Smith Says: Blame it on genetics

  • Tuesday, March 5, 2013

You probably saw the headline: Woman shot by oven while cooking waffles. This is exactly why I don’t cook. Too risky.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Aalaya Walker, 18, was visiting a friend in St. Petersburg when she had a hankering for waffles. Walker, blissfully unaware that her pal had stored a 45-caliber Glock magazine in the oven, turned it on.
(I don’t know what kind of waffles she eats, because I pop mine in the microwave and my husband heats his in the toaster oven. I haven’t seen an honest-to-God waffle iron in 25 years. Also, you know you don’t have enough storage when you stash bullets in your oven. Then again, I’ve been known to hide dirty dishes in the tub when company comes, so who’s to judge?)
The Glock magazine exploded about 9 p.m., with predictable results: Walker—presumably after screaming “Leggo my Eggo!”—began the unpleasant process of picking shrapnel from her leg and chest. Eventually, she took a bus to the hospital. She was treated and released, and I bet she never goes near another waffle again.
We don’t know at what temperature the magazine exploded, because Walker’s friend “stated that he does not have a temperature gauge on the oven so he estimates the temperature based on how far the knob is turned,” police reported. (I can understand that: Back in the day of landlines, I used to date a guy with a phone that didn’t ring. He just picked it up a few times a day to see if somebody was on the other end.)
All’s well that ends well: Walker’s okay and her friend wasn’t charged “because he had a concealed weapons permit.” I think we all agree that ammunition in the oven is pretty well concealed.
Back to the risks of cooking: I’ve never been shot by an oven, but I’ve dropped a jar of pickles on my foot, slipped on sweet peas and stabbed myself with a steak knife. I’ve also given myself food poisoning and started a couple of stovetop fires. (Baking soda was my best friend.)
Blame it on genetics: My grandmother and mother, God bless them, could not cook. My grandmother never became proficient because she was too busy working 70-hour weeks to support five children. My mother couldn’t cook because her mother was too exhausted to teach her.
Thus, not once did my mother say to me, “This is a treasured recipe passed down from your Grammy.” No, she said: “This is how you open a can of peas with a paring knife.”
I don’t remember ever sitting down to a meal my grandmother prepared; she simply threw up her hands and opted out. Unfortunately, my mother did attempt to cook. Eating her rice was like eating a bowl of buckshot. Meat was tossed in a pan and broiled, unseasoned, to a charred pulp. Vegetables were boiled until they were as limp (and nutritious) as shoelaces.
We kids survived on chocolate milk, Cap’n Crunch and Campbell’s tomato soup. Dad ate a lot of toast and coffee.
So, all this explains why I’m the third generation of lousy cooks in my family. I don’t trust any process that involves sharp knives, boiling water and smoldering stoves. It’s best for all if I just back away.
The way I see it, no-one’s ever started a fire opening a bag of veggie chips.
Julie R. Smith, who does make an oatmeal-raisin cookie that won’t kill you outright, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.

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