Sunday, the day after our first snowstorm of the season, seemed as good a day as any to just hole up inside the house. Before the hibernation could start though, there was one very snowy driveway that needed shovelling.
I had forgotten what a terrific cardio + strength workout shovelling is. Mr. Enthusiasm and I teamed up for the effort, and we were able to get it cleared inside of 30 minutes. Right around the time my arms and shoulders started screaming for mercy.
We retreated to the warmth inside, and he broke out the Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Hot Chocolate mix we had just brought back from Vegas. This is the good stuff, the stuff you make with milk, not water. The kind you simmer for a long while on the stove-top.
It was delicious! Hit the spot perfectly after the vigorous and chilly work of shovelling.
All warmed up I decided that I should start my holiday baking. I’ve got a handful of assorted cookies that I love to make at Christmas, and since this was such a quiet day, it seemed the perfect time to get started.
I measured out all my ingredients and set them aside in their various bowls. When I pulled the unsalted butter from the fridge, I realized it would be at least a couple of hours before it would soften to the point that I could work with it. So now I was stuck.
What to do… what to do?
Yes, I know! I’ll organize the cupboard immediately to the left of my gas range. That cupboard is part baking goods, part baking utensils, and then randomly, where I also keep my Tupperware. I’ve been meaning to re-organize this cupboard because I keep buying things I don’t need (like my 3rd container of baking soda) because I can’t see that I’ve already got two.
My cupboards are very tall, so I grabbed a kitchen chair to give me access to the top shelf. And the first order of business was to remove every bit of contents from this cupboard so that I could take stock, and then organize the best placement.
The counter space directly below me soon filled up, so I started to pile my displaced items on the next available surface, the gas range.
This shouldn’t have presented a problem.
I placed a bag of flour on it, then some cake decorating gadgets, a flour sifter, and finally a square cube of Redpath sugar. I had never seen it packaged in this way.
The Redpath website describes the new packaging as such:
The very latest in Sugar Packaging
We listened to you and now you can try our new packaging – a closeable, recyclable, re-useable container of white granulated sugar.
Easy to carry, easy to use and fits perfectly in your pantry.
Very cool, I thought, as I lowered it down and placed it on the burner closest to me. My daughter must have bought this for her baking (and because she couldn’t find the 42 other bags of sugar hidden throughout other parts of the kitchen and pantry).
I continued to empty the cupboard, placing the remaining items on other parts of the range, when I started to hear a clicking noise. It’s the noise I typically associate with the act of turning the gas knob on, before the flame lights up. Weird, I thought. So I came down off the chair to investigate.
I could see that nothing was pressing up against the knobs, yet the clicking was coming from the burner with the container of sugar sitting atop it. So I lifted it up.
And that’s when I started to get a sense of the level of disaster I was dealing with. Not fully, mind you, but at least I recognized that Houston, we have a problem.
As I lifted the cube, by that handy dandy handle, I noticed a giant stream of sugar pouring out the bottom.
It took me a moment to figure out what was happening. Had I lifted it from the wrong end? No. Then why is sugar pouring out everywhere? Not seeping out. Pouring out.
And that’s when I looked down and saw that the entire burner was covered in sugar. Like at least 3 cups worth.
I took 3 steps towards the sink behind me and threw the container in, peering underneath in the process.
A hole, the size of a quarter was the culprit. What caused the hole though?
I moved quickly back to the range, where I noticed the beautiful red knob, set to “Simmer”.
Mr. Enthusiasm had accidentally left the burner turned on after he made the hot chocolate.
I turned it off immediately and then wondered what to tackle first. He was out in the garage tinkering with something, and I really, REALLY, wanted to get the situation more under control before I asked for help. You see, this range is his prized possession. It’s not just any range. It’s a professional grade Wolf six-burner gas range.
He may love it more than he loves me.
And I had flooded the entire burner, including the gas line, with sugar.
Just as I had finished sweeping up the mess of sugar that landed all over the floor as I moved the container from burner to sink, Mr. Enthusiasm walked in. Hey, I asked nonchalantly, do we still have that little handheld vacuum thingy, by chance? I tried to look super casual as I leaned up against the range, attempting to obstruct his view.
He took 3 strides into the kitchen, physically moved me out of the way, assessed the situation and calmly replied, we’ll need the Shop-Vac for this mess.
The massive, industrial-strength beast, was wheeled into the kitchen.
He placed the nozzle on the hose and flipped the switch to on, directing it at the pile of sugar resting comfortably in the well of the burner.
And sugar went flying everywhere.
The Shop-Vac was set to blow mode, not suck mode. And that fully sucked.
What is happening?
I will spare you the long and laborious process it took to clean this all up. Suffice to say the entire stove top was disassembled, washed, and – in the case of the burner at the centre of the disaster, lots and lots and lots of scraping and elbow grease to get the cooked on, baked in, melted sugar (which took on an industrial strength bond) off.
Clean up took over 2 hours, which gave me a lot of time to think. Not dissimilar to the snowy drive the day before, I realized there were still more life lessons to take note of.
- Don’t assume anything. Don’t be complacent. Complacency can be a very dangerous thing. I’m lucky it was sugar I had placed on this still-lit burner, and not cooking oil. It would have taken me 2 seconds to have confirmed that the entire range was turned off. I’m very fortunate that this accident wasn’t a lot worse.
- Don’t look to place blame. My initial reaction when I saw the mess was to figure out a way to share the blame. Well, we wouldn’t have had this problem if you had turned the burner off! Turns out I didn’t need to worry about going on the offensive because Mr. Enthusiasm never said a word about it. He didn’t blame me. He just wanted to help me fix it. Fancy that.
- You can find a workout in the most unexpected of circumstances. Having to scrub this beast with so much vigor, especially after a half hour of shovelling snow, proved to be a great workout for my arms. I don’t recommend recreating this mess to do this type of workout. But, should you find yourself in this spot, there’s always the upside that you will get a decent workout out of the cleanup.
- Sometimes you just have to laugh. As bad as this situation appeared to be, when that Shop-vac spewed a violent stream of air into the pile of sugar, thereby sending it flying all over my kitchen, I wanted to cry. And then I burst out laughing. Like tears rolling down my face laughing. Sure it caused a way bigger mess, but it also broke the intensity of the mood. Laughter really is the best medicine.
So thanks, life, for providing some great little lessons these past few days. But how about you lay off for a while with the teaching moments?
Keep moving! (And keep smiling!)