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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

I was rather productive today. I made weekend breakfast and cleaned up all the bacon grease. Then I used a stack of overripe bananas to make a fabulous chocolate chip banana bread.

I juiced about a dozen lemons and limes to make juice for iced tea and cocktails, which is quite a bigger project than it sounds like because I learned recently how to use citric and malic acids to turn a couple of limes into a whole bucket of juice.

It involves peeling, juicing, blenders, strainers, funnels, and a not insignificant amount of cleanup.

I even turned the leftover cilantro into pesto for this week’s dinner, because when you’ve disassembled half the kitchen you might as well go all the way and finish the job.

I was quite pleased with myself.

Except for one mishap when I forgot to close the spout on the blender lid and the juice showered me and everything on the counter, it was disaster-free.

It did, however, give me time to ponder some of the deeper questions in life.

Like who decided that appliances should be stainless steel?

They look so pretty, don’t they? At least for the five minutes before you touch anything. Then you open the refrigerator or fry a meatball and all bets are off.

Even on a good day you’re going to leave fingerprints on everything. If you happen to be making biscuits and realize halfway through kneading, say, that you need more buttermilk, forget it. Now the refrigerator handle is covered in flour.

Even if you’re not me and you do something as simple as getting water from the dispenser, it’s going to drip and now you’ve got water marks going down the front.

I have a can of stainless steel cleaner but my aspiration list does not include walk around with can of stainless steel cleaner. There’s being diligent and there’s being obsessive, and the only way to keep a stainless appliance clean is by being obsessive.

You can’t even wipe it down like you can a counter. Water and stainless do not mix. It just streaks and looks worse. My refrigerator always looks worse.

There is a dishwasher next to the sink, which sounds great until you realize it is also stainless. And even though after four years of living here I have not once used the dishwasher, it is irrevocably marred. The drips and drops have carved permanent streaks into the surface and it’s begun to rust.

Who decided that something that rusts by its mere existence is a thing that should be in the kitchen?

In our condo I refused to have anything stainless. We removed the front panel of our appliances and replaced them with panels that matched our cabinets. We replaced the handles with a burnished copper that showed no fingerprints. I loved it.

I do not love stainless.

I have more questions.

If a square peg does not fit into a round hole, why am I expected to cook with a square pan on a round burner? Every stove has big burners and little burners. Nobody has thought to make round burners and square burners.

Do you know what happens to your bacon when you cook it on a square griddle on the stove? The middle burns and the edges are floppy. There is just no way around this.

It’s why I have a cheap electric griddle, and also why I spend half the day after making bacon removing grease from every stainless appliance in proximity.

Gas stoves don’t suffer this injustice because you can raise the gas or lower the gas to cover more or less of the pan. But electric coils are persistently and unhelpfully round. Why?

Here’s a question: why does a refrigerator door neither stay open nor swing shut? Why, when I open it, does it persist in closing halfway so that it bangs against my ankle when I try to retrieve the sour cream from the back, where it must be relegated in order to fit under the unhelpfully large curve in the center of the top shelf?

Let’s talk about the curve. I don’t know why it’s there. I presume there is some mechanic hidden beneath it, probably to accommodate the line for the water filter that drips down the front of the stainless panel.

But if we can send a man to the moon, can we not design a refrigerator in which the only option to store milk is not to wedge it on one side of the curve so it necessitates moving everything out of the way before you can reach the sour cream?

These are important questions.

I have many more but I will leave you with this last one that I suspect is unique to my kitchen. I realize that I live in an apartment where the prime directive was “build as fast and cheap as possible” so I can’t worry too much about it, but I do wonder.

The cabinets that stretch between the wall and the pantry look like a solid unit but they are not. On the outside there is a full facade but on the inside there is a gap between the bottom and the wall where things perpetually fall out on top of my toaster. I ask myself: was it too much to put a bottom on the cabinets that actually keep things inside?

My family, known for nothing if not for its sarcasm, is fond of the phrase “it makes you wonder.” The universe provides so many opportunities. Can you really do anything else?

Photo: the only question Bingo ever had was, “Is this food for me?”