Ambitious chili dinner turns into plenty of comedic relief

Columnist Robert Nichol explores his adventures in the kitchen when a chili dinner turns into plenty of comedic relief.

“Dinner is off!” Carmen has announced. She has gone on strike. Can’t be for higher wages as I’m paying her nothing.

No, it has to do with her need for a break, time off from cooking and housekeeping. So I most graciously volunteered to cook dinner.

She eyed me with some suspicion, wondering no doubt, what I was going to try to pull off.

I decided to make my chili supremo but ran into some difficulty trying to do too many things at once, not keeping an eye on the stove and wincing after setting fire to my lips with tobasco sauce. Carmen asked from the other room how I was doing but I had a hard time talking.

With much cursing and banging of pots coming from the kitchen, Carmen went into high alert, stuck her nose in and asked if I was contemplating Uncle Bob’s Reality show.

Finally, after some serious effort on my part, the meal hit the table. It was, in my opinion, a tour de force (force being the operative word here.)

Although I had overheated my body and was starting to sweat and downing the chili added a nicely flushed face. “Next time,” said Carmen, “ask for some help. You could use it.” Apparently.

Once I set the heat too high and the oil in the stir fry mix caught fire. A two-foot flame headed toward the ceiling.

I moved with alacrity, (not a chronic condition of mine), and grabbed a fire extinguisher blasting the dinner to oblivion. But it worked, it was out in two seconds flat. Mind you, it took me hours to clean up the mess, while Carmen casually remarked: “All you had to do was put a lid on it!”

OK I admit I’m rather casual when it comes to cooking. The other day, Carmen asked me to keep an eye on the chicken in the oven as she was off to volunteer at SMAC (Seventy Mile Access Center for those not aware of this local treasure). Finally she shut the oven off prior to leaving, figuring I’d forget. A good bet on her part.

The dogs hang around the kitchen a lot when I’m cooking hoping to have some food fall on their heads. They are rarely disappointed.

I can image their little doggy brains working; ‘if they can distract me by jumping up and showing undue affection’, I’m likely to flip some tidbit on the floor. They know too, that if I make a mess of it, it turns into doggy dinner, a welcome departure from their usual fare.

Cooking for me is a divine pleasure, not just for eating but to share with friends and to maintain a healthy diet.

Hereto much will soon be made of living within one’s means and coming up with delicious meals that serve all these needs, while on a budget.

For me also, an unprepared meal is a creative challenge and to which, I always rise to the occasion.

To cap all this off, I made jelly from red currents we grew, only to put in a dark brown sugar instead of white so it now has a nice molasses flavour.

Then when the instructions read ‘bring to a quick boil,’ I did, only to have it boil over on the stove top, staining everything within a five foot circle red.

“At least,” said Carmen, “as a cook, you provide some comic relief.”

Robert Nichol is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Advisor.