Yesterday, June 15, was Father’s Day. Hope all the dads had a great day. Being the father of four wonderful children and deeply proud of every one, I woke up feeling a bit more chipper than usual yesterday morning. Not to be selfish, but a day in honor of me. Only happens twice a year, with the other being my birthday in December, and not looking forward to each of those as much as they come around more quickly each year it seems. After a longer than usual early morning walk I decided, with it being Father’s Day and all, that I would treat myself to something very special– a hot breakfast.
Now, please understand, cooking for breakfast is just something I normally do not do. It seems a bit over the top when a quick bowl of Cheerios will suffice. One spoon and bowl, into the dishwasher and on to other things for the day. So deciding to actually prepare a hot meal for breakfast was no small decision for me. Unfortunately, the hot breakfast plan seemed to quickly unravel and go down hill almost right from the start.
Opening the package went without incident. But the first Pop-Tart that I placed into the toaster missed the little support rack that travels up and down inside the toaster machine. (I am not a certified toaster machine mechanic, so “the little support rack” is as technically accurate as I can be in this matter, trusting that anyone experienced in the operations of a toaster machine will understand what I am talking about.) The Pop-Tart fell all the way to the bottom of the machine. Unable to easily retrieve it I decided there was only one way to get it back out, and that was to invert the whole machine, spilling its contents and hopefully the lost Pop-Tart onto the kitchen counter.
Being somewhat experienced (although not officially trained or certified, to be clear again) in the use of toaster machines, I realized that there are inevitably toast scraps and crumbs collected in the bottom of these devices, and that inverting the toaster machine into an upside down position would only spill all the contents onto my counter, creating a bigger mess than I was already dealing with. Admittedly, decisions like this can only be made after having learned from previous experience in crumb dumping, and I am hoping novice crumb dumpers may learn from this post. The next step was to refer to the instruction manual for expert advice, always a good plan.
For safety’s sake, the machine was then unplugged from the electrical outlet, preventing shock or injury as the instructions advised. At that point, the “crumb tray” as it is commonly known, was carefully removed from the machine and the contents dumped into the trash can. I then inverted the machine over the counter, and was fortunate to actually catch the Pop-Tart as it fell freely back out of the toaster. Next, the crumb tray was replaced, and the machine plugged back into the electrical socket. Ready to start over, from the beginning. So far, so good, although a lot more work than I had envisioned for my hot Father’s Day breakfast. I could hear the Honey Nut Cheerios calling from the cupboard, but the Pop-Tart package had by this point already been opened and discarded, so it seemed like proceeding with the original hot breakfast plan was still the right choice.
I placed the lost-but-recaptured Pop-Tart back into the toasting machine, being very careful to set it squarely into the little support rack this time. I then repeated this step with the second Pop-Tart, which up until this point had been waiting its turn patiently on the counter. With both Pop-Tarts balanced, albeit a bit precariously on the little support racks, I slowly and cautiously pulled down the machine lever, thereby successfully lowering the Pop-Tarts into the machine and activating the heating process. Hot breakfast on the way!
After the appropriate cooking time had elapsed the little support rack released and the Pop-Tarts sprung back up out of the machine, filling the kitchen with the aroma of hot, toasty cinnamon goodness. I reached for the nearest one, the “second” one identified above, and promptly burned the finger tips of my left hand on the hot frosting. In my haste, I had obviously not noted the cautionary advisory on the package- “Step 3- Cool briefly before carefully removing pastry from toasting appliance.” I had not allowed sufficient time for it to cool. Overtaken by the heady aromas wafting from the toasting machine, I can only reason that I was overcome by the excitement of a hot Father’s Day breakfast and not heeded the warning. Burnt fingers resulted. My fault, the warning was right on the package.
As any father knows and has admonished to his children many times– “Once burned, twice learned.” Or– “Once burnt, twicet learnt” if in the Ozarks here. I resolved on the spot that I was not going to be burnt again removing the second Pop-Tart, and retrieved my best Stainless Steel kitchen tongs from the drawer. With nylon grasping heads, they are certified for safe use up to 400 degrees, and I assumed the Pop-Tarts were probably not quite that hot so the tongs should be safe to employ. Tongs in hand, I set about to retrieve the next Pop-Tart, the original problematic one. As soon as I grabbed it with the tongs, the Pop-Tart exploded into numerous pieces, some small, some large and others which could only be referred to as crumbs, all of which fell promptly to the bottom of the toaster machine again. By this time, I realized that I had been dealing with an obviously defective Pop-Tart from the beginning.
The toaster machine being too hot to handle at this point, I was able to eventually retrieve the largest piece with the tongs, figuring a broken Pop-Tart is better than no Pop-Tart, and decided to dine on the rescued piece and the other properly prepared Pop-Tart, and waited until later in the day to once again unplug, invert, clean out, dump and reconnect the toaster machine.
And this dear friends, is why I generally do not cook or prepare hot meals for breakfast. The Cheerios this morning were delightful.