Loose Lips Part 3 - Life's little cooking lesson
NOTE: This is another chapter that was influenced by Sir Sebastian's original one-shot "Loose Lips."
If you have not read it, I highly suggest it, a most enjoyable read.
I noticed there weren't a lot of stories involving Ron and James, this will be one of mine. There will only be one chapter.
As always, all characters are creations of Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley and property of the Disney corporation.
Also, I gave a nod to a great comedian from the 60's famous for his style of comedy. If you can tell who it was, congrats you must be as old as me, but have very good taste in humor.
Finally, I must give a thanks to NoobFish for pushing me to have a better story and my wife for beta reading.
Now on to the story...
The Possibles Home
James picked up the phone and dialed the number. As he patiently listened to the phone ring on the line, he absentmindedly wondered if Nana had a new set of batteries in her hearing aid. This was one conversation he did not desire to be overheard while repeatedly yelling over the phone. When he heard someone pick up on the other end, he politely inquired, "I'd like to speak to Nana, please."
"This is Nana," an elderly lady responded.
"Mom? This is James."
"James who?" came from the kindly sounding lady.
"James Possible. You know..." Sighing, "Your little boy, Jimmy."
Nana's cheerful voice boomed over the receiver, "JIMMY DARLING! How are you, it's been such a long time..."
James nearly dropped the phone, "Yes, yes, it's been a while, hasn't it?.."
Nana humph-ed and harrumph-ed as she listened closely to her younger son's situation and paid attention to his request. When he was done explaining himself, Nana nodded to herself and replied curtly, "My boy, my place, Saturday morning, 8 A.M. Don't be late."
James gave a small smile as he placed the receiver down. So it was, Saturday morning it is. He rubbed his hands together in anticipation of the day. It couldn't come soon enough.
Since she became a snowbird, Nana's recent return to her Colorado home was an enjoyable event. James called her earlier this week and perhaps this time, just perhaps, the 'light will come on' for him, and he will finally not be a disaster in the kitchen.
When Saturday finally got here, he found himself dressed in a comfortable suit and tie that was more suited for a night out on the town than for visiting his elderly mother. After so many years working at space center, he felt most comfortable in this attire.
Nana wasted no time in throwing open the front door, and fussing over him like she had a thousand times over when he was still young. James could only get her to stop her fussing once he got to college, and that was just because he moved out and lived on campus. Without missing a breath, she ushered him into the dinning room and looked him in the eye with a disappointed look as she clicked her tongue.
"First thing, James, we must address the way you dress. That won't work in the kitchen."
James asked, "What? I am wearing Portals pants, nice Land's Begins shirt, can't go wrong with a basic black tie. This is a classic."
Nana simply replied, "No ties!"
"Mom, I am a grown man, isn't that my decision?"
"Do you remember watching Springing Connoisseur, the chef? Tall, made great crepes. Nice man, good with kids."
"November 15th of '88!" Nana interrupted. "All was well, another show recorded, when his tie brushed against the electric coil!"
"Connoisseur was not the brightest bulb..."
"Julia Kid! April 23rd, '87! Tie caught on a broiler during an infomercial!"
"Mom, you can't generalize about these things..."
"Alton Gray, food processor! That Bam guy, grease fire! The Art Burns, sucked into a giant potato mixer!... No ties!"
When they finally entered the room where either success or failure would prevail, James spoke first. "Ever since high school, I promised I'd never do anything in your kitchen, ever again."
"As I promised not to try to teach cooking to you again, James, yet here we are."
"What will we be preparing first?" the student asked.
"Well, I am sure I don't know, darling. Luck favors the prepared," Nana quipped with a twinkle in her eye.
Nana proceeded to drill James on the basics of cooking, from the proper cutting technique, to mixing and marinating, to garnishing and plating, to sampling and adding salt and pepper. She took James through cooking the different meals of the day—breakfast, lunch and dinner—and showed him her various cooking secrets that had kept James and his brother Slim well fed through their growing years.
Much to her disappointment, after eight burnt pots, five charred pans, two lumps of metal that might have been Nana's favorite skillets, two runaway mixers, a cranky blender, and a convection oven that has belched so much smoke that James had to seal it shut with duct tape and call for a Hazmat disposal team, James was sitting at the table with his head in his hands while Nana was standing next to him.
