So, my dinner exploded last night.
I was, as usual, microwaving a whole spaghetti squash. I followed the directions on the label that had been stuck on one of the squashes I bought last fall. I pricked the skin multiple times (like 27 times with the tip of a rather dull steak knife), then put it in the microwave on high. After five minutes, it didn’t seem soft enough, so in for another five minutes it went.
In the meantime, I’d finished making the spaghetti sauce and the whole wheat pasta for the kids. Their hands were washed and I was dishing out their food when the microwave beeped. My daughter sat at the table talking about something or other (by evening, I kind of start tuning her out. It’s always about the reproductive or migratory habits of various animals anyway), and my son was engaged in some kind of crashing-trucks-into-teddy-bears game in the other room.
The squash was hissing and kind of squealing when I took it out of the microwave.
“This is new,” I thought. I didn’t remember the squash being so vocal before.
It was too hot to grasp well with my bare hands, but the hot mitts were across the room where my son dropped them earlier in the afternoon after pretending to check the doneness of his cookies. (“No, cookies aren’t done yet,” he’d said as he’d slammed the dishwasher door shut.) I balanced the stem end against the palm of my left hand and began prodding the squash along its equator with the one sharp knife we own. The skin of the squash was resistant. I applied more pressure with the knife blade.
“HisssSSSSSS…THWUMP!” said the squash as it split open and spewed molten squash innards on my hands, face, sweater, and pants.
I squealed, dropped the knife on the counter, and frantically flung the hot squash bits that clung to my bare skin onto the floor. I willed myself to reattain a calm demeanor as I ran cold water over my hands at the sink.
The squash strings and seeds that weren’t blocked by my body had continued on their trajectory until stopped by the floor, the table and chairs across the room, or the ceiling.
“What happened, Mommy?” my daughter asked from across the room with interest but without concern. She had been at a safe distance from the flying squash.
“My squash exploded,” I answered as I decided that the pain in my hands was a good sign since that meant the burns were likely only first- or second-degree, at least according to the information I’d retained from the anti-burns Shriners video they showed to my school when I was in third grade. That video neglected to warn about the dangers of microwaving spaghetti squash, but I’m fairly sure it was made before microwaves were in widespread use so I guess the omission is forgivable.
“What?” my daughter asked.
“My squash exploded,” I repeated.
My husband arrived home as I was trying to clean up the floor.
“What happened?” he asked from the doorway of the kitchen.
“My squash exploded,” I said yet again.
“What?” he asked. I looked at him over the rims of my squash-covered glasses. “Your squash exploded?”
“Yes, honey. My squash exploded.”
I have since discovered that I’m not remotely alone in my exploding squash experience. A quick internet search revealed that it’s a somewhat common occurrence, at least among bloggers. In fact, Mindy at Too Many Jars in My Kitchen! wrote about her exploding squash just a few days ago. If only I had found her blog before I made dinner last night.
I think that in the future, I might start cutting the squash in half before microwaving it. Unless there’s an intruder in the house, in which case having an improvised explosive might prove useful. Provided, that is, the intruder is willing to wait 5 to 10 minutes until the squash is done in the microwave.