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Cooking is harder when fuse blows, but help is on the way

By Edward A. Forbes

The Bulletin

Another day in the Forbes Kitchen, and it’s not progressing as expected.

I have the sous vide machine heating water up to 165 degrees to cook two chicken drumsticks, the air fryer heating up to 350 degrees to heat up some egg rolls and the plate of Chinese food (with a damp paper towel) covered in microwave to warm up.

I hit the start on the microwave, and everything comes to a screeching halt. Oops! Everything is running off the same 110-volt circuit, and the 20-amp breaker isn’t having it.

My home was built in 1974 and evidently wired like the 1950s. I exaggerate - a little. The wall behind my oven and countertop has two wall plugs, a special plug for the combination microwave, convection oven and hood vent, and the cook top for the oven are all on the same 20-amp breaker. This is not a problem if you only run one or two of these things. The oven requires a 220-volt power source, so it is separate.

Things are in process, and I must get everything running, so I dash out to the breaker box.

I visit the breaker box once a year or two, so I must remember how to open it, and I don’t. I experiment with the bottom latch (spring loaded, which I had forgotten), and eventually push it to the left.

The  door drops and opens, pinching the skin on my hand in the process.

Now I look at all the labels for the breakers, only two of which have any notations as to what they power. Visually, they look fine, so the next move is to find the tripped breaker by feel.

I find a breaker that is tripped and push it to the left, close the box, and I immediately run into the house. The affected appliances stare blankly at me. My efforts were unsuccessful. I resort to the “call a friend” option. In this case, the friend is my son.

“We are getting ready to go grocery shopping, and I will come by when we get ready,” he says.

This means getting his wife and five kids ready, so I know I am in for a wait. To get things rolling, I move the six-liter sous vide water tank to the opposite wall counter and plug in the sous vide unit to heat and circulate the water to 165 degrees in preparation for cooking the chicken drumsticks. Everything else must wait for my offspring’s arrival.

After an interminable waiting period, my son arrives, and after assessing the situation, he says, “let’s check the breaker box.”

We go outback, and he opens the box (effortlessly of course) and comments: “The only breakers labeled are the oven and air conditioner. Go in the house and get a pen.”

I promptly comply with the request (order). He finds the offending breaker and pushes it much more aggressively to the right than I had, and then he flips it back to the left.

“Your handwriting is better than mine, so label this one for stove top and counter plugs,” he says.

I use a fine-tipped marks-a-lot to carefully fill in the description.

My handwriting isn’t better than his, but I think it is legible enough to decipher, if it ever becomes necessary in the future.

We visit for a while, until I realize that his family is waiting in their vehicle for him. I escort him to the door, thank him, and I resume my cooking.

Later as I sit eating my egg rolls, I consider how lucky I am that my children live mere minutes away from me and are always willing to bail me out of precarious situations (which I periodically find myself in).

I find comfort in my old home that has seen them grow from birth to adulthood.

I’m not going anywhere; this is where I belong.

(Edward Forbes wants to hear from you. Email him at or send comments by snail mail to The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton TX. 77516.)


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