About, oh, a million years ago, I decided no stop replacing the electric can openers every few years and buy an old fashioned Swing Away the next time I went to the market. It cost me $3.95. It went through the dishwasher (when I had one), thus eliminating that PITA of taking parts off the electric can opener and trying to scrape the crud off of them. It never broke, it never wore out and it took up absolutely NO counter space.
Four years ago, when we were forced to move (may the bastard who programmed the robo-signing machine at Wachovia burn for that thankyouverymuch) I took the can opener out of the drawer I kept it in, threw it in a box and transported it to my kitchen on the other side of town. Since then, it has resided in the drawer on the left hand side of the sink.
Now, I'm not exactly anal and, as of this minute, the dishes from dinner last night are still in the sink, the dishes from yesterday's lunch are still in the drainer. I know, I know...I'm not Martha Stewart. If I had a kitchen the size of hers I still wouldn't have enough counter space. I work until six, then I go home and start dinner. I finish cooking, yell at everyone to get their own damn food and usually end up taking my own plate to the bedroom so I don't have to watch yet another talent search based reality show featuring little talent but a lot of ego sitting at the judges table. I didn't name the show because it's ALL of them. You know it is. I'm worried "Wipeout" isn't coming back too. It's summer, the days are longer and we should be watching "Wipeout."
Last night was taco night. It's getting warm here in the urban village and, for some reason, I equate warm weather with taco night. Yes, I'm a gourmet, I got the taco seasoning with the least sodium for the money and store brand shells. I got a rather zippy salsa ranch southwest chili tortilla salad type kit, because sorry, I'm a fair cook but I do NOT like having to start in the second I get home from work and I take shortcuts. Yeah, suck on THAT, Food Network.
My younger son didn't expect to be home until late, so I pretty much planned dinner for 3. He was delighted to find he wasn't needed for the rest of the rehearsal and so was home for dinner. I was delighted for him and glad to see him but also decided to stretch the taco/salad dinner to feed 4 instead of three...one of the four being WELL over six feet tall. Okay, THREE of the four of us are over 6 feet tall but this one brushes 6'9". So I poked around and found an onion, a wrinkly green bell pepper a can of diced tomatoes and a can of diced Ortega chilies and started a pan of Spanish Rice. I actually WATCHED the onions and peppers and rice as I sauteed them and everything was picture perfect when I grabbed the can of tomatoes and reached for the can opener.
Which wasn't in its drawer. It wasn't in ANY of the drawers. It wasn't in the cupboards, in wasn't in the fridge, in wasn't in the sink or the dish drainer or on the counters. It wasn't in the microwave. By this time my younger son had come out to help hunt. Eventually "Jeopardy!" went to a commercial break and the hubster inquired as to the commotion. "Where's the damn can opener?" I yelled. He wandered out. "I left it on the counter after I opened a can of tuna earlier." Well, it's not on the counter now. It's not anywhere. "Did you look on the floor?" he asked. This was a serious question, not a joke. I can't fathom the workings of a mind that asks if the appliances, small though they may be, are on the floor. I also don't want to imagine what growing up in his house must have been like, considering the nonchalant way he asked me if I'd checked the floor. I was going to ask if he had considered putting the can opener AWAY when he was through opening the tuna fish instead of just leaving it on the counter but, after 34 years I have learned that there are some questions best left unasked.
Suffice it to say, the can opener wasn't on the floor.
By now the water I had thrown in with the rice was starting to evaporate. Facing two cans and no opener, I got out the beer opener and proceeded to punch holes in the cans. While this drained the liquid from the can of tomatoes the fruit itself (yes, tomatoes are a FRUIT, DAMMIT!) remained stuck in the can, unable to make it through the smallish triangle shaped hole on the side of the can lid. I punched another one and another one and another one, methodically going around the outside of the can, until I had managed to free the lid from the sides of the can and dump the tomatoes into the simmering rice. I did the same with the can of roasted Ortega chili peppers.
I then started to hyperventilate at the thought of some rogue shard of aluminum peeling off the multi punctured lids and being eaten.I spent the rest of the evening watching my kids and husband in case some piece of metal suddenly burst out of their chests, sort of like the Alien did to John Hurt.
Well, no one exploded, the tacos were good, the Spanish rice would probably have been better if I had had a can of plain tomatoes in the pantry, or at least a can of tomatoes and chilies and onions instead of the can of Italian ones I had, thus making the Spanish rice sort of European rice...Ortega chilies and basil with a hint of oregano. It wasn't bad though.
As of this morning, the dishes are still in the sink and the can opener remains MIA. We're stone broke or I would have gone and bought another can opener at the grocery store, thus assuring the old one would show up because as soon as you replace something that's been lost, it pops up. You KNOW it, I once had to do that with a pair of Joan Rivers earrings I got from QVC.
And I'm sitting here, avoiding work and looking for recipes to make tonight that do NOT involve opening any cans. I had a lot of good stuff planned for the week-end meals because, well, it's my birthday tomorrow and I ordered a George Foreman grill from one of those catalog outlets which foolishly gave me credit in exchange for an outrageously inflated shipping charge. The grill is supposed to arrive tomorrow and I've got all SORTS of ground turkey and pork chops and chicken breasts, all to be slapped on the grill and served with fresh salad and corn on the cob.
Except now I have to move things around and make turkey burgers without the benefit of a fat fighting grill because I can't open the can of baked beans I was going to serve with the pork chops tonight.
My father is going to stop by tomorrow morning for coffee, he's on his way to his 60th class reunion which is being held in the town bordering the urban village at 11am. I'm guessing this is the reunion equivalent of the early bird special. Anyway, he will bring me a card and, with luck, a cash gift which I can then use to buy a new can opener. Since it's my birthday I'm going to go the extra buck and a half and get the kind you bolt to the wall. And this is what happens when one turns 58...one looks forward to a new can opener and laundry money.
Oh, and just for the record? America HAS no talent.