The other night my husband surprised me by cooking dinner. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Here’s me: bone weary from chasing after three kids all day. Tired. Exhausted. You get the idea. And here’s my husband: tall, handsome and willing to pitch in and take a heavy burden off my weary, sagging shoulders. Right then and there Sean really seemed to be my knight in shining armor. I stared at him doe-eyed, the princess in the tower thankful to be rescued. I should have known the fairy tale wouldn’t last…
To make a long story short, my Sean decides to grill a steak on top of the range. I can see the excitement in his eyes. He’s all psyched and feeling manly because he’s cooking up a slab of meat. Something touches him deeply on a primordial level as he peels the cellophane off the porterhouse. He’s Tarzan. I’m Jane. And my stovetop is about to the be the scene of a natural disaster.
So here’s how it went down. Sean takes out my best, non-stick frying pan, kicks the gas burner on high, and begins to scorch the living daylights out of the steak. To make matters worse, he covers the meat with McCormick’s Montreal Steak seasoning — excellent seasoning if used in moderation. Unfortunately, Sean didn’t know the meaning of the word moderation. He powdered that steak like he was dusting a stray mongrel’s backside for fleas. And then the kicker. He drowns the porterhouse in half a bottle of worcestershire sauce. At this point I’m thinking of calling the fire department. I would have too, except I couldn’t find the phone through the thick, mushroom cloud of smoke that filled the room. It took what remaining strength I had to get the kids the heck out of the house and bravely return to crank open the windows. By this time the neighbors had started to gather, slack-jawed and curious. After coming to terms that the house wasn’t going to burn down (or explode), they slowly began drifting home by ones and then twos, until finally our front yard was deserted again.
I won’t even begin to tell you how bad that steak was. Suffice it to say that it took three of us to pry what remained of the meat off of my once-best-pan — Sean to work the spatula, me to hold the handle, and my oldest girl to hold me around the waist lest I got knocked over by Sean’s wild attempts to loosen the steak, his arms working savagely. My daughter made a fine anchor, but in the end we would have saved a lot of time by just pitching the steak. And the pan.
By this time, my energy had fully returned. Nothing lifts the spirit like raw, unadulterated anger. With one look, Sean got the hint and fled the scene of the crime, hotfooting it down to Little Caeser’s with the kids for a 14″ pepperoni pizza and crazy bread.
So there I was, alone in the house. Seething. Ready to go all Incredible Hulk. The stove was nuked — covered in a sticky/scorched residue of grease, worcestershire sauce, and steak seasoning. After several calming breathes (the stench of burnt steak heavy in the air), I rolled up my sleeves and got down to work. And it was during this hour and a half cleaning, scrubbing, and swearing that I had an epiphany that I believe is worth sharing:
1. The best way to clean a stove is to not have to clean it in the first place.
2. To not have to clean a stove it’s best not to let your husband cook dinner.
3. If you do let your husband cook dinner, make certain you have an ample supply of powdered kitchen cleanser on hand (Comet, Ajax, Barkeeper’s Friend — any brand will do). Kitchen cleanser and forearms like Popeye will result in a sparkling clean stove that even a fairy godmother can’t touch.