Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Kitchen Utensil's Christmas

Chapter I - The Meeting:

May I have your attention please? Excuse me. Listen up everybody! Excuse me! Salad tongs, you can save your conversation for later. Thank you. Can everybody hear me? ~~~~~. Okay, good. Now I’ve opened up your drawers and called this meeting for a reason. Knife Block! This concerns you too, so listen up. ~~~~. Alright, thank you.

Utensils of Johnson House: It has come to my attention that many of you have allowed yourselves to become rather disorganized lately - a Spoon in the Fork Tray, a Whisk in Drawer Two… Stuff like that. So I think it’s time for a little coaching session on the basics. I know this stuff is old hat for most of us, but it’s a good chance for you veterans to help out the newbies. I also realize it’s the holiday season and things are a bit chaotic in the kitchen right now, but that’s just all the more reason for you guys to really focus on proper storage habits.

Now, if during this meeting you learn that you’re in the wrong storage area, don’t worry. There will be a break-out session after the meeting where you’ll have an opportunity to move to your assigned area. If you learn that you belong outside of the main complex however, please speak up and you will be excused immediately. Utensils who reside outside of general housing will be addressed separately at a later date.

~~~~~~~. ~~~~? Yes, Tea Strainer, you may be excused. Anybody else?

Okay then, I’ve placed a stack of hand-outs in each drawer. Please pass them around. These aren’t mandatory, but they may help you to follow along better. Share if you need to. You guys in the Knife Block can see all the information here on the chart up front. Okay now, as the chart shows, our main utensil housing complex consists of this main column of drawers by the range, plus the Silverware Drawer over here and the Knife Block on top of the counter.

The top drawer of the main column, colloquially called “the knife drawer”, is properly called “Drawer One”, so naturally the next drawer down is called “Drawer Two”, and the one under that is referred to as “Drawer Three”. The silverware drawer back over… ~~~~~~~~? What? Drawer Four? Well Drawer Four is for Measuring Cups, Cookie Cutters, the Juicer, and some Pampered Chef things that frankly, I don’t understand. So I think we’re better off just calling those things… er I mean, those members of our kitchen community “Implements” rather than “Utensils”. They kind of have their own thing going on down there in Drawer Four, so they won’t be at our meeting today. Now where was I? Oh yeah… The Silverware Drawer. That's over here. Now these four drawers plus the Knife Block are your domain. It’s your community, so it’s up to you to keep it neat.

Okay next, umm.. this can be a touchy area, but it’s important. I want everyone here to know that all Utensils are created equal. However, groups of you do have different purposes and abilities, and those traits determine where you get assigned to live. Now when we’re all cooking together and serving up meals I want everyone to have fun and get along. Just because you sleep in different drawers doesn’t mean you can’t socialize in the common areas; like on the countertop, at the table, or in the dishwasher. Never forget though, there are some very strict rules of conduct that apply to all of you when you’re in the dishwasher. These were covered during your individual orientations, but if you’re unclear on any of the dishwasher guidelines please see me after the meeting. We don’t want any more incidents like what happened over Thanksgiving with Cork Screw and Turkey Baster. ~~~~~~. Yes, I know, it’s sad about the Baster, but that’s why we have rules.

Now let’s discuss our drawer assignments. Drawer One is for storage of sharp edged Knives, including Kitchen Shears, the Steel, the sharp-edged Pastry Server, Apple Peeler, and Meat Fork. ~~~~~~? Oh yes, and flat Cheese Grater. ~~~. That was a recent change, but I think it made sense, and I think we can all get used to it. ~~~~~~~~? Why is Meat Fork in Drawer One? Well because I never use him without a Knife, and I don’t see any sense in… ~~~~~~~~? Okay then, because I said so. That’s why! Now of course the exception to this arrangement is that the Knives of our Chicago Cutlery Regiment are housed in the Knife Block. ~~~~~~~! Sorry, life isn’t always fair Faberware. ~~~. Yeah, the Knife Block might seem like an elitist tradition, but it was a gift, so put on your big boy scabbard and deal with it. ~~~~$#@&~~. That’s enough Faberware. [At this point let the record show that Faberware was removed from the meeting.] Okay, I think that covers Drawer One, so if there are no other questions I’ll move on to Drawer Two.