Nana shook her head sadly. "I am sorry James. I can't believe I am saying this: I can't teach you," she said with sadness in her eyes. The one thing she stressed with her boys was never leave uncompleted work. Finish what you've started.
"That's OK, Mom," there was sadness in his eyes as well. "You tried, I couldn't have asked for more. I know there was a lot of baggage from our last time."
"Oh James, you're still not fretting over that are you?" placing a hand on his shoulder, trying to comfort her son. "Your Dad was promising to remodel that kitchen for quite a while."
"I guess not everything is possible for a possible," he said with a defeated tone in his voice.
"Wait, James. I know there is hope for you. Perhaps the situation needs a new perspective."
"Mom, What do you..."
"James, if you really want to do this for Anne, give her a home cooked me from you on your anniversary, then you need the only one who was able to teach someone who has your cooking gene. If he can teach your daughter to cook, then..."
"You don't mean..." James asked, with his eyes wide open.
"Yes I do..." Nana replied.
"Ron Stoppable," the two of them spoke in unison. "
James could only sigh.
Later that Saturday Afternoon
Seeing the caller ID on the phone Ron picked up it up, then answered, "Hi KP, looking for a little afternoon Ronshine? 'Cuse Me?.. Mr Dr. P?!.. Whatever you think that KP and I did, it didn't happen... Huh?... It's your anniversary? 20 years, well congrats! Taking the Mrs to McCorkles or Schooley's? What? A candlelight dinner at home for your and Doc's anniversary... Hey, that's a great present. The ladies love a home cooked candlelight meal. You want me to cook it for you?... What?!... YOU'RE, YOU'RE GOING..."
At the other end of the phone call the father of his girlfriend further explained his plans for his anniversary. Throughout the conversation Ron tried to get words in edgewise. " No offense Mr P., but didn't Kim get her cooking skills from you... Me?.. What about Nana? She can cook circles around... Oh...Pots and pans huh...bl-blender too?... the, the food processor?... Well at least the stove is still... Oh... You called who?... is, is that school word?... Well, I guess, anything for you and the Mrs."
As Ron was learning of that morning's process, he was becoming became a bit panic stricken. "What?.. At your mom's house... Is it safe to go back in?... What? Your anniversary is when? This next week, Saturday night?...
As unpleasant as the task of teaching Kim to cook was, the prospect of teaching her father to cook presented not only a bigger challenge, but there were certain downsides. At least with Kim, they could chase each other around the kitchen with cans of whipped cream. But as oblivious as Ron was, deep down inside, his boyfriend instincts were tingling: this was a major chance to score major points with his girlfriend's dad.
"OK," Ron interrupted once again. "Tell you what, if you were able to help me with Algebra, I'll give it the ol' Mad Dog try!... What?... Noo, I won't be bringing the Mad Dog head or foam... M-M... M-Mr Dr... Mr. Dr. P... Note serious voice. I'll promise you will be presenting something that you have made to the dinner table that night. I'll meet you on Friday night at your mom's house."
With that Ron hung up the phone. "What that'll be," he said as he turned to give his ever-present friend, Rufus, a wide-eyed look, "I have no idea."
Quickly Rufus began chattering at Ron, reminding him Friday nights are 'Official Ron Nights' to Kim.
"Oh, right. Well I bet Kim will understand."
The little friend squeaked with a cautious look on his face.
Noticing his buddy's concern, he rubbed his chin and he asked out loud, "But can she keep a secret from her mom?"
"Ronique!" squeaked Rufus.
"Rufus you're a genius! I bet Monique can keep her busy that night. Maybe a little work at CB? Everyone likes a little extra fundidge. I can tell Monique what I need without spilling the soup to Kim..."
"Beans," Rufus interrupted.
"Beans?" the teen answered his little buddy. "I don't think we can go Bueno Nacho right now."
"No soup, beans."
"What? I don't understand...Well, I need to call Mo' and see if she can help in Operation Possible Meal." Ron picked up the receiver and punched in Monique's cell phone number.
"...So you see Mo', Mr. Dr. P. is planning to cook the meal for Mrs. Dr. P, and is asking me to help teach him.."
