Losing My Food Mojo

Pumpkin Pie

My kitchen luck had run out last winter.

In rapid succession, over the course of seven to ten days, I…

  • Left a seventeen dollar pot roast sitting on the floor of our kitchen overnight. How, you may ask? It was still sitting in its Target bag, and pretty much any time we go grocery shopping one or two bags manage to escape being put away. The white and red bags filled with batteries or toothpaste live on the floor until I remember to take them upstairs where they belong, but I have never stepped over perishables before.
  • Destroyed another seventeen dollar hunk of meat. The second pot roast, left to cook in our crockpot, confirmed our fear that our crockpot only works on high. The meat languished on low for ten hours and was still nearly raw. I tried to save it on high and rendered it totally inedible.
  • Got such bad hand cramps before a party I couldn’t cut a strawberry. A strawberry!
  • Found honey on the couch and floor and absolutely no recollection of how it got there.
  • Made chicken and dumplings that were so salty we all courted high blood pressure.
  • Dropped a carton of eggs.
  • Cut my finger while taking the rind off ugli fruit.


  • Ruined gnocchi. Gnocchi is a pasta dumpling that takes two to three minutes maximum to cook in boiling water. I have made pasta at least once a week for the last fifteen years. As a child, I was the official pasta tester for our family and made sure it wasn’t under or overcooked. If there was one thing in the world I was sure I couldn’t screw up, it was pasta. Instead of becoming dinner, the gnocchi all clumped together and bloated, like a pale, water-logged, dead fish. I pulled the mass out and had to bury it in the garbage can.

I was raised Catholic so the next step, once I admitted that perhaps I did have a cooking problem, was to figure out which saints might be able to help me out. I did some internet research and tried appealing to…

  • St. Anthony the Abbott – Patron Saint of Bacon
  • St. Drogo – Patron Saint of Coffee
  • St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Nicholas – Patron Saints of Baking
  • St. Luke, St. Augustine and St. Nicholas (again) – Patron Saints of Beer
  • St. Zita and St. Martha – Patron Saints of Housekeeping
  • St. Charles Borromeo – Patron Saint of Stomachaches
  • St. Michael the Archangel – Patron Saint of Grocers


  • St. Lawrence – Patron Saint of Cooking

Eventually my bad luck ended, though I cannot say whether it was with or without divine intervention. I was reminded of this because Thanksgiving is coming up. Although these days I am pretty non-denominational, I am not above asking saints for a little help.

We’ll be feeding almost twenty people at our house in about a week. We’ll be working with our tiny kitchen, my dietary restrictions around dairy and corn syrup, the vegetarian options we make sure to have for my brother, the turkey that always fills the house with smoke but then turns out fine, the lovely wine my mother-in-law brings that I’ll dip into too early, the cranberry-walnut-bourbon Jello my mom brings that I’ll also dip into too early, and the fact that my youngest child now bursts into tears at the thought of eating birds. It seems like a good idea to do some preventative praying.


Dear St. Lawrence,

I was hoping you could watch the pots and the oven a little, so I could feed my family and friends as well as I am able, and so I can take some time to appreciate what I’ve got. Please keep us free from burns and scalding and broken glasses. Please watch over the fridge to make sure nothing spoils, and the oven to make sure nothing burns. Please make sure the soy whipped cream is enjoyable, and that the real whipped cream doesn’t get trapped in its can, causing a small riot. I know you’re probably pretty busy, but thank you so much in advance.


Kristin Wagner, in the Chicagoland area

2 thoughts on “Losing My Food Mojo

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