OK, I'm having "one of those days". Someday, I will be able to look back on this and laugh. Someday, I will be a stand-up comedian and this will become the routine of legends. Until that time... Well, here it is:
Today actually started on Thursday night, when I went to choir practice. One of the elderly choir members passed away earlier this week. So, at choir I found out that the funeral would be Saturday (today), at 1pm. Can there *be* a time for a funeral that totally wrecks the rest of the day more? Oh, please - I want to get ABSOLUTELY NOTHING accomplished on my Saturday other than attending a funeral.
(In the interests of full disclosure, I have to mention a couple of other background things. First, according to "Southern Family Rules", the elderly lady is related to me. In this, I mean that she was the mother of the husband of my first-cousin-once-removed. In a normal world, this is such a distant connection (by marriage no less) that there is no link. But according to "Southern Family Rules", I should have been calling her Auntie. The second background thing is that the woman annoyed the scaffolding out of me. I'm sorry. I shouldn't speak ill of the dead. But she was one of those people who was always wanting you to pity her because she was sick, or tired, or her husband left her after 40 years of marriage and wasn't she just such a saint. And then if you did anything to be of help, she would criticize you behind your back if it wasn't done according to her exacting standards.)
Forgot something earlier. I've been sick all week. Seasonal allergies from HELL this year. My voice is shot from the coughing and post-nasal ick. I sound like I should be dead.
Back to Thursday night. I got to choir to discover that we're doing the "full reception" thing. See, in the South, whenever there is a major function at church, the church ladies cater the reception. Now, there is totally nothing wrong with that. In fact, some of the best wedding and funeral receptions I have ever been to were catered by church ladies. If you have never had sweet & sour sauced meatballs, homemade butter mints, or pineapple-cheese casserole, you have *no* idea what you are missing. Come visit me.
So I was late to choir practice on Thursday. Therefore I didn't get to sign up for my usuals. What was left? Pickled beets (bleh) or potatoes (preferrably scalloped). OK, potatoes. For 70-100 people. scaffolding.
Friday, I look up a recipe for scalloped potatoes online. I've actually never made them from scratch before. The box kind are normally my friend - but NOT when you're talking potatoes for that many people. Found a recipe. 2 lbs of potatoes to serve 8 people. Scale it up, then adjust down because this is a pot-luck type situation...need to make 10 lbs of potatoes.
This morning, about 9am, I start on Project Scalloped Potato.
* Step 1, Peel 10 lbs of potatoes. Eh, not so bad.
* Step 2, fire up oven and clear the sink, because I have to slice all those potatoes. Uh oh. Sink w/ garbage disposal has just clogged. Great. The water is slowly draining, so just scoop the peels into the trash and move on.
* Step 3, slice potatoes. Actually no problem. I have a mandoline. (Yes! Score!)
* Step 4, layer a couple of casserole dishes, no more than 4 layers deep, otherwise they won't bake fast enough (It is now 10:30am, funeral is at 1pm, and I still have to shower.) First 9x13 pan...4 layers done and into oven. Gee, that didn't use too many potatoes. I still have a lot left. Second 9x13 pan...4 layers done and into oven. Holy scaffolding. I still have a lot of potatoes. And no more 9x13 pans. Pull out 8x8 pan. 4 layers done and rearrange the oven. Craaap. I've only used up half the potatoes and about 60% of the hot milk. 2 qt oval casserole. 4 layers done. Rearrange oven again. Craaaaaaap. No more room in the oven. There is still a butt-load of sliced potatoes and 25% of the milk remaining. It's 11am, I still have to shower, and I have to leave the house by 12:30. Grab a loaf pan. 4 layers + last of the milk. OK, I can "officially" be done. But there is no room in the oven. This can't get baked. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966). Plastic wrap over the top and shove into the fridge.
* Step 5, Bake for 45 minutes or until done. 45 minutes elapsed. Hell's bells. The first one is *not done*!!! Come back 10 minutes later. Nearly done. Pull from oven. Raise oven temp to between 375 and 400. Scoop contents of casserole out and into 5 qt crockpot. (Because I need to keep them warm.) Taste potatoes. Still not quite tender. Crank crock-pot to HIGH.
What time is it.... 11:30 am. *Must leave house by 12:30!!!* CRAAAAAAP.
11:38, pull second casserole out. This one is just underdone, too. Scoop into crockpot. Turn crockpot off. Cover stoneware with foil and stuff the stoneware insert back into the oven. 2 more casseroles to go, both needing at least 30 minutes. Check the sink. Yep. Still clogged and clogged badly. Run and take shower.
