Today, I've got a couple of family issues on my mind plus my husband woke up acting like he'd been sleeping in a bed of pollen all night. He got up sneezing and dripping and tearing and hasn't stopped since. He needs organic tea and leftover pulled pork sandwiches - and he needs me to make them. I might have to go to NYC to help out my daughter (one of the family issues) and I have a couple of appointments at work to either cancel or be on time for. All quite manageable situations, but for me, it's the low-level stress that knocks me for a loop. To demonstrate just how badly I handle these things, I give you exhibit A:
This is a plate of candied lemon peel. Just part of one lemon, though. After polishing off a half a bag of Stacy's Simply Naked Pita chips, because I tend to snack through the stress, I made some iced tea for my husband, adding a slice of fresh lemon for his glass. He ended up slicing up the rest of the lemon because it tasted so good with the sugar he had sprinkled on it, but he left all the rinds on the counter. ("He's sick" is what I kept repeating to myself as I wiped up the spilled sugar and wiped down the cutting board and TWO knives.) I eyed the thinly sliced rinds and thought to myself, "Hey- I could make candied lemon rinds!"
Now, this is where I need help. Why does this occur to me as a good idea? I've never made candied lemon rinds before - or orange or grapefruit or any kind of candied anything. I am a firm believer in supporting all those wonderful people who work so hard to make candy for me. In easy to open packages.
Low-level stress tends to make me feel disorganized and distracted and the skills that serve me so well in major disasters are nowhere to be found. Hence the fire. Oh, wait...let me back up.
So, I think to myself, "I'm sure candied lemon rinds are a snap! Where's a recipe?" and I hunt one down online. It's simple, really, because it's just sugar and water and the leftover lemon rinds. I boiled the water, added the rinds, removed the rinds, stirred in the sugar, put back the rinds and kept boiling. All the while I was waiting to hear from Annie for updates. Her husband had a medical emergency and I wasn't sure if I was going to go down to NYC or just stay home - she didn't know yet. So, while watching the phone, I wasn't watching the pot. I ended up catching it just as it boiled over...and the drippy syrup landed on the burner and caught fire. But, see - fire is a MAJOR situation. I can do fire. I calmly smothered it with a damp towel without even so much as breaking a sweat. Meanwhile, for the lemon peel I am working like a longshoreman with the pots and the cooking and the draining and the hauling...and all for what ended up to be a little over a half a dozen strips of tough - yet sweet - tart lemon peels. And a little bottle of lemon flavored simple syrup. Which I probably will never use.
One of these days I'll learn this lesson: When stress comes knocking, tell it to keep walking. Don't invite it in and let it make you suddenly decide to become Martha Stewart. Mostly I should just stay out of the kitchen and maybe take a walk or keep looking up random things online and drinking. Wait, no...drinking doesn't help either. So just the walking or surfing the internet then. Because really, what good are 71/2 candied lemon peels to anyone? I need help...