Picture it – Pennsylvania, 2011
The pots on the oven sputter and steam in a not-big-enough kitchen. The grease from the chicken splatters angrily out of the pot. She is frustrated and flustered, she feels like the chicken she’s cooking, like she is running around with her head cut off. This timer is going off here, that timer is going off there. “Oh dear! Oh me, oh my!”
Psssttt…steams rolls into the air as she removes the lid from the boiling water. “What do I do? Oh, what do I do?!!” She moves to the left and flips the chicken again, jumping back as its sizzling grease lands on her arms. One side of the chicken is nearing charcoal but checking the temperature shows not quite 160 degrees, another 20 degrees and it’d be perfect. She turns the heat down on that burner, hoping to slow cook it and avoid even further blackness.
Psssttt… “The water is boiling over again!” Whisps of hair fall over her eyes as she moves back to the pot of boiling water. She tries to brush them away with her forearm, but a second later they fall over her eyes again. She lowers the temperature on the water as well. As she dumps rice into the pot, the oven buzzer goes off and scares her half to death. Rice flies across the counter and speckles the floor. It sticks to her feet as she runs for the broom. She sweeps it off to the side for later and then goes back to the cupboard for more rice. It is now safely poured into the pot, and soaking up the water.
“Now for the broccoli!” She pours it into a microwave safe bowl, thanking God every second for the invention of the microwave. She throws it in for the specified amount of minutes and then turns back to the chicken to find it completely black on the other side now. Testing the temperature, she smiles. “180 exactly!” She takes it out of the pot and attempts to scrape off the black parts without loosing too much of the meat. Moving the empty pot to the sink she turns to the rice.
“Oh no!” She exclaims as she realizes she forgot to set the timer! “Well, if the broccoli’s been in for that long, and it could have only taken me approximately this long to do the chicken…” She ponders a moment and then decides it’s been the right amount of time. She removes it from the heat and stirs it. Suddenly it dawns on her, this is Minute Rice. How could she have left it on the stove?! The rice on the bottom of the pan is brown instead of white! She again begins scraping out the burnt parts. “Now for the easy part.” She thinks as she places the rice in a baking dish.
She gets out two cans of cream of mushroom soup and moves to the can opener. She places the can on the opener and prays as she pushes down, the motor runs, but the can doesn’t move. “UGH!” She resets the can and tries again, it moves for a second and then gets stuck. She resets it again. “It can’t be that hard to open a can! Come on!” She exclaims as she presses down again. It runs smoothly and she is able to open the second one without a hitch. Pouring it onto the rice, she begins to mix the two together. Once that is done, she places the chicken on top of the mixture and throws the dish in the oven. She sets the timer and just as she bends her knees to sit down and wait…BEEP! Broccoli’s done!