12:15: Holy scaffolding. Can I cut this much closer??? Open oven. 1 casserole is done. 1 is NOWHERE CLOSE!. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966). Pull stoneware and jam back into crockpot. Pull done casserole and scoop into crockpot. Turn oven off. Leave the 4th casserole in there. No time left.
12:30: Head to church. Get caught in traffic. *tick...tick...tick* Arrive at 12:53pm. Run into the kitchen. Plug in crockpot and turn on high. Go into sanctuary. Music is starting.
Attempt to sing first hymn. Yeah...right! MY VOICE leaps into the vacuum!!! And I have a coughing fit. Did I mention the choir is supposed to sing at the funeral? Yeah, not happening.
Funeral service was actually quite lovely. Reception was lovely. Potatoes were done and were acceptable. I thought they were lacking something, but everyone else liked them.
4pm: Church has been cleaned up and I can finally head home. Guess what...the sink is still clogged. Change clothes and start to diagnose. Get out plunger. Remember that you have to be careful using a plunger on a double sink because you can geyser up & out the second sink. Place pot upside down over the other sink drain. **plunge down**
Yeah. THAT was not quite so brilliant an idea. I didn't factor in the air line/overflow for the dishwasher, which dumps into the disposal. I got caught SQUARE IN THE CHEST by a *spew* of nasty water coming out of the airline and straight at me. I am now soaked. And the sink is still clogged. After 15 minutes of playing "double dare" with the plunger and the disposal, I finally give up. I need info.
Go online for help. "To prevent your disposal from clogging, never grind up the following things: 1) bones, 2) greasy stuff, 3) potato peels..." ***squeeeeeeeel*** Potato peels? Are NOT supposed to go in???? "Potato peels do not grind completely and cause jams in the U-Trap" fire Rocket Number 9 .
*Yes, we have now gone full tilt into the F- Word Zone.*
OK, now what. "To clear a U-trap clog, remove the U-trap and clean it out." fire Rocket Number 9 . That means plumbing work. "Unscrew the locking nuts and drop the trap out. Clear the clog and reattach the trap. OK, this might be do-able.
Clear out the undersink area. Pull out largest adjustable wrenches. Too small...Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966). Extremely cramped under sink...double Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966). Water outlet on disposal is on the BACK of the disposal, making it impossible to use a standard pipewrench...Triple Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966). I need a strap wrench.
***At this point, I find it curious and infuriating that I have NOT bought a strap wrench to date. Especially since I've thought they were seriously cool for a couple of years. But every time I've gone to get one, I've talked myself out of it. "You don't *really* need one - you just want one because they look cool." Note to self...NEVER LISTEN TO SELF AGAIN!!!! Because NOW....I need one.***
Quick - call all of the "handy guys" I know who live relatively close. No one is home. Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966). Leave messages. Wait about an hour. Still no callback. Suck it up and go buy a strap wrench.
Come home. Yep, sink is still way, way clogged. Oh, and there are phone messages. Yep, someone has a strap wrench. Yep, he called me about 15 minutes after I left for Home Despot.
8pm. Hunker down under sink. Figure out how to use strap wrench. Holy scaffolding! It actually worked! Pull out U-trap. Yep. Totally JAMMED full of potato peel bits. Good news - there are no icky surprises at the bottom of the U-trap. It is *all* potato peels. About 1/2 lb of potato peels, in fact. Reattach trap and snug down the lock nuts. Amazingly...they are holding. Disposal is fine. No leaks.
Whew~! Now I just have to...clean...up...all...the...casserole dishes. Fuuuuck! *sigh*
The things I learned from this whole experience:
5. Buy a strap wrench. The metal handle kind with a woven strap. Best $10 you will ever put into your toolbox. Certainly cheaper than a plumber on a weekend.
4. 10 lbs of sliced potatoes IS A CRAPLOAD OF POTATOES!!!!
3. Anyone who tells you it takes 45 minutes to bake a scalloped potato casserole IS LYING!!! A 9x13 pan of potatoes takes at LEAST 60 minutes...more like 70.
2. DO NOT run potato peels down the garbage disposal. This will surely lead to problems at a *most inopportune time*!!!
.....And the number 1 thing I learned from this whole experience......
1. fire Rocket Number 9 THE SCALLOPED POTATOES. Make Mac & Cheese next time!!!
Love to you all. I'm headed for bed!