Saturday, December 05, 2009
I put the soup ingredients in the oven and settled down in the big chair to read, firmly determined to ignore the shredded stuff on the carpet and the disastrous state of the kitchen and all was progressing nicely when I glanced over at the stove and noticed that the oven was illuminated like a Christmas tree. Holiday spirit! I must not be all Christmasy yet because instead of inspiring me, I found the light show alarming. I went over to the oven and lo, the heating element on the bottom was white hot in one place and emitting festive sparks and small, cheerful explosive noises, not to mention the three or four inch white flames that were shooting out of the element and lighting up my tin foil covered roasting dish most admirably.
Well. I turned the oven off and then I started to open the oven, which naturally encouraged the fire. I'm not completely devoid of sense, so I closed the oven quickly and then I grabbed my mother's fire extinguisher (I inherited many useful items, such as boxes full of antique batteries and peculiar light bulbs that fit no known fixture on this planet) and the baking soda out of the cupboard and then I stood there, baking soda in one hand, fire extinguisher in the other, glasses on the counter so I could put the extinguisher right up to my eyes and actually read the directions and freaked out. The fire extinguisher directions were daunting, involving as they did pulling a ring out like a grenade and I was reluctant to surrender my roasted vegetables to an oven full of foam, so I waited. I thought about running into the computer room and googling oven fires but then thought that it would probably be better if I stayed there and freaked out instead. There were more small explosion noises, like Jiffy Pop gone way out of hand, and more flames and then the whole thing died down and the element went from white to red to black and I felt it was safe to move away from the stove and call my daughter.
The timing was right, because the vegetables were all done, and so I had the soup made by the time Audrey came over to exclaim. That was nice and then everything was settling down and I was smoking a cigarette on the porch when Theo started barking. This isn't unusual - Theo pretty much barks 24/7, given half a chance, and one of these days the neighbors will be coming over with torches and pitchforks - except that he sounded as if he was at the bottom of a well. I don't have a well that I know of but it's completely not without the bounds of possibility that the former owners might have decided to dig one some merry day, just for shits and giggles, so we were a bit concerned. Theo, as it turned out, was under the garage and so, apparently, was some kind of monster. I don't know what it was; I never saw it and neither did anybody else, but Theo was bound and determined that it was in fact in there, hiding, and by god he was going to bark at it until the end of the world or it came out, whichever happened first.
We, or rather Joey, Audrey's boyfriend, got Theo to come inside and then they left and I settled back down while Theo barked and scratched at the door for the next three hours. Sigh. So that was fun and I went to bed and this morning I got up and took the element out of the stove. Get this: it broke off in chunks in two places when I touched it and was all melted with little bobbles of melted metal all over it. That was freaky, but taking it out made me feel macho and cool as using tools successfully always does and I went on over to the used appliance store on Haywood Road for another element. They did not have one and therefore I have no oven and that is why tomorrow I have to go over to Audrey's to make the complicated and delicious marble cheesecake brownies that Miles has requested for his birthday on Tuesday.
After I left the appliance place (which was cool and full of old appliances including one of those ancient washing machines that looks like a white enamel butter churn or possibly a funerary urn from a hitherto unsuspected civilization where they take their appliances seriously) I went to Lowes to get some keys made. Made the keys, went to Goodwill, scored some books, looked at some unhappy sweaters, went to Kerr Drugs, which I do not like so much since it has decided to reinvent itself as a combination pharmacy and bad health food store, and then went over to Annie's. It was hot at Annie's, because she is 80 and always cold, which explains why she had the damn stove on full tilt.
"Annie," I said, "You cannot use your stove as a space heater. This is a really bad idea."
"But it's cold in there," she said, and I looked at her in her coat and winter hat as I was gasping for air and throwing off garments so I could breathe in the tropical atmosphere.
"No it isn't," I said firmly, and then I gave her some soup and came on home to find out that none of the keys I had made at Lowes actually work and now I have to drive back over there to get them redone.
And there's still a night and a day left in the weekend.
OVEN ROASTED WINTER SQUASH SOUP
1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
1 apple, largish
1 onion, I used Vidalia
1 1/2 cans chicken broth
1 stick butter
brown sugar, salt, pepper, thyme, sage
Wash the squash, then cut them in half, scrape out the seeds and put them in a big glass roasting dish thingie. Put butter in each open squash along with a little brown sugar. Peel and cut up the apple and the onion and put them in the roasting dish too. Put the rest of the butter in there, sprinkle with salt and pepper, pour a can of chicken broth over the whole thing and cover it tightly with tin foil. Roast at 400 degrees until done (about an hour) or your oven explodes, whichever comes first. Let cool a bit, then scoop the flesh out of the squash and put it through the food processor in batches, along with the apples and onion and broth from the roasting pan. Put it all into a saucepan as you go, add more broth until it is at your desired soup consistency, add some thyme and sage and reheat it, yum. It is done unless you are having someone over who you wish to propose to you, in which case, cook up some bacon, stir some heavy cream into the soup and top with cooked bacon.