m&m’s and tater tots
It was delicious.
I am loving tater tots these days. Crispy, crunchy, salty. Delicious. And today I wanted them so bad that I ignored every shred of remaining common sense and turned the oven to 450.
I knew better.
We recently had our house gutted and remodeled. In our old house, we had one smoke detector. It wasn’t on the ceiling or any other place where it could detect smoke. It was wedged between one of the stairs and a spindle of the banister.
It never went off.
But our house never caught on fire, either.
Our penance for such bad parenting was to have smoke/carbon monoxide detectors installed all over the house and in all of the bedrooms when we redid the house. (This was probably code, but we liked to pretend it was our decision.) In addition, we had them hard-wired together so that if one went off, they all went off. This sounded like a fantastic idea when we discussed it with the contractors. And it was.
The first problem was that they didn’t just beep like normal smoke detectors. In addition to a wailing noise, a woman’s monotone, unconcerned voice announced through the entire house, “Fire, Fire!” or “Carbon Monoxide! Carbon Monoxide!” It wasn’t in unison, either. The first detector went off and then moments later tripped the others, which together echoed the first.
How did I know this?
The second problem was that the detectors were SUPER sensitive. And I mean, turn the oven to 375 and prepare to arm yourself with something to fan them into submission. Other than apple pies and cupcakes, everything is above 350, so this was a problem we encountered on a regular basis.
Anyway, I put ONE and TWO down for their naps around 12. ONE flew into a rage before she got to her room and launched a hard-core, body-thumping, door-slamming temper tantrum. I knew this was coming but wasn’t too worried because TWO had become an expert at falling asleep during ONE’s fits. Which she did this time, too.
By 12:50 the fit reduced itself to simple screams. It was then that I realized how much I needed to eat tater tots. I set the oven to 450 and placed a pan of frozen potatoes on the top rack. I like to put the food in while the oven heats to give it that extra time.
I neglected to turn on the vent above the stove. But so what? It was only 70 degrees out and all of the windows were open. There was a nice breeze going through the house. ONE was quiet. I sat down on the couch and closed my eyes. Ate a handful of frozen M&M’s.
“FIRE! FIRE!” The alarm wailed.
I jumped off the couch and raced into the kitchen. I grabbed a plastic placement and fanned the smoke detector.
Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth.
Jumped up and down a few times.
Back and forth.
“MAMA! MAMA I’m scared! MAAAAA MAAAAA!”
The smoke detector stopped. ONE resumed her fit. I turned off the oven and ran up the stairs to her room. Passed by the guest room, where the baby napped. It was silent. TWO is awesome.
Normally I would not go into ONE’s room during a fit. She knew that she had to be quiet for at least two minutes before I’d even speak to her. But this time was different. She was scared and I understood why. I hugged her and calmed her and then…
ONE started crying again. I could have shot someone. I would have left the oven on if I knew this would happen again. At least my tater tots would have been crispy. As it stood, only one side would be crunchy. They would probably taste the way they did in high school. Kind of warm and chewy. Almost perfect and delicious.
I ran back down the stairs and fanned the smoke detector and tried to think of positive things.
Like how if the house was really on fire, we’d all be outside. Or if one of our kids tried to smoke in the house one day down the line we’d catch them.
The alarms were silent. ONE was not.
I needed to make sure the detectors didn’t go off again. I didn’t want to chance waking up TWO. I remembered the big utility fan we had in the basement from the time it flooded. I ran down the stairs, grabbed it, ran back upstairs and placed it on the counter. I tilted the face of it to the ceiling and plugged it in.
ONE no longer screamed about the noise. She changed her tactics to demand that I come back upstairs and bring her “fresh water.”
I found that if I turned the utility fan to the highest level I couldn’t hear her at all. I mean, if TWO could sleep through it, why should I have to listen? I stared at the oven for a few minutes and willed the tater tots to soak in any of the remaining heat.
Finally I couldn’t wait anymore and pulled the pan out of the oven. As expected, the tots weren’t cold, but they were a little too pale to be crispy.
I stood right next to the big old fan as it roared all other sound from my ears, and sprinkled salt on my lunch.
Me. Eating mushy tater tots without ketchup and choosing to ignore the bitching of the girl closest to me.
Just like high school.
It was delicious.