Show ‘Em Who’s Boss

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Family breakfasts on Sunday mornings were Kirsten’s greatest delight. It wasn’t exactly a weekly ritual, as sports activities or day trips were often planned, and last Sunday Dad had to take Marcus to the emergency room to make sure he didn’t need a stitch. But this morning she could look forward to all four sitting down to a scrumptious feast of pancakes, bacon, and fried eggs. The best thing was that this morning Kirsten was going to be the cook – her mom decided it was time she knew how to take charge in the kitchen!

Again and again, she had observed her mother prepare Sunday breakfast, watching how she’d turn the bacon over to get the right crispness, how she’d ladle out the pancake batter into perfect disks, and then crack the eggs and drop them neatly onto the cast iron pan. It seemed like a dance.

“Ok, Kirsten, you’re up at bat,” said her mother, slipping an apron over her daughter’s head. “Now go get the pans and utensils you’ll need to make the pancakes.”

As if a starting gun went off for a race, Kirsten sprinted to the corner cabinet and pulled out two square griddles, then headed for the big cupboard for two mixing bowls and the measuring cup.

“Good,” said Mom, her eyes darting over to the utensil drawer. “What’s missing?”

“Right! Measuring spoons for the baking powder and sugar,” she chirped. “Oh and wooden spoons for mixing.”

“On top of things, I see,” said Mom encouragingly. “You’ll also need spatulas and tongs, remember. Now for the ingredients.”

Kirsten went into the pantry to select the dry ingredients, then headed to the fridge for the eggs, milk and bacon. She set everything on the kitchen table.

Mom nodded. “Looking like an experienced chef already. Let’s make the batter first.”

Under her mom’s guidance, Kirsten measured and combined the ingredients, careful to add the liquid part to the dry all at once and stir only until it was mixed. She knew the batter was supposed to look lumpy.

“Let’s let it set for a bit,” Mom said. “Think you’re up to making the bacon?”

“But what if it doesn’t come out as perfectly as yours?”

“Don’t worry about that, but just some advice: You’re the boss; the bacon has to behave like you want it to, and that goes for the pancakes too — and especially the fried eggs. But stay calm, I’m right behind you.”

She took a deep breath. “Mmm, I’m the boss, huh?” not knowing exactly what that meant.

Mom instructed her to place the bacon strips on the cold griddle before turning on the heat.  She then handed a pair tongs to Kirsten, who took them like a surgeon receiving an instrument from a nurse.

“When you see the fat becoming clear, that’s the time to turn them. Then keep turning until the strips are brown and crispy and put them on the paper towel. If you get tired, I’ll step in.”

Handling the big tongs was harder than she thought. It wasn’t as easy as plucking sugar cubes with the old-fashioned silver tongs she played with during tea with her grandma. But after some practice, she understood how to grab hold of the bacon, then twist her wrist to turn the strips over. That was no small accomplishment!

“That always looked so hard, Mom! I can’t believe I did it, and I wasn’t even afraid of the stove.”

“Well, you just have to keep cool, but focused, and remember you’re in charge,” answered her mom in that reassuring way. “There are few more strips to cook, but I’ll take care of that. You need to save your concentration for the pancakes and fried eggs.”

In fact, eggs kind of scared Kirsten. They were so slippery, and if the yokes broke while you were cracking them, then, disaster! But she wouldn’t worry about that just now.

With the bacon ready and keeping warm in the oven, Kirsten now set about preparing the pancakes. She wiped the griddle with vegetable oil and asked Mom to turn the heat to the right temperature. When her mom gave the cue, she ladled out one small pancake that would serve as a test and that Mom usually threw out. She took hold of the spatula, much easier than the tongs, and flipped it over. It even looked good enough to eat, so she decided she’d keep it. “I’m the boss, after all,” she half-chuckled. Now she ladled out four medium-sized disks and waited for them to bubble a little, then skillfully flipped them over one by one. The tops were perfectly golden brown!

“Great job, sweety,” said Mom. “Check the bottoms and stack them on this plate. Now do exactly the same thing a few times and you’re done!”

Except for a couple of undercooked ones, she was quite satisfied and put the heaping plate into the warm oven while Mom was busy setting the table.  Her mother looked up and eyed her from behind, cracking a smile to see her opening the oven door and carefully inserting the plate.

“Okay, next!” piped Kirsten, standing straight as a lieutenant as she faced her mother.

“Now for the hard part. This is where you want true control,” Mom said in a serious tone. Then, aiming her voice through the window to Dad and Marcus outside, she hollered, “You guys, breakfast is ready in five minutes!”

Mother and daughter positioned themselves behind the same griddle, now wiped off and ready for the eggs. “Over easy, right?” asked Kirsten nervously. Mom nodded as she passed her the first egg. Kirsten sighed, then cracked it on the edge of the bowl with the batter. While transferring the egg to the griddle it broke in her hand and splattered half on the stove, half on the floor.

“Whoops!” they exclaimed at the same time.

“That’s only normal, Honey. You have to hold the egg together before you let it go,” said Mom as she cleaned the mess. “But repeat after me: ‘I’m going to show ‘em who’s boss’.”

“I’m going to show ‘em who’s boss,” Kirsten said resolutely. “Obey, eggs!” she added.

Back in position, Mom handed her the second egg. Kirsten cracked it on the bowl firmly, shifted it over to the pan and opened out her hands to let it slide onto the griddle. And using that method she broke three more eggs into the pan.

“Almost there, Kirsten. I’ll tell you when you have to turn them over; you already have flipping experience, just be steady.”

“I’m going to show these eggs who’s boss, Mom. I think I get it now.”

“Go!”

Kirsten took the stainless steel spatula and weakly approached the first egg.

“More oomph!” urged Mom. “But gentle.”

Kirsten wedged the spatula under the egg and flipped it decisively onto the other side. There was a slight trace of yolk oozing out.

“Keep going, or they’ll be too done,” Mom said, attempting encouragement. She was trying to control herself too.

Kirsten proceeded with the three other eggs and then in a last, noble gesture, lifted them one by one out of the griddle onto each of the four plates Mom handed her.

“Yay, I did it!”

Dad and Marcus stomped in from outside and sat down at the table. “I’m starving!” cried Marcus. “Wait a minute, Mom. You let her cook breakfast?”

Kirsten narrowed her eyes on her little brother. “I certainly did, Sir Galahad. All by myself. And you’ll be happy to know that everything came out great because Mom showed me how to be the boss!”

Dad and Marcus looked at each other with puzzled expressions. Mom pulled out the pancakes and bacon from the oven and set them on the table. She beamed. “Okay, everyone, Happy Sunday!”

But before they dug in, Kirsten warned, “And if you don’t eat everything on your plates, I’ll show you guys who’s boss too!”

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- Total nr. of readings: 992 Copyright © The author [2020] All Rights Reserved. This story may not be reproduced without the express written permission of the author except for personal use.

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