Drawer Two is home for all of you Serving Utensils who are not Silverware. Oh! I should have made that clarification about the Knives too. Silverware Knives, including Steak Knives and our funny little friend Butter Knife are to reside in the Silverware Drawer, and not in Drawer One. ~~~~~. Oops, sorry Butter Knife. Yes, I know that was insensitive. You’re just as important around here as Meat Cleaver. ~~~~~!! Put a sock in it Cleaver. It’s almost 2017. The world is changing. Hey! Let’s keep it quiet in the Knife Block… Now as I was saying, Drawer Two is for Serving Utensils, like Salad Tongs, Ice Cream Scoop, Big Spoon, Spaghetti Fork, Ladles… Stuff like that. Basically, if your job is to transport food from point A. to point B. you are a Serving Utensil. Everybody got that? It’s pretty basic stuff.

Okay then, Drawer Three can be a little tricky, so please pay attention everyone. Drawer Three is where some of our hardest working and most skilled Utensils live - Like Potato Masher, and Whisk, and the Spatula Team, and Meat Hammer, and Garlic Press, and Wooden Spoon and the whole Bamboo Stir Squad, and Turkey Baster, God rest his soul. ~~~~~? Yes, I’ll try to remember to pick up a new one tomorrow. Anyway, you guys know who you are. You’re the backbone of this whole operation. I know you don’t get shined and sharpened like some of the others, but you guys got moxie, and I like moxie. ~~~~? What? Pancake Flippers? Yeah, that was a tough call. I know Pancake Flippers flip, but they also serve. That’s why they got moved up to Drawer Two last year, and I think it’s working. Besides, Drawer Three was getting overcrowded, so that was a factor too. ~~~~~? Yes, we review these things annually. If you think you’ve been categorized unfairly there is an appeal process. ~~~~~. ~~~~~~? ~~~? Yes I have a form in my briefcase. See me after the meeting.

If there are no more questions about that we’ll move on to…. ~~~~~? No Potato Masher, you belong in Drawer Three. Drawer Two is for serving Utensils. We just covered this. ~~~~~. No, you don’t serve. ~~~~~~~. Yes, you “serve the common good” but you’re really overthinking this. You don’t serve food. You mash it. You’re a masher. Heck, The Monster Mash is your favorite song! Remember making pumpkin pie in October? We listened to that song like three times while you mashed pumpkin meat. ~~~~~! Yeah, that was fun. Mashing is fun, and you’re good at it. So be proud of your station. There’s no shame in being stored in Drawer Three.

Okay, well I think that covers the main column, and the Knife Block, so let’s quickly cover the Silverware Drawer. Now I know you guys get tired of hearing me brag about our Silverware Team, but everybody in the Silverware Drawer is a member of a tight knit squad. These guys are professionals. They all came home in the same box together. They sleep in organized little rows, and they all know their place at a dinner setting. They’re really the A-Team when it comes to organization. ~~~~~. I know Salad Fork, you guys don’t really need to be at this meeting, but this is a team building thing, so I think it’s important. Anyway, to all of you other Utensils - I hear the way you talk about Silverware sometimes, but you all need to realize that they work just as hard as you do. Maybe not physically, but the stress of precision and keeping your shine takes a toll on a Utensil. And remember, this Christmas when you guys are all laying around in the sink, or in the dishwasher after dinner is served, Silverware will be stuck sitting on the table listening to Uncle Frank prattle on until God knows when. So when you’re feeling down, don’t forget what I said earlier, we’re all equal… different, but equal.

