For more than a decade, our Labor Day weekend has been marked by intense kitchen rivalry, thanks to the neighborhood cooking contest.
Andy trounced everyone for years—until he got tired of me micro-managing the presentation of his savory entries and told me to make my own dish. I did, and he was sorry after I crushed him and our whole neighborhood with my baked goods. Two years ago, Andy staged a comeback and walloped me. Last year, we tied.
This year was looking to be a showdown. Andy spent quarantine mastering everything from French bread to homemade doughnuts, prepping for a possible assault on my baking territory.
There have been casualties:
A burn mark on our supposedly unburnable granite kitchen counter.
But worst of all?
My beloved Kitchen Aid.
Decades ago, I turned in my baking beaters for the smallest white Kitchen Aid on the market. The Kitchen Aid (KA for short) was big enough to mix dough for 5 dozen cookies, but not so loud you couldn’t talk over him.
KA was a work horse during baking season, churning out pumpkin cheesecakes and maple cream pies at Thanksgiving, followed by Andy’s six-hour birthday cake and over a thousand Christmas cookies. When Andy and I remodeled our kitchen, I had the cabinet maker design a special pull out drawer for my baby.
Then came Andy’s bread making obsession.
When I bake bread, I don’t use KA. I get a better feel for the dough and have more success kneading by hand.
My husband, however, believes in the dough hook.
Unfortunately, he turned his back on bread hook one time too many, with perhaps one cup flour too many. The thickening dough created resistance. KA struggled and heaved…
…and rocked his way off the counter, crashing onto the kitchen floor.
Our tiny house reverberated with the impact.
I ran into the kitchen.
Andy lifted KA back up to the counter, bleating, “I, I, I just turned my back for a second and it fell off the counter!”
As if poor KA had a mind of his own and did it on purpose, rather than Andy not paying proper attention or filling KA’s mixing bowl too full.
Andy plugged KA back in and turned him on. KA churned slowly, groaning and wheezing.
“It still works,” Andy insisted triumphantly, because Andy hates spending money and Kitchen Aids are not cheap. “I mean, maybe not like before, but it’s been having trouble recently, and it’s old…”
Reader, I did not say a word.
Instead, I examined the five-inch dent/ divot that now existed in the kitchen floor and left the room.
Because I knew if I said a single syllable, I would be unable to stop until I pointed out every single mistake that had led to Andy nearly murdering my mixer and our kitchen floor and perhaps I might throw something at him.
We had a heatwave not long after The Incident. Baking went on hiatus because no one wanted to turn on the oven. But the early heatwave morphed into a very cool summer. I pulled out KA to make chocolate chip cookies.
KA could barely cream butter, gurgling and grinding slowly.
“Oh my God,” I told Andy. “These are his death throes. You murdered him!”
“I did not! I told you he wasn’t running well even before he jumped off the counter—”
“You shoved your baguette dough down his throat until you killed him! MURDERER!”
“I did not—”
“Oh, no, do not even start! What do we tell Baby D when he breaks something and tries to shift the blame?!”
From the living room, a voice yelled, “You broke Mom’s toy! Take responsibility, Dad!”
Andy made a face. Then he looked at my face and promptly looked at the floor. “Sorry.”
Baby D yelled, “Sorry for what, Dad?”
“I’m sorry I broke your Kitchen Aid, honey.”
“I don’t hear you identifying and admitting your mistake!” Baby D called out, with no small amount of relish.
Andy gritted out, “I’m sorry that I wasn’t careful or paying attention and I broke your Kitchen Aid.”
“And how are you going to make amends, Dad?!” Baby D shouted gleefully.
Welcome, KA 2.0.
Ironically, the neighborhood cooking contest was canceled this year due to the pandemic. Andy sacrificed KA for nothing.