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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Silly Stuff, Learned The Hard Way

After I typed the title of this post, it kind of made me chuckle. Not because I think I'm funny, but because of how loaded that phrase is. When people say they learned something the hard way, it usually means that it was a lesson learned by making mistakes. Such is the case with the silly things I learned the hard way.

Never turn your back on seemingly benign things like aluminum foil. I really like aluminum foil. It can make all sorts of things that happen in your kitchen so much easier to clean up. It can line a pan in your oven that holds french fries, chicken, meatloaf, and all sorts of other delicious things. You can take a sheet of foil, put a lovely piece of fish on it, add seasonings and vegetables, and then fold it up and let it steam to perfection in the oven. The dishes come out of the oven tasting wonderful, and the cleanup is easy. If there's anything that needs to be refrigerated for eating later, it can be stored wrapped in foil, as well. And then you can recycle it!

But I recently learned that aluminum foil has a dark side. Perhaps it thinks that it does way too much work and gets far too little credit for it. So it lies in wait for the moment when your guard is down. As you carelessly smooth it into the bottom of your baking sheet, it strikes. Yes, foil will give you a paper cut. Like an aluminum foil scalpel, it will reach out and slice you. And not just on your fingertips like mere paper. No, it will reach under your fingernail and cut you deep. It is a cruel and malicious beast when it is not in the mood to be sweet and just lay there, all shiny and pretty. Respect it. Acknowledge its usefulness. Don't turn your back lest it decides to turn on you.

Don't be a dork with knives in the kitchen. My knife skills are abysmal. I blame my Gram for this. Although she had a reasonably good selection of cutlery, she always used the same knife for everything. She would take out her steel and sharpen the wavy-edged twelve-inch blade and proceed to cut everything from raw meats to bread to cheese to veggies with this wood-handled beast. When I saw her start using it, I prepared myself to patch her up. She invariably, when using this gigantic knife to cut something fairly small, slipped and cut into her thumb or one of her other fingers. Perhaps it is because I patched up her knife cuts so frequently that I am so calm and collected and able to care for others in emergencies.

As I sat watching, waiting for the blood to flow, I would tell myself that I would be better in my kitchen. I wouldn't use a ridiculously large knife for a ridiculously tiny food. And I haven't. But I'm still turning into my grandmother anyway. I have this habit of using a totally appropriate knife in a totally inappropriate manner. I have a lovely paring knife fashioned from a single piece of steel. It is very handy for peeling and chopping various vegetables. But I have this dreadful habit of just holding the veg in my hand instead of using my highly developed human brain and putting whatever needs to be sliced on a cutting board. After slicing carrots into soup, I wonder why the skin on my thumb is so rough. Perhaps because the knife gives me itty-bitty cuts with each carrot or potato slice? One of these days Trent will have to take over the role that I had with Gram, poor guy.

Be mindful of envelopes. No matter what you see anyone else do, do not draw the envelope across your tongue to moisten the seal. Give yourself permission, for just a moment, to look like a cute little kitty lapping up a bowl of cream. You'll understand what I mean if you do not take my advice. If you think a paper cut under your fingernail sounds terribly painful, try to imagine the agony of a cut that runs completely across your tongue. Then forgetting about your injury and starting to eat a salad with a delightful, fresh, vinegar-based dressing. You get the picture.

I don't want you to think I am a totally dorky person who is constantly cutting things the wrong way or getting sliced with foil and return-mail envelopes. It just isn't so. I'm the person, who after the pain has diminished, can see the humor in the situation. And admit that she learned something the hard way.