Thursday, February 16, 2012

Something's cookin' in the kitchen

Aww, they looked so sweet, the two of them, little faces glimmering with pride as they clutched their shiny trophies. Why no! Not the children; they haven’t won anything. I am referring to Man of the House and Grange Girl, who came joint first in last weekend’s muffin competition at Seedy Saturday. It was incredibly lucky they both won; it would’ve been pretty awkward for the next few decades if only one had triumphed. It did mean enduring an afternoon of them forcing baked goods down my neck with the entreaty, “Have another AWARD-WINNING MUFFIN!”
Back home, Man strutted round the house holding his trophy, which sounds more Julian Clary than I intend. Uncle Adultery, who was inexplicably still staying with us, admired Man’s win. “How lucky you are, Niecey, to have a life-partner who can cut it in the kitchen.”
Man preened in the mirror, using the trophy as a pretend Fonz comb.
“Life-partner, Uncle?”
“Isn’t that what the young people say? It’s unisex, you see.”
“The word unisex fell out of fashion when the last hairdressing salon dropped it in 1976.”
We watched Man running victory laps round the living room, trophy in one hand, small child in the other.
“Do I detect domestic jealousy dear Niece?”
“No. NO! What an outrage! No, no and thrice no.”
Yes. I went into the kitchen and kicked a cupboard. There are no prizes, are there, for the run-of-the-mill day-in-day-out fish fingers and macaroni cheese business of cooking? The oh-god-why-do-the-children-have-to-eat-again-I-just-gave-them-breakfast-it’s-six-pm-is-it-oh-all-right-then kind of cooking? Well there blimming ought to be. For such awesomely consistent and repetitive meal-serving there should be medals, certificates, huge boxes of chocolates and fireworks.
It being Lewes, a firework went off just as I had that thought, and I pretended it was for me and my pesto pasta, raising my arms in the air like an athlete who’s just broken through the tape at the end of a gruelling Ironman event. Which, cooking wise, I am.
Man came in and said, “You all right?”
I put my arms down hastily. “Can’t a woman have a little stretch in her own kitchen?”
“Ah,” he laughed, “But now I’m joint Muffin Master 2012…”
“Oh are you, I had no idea.”
“…perhaps we should refer to this as MY kitchen.”
I could hear the children starting to make those needing-feeding noises, like small dinosaurs.
“What a good idea.” I handed over my pinny. “Think I’ll head upstairs with a cuppa and a nice beetroot muffin.”
The children burst in as if shot from a cannon and hurled themselves into their seats, banging cutlery in the style of Henry VIII.
I sidled out as Man said, “Right kids, who fancies supper made by an award-winning chef?” And their bellowed replies followed me up the stairs. “WE WANT PIZZA FROM THE FREEZER.”

Beth Miller, 9th February 2012. Published in Photo by Alex Leith.

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