Gladys graduated to real ovens and stoves at the encouragement of her brother and sister. After all if Gladys cooked then they didn’t have to. You see they were latch-key kids before they knew what latch-key kids were. Their parents worked; not only did they work but they worked odd hours. Trooper Bob would work a month of days, a month of evenings and a month of nights. Nurse Meme worked the 11-7 shift but would often work double shifts and take other peoples shifts in order to make ends meet. It was more out of survival than interest that Matilda would try to cook and Buck’s idea of dinner was a sugar sandwich with a ice cold Coca Cola.
Gladys would wake early in the morning and prepare a pot of oatmeal for her siblings and then they would all get each other ready for school. Gladys where are my go-go boots Matilda would yell. Buck where did you hide my other mitten Gladys would cry all the while fighting for space in the one bathroom they all shared. They would then sit down and eat mushy oatmeal and toast before heading out the door to school in time to pass their parents coming in the door after their shift of work. Now before you people call child protective services on Nurse Meme and Trooper Bob let me explain that this was back in the 1960’s and they lived in a small town with a very low crime rate. Also Buck was a very responsible teenager, so we were not abandoned.
Gladys experimented with recipes she found in the tattered Betty Crocker cookbook. She made the recipes she found in Nurse Meme’s recipe box that were written on old envelopes and printed and fading on napkins. They would have no name just ingredients and cooking times. Gladys got the feel for cooking. Oh she had her failures like blackened biscuits because she got busy watching Bewitched and forgot to take them out of the oven or the time she burned the black-eyed peas so bad they had to exit the house and throw the pot away, but for the most part she did okay.
Gladys grew up and so did her cooking abilities. She became efficient in the kitchen. She would have several pots going at once and the oven cranking out cookies and cakes. She mastered meat, conquered cuisine and dominated donuts. Then something horrible happened. Her eyesight started to weaken and fail her. This did not deter her from her mission. She would grab a spice jar and squint her eyes. Yes that is turmeric, yep that definitely starts with a T and ends with a C she would whisper to herself as she coated her roast. She would grab the cinnamon from the shelf where it always sits and measure out a pinch into her cobbler. Gladys wasn’t so much vain as just annoyed by having to wear glasses to cook. They got in her way. They fell down her nose and fogged up when standing over boiling pots of soup besides they didn’t match her cute apron. So she got contacts, yes contacts would be the cure for this problem of not being able to read the labels.
One evening she decided to make a big pot of chicken soup and an apple crumble. She cut up her vegetables and sliced her chicken. She cobbled her fruit and made her topping and opened the oven where she had her croutons browning. The oven door dropped down and as it did a flash of heat and steam was emitted. Gladys’ face was even with this whoof of heat and her eyes were wide open. What happened next can only be explained as a melting of soft contacts onto her eyeball. She screamed and ran around the small kitchen, bumping into walls and tripping over dogs. She ran to the sink and ran cold water over her face and into her eye sure she was blinded for life. She didn’t remember reading any warning on the box about melting contacts. I mean honestly shouldn’t there be one? They have warnings on clothing iron boxes about not ironing your clothes while you are wearing them, why wouldn’t they warn you about welding your contact to your eye?
Once she was sure her eyeball was cool and the offending piece of plastic had been sufficiently flushed from her eye socket. She went back to the job at hand. She grabbed the jar of cinnamon from the cabinet and seasoned her cobbler a little bit more. She squinted as she grabbed the shaker of sage for her soup. She felt the familiar container of coriander to add to the concoction and added a dash to the broth. She stood mascara running down her face eye red and swollen stirring her pot of warm comfort.
Thanks chezbeeperbebe.blogspot.com for this pic.
Gladys brought the spoon to her mouth to taste the steaming rich broth. She sniffed the aroma was different a bit sharp. She slurped the warm liquid. She swirled it in her mouth. Something was off. Something didn’t taste quite right. She took a second taste and looked into the pot. She looked at the spiced on the counter. She went to her desk and extracted her glasses put them on and went back to the counter. She looked once again at the spices on the counter. That is when she realized she had seasoned her soup with nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves and had spiced her cobbler with cayenne, turmeric and coriander. Gladys realized it was much easier to cook when she just used the Easy Bake Oven.