In closing I just want to say that we all have a job to do, and we do it best when we’re organized. So let’s get organized and stay organized. Any questions? …Okay then, please pass your handouts up to the front of the drawer. Good meeting guys! Now before I shut your drawers, if any of you think you’re in the wrong place, do not attempt to climb into another drawer by yourself. Position yourself sideways in the drawer that you’re in and wait for assistance. I’ll be around to help you in a minute.

Chapter II - The Post Meeting Report:

As a result of the meeting four Utensils were found to be in the wrong place and were returned to their proper drawers.

After a successful appeal, Apple Corer was upgraded to Knife status and was moved from Drawer Three to Drawer One.

The Turkey Baster position has been filled. New Turkey Baster is fitting in well, and everyone is being careful not to talk about old Turkey Baster in front of him.

During a routine counseling session it was revealed that even though Potato Masher can mash like nobody’s business, the big oaf still dreams of being a server someday. We’re currently exploring his limited options.

Chapter III - Christmas Dinner:

Well Let me just say that I will never think of Big Spoon as a selfish Utensil again. Today at dinner she let Potato Masher serve the mashed potatoes. He did a horrible job, but he had fun. We all had fun. The Silverware reflected smiles from all around the table, and just like at the end of most Christmas stories, we all came to realize that we’re a community. All different, but all important.

[Fade out on Uncle Frank’s audio - Pan camera to dishwasher]

From My Kitchen to Yours,

Merry Christmas

R.L.J. 2016

The Night Before Christmas

(A visit from the Gray Mouse)

'Twas the night before Christmas at the cat lady’s house.
Every creature was purring, except for a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the cat post with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The kittens were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of parakeets perched in their heads.
And Mama in her chair with three cats on her lap,
had just settled her brain for a long winter's nap.
When in the next room there arose such a clatter,
she sprang from her chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the kitchen she flew like a flash,
where a cat was attacking a mouse in the trash.
She picked up the mess, “Oh that mouse had to go!”
right after a nerve calming glass of Merlot.
Then what to her wondering eyes should appear,
but twenty-two cats hauling ass in high gear,
pursuing a mouse so lively and quick,
he could turn on a dime, though the floor was quite slick.
More rapid than cheetahs the felines they came,
chasing after that mouse as she called them by name:
"Stop Fluffy! Stop Missy! Stop Simon and Mittens!
"Stop Patches! Stop Muffin! You’ll wake up the kittens!”
The mouse took a left at the end of the hall.
Hid your eyes now ‘cause fur’s heading straight for that wall!
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
so into the baseboard the felines they flew,
each under the other; yes all twenty-two!
They created a pile of tails, and paws,
and noses, and whiskers, and ears, and claws.
Mama refilled her wine, and was turning around,
when back up the hall ran that mouse, kitchen-bound.
He was just a gray blur as he ran underfoot,
and she yelled at her cats once again to “Stay put!”
But her bundles of joy had begun to un-stack,
and were already planning their second attack.
Their eyes, how they darkened! Their claws, oh how scary!
It looked like a scene from an old Tom and Jerry.
Then Mama’s droll mouth, it drew up like a bow,
and then the Merlot, really started to flow.
With the stem of her wine glass held tight in her grip,
Mama finished her drink in four gulps and a sip.
Her face it turned red, she had air in her belly.
She hiccupped and burped, and it tasted like jelly.
She giggled a bit, then she pardoned herself,
and she reached for some catnip she kept on the shelf.
Then a wink of her eye to a peering gray head,
let the little mouse know he had nothing to dread.
Mama sprinkled the catnip. It went straight to work.
Cats pulled in their claws, and they started to smirk.
The effect of that stuff on a kitty-cat’s nose,
is the same as a couple Merlots, I suppose.
She went back to her chair, to her cats gave a whistle,
and they all climbed upon her, like the down on a thistle.
And I heard her exclaim, as she sank out of sight…
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!