"Wait," Monique interrupted with a panic-stricken voice. "Didn't Kim get his cooking gene?"
"Yes, but since Kim and I have started dating, I really want to impress Mr. Dr. P.," Ron began. "If I can do this for him, it'll be golden between us. We're going to be working this Friday night. Which is..."
"Now 'Official Ron Night'," Monique continued, " and you're afraid that Kim won't be able to keep this secret from her Mom. So you need me to run interference for this Friday?"
"Yes Mo', I know I can tell you this without spilling the soup..."
"Not spilling the soup, Ron. It's 'Spilling the beans'," Monique corrected.
"So, that's what Rufus was saying," Ron said, finally understanding. "And you know, that does sound better. So we're set?"
"Sure, Ron, I'll take care of it," his friend on the other end of the line said with confidence. "I'll call her and let her know I need help that Friday. She's not the only one who can pull off the Puppy Dog Pout," she responded with a grin in her voice.
Friday Night at Nana's Home
Armed with a mysterious lidded box, Ron rang the door bell not knowing what to expect. He knew what kind of terror a Possible can cause in a kitchen. Soon he heard footsteps coming toward the door and a elderly lady opened door with arms opened wide.
"Ron, it's so good to see you again! And how's your little rat thing?" Nana beamed at him.
"Uh, you mean Rufus?" Ron inquired. "Well, I asked him if he wanted to come and help, but he dived under the covers shivering in, ah, I mean, he had other plans."
"Well, luck favors the prepared," Nana mumbled, wondering if she could join Rufus in a similar run for cover.
"Is Mr. Dr. P here?" the blond teen asked, while rubbing the back of his neck. "I'd like to get this over with, ah, I mean, I'd like to get started."
"Right here, Ronald." The father of the love of his life was standing in the doorway to the dining room. Was there a glimmer in the man's eyes? Or was that fear? No, Ron had seen that look before, especially before an Algebra test.
"Hi, ah, Mr. Dr. P., I, ah, you're wearing a tie..."
"Already got it covered, Ron. This one is a clip on," the scientist grinned nervously. "Normally I don't wear these, but a wise chef told me that ties are an accident waiting to happen in the kitchen."
"Well I'll let you two boys get started," the elder Possible said. "There'll be a lot of ground to cover. James, now pay attention to Ron and remember, just relax. This can be an enjoyable activity"
James was the first to speak as the student and teacher walked into the kitchen. "Ronald, you're not going have me...hug a mixer are you?" James remembered Kim telling the time when Ronald took over the Home Economics class.
Giving his trademark grin, the instructor for the night replied. "No, I was just playing Kim, you know getting back for the time she had me get a new haircut." Noticing the look on the man's face he continued. "Come on, Mr. Dr. P., you can't tell me, in all the years you've known Mrs. Dr. P, you haven't pulled a prank on her once."
James couldn't help but start to grin back before replying, "Well, there was one time..." Just then he noticed out of the corner of his eye, Nana was returning into the kitchen. "No Ronald, I would never pull a prank on the one true friend of my life. That lady is my inner strength and I hope you wouldn't think of doing such a thing to my Kimmie-Cub." He watched his elderly mother anxiously as she shuffled around the kitchen to pick up her reading glasses. As soon as she'd left, he pulled Ron close and started saying, "There was this one time..."
Ron decided to see if James was able to handle the basics, starting with boiling water. To his dismay, James had lived up to his namesake, as Ron immediately grabbed the fire extinguisher nearby and doused the flames. "Burnt, the water was burnt. Mr. Dr. P, I'm no rocket scientist, but if I know my Beakman's World, you really can't burn water. Yet somehow ..."
As the Friday night went on, James was still defying the laws of cooking and science. The good news was that the damage was minimal. At one time, Ron called James over to the kitchen screen door...
"Mr. Dr. P?" He called, "could you come here? What does it look like these flies are doing?"
"Ron, I'm not sure," he replied with an even more puzzled look than Ron had as he looked at the screen door, "I didn't study them in college, but it looks like they're repairing the holes in the screen..."
"They're stopping other flies from coming into the kitchen?" the teen instructor wondered out loud.
