Since my husband gets home a few hours after I do, I try to have dinner ready, or at least close to ready, around the time he arrives, so we can eat together.
The other night, he was a little earlier than usual, or maybe I was running late. Whichever it was, I had just popped the marinated chicken breasts into the oven as he came through the door. It would be half an hour or so before we could eat the main course (Lemon-garlic chicken and purple mashed potatoes), but I threw together a big salad appetizer to tide us over.
We settled into our designated spots on the couch with our big salads, and watched half an hour of something or other, until the oven timer interrupted us with a loud buzz. Down went the salad bowl, and up went I to the kitchen, fumbling to find the oven mitts. I poked the metal spike of the digital meat thermometer into the thickest part of the biggest piece of chicken, and pressed the button. Numbers appeared on the screen and began to climb, slowing to a crawl around 80. Concerned, I checked the setting on the oven – 375 as usual – and then tried the temperature in a different piece of chicken. No difference: the temperature still wouldn’t get past 80.
“It’s going to be a while, honey. I should have pounded these stupid things; they’re too fat and they’re going to take a while.” I offered him some mashed potatoes, but he was content to wait, so I covered the baking dish with some foil and put it back into the heat, setting the timer for 25 more minutes and returning to my mindless TV.
More buzzing, more fumbling for oven mitts, more temperature-taking. This time the numbers stopped near 100. I may have cursed at this point. I may have flapped a dish towel around in frustration.
“Fine”, I may have muttered to myself, “if they don’t want to cook in the oven, I will nuke these sons of bitches. They won’t taste right but we’ll be able to eat something before midnight, and maybe this way I won’t kill us with salmonella!”
“They won’t get up to temp,” I informed my hungry husband, “so I’m just going to nuke them so we can eat. They’re supposed to get to 165 to not kill us, and they’re still way below that.”
One and a half minutes of full-power microwaving later, the thermometer still didn’t want to get past 105. I flung it onto the counter and tried to think what the hell else I had in the fridge so I could throw together a quick replacement dinner. And that’s when I saw it.
The readout of the digital meat thermometer, still on, a few feet away on the counter.
It said: 21.
Oven-mittened facepalm ensued.
“Um, honey? I think I just had a GPS moment.”
There were two seconds of silence, and then a giggle from downstairs.
It amazes me that no other explanation was required.
We ate the chicken. On the bright side, even the hyperthermophilic* bacteria that live beside superheated ocean vents can’t survive past 105C, so we were definitely safe from Salmonella.
*Hyperthermophilic: loves extreme heat.