with equal parts compassion & hilarity

Alexis Cooks a Vegetable: Okra

First, a brief intro to Alexis Cooks A Vegetable.

Second, it has been a while and that is because I am failing. Failing at failing. Even though I prefaced this series by saying “I’m terrible at cooking, so read this if you want to laugh” I feel as if I have breached an entirely new level of terrible. Like, the kind of stupid terrible that’s not even worth returning to for a good ol’ chuckle because you are utterly humiliated and it just doesn’t seem that funny. So, yes, it has been awhile.

Third, a simple statement recently made me pause to think. “It’s refreshing to read about failure.” I am really good at making those stupid, stupid mistakes that cause you to lower your head, face palm your forehead and hoarsely whisper, “IDIOT.” And, it feels as if you can never overcome the mistake because you will forever be flighty, forgetful and, if you’re as talented at catastrophizing as I am, certainly unlovable. Oh, what? No, I do not have a dramatic flair. STEP OFF.

But, it’s kind of true, you know? Nobody wants to read about how wonderful Person K’s life is. Where are the raw mistakes? Where is the stupid failure in which case the only proper response is laughter?

Here is Alexis’s stupid failure as told in the third person:

EStupid Failuremploying the mind over matter tactic, Alexis flung open her freezer door fully expecting to see it magically overflowing with possibility. Instead, she saw frozen fruit indicating a functional freezer, a small assortment of meat from the butcher compliments of the deer she shot in the Fall and a standard sized bag of Great Value Cut Okra. Despite such limited options Alexis remained obliviously hopeful.

She opted to make venison chops, baked sweet potatoes and steamed cut okra. She drank Sweet Red Roo while listening to “Blues BBQ” Pandora station because it was a little sultry, easy to sway to and the prospect of music while cooking reminded her of every cooking scene she has ever seen.

According to Google, a sweet potato needs to bake for 45 minutes to one hour which seemed a little excessive to Alexis, but she wasn’t about to argue with Google. While the potato baked and the venison chop cooked on a low-medium heat, Alexis proceeded to do several other things like laundry, finish a chapter in East of Eden and slowly become cultured by Muddy Waters’s Trouble No More and other featured songs. Such distraction probably caused her to overcook the venison chops, but she was comforted by the stories of Grandma Holker advocating for burnt food because “it always tastes better a little burnt anyway – eat it!”

Interestingly enough, this was also her first time baking a sweet potato solo. Like, what kind of small-town Midwestern European mix does she think she is? Apparently, she’s the kind that would rather first learn how to change the oil in her 1990 Oldsmobile than cook a proper meal. (Make your own judgments reader, I’m merely the narrator here.) Alexis was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was and then felt incredibly incompetent after thinking “Huh, that was so easy. I seriously could have been making sweet potatoes my whole life. I’m never telling anyone about this ever.” Well, reader, you know how absolute those absolute words like never, ever, always and forever are.

The sweet potato was done as was the venison chop which has already been addressed so Alexis did what anyone would do. She began to eat the food. And it was actually good – burnt is better. After several bites, it dawned on her that she forgot about the okra so she hurriedly threw the bag of cut okra in the microwave for six minutes. Questioning the quality and wattage of her microwave (rescued from a dumpster), Alexis ultimately disregarded the suggestion to microwave the okra longer for those using lower wattage devices. “It’s probably not that bad. Plus I’m hungry.”

Once the six insanely long minutes were up Alexis threw it on a okraplate only to discover that half of it was steaming hot and the other half was cold to the touch. Again, Alexis took the situation in stride and added the hot half to the rapidly cooling sweet potato and venison. Now, she could proudly consume. As it turns out, the okra was still not as warm as she thought and, you know what? It was slimy.

Reminiscent of Gremlins and oozing clear slime the bright green okra seemed to taunt Alexis even when she closed her eyes against those little monsters. White seeds contrasted with the green and appeared poised to jump out like when a chicken pecks an unsuspecting chubby four-year old’s pointer finger. Far too great a sight or taste to overcome, Alexis ate around it. She eventually conceded to tossing it though not right now – she held onto the notion that maybe she would like it tomorrow or the next day. Then, there would be no waste.

As Alexis characteristically Midwesternly tupperwared the leftovers, she realized she had failed at failing because she technically did not cook the okra – it was microwaved for goodness sake! She pondered deep thoughts such as “What am I doing? Seriously, what am I doing? I don’t know how to cook. I clearly don’t even know how to pretend to cook. This isn’t even funny. And, I still don’t even know what okra is. What is vegetable? Uh, ridiculous.”

Alexis exhaled her frustration, vowed to try harder next time and ate a handful of chocolate chips to help her feel better.

There it is, folks: Alexis’s stupid failure as told in the third person.

I hope it was refreshing.

P.S. Ultimately, stupid failures really don’t matter. Think Sharon Creech and Walk Two Moons: “In the course of a lifetime, what will it matter?”

2 Responses to “Alexis Cooks a Vegetable: Okra”

  1. Colleen Holker

    It was indeed refreshing. Have you thought about writing kids books? I see a talent there.


    • aschermer

      I’m glad you liked it. 🙂 Funny you mention that, I have thought about writing kids books – it would be a blast!



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