Things were not looking the best, until they came across the one recipe that James was able to do from scratch successfully. The recipe didn't call for any mixers or microwave ovens, so a few problems were eliminated. Ron monitored closely, very closely the process creating a homemade tomato paste for lasagna. Ron's plan for tomorrow was to create two portions of the main course tonight and place it in the refrigerator. The dress rehearsal would be Saturday at 11 AM for a noon meal for Nana, Ron and James.
Ron explained the process, "This is an Italian recipe which actually requires it to be kept in the fridge overnight. I'll give you 3x5 cards, it's easy. Just follow the instructions and everything will be spankin'. Just like launching a space probe." Then the blond teen grinned in a low leveled voice, "Rockets are Go."
As James read the cards, all he would need to do is to take it out of the fridge, place it in the oven at the proper temperature, and set the timer. Then take it out of the oven after the timer dings, remove the aluminum foil covering, put it back in the oven, cook it more for time. After the timer has dinged for a second time remove it from the oven and serve.
"What about dessert?" James asked. "I certainly can't make any cakes or pies... I might burn the whole place down.
"Ah..." Ron grinned happily. "That's where this comes in." Ron hefted up the mysterious box from the floor and placed it gingerly on the counter-top. He took off the lid and proudly displayed the contents to James.
"I'm not sure about..." James looked at the young boy as though he was three shades of crazy.
"Sha... Mr. Dr. P... Don't worry about it!" Ron reassured him. "It's all good... Trust me, it works. She'd be in love with you all over again. You'll use this tonight and tomorrow so you can get used to using it."
James experience with the Ron's 'secret weapon' proved to be the easiest, best portion of the meal for tomorrow night. With this under their belts they felt they were finally on the right track.
"Ronald, you don't know how much this means to me." James beamed. "I'd really like to thank you for all of your efforts.
"Ah, Mr. Dr, P? Could you call me Ron, please," the teen interrupted. "I always feel I'm in trouble when I'm called Ronald."
"OK, Ron. And you don't really have to call me Mr. Dr. P anymore. You can just call me James, Jim or JT, and someday, I really hope you will call me Dad. I know you'll make Kimmie very happy someday, and I believe you're right for her. Getting back to the subject of the night, I just hope Anne will let me in her kitchen," James worried out loud.
"Well as my dad always said, 'it's easier to ask for forgiveness, than it is to ask for permission'."
That Saturday Night, Mr. and Mrs. Dr. Possible's Anniversary
When Anne first heard that her husband of twenty years was planning a special celebration for this night she was excited. But when she was told he was planing a home-cooked meal, from scratch, alone, unsupervised, she had concerns. Well, let's face it, she was terrified. That afternoon she was teary eyed as she was shooed out of the room out by him. "I just got the cabinets I've always wanted," she thought to herself. On the home phone speed dial, she rechecked that the fire department, and the Middleton's Hazmat team were still in the programming to be called instantly if needed. "Oh, and where was the home fire extinguisher?" she wondered.
As the night progressed, smells filled the house. Oh those wondrous smells! There were garlic, oregano, and tomato paste wafting out of the kitchen If she didn't know better, she'd swear it was Nana working in the kitchen. Sighing happily that her kitchen might be in good hands, she idly wondered whether her husband had elected to hire a cook instead, and play a trick on her again. She quickly peeked in the kitchen and saw the back of her husband standing before the oven, while staring at the timer on the counter.
"Is it,..lasagna? Yes, lasagna with...French bread," she thought to herself with a smile on her face. "Wow, James is pulling out all the stops. There's even red wine waiting to be poured. But when did he? Who could have taught him..." Ron!" she spoke out loud. "That little sneak. I always knew that boy was braver that he looked."
"What, honey?" asked James from the other room."Were you talking to me?"
"Ah, what I said was from the smells, you're certainly a good cook," she replied, covering her tracks.
Finally from the kitchen, James made the announcement. "Honey, dinner's ready!" First came the salad, with Italian dressing. "Anne," James spoke. "I hope you're OK with Paul Redford dressing. It's not homemade but I know you've always liked his movies and the good things his organization does.
