Friday, July 2, 2010

Julia Child, You're Not...

Long about the time I left for college, my parents got me a little compact microwave with Green Stamps. They decided that we'd 'test it' by using it in our kitchen for a month or so before I went away to school. After they got used to it, they ended up buying a humongous Kenmore microwave from friends who were remodeling their kitchen and adding under-cabinet appliances. Dad never quite got the hang of programming the Kenmore behemoth; I found out about the first flaming breakfast muffin when I came home from SFU for the weekend and my bedroom smelled like smoke. In our two-story home, the laundry chute went from a pantry in the kitchen to my room, so all cooking odors, good or bad, invaded my space with regularity.

On further inquiry, my mother quietly told me that Dad had put his frozen fiber muffin in the microwave to thaw, thinking he'd set the oven for thirty seconds- turns out that he'd actually set it for thirty minutes, and then gone off to read the newspaper. The muffin burst into flames and smoke belched forth long before the timer went off, resulting in a permanently-charred spot in the interior of that microwave. Although he incinerated a second and then a third muffin over the years, that particular microwave lasted from 1987-2008, when it died on Thanksgiving. Luckily, Lowe's was open, so I (who was cooking Thanksgiving dinner) dispatched my father and brother-in-law to buy a replacement.

The muffins themselves are a bone of contention. It's a recipe that Mom created many years ago so that Dad could get plenty of fiber every day; it includes a couple of cups of bran flakes, a cup of oat bran, and golden raisins (Dad hates black raisins) in the ingredients. The G*D muffins, as my sister and I have come to lovingly call them, don't take that long to make, but they are messy, time-consuming to put in the muffin tins, and take forever to bake. Mom made the things in batches of 36 to 48 at a time and then froze them, and Dad would eat a single muffin with his morning coffee provided that he didn't turn it into a block of smoldering charcoal first. I am eternally in my sister's debt for figuring out that Kroger makes an Oat Bran Muffin mix that can be easily expanded to resemble Mom's original 'scratch' recipe.

It is not uncommon for Dad to greet either of us with, "I'm out of muffins!" as we walk into their house. Given the current state of affairs, it's often followed by Mom's response: "Then eat some d**** Grape Nuts instead!" Well, only if somebody gets the Grape Nuts out of the cabinet for him first- I'm still amazed that Dr. Picky-Eater didn't starve to death during bivouac in the Army!


Farmchick said...

It never occurred to me that a muffin would burst into flames....the stuff you learn on here! I have to say that I think Grape Nuts are like eating gravel. Seriously, it feels like my teeth are going to crack.

AiredaleGirl said...

It is pretty unbelievable, but he's done it several times. Muffins are indeed combustible! I hate Grape Nuts myself- although those are the Dad-approved cereal at our house. The rest of us eat Chex or something with flakes and almond clusters.