What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Boiled and Burned July 1, 2015

Filed under: I Meant Well — meganorussell @ 4:26 pm
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I have a confession to make. A few months ago I reached a new low. I’ve been avoiding telling you all the sad tale, but sometimes a good story is more important than pride.

So here it goes. I started a tiny kitchen fire while boiling water.

It’s okay to laugh. There was no permanent damage, and I didn’t get in trouble with my artistic director.

The husband had just finished making chicken for dinner, and while I was talking to my mother on the phone before we went to the theatre, I decided I wanted a cup of tea. Since there was no tea kettle in the cast house, I started to boil water in a sauce pan. I cleaned the kitchen a little and then washed my hands. I was using a paper towel to dry my hands and noticed a spot of chicken grease on the stove. Being a person who hates using paper towels since all I can picture is the soul of the poor trees screaming you lazy, earth-hating bum! at me every time I use one when there is a perfectly good hand towel in the room, I decided to assuage my guilt by wiping up the bit of grease on the stove. (more…)


Halving the Ham June 24, 2015

It’s funny how every family has a certain peculiar way of doing something. Not everything. I mean we all put eggs on our PB&J right? Just kidding. That sounds heinous, and no one should ever eat that.

But things like how to put the lights on the Christmas tree. How laundry should be sorted. Or in the case of my family, how to cook a ham.

The first step to cooking a ham is to cut it in half. Then you prepare each half of the ham separately. I know. It says so in the family cookbook. It’s how we’ve done it for years. It’s how my great-grandmother made ham! It’s tradition!

Until my mother asked, Why? Why do we cut the ham in half? Is it about cooking time or flavor?


My great-grandmother’s oven when she first got married was too small to fit a whole ham, so she cut it in half and cooked it that way.

It was practical. It got her family fed. But we all kept following those directions in the book for years, not knowing why, but simply because it was how things were supposed to be done. The ham hadn’t needed to be chopped in half in years.

So maybe we should all look at the ham in our lives. What are we doing without really knowing why? Or dream bigger and look at the whole world. What do we accept as unchangeable just because it’s always been done?

Who knows, maybe we’ll find out that we don’t have to cut the ham in half anymore.


Mrs. Astor’s Kitchen Catastrophe August 7, 2013

Filed under: I Meant Well — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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When I was working at the mansion In Newport, Rhode Island doing living history, one of the positions that we could have on a given day was kitchen. Your job when you were on kitchen was to cook things of your choosing that smelled really nice all day and wait for a tour to come through to tell them about being a servant and about the really old gas stove. I knew how old it was then and all about the installation, but I forgot about that the day the contract ended. (more…)