Burned (#291)

My Chinese-American husband is a fantastic cook. Andy can make any cuisine, from pulled pork barbecue to agedashi tofu.

Andy’s beef Wellington

His eggs Benedict are sublime. Pretty sure I joined Instagram just to make people envious over of his beef Wellington.

I am content to give Andy the cooking crown in our household. I focus on baking, which is my strength.

I stay in my lane.

Andy is NOT staying in his lane. He is veering over into MY baking lane. Maybe it’s because I showed reluctant promise with the crockpot. Maybe it’s because he’s nursing a grudge after I took his neighborhood cooking title and kept it for several years. He stole it back two years ago, but last year we tied.

Maybe he’s trying to redeem his birthday cake failures.

Or maybe it’s because he’s bored and quarantine is a great opportunity to prove he can rule the oven as well as the range. In the last two months, he’s made scones, lemon bars, and even madeleines. All were either overcooked or undercooked just enough that we both knew my baking remained superior.‬ (Okay, his doughnuts were fabulous, but that’s more cooking than baking. It doesn’t count.)

I may have baked a batch or two of cookies just to reinforce my dominance.

‪Andy retaliated.

Suspiciously soon after I put up post on making Shaker bread, Andy presented me with his first batch of baguettes.

“Not bad,” I told him.

“You don’t have to sound so surprised,” Andy huffed.

The second batch he shaped too small.

“Did you mean to make breadsticks?” I asked.

Andy glowered at me.

The third batch collapsed before going into the oven.

“The dog loves them!” I assured Andy. The dog growled at me until I gave him another piece. Andy just growled at me.

The fourth batch? Delicious. Almost Parisian, especially with French brie. The only one unhappy with that batch was the dog, who didn’t get any.

Yesterday, Andy made his fifth batch of baguettes. He shaped and scored the loaves like a pro. He checked on his loaves every 30 seconds, spraying them with water to mimic the old French ovens and give them a good crust. Before he spritzed, Andy even laid a dishtowel over the glass in the oven door to keep the cold water from shattering the glass. (This is important when baking at 500 degrees Fahrenheit.)

The first two baguettes turned out brilliantly.

Andy put in the second set of loaves, spritzed them, and closed the oven. “I think I’m getting really good at baking bread!” he told me triumphantly.


Andy pulled the oven open to spray his loaves again. Smoke billowed out.

The oven was on fire.

Well, not the actual oven. Andy had left the dishtowel in the oven after the last spritz. It was burning.

Andy grabbed the flaming dishtowel and threw it in the sink. I turned on the fan.

“That was almost very bad,” I observed.

“Yeah,” Andy mumbled. “Good thing I have to spray every thirty seconds.”


My friend JM called a little later and asked, “How’s your quarantine going?”

“Well, Andy tried to burn down the kitchen today so–”

Andy yelled, “I was not TRYING. And it was only a TOWEL.”

I took my phone outside as JM said, “Wow. I don’t usually hear Andy yell. Is everything okay? Or at least not still on fire?”

“Everything’s fine,” I assured her. “More than fine. He was getting pretty cocky about those baguettes. But now? Now they’re extra crispy and I am still the queen of the oven.”

The slightly scorched oven.

Andy’s first two beautiful baguettes…and the remains of the torched towel.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

23 thoughts on “Burned (#291)”

    1. He is! And his doughnuts are killer. So are his pretzels. But due to the boiling of pretzels and the frying of doughnuts, I shall continue to classify them as “cooking.”

  1. That baguette looks good, but that beef wellington…. dang. I am so legit impressed. How long does it take to make that?

    Like Andy, I’m master of the range, but a failure to the use of the oven. I may need some baking tips from Andy, lol.

    And here’s to your house not burning down!

    1. I think it takes most of an afternoon. It’s Baby D’s favorite, so he asks for that and six-hour cake on his birthday. I have to finish the cake in the morning and cede the kitchen to Andy at about noon.

      I think anyone who grew up with Asian cuisine tends to be better on the stovetop. But I saw the sushi you made on Instagram and it looked delish!!! I miss sushi so much.

  2. I like your photo. I like that he succeeded then he didn’t. Your baking title is safe for the moment, but he’s gaining on you, for sure. Keep an eye on him, both as a competitor and as an arsonist.

  3. Andy’s beef Wellington is gorgeous! You hit the jackpot marrying such a good cook.

    Enjoy the competition. And don’t let him win too many times.

  4. Great post! This sounds like the exact type of thing Tara and I would battle over. Once, we had a souffle baking contest. She won with the chocolate, but when we had a rematch a couple of months later, my cheese souffle was the clear winner. I still concede that she is the better baker, but I made some pretty good trail mix banana bread muffins last week…

      1. We were visiting her family in Seattle when we did the cheese souffles. For the chocolate ones, we both just agreed that hers were better. That’s okay; I got my redemption!

        Also, those banana MUFFINS went into the oven, and therefore, were BAKED. That’s gotta count!

  5. Yikes! Glad your house didn’t burn down! The baguettes look great. Well I wouldn’t call them baguettes, that would just be a normal loaf in Spain haha, baguettes are way thinner.

    Also, are you sure you don’t have any Chinese genes somewhere? You are so competitive, hahaha.

          1. Ooo the poutine sounds lethal. Does he have any tips in making french fries at home? I find that if I jusy cut potatoes they take long to cook because of all the moisture.

  6. For sticks approximately 3/8″ thick, soak in water for 20 minutes. Drain, rinse, and dry with towels. Fry at 330 degrees F for 4 minutes, drain and let rest for 10 minutes. Re-fry at 375 degrees F for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels, season, and eat before anyone finds out.

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