Before I garner a reputation for being the "blonde" in this relationship (see "Stupid Things We've Done, Part 1), I give you another story.....
Ah, Amish friendship bread! Such a lovely idea. One friend makes a starter batch of dough, bakes bread using a portion of the dough, and shares part of the starter batch with friends who, in turn, separate the dough and share a portion with their friends. Think of it as a culinary chain letter. Sounds benign enough.
Well, not in our hands, apparently.
When one of our friends gave us some starter dough for friendship bread, Danielle decided to bake a loaf. However, we don't have a loaf pan in our house. (We bake homemade bread on a pizza stone.) So, she poured the dough into several casserole dishes and maybe even a ramekin or two and set the dishes in the oven. The smell of cinnamon filled the house.
A little while later, the waft of cinnamon took on a burnt scent, and turning on the oven light revealed that the dough had risen and poured out of the baking dishes, making little friendship bread waterfalls throughout our oven. Immediately, we turned off the oven and let the gooey mess cool. Once the oven was cool to the touch, Danielle informed me that she had cleaned the oven.
Now, Danielle and I see eye-to-eye on just about every topic. Politics. Music. Child-rearing. Education. However, we have highly divergent views regarding what it means to have "cleaned the oven." My definition involves scrubbing, soap, and rags. Danielle's consisted of peeling off the chunks of partially-cooked bread from the bottom of the oven.
The next day, I decided to roast vegetables for dinner in our "clean"* oven. I preheated the oven, waited, and then, upon seeing smoke coming from the oven, decided we needed to change our dinner plans. Maybe we should eat something boiled or microwaved. If I remember correctly, Danielle and I had a brief conversation about her "cleaning" methods and agreed that the oven would need more TLC from us before its next use. That's when we stumbled upon the oven's self-cleaning feature.
A word about the self-cleaning setting: it is not magic. There are no animated scrubbing bubbles who slide through some fantastical pipe into your oven. Fairies do not appear with miniature feather dusters, ever-ready to make your oven sparkle and shine. There are no singing mice like in Cinderella. The only thing that happens is this: your oven gets hot. Really, really hot. As in, this is how our oven came to be on fire.
Danielle and I had completely opposite reactions to the discovery of the oven fire. I became annoyingly calm and methodical, and she acted as if the apocalypse was imminent. If the incident were a play, the dialogue would go something like this:
Danielle: Elaine! Elaine! A fire! Look! A fire!
Danielle (opening and closing the oven door and fanning the flames in the process): Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god....
Elaine (in an exasperatingly slow voice): Do...you...want...me...to...call...911?
Danielle (with much more rapid speech): Ofcourse! Areyoucrazy?! Yes! Callthem! (fans flames, darts out of kitchen, runs back into the kitchen, fans flames again, rushes out of the kitchen. This cycle repeats indefinitely.)
I proceeded to call 911 to explain the embarrassing situation. "Apparently, we did not clean our oven well enough, and now it is on fire." The operator was getting more information from me when Danielle ran into the living room with the fire extinguisher in hand. "Ask her if it's okay to spray the oven with a fire extinguisher! Ask her if it's okay to spray the oven with a fire extinguisher!" More running, screaming hysterically, opening and shutting the oven door, and darting around ensued. I told the 911 operator to hold on, covered up the phone, and told Danielle, "I can't answer her questions and yours at the same time." Possibly with a tone of condescension. (This was not popular.)
Eventually, the fire burned out on its own. The operator and I agreed that it was probably unnecessary for the fire department to come out. She asked me about the amount of smoke in the house, but I told her it was manageable due to the big windows, screen doors, and ceiling fans in our house. Then she said, "Wellllllll....let me go ahead and send them out just in case. They have these big fans that can push that smoke right out." Reluctantly, I agreed, thinking that a small truck could bring such a fan to our home rather inconspicuously.
We heard the sirens long before they reached our neighborhood. It's the only time in my life when I've secretly hoped that maybe someone else in the area could be having a fire at the same time as us. Surely there's a local arson problem, right? The only upside to the sirens is that we had plenty of time to scoop up our dog, who already was wondering what the hell was going on, in order to keep her from running in front of the fire trucks.
Yes, trucks. As in, plural. One small truck pulled into our driveway first. The truck was followed by two full-blown engines and, for good measure, another truck. All for the oven fire that was already extinguished. We were mortified. We saw neighbors we'd never met standing on their porches and gawking at us. One especially kind neighbor stopped by to check on us later because "it looked really bad with all of those trucks out there." Don't worry, we assured her. Only our egos were damaged.
The firefighters, for their part, were very kind and waited at least until we were out of earshot before laughing at us. We promised to donate annually to the volunteer fire department.
And as for Amish friendship bread? The friend who gave us the starter loaf suggested that from now on, perhaps we'd better just stick to eating it.
*My wifely addendum: Danielle would like me to mention that, when it comes to cleaning, she is actually the anal retentive one in the relationship. "You clean around stuff," she told me, "but I move things out of the way and get behind the furniture." There was also something about how she comes from a long line of German minimalists, but I can't quote that one as accurately. Bottom line: my wife is not a slob, and I don't want to sleep in the doghouse tonight.