As you know, if you’ve been reading the Weekly Rant for the past few weeks, I am enrolled in a local cooking school.
This was the Christmas present Stij gave to himself.
And I haven’t been having much luck. So far, my culinary triumphs have consisted of bouncing hard-boiled eggs, bouncing meatballs, and getting beaten up over a pie.
In other words, bupkis.
But, since I had just gotten out of the hospital (see last week’s Rant) I gamely (I am nothing if not game) gave it another try this week.
I limped into my classroom with some degree of trepidation, and was greeted by a youngish fellow, who appeared to be Irish. I will not write this in dialect this time. You’d never be able to understand him if I did, his accent was so thick. I was there and I had trouble.
“Well, good morning. You must be my pupil.”
“Uh, yes, I am.”
“And your name is…?”
Geez, they were even afraid to give these instructors my name now.
“Carson Buckingham…Carson Buckingham…now where have I heard that name before…?”
Unwilling to let him think too hard about it, I said, “So, what are we making this week?”
“We are going to make bread, my darling.”
“Gee, I’ve tried making bread and I’m really REALLY not good at it.”
“This bread is foolproof.”
“Shall I have that inscribed on your tombstone?” I muttered.
“Nothing. Are the fire extinguishers fully charged?”
“Why of course.”
“Okay then, let’s break out the flamethrowers and get going,” I declared.
“You had to be there.” Then, a way out suddenly hit me. “Besides, I’m highly allergic to yeast.” That oughta do it.
“No worries. This bread doesn’t require yeast. It’s my mam’s Irish soda bread recipe. Let’s get started. You’ll do great. I have every confidence in you.”
Only because he didn’t know me.
He led me to a mixing table. There were only four or five ingredients there, so maybe this would work out, after all.
“Just put all those pre-measured ingredients into that aluminum mixing bowl. I’ve preheated the oven, so as soon as these are mixed together fully, we can bake the bread. You don’t have to knead it at all.
“Oh, but I do need it.”
“No, you don’t knead it.”
“Then why am I here?”
“Look, you don’t knead the bread.”
“Who’s on first?”
He shook his head like a dog clearing water from his coat. “I don’t know…”
“Now, just get that pitcher over there…”
“I told you—on Second!”
“Oh, he’s in left field. How come you want that pitcher, anyhow?”
“Centerfield. Can we please get back to cooking, now?” I asked.
I sifted in the dry ingredients, then added the eggs and buttermilk like a champ.
“Very good! You’ve done this before, then?”
“Up to this point in the recipe, I’ve done this quite a lot. It’s results that are fraught with peril,” I replied.
“Hmmmmm. All right, now scrape the dough ball onto this baking sheet, and form it into a circle. Good. Now into the oven it goes.”
There was a long, uncomfortable silence while the bread cooked. About ten minutes in, he turned on the oven light to check on its progress.
A look of horror passed over his chiseled features.
I bent down and looked for myself.
“Should it slither like that?”
“Of course not!”
“Do you want me to take it out?”
“‘Taking it out’ are the operative words here,” he said. He then ripped open the oven door, lobbed in a can of Raid, then slammed it shut again. “And this concludes our lesson for the day.”
“Shall I come back next week?”
“I don’t give a darn.”
“Shortstop!” I said.
I was halfway home before the explosion that chain-reacted through every gas line in the school burned the place to the ground. I received a somewhat terse Restraining Order a couple of days later banning me for life from even walking through the charred remains. I could also be jailed for just thinking about the place.
When last I heard, they had brought in a Navajo who camped out there for three weeks straight, praying and sowing the earth with salt.
Burning effigies were also involved.