At this point, though, I feel I should tell you that I'm not an instinctive, natural cook. I like to cook, and I love new recipes, and I think I do a pretty decent job. But I'm not someone who understands the laws of cookery and as such, I kind of screw things up sometimes. (But, hey! It's the thought that counts, right?)
Tonight I didn't really screw up the recipe so much as almost catch the kitchen on fire.
I started off innocuously enough, boiling water for the pasta. Then I preheated the oven for the blackened chicken. (By the way, next time I'll do the chicken first, since it seemed to take the longest. I seasoned the chicken, seared it for a few minutes in a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil, and then baked it for about 20-25 minutes. In the process, I set off the fire alarm for the second and third time this evening since I can never cook with oil and not set off the alarm. Same goes for bacon. Cooking bacon = fire alarm.)
When I began the sauce, I heated a couple of tablespoons of butter and olive oil in a pan and added a few minced cloves of garlic. (I'm all about my garlic press this week since I hacked up my index finger last week chopping garlic.) At this point, you're supposed to add a cup of vodka. I had a pre-measured cup of Finlandia waiting to be added. Well, I think I got a little to excited about cooking with alcohol, because I dumped that vodka in a little too fast. The vodka must have splashed up over the side of the pan, because the next thing I know, there were flames about a foot high coming off of my buttery garlic.
At first I thought, "Oh no! Alcohol induced flames! Well, it will die down in a moment, right?"
Not so much. The flames got higher.
At this point I panicked. I picked up the pan and started hollering for my husband. "TOMMY! FIRE! I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO! FIRE!" I thought about putting water on it, but then starting wondering if water would make the fire worse, as in a grease fire. So I stood stupidly in the middle of the kitchen waiting for my Knight in Pajama Pants to save the day.
(Let me take a moment to assure that Caleb was safely locked away behind the baby gate in the living room watching Imagination Movers on Playhouse Disney.)
My husband responded with the speed and clarity of a man who's worked in the military for 11 years. Immediately to my right was a sink full of cold water that I had been defrosting the chicken in just prior to my adventure in pyrotechnics. My sweet, thoughtful, and still coherent husband said, "Put it in the water!"
Put it in the water. Of course. This isn't a grease fire. It's a vodka fire. Put it in the water.
And I did. I dumped the whole darn pan of burnt buttery garlic in the sink full of water and watched the flames disappear.
And that, my friends, is why I married this man. He is rational when I am nuts (which is a large portion of the time.) He is intelligent when I've lost my mind. He is able to see the big picture when all I see are flames. (And he looks good in a uniform. That might have been another reason I married him. I can neither confirm nor deny those allegations.)
The good news is, I had more butter, more garlic and more vodka, so I was able to get back on the horse and give the recipe a try once my heart stopped pounding through my chest. And dinner turned out quite tasty (even if the blackened chicken was a bit too spicy for my tastes.) More importantly, though, I learned two valuable lessons.
1.) Vodka fires can be put out with water.
2.) When cooking with alcohol, add it slowly to avoid a fiery panic.
And now, for no other reason than because I think it's cute, here's an unrelated picture of Caleb playing pillow peek-a-boo on the futon in my office.