd, 2016
I've been thinking a lot about cooking lately.
Partly because it seems like a good creative outlet now that my woodworking has been suspended for the season... but mostly because I want to eat stuff that I can't buy the way I want it made.
For example... I bought a frozen apple crisp last week. It was terrible. Way too much spice and the apples were cut too large. I also didn't like the topping, which seemed more spongey than crispy. And so I've been researching recipes online, which is a bottomless pit of confusion. Apparently there are literally hundreds of ways to make the stuff, and everybody has an opinion as to what makes a perfect apple crisp. The only thing that makes it a little easier is that I can automatically discard the recipes which include raisins (WTF?!?).
My concern with trying to make stuff myself is that I always end up with more than what I can eat because recipes seem to feed a dozen people, on average... also the ingredients are usually expensive... and the actual cooking never seems to go as well as I hoped.
Like the time I tried to make potato salad...
I suppose I'll give it a shot after the holidays.
I'm thinking I'll cut the ingredients in half and hope that it won't affect the cooking time. I don't think I've ever burnt anything before, but there's always a first time.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've narrowed my recipe choice down to eleven options and I've got to decide on nuts or no nuts in order to get to the next elimination round.
Posted on May 9th, 2016
Okay then... finished my home cooking for the month.
Because nothing tastes as amazing as a freshly-baked biscuits... and it's one of the few things I can make that always turns out great no matter how badly I try and screw it up...
The recipe was given to me in a travel forum, so I have no idea who came up with this bit of genius...
Mix Bisquick, sour cream, and 7-Up. Dough will be very, very soft, but don't worry. Knead and fold dough until well-mixed (I spoon on some extra Bisquick after mixing until it's not quite so sticky). Pat dough out on Bisquick-covered board and cut biscuits using a round biscuit cutter (or cookie cutter). Melt butter in bottom of cookie sheet pan or 9x13 casserole dish. Place biscuits on top of melted butter and bake at 425° for 12-15 minutes or until brown.
Now, if you'll excuse me, biscuits, butter, and jam await me.
Posted on March 11th, 2015
So I had the brilliant idea of making tacos for dinner tonight.
All the fixin's had been unloaded from the refrigerator. The rice was cooking in the microwave. The cheese and lettuce were grated. All I had to do was fry the taco shells and I was golden. So I fire up the burner and wait for the oil to heat up.
Then I made the mistake of turning on the range hood ventilation.
Something lurched in the fan and came loose. Which caused the vent screen to fall...
...into the hot oil.
Which splashed everywhere.
Including the burner where I had water boiling for potatoes.
Before I knew it, the range-top was engulfed in flames.
I immediately grabbed the box of Arm & Hammer from the refrigerator and doused the fire.
But the damage was done. Smoke was everywhere. Smoke detectors were screaming. Soot coated the entire vicinity of the stove. It smelled like the entire kitchen had burned down.
And so my evening was spent not eating delicious tacos... but airing out every room and scrubbing oil smoke from the kitchen walls.