When I turned 15, my mother banned me from cooking in the kitchen by myself. As ridiculous as it sounds, the banishment was not entirely uncalled for due to an unsettling incident involving rice, a microwave and the near-destruction of my home. Now, you may be saying, “Burning rice in a microwave? Preposterous. That is far too difficult for me to accomplish.” False. Burning rice can be achieved by following a series of specific steps that I happened to learn from experience. As a fellow HelloGiggles member, I feel that it is my duty to inform you of these requirements so that one day you may achieve the same level of greatness.
Step 1: Make sure that it is Monday
Garfield had the right idea. Mondays are positively miserable. Bad luck gravitates towards Mondays like young girls gravitate towards Justin Bieber. Mondays bring as much joy as a crying baby brings to a tired mother. The extent to which people love Mondays is inversely proportional to how much Hitler loved dogs. December 21st, 2012 is probably a Monday (it’s actually a Friday but the idea still stands). In conclusion, deciding to burn rice on a Monday will exponentially increase your chances of success.
Step 2: Cook when nobody is home to help you
Cooking alone is a key component to destroying once edible concoctions. The more qualified your parents or roommates are to help you, the more inclined you should be to push them out the door (i.e. if your dad is a retail worker, letting him sleep upstairs during a cooking endeavor is perfectly acceptable; if your dad is a firefighter or chef with a specialty in rice cooking, put him in a box and send him across the country for the best results). Luckily, when I decided to prepare my favorite rice pilaf dish, my mother (nurse) and step-dad (firefighter) had already left the premises, leaving me free to ignite whatever foods I fancied.
Step 3: Don’t read the instructions carefully
In order to properly create a dangerous chemical reaction, it is important to completely ignore suggested container sizes. Thankfully, I have a natural talent for overlooking information. I’ll say this up front: I’ve never been the biggest fan of numbers. (According to Wikipedia, this is actually a real psychological problem called arithmophobia which is not really that important in the long run but will probably be the winning answer on a future episode of Jeopardy at some point, so you’re welcome.) Unbeknownst to me, numbers are kind of important in cooking. They help determine the proper balance of ingredients in order to ensure that lasagna will not explode and cookies will not turn into muffins (a concept that I learned the hard way…more on that in future columns…). They also are apparently important in labeling container sizes, which I tend to skip over, so therefore, it should not be surprising that I put an entire packet of rice in a cereal bowl. Hey, put those judgmental looks away, I have arithmophobia for God’s sake. Have some sympathy.
Step 4: Leave the cooking food unattended
Food does not need a babysitter. Whoever came up with the idea of actually watching food cook obviously did not have less important things to become distracted by. In my situation, after I put the bowl in the microwave and set it for 2 minutes, I trotted off to the basement to continue watching snippets of High School Musical on YouTube (again, with the judgmental looks). Now, in my defense, one would think that a bowl of rice, microwaveable rice, would be able to handle itself on its own. Therefore, I had no qualms about shamelessly watching Zac Efron dance across my television screen while my dinner cooked upstairs. How was I supposed to know that all of the water would evaporate in a matter of seconds and end up scorching my dinner? I didn’t. If you want to burn rice, I suggest you find a mundane or embarrassing hobby to pick up that will force you to leave the kitchen or you may actually end up making something edible and not destroying your house.
Step 5: Forget what you were cooking
Neglect is the greatest way to ensure success when it comes to burning rice. Make sure to discover an activity that will capture your attention so much that you will forget about your microwaveable dinner.
Step 6: Panic
At this point, your house should be flooded with black smoke. If it’s not, you’re doing something right, which is entirely unacceptable. In my rice catastrophe, smoke had infiltrated every corner of the first floor, leaving me blinder than usual and scrambling for my life. (Do not tell me I am being overly dramatic. You were not there.) In a panic-induced frenzy, I stormed through the wall of darkness, flung open the microwave hatch and proceeded to open every window and door in the house. In order to become a true Rice Burning Master, your heart must beat a hole in your chest out of stress. True fact.
If you follow all of these steps exactly, you should have a smoky house and a destroyed kitchen in no time. Surely, I cannot be the only person with the power to burn everything I touch. Somewhere out there, someone is setting plain pasta on fire or scorching pudding on a stovetop. What ridiculous food items have you burned? Spinach? Potatoes? Cereal? (Anyone who can do that last one will officially be my new best friend.) Feel free to tell me because I’d be glad to know I’m not the only one with an inability to cook. Go ahead. Don’t be afraid. You won’t get any judgmental looks from my end.