Admittedly, Anne was very hungry from the smells coming from the kitchen and went rather quickly through the first course. She couldn't wait to see how the James course, or, eh, the main course was going to be. After James placed the plate with the lasagna before her, she was enthralled. It was in a small brown ceramic bowl with a handle. When she broke the top of the entree, she was overwhelmed with the smells, color and texture. It was looking like the cover of one of those food magazines.
And the taste! If she hadn't seen James in the kitchen with her own eyes she would have sworn he ordered out from one of Middleton's finest Italian restaurants. Wow, there was ricotta cheese, several layers of pasta and the tomato paste! This was definitely not from a can or jar. She could easily want seconds but she didn't want to be too full and not enjoy the next course of the meal or for any other planned activities for the evening. Yea, activities indeed.
During the meal, their conversation consisted of topics they hadn't talked about in years. Remembering old times, friends who hadn't crossed their minds in too long a time.The feeling at the table was better than James could have imagined. He hadn't seen Anne this happy for quite a while. I guess when raising a family and with working careers this is one area that can get pushed to the side. Finally James did mention how he was able to come up with this kind of meal.
"Anne, I want you to know, since our relationship is based on not keeping secrets from each other, I did have help with this meal. No, no, I did all the work tonight, but I did have help getting me here today." James waited for Anne's reaction, then sighed and continued.
"The one who helped me was Ron. That boy's amazing. I tried with Mom the week before but it all fell apart. But with Ron I started last night, and the mistakes I... But he stayed with me all the way through until we both were happy with the result. If he's like that with Kim on their missions, I can see now why she keeps him around. There is no one, I do mean no one else, who is good enough for my Kimmie Cub. I hope your satisfied with the meal tonight. If so, it's all Ron's doing. If not, then I can say I tried, really tried, but I will never be able to cook."
"James the fact that you have tried to do this for me means more that anything you've given for our anniversaries. More that the Mikimojo pearl necklace and earrings for our tenth year. They were wonder presents but this, this is a part of you were afraid to try, but yet you did this for me. Whether the meal was successful or not doesn't matter. I love you for the effort."
She waited for a few seconds to see if he would squirm a little. She could play little tricks on him too. Finally, after letting him sweat for a while she did continue, "By the way, the meal has been fantastic, so fantastic that I will remember this until our next anniversary. So, I did smell something baking in the kitchen? Something chocolate perhaps?" She couldn't believe it, her mouth was watering for dessert.
James left the table, went into the kitchen returning with the dessert. "Anne, I want you to know that dessert was made entirely by me, from scratch," he said humbly. "If you find you don't like it, please tell me the truth... I don't want this evening ruined by my cooking."
Anne looked into his eyes and could tell in James' mind, everything was riding on the final course of the meal. What he brought out just amazed her. It was a plate of cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes with covered with chocolate frosting.
"OK, here we are," he said as he placed one on her plate.
When she sliced a piece with the side of her fork, she could already tell the cake was very moist.
Bringing it to her lips, the aroma was heavenly. When the cupcake hit her tongue, she couldn't believe it. It was..it was...
"James, it's like a cloud, a chocolate cloud!" Anne beamed. "I mean, that is the best chocolate cake I've have ever had! And you did this? James, whenever I or this family needs a chocolate cake, I'm pulling you in for the job, mister!"
"Well, there's one tiny little thing about that," James replied shyly looking away.
What's that, James?" she asked with a level of concern. "Please tell me you can make these again." Was Anne giving him the puppy dog pout? "Please tell me that!"
"Oh I can make them with ease but the thing is ...It can only be cupcakes."
"Cupcakes? Only cupcakes?" Now Anne was confused. What could be difference between baking regular cake and cupcakes. The recipes the same, the pans wouldn't make a difference, what would make it so only cupcakes could be made?
Yes, James could make Chocolate Cloud cupcakes, and only cupcakes. The best the lady he wanted to impress ever had. Anne followed her husband's gaze as she turned her head to look at what was sitting on the counter top. As she saw it, a smile broke out on her face as everything became clear. For in the corner of the kitchen counter top, next to the food mixer that was not used that night, was Ron's Granny Crocket Quickie-Bake Mixer and Oven set. Freshly cleaned after being used for the night.