What’s Red and Green and Goes Round and Round and Round?

06/03/2011 By Shawn Burns

Emily had the wonderful, and cheap, idea yesterday to have beans on toast for dinner. I had a can of baked beans in the cupboard, we had bread, and we have a toaster. Hooray for easy meals. I added mushy peas to the menu planning, and off we went.

There was nothing authentic about the meal, in a “This is what the English eat every day for breakfast” sense. But it was still delicious. Add butter to whatever you are cooking and things become magical.

Part of the process of mushing the mushy peas was to slide the cooked peas into a blender (or a food processor, which I don’t have) and get them chopped up a bit so that there would be more paste to them. I poured the peas into blender, and I began to blend them.

You know how when you blend things that are more solid than liquid that the stuff will just stick to the sides of the blender instead of spending any time in the company of the swirling blades? The peas were doing that. Every once in a while I’d have to take a break from blending and scrape the peas down to the bottom with a wooden spoon.

Erin was fascinated by my process (DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE? “PROCESS”. I’M PUNNING ON “FOOD PROCESSOR”. BUT NOT REALLY, SINCE AS I ALREADY SAID, I DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE A FOOD PROCESSOR. I WISH I’D THOUGHT OF A PUN USING “BLEND” INSTEAD). She watched me press the “pulse” button to make the peas pop up and swirl around, creating a green smear around the inside of the blender jar. She asked lots of questions about what I was making for dinner and if dinner was ready yet or if dinner was ready now or how about now and if not now could she have some water and where were her markers and could she go drive mommy’s car.

Somehow all of the questions turned my brain into mushy peas and I stopped thinking of her as actually present in the kitchen with me. It was like since I’d answered her first two, legitimate questions, I could be done with that conversation and she was just talking to talk. She became a kind of background activity to the main show: blending blendy things with the blender.

I took the top off the blender jar and looked down inside to see where the mushy peas had taken refuge from the blades. I stuck my wooden spoon deep down inside and started scraping things around. And then Erin struck out like a viper with her little hand and pressed the “pulse” button.

I fuh-reaked out. I don’t like to spell out stupid words like that, usually. But it’s entirely appropriate here: fuh-reaked. I yelled, I jumped back, I slapped her hand away from the button. Then I just started an internal monologue, one that I couldn’t shut up: “Why didn’t you take the jar off the blender stand to do that? Why didn’t you take the jar off the blender stand to do that? Why didn’t you take the jar off the blender stand to do that?” Because, seriously, why didn’t I take the jar off the blender stand to do that? Erin was very upset by my reaction, and I had to calm down for a minute before I could talk to her. She ran to her room, and Emily went after her to talk for a bit. When Erin came back out, all tears and apologies, I felt even more stupid. Although the running commentary to her in the kitchen is “Don’t touch things that are on the counter” it was still not her fault. She’s four, she saw something awesome and fun-looking, something like a pop-vacuum, and she opted to play too. I wasn’t paying enough attention, and I hadn’t said to her right from the first moment “This is a dangerous thing for kids to play with. Don’t touch the blender. Please don’t chop Daddy’s fingers off.” Remorseful Dad is remorseful.

Let this be a lesson to you: Just because you are right there with the kitchen appliance, that doesn’t mean things are somehow safe for everybody. Vigilance, not attendance, makes safety.

The beans on toast with mushy peas were awesome, though. I think adding a pinch of utter terror was the right call.