Air Fried Marshmallows

Around Thanksgiving, my husband found a deal on an air fryer. Nothing fancy, or name-brand, just functional. I’m not a fan of extra countertop appliances besides a toaster and a coffee maker. We’re short on space in our kitchen. To avoid arguing, I gave in. He brought it home, like it was a Major Award and frrra-gee-lee. He opened the thing with the enthusiasm of The Old Man opening his leg lamp in “A Christmas Story.”

I rolled my eyes. He prepped chicken strips. We ate them, but they tasted, well, baked. My husband has a knack for chicken strips. The deep fried kind he dunks in egg wash and a seasoned flour mixture he’s concocted over the years. My kids critique restaurants on their chicken strips, the only thing they order off the menu. If they’re as good as or better than Dad’s, we add it to the list of favorites. This time, they were dry and nowhere close to what we’re accustomed to eating.

Then I opened my mouth. Not to say they tasted bad, we all knew they did, but to discuss the air fryer. I suggested he return it. You would’ve thought I took a lollipop away from a kid. Or a bone from a dog. Or Twitter from…never mind. Anyhow, I asked “What’s the difference between this and using the oven?” I should’ve kept my mouth shut. I surrendered, he found space in the pantry to store it, and we compromised. A few days later, he made chicken wings. Those were delicious.

One evening, he came home with a bag of marshmallows, a box of graham crackers, and chocolate bars. It was a nice evening for hanging out in the backyard around the fire pit. The kids prefer to stay inside glued to their devices. Unless there are s’mores. We enjoyed the evening and I didn’t balk at the kids eating more than their share or toasting extra marshmallows. We’re still in a pandemic and I might as well let them enjoy it.

I put away the extra s’mores ingredients for another evening. But where would I put them so the kids wouldn’t smell them and devour them before the next perfect night for s’mores? I found a spot for the chocolate and graham crackers, but I needed to find a different place for the marshmallows. I’ve run out of good hiding places; my kids are that good. I mean, I thought I was smart when I hid my pint of double chocolate ice cream in the bag of frozen broccoli. Until they found it.

In a rush, I put the bag of marshmallows in the cooking drawer to the air fryer. They’ll never look there. The new appliance was perfect. It was only temporary anyway. I planned to move them later.

One Saturday, my husband busted out his handy dandy air fryer to make his new favorite recipe for chicken wings. My youngest passed through the kitchen to the backyard to jump on the trampoline. My husband seasoned and prepped, whistled a jolly tune, and pre-heated his faithful companion. When my kiddo, who has a bionic nose, skipped into the house, her eyes searched the kitchen. “Ooooh, marshmallows. It smells like marshmallows. What are you making, Dad?”

I brushed her off. “Marshmallows? What do you mean it smells like marshmallows? You’re imagining things.”

“It totally smells like marshmallows,” she commented as she ran up to her room. I kept sipping my coffee, scrolling away on Instagram.

A few minutes later, I heard a few choice words from The Most Patient Man in the World, who hardly ever uses choice words. He started grumbling and slamming things, shouting “Who put marshmallows in the air fryer?”

At that moment, I remembered my clever trick. I countered, “Who the heck doesn’t open an oven–air fryer–before they turn it on?” I laughed as I explained it was a new hiding place and I forgot I put the bag there.

He held the cooking drawer with the bag of perfectly toasted marshmallows nestled inside, the plastic warped and baked into them. “It’s nonstick, it should be fine. Dump it in the trash.”

“Wait, I wanna see!” S came down to inspect the marshmallows. She wanted to eat them. We said no. The trash got them. And the chicken wings came out fine, without a trace of sticky marshmallows on them. So much for a new hiding place.

We Eat Here, Too

We got a good deal for our table 
from a guy right down the street. 
He even delivered it for us. 
It's solid and if you bang your knee against 
the inside frame just under the table top
you'll swear you hate the thing. 
The top needs refinishing, but kids, 
so we'll leave it. 
And we have left it that way, 
scratched and stained,
losing  a little color each day.
They protest when we discuss a new finish
I protest at the work it will take 
only to have it scuffed and smeared with, 
life. 
I fuss at everyone who doesn't use a coaster, 
but why bother? 
The kids say it adds character. 
And it does.
There's space for 6 or 8 or 12 or more, 
we've stopped counting. 
We manage to squeeze ourselves in 
when friends and family visit. 
Taking turns sitting at the table, 
much like we did at Nana's. 
It's held up well.
Sophia's first birthday, the first big event
It's hosted countless others
Visits from Mom and Dad along with Dad's pile of newspapers, 
notes, pens, reading glasses, 
mugs of his piping hot coffee 
and a small mountain of Mom's tamales.
Halloween parties
Tortilla making lessons
A birthday candle lined with Tacky Glue, 
sprinkled with gold glitter and sequins.
My best friend's graduation party.
Homemade pizzas--
so many homemade pizzas.
Writing sticks of all shapes and colors
Spilled bowls of Cheerios
5 layer Play-Doh cakes
Mixology experiments: 
Mexican martinis, 
wine-usually red, 
blackberry margaritas, 
strawberry mojitos, 
and the good anniversary crystal 
bubbling with cheap champagne.
An almost empty wine glass, a red ornament,
and a red pear gnawed with a little kid’s bite 
protesting “Mommy I didn’t like it!”
adorns the end of a 
"fancy" Christmas dinner. 
That night we used a tablecloth.
Snow days with pancake breakfasts.
Piles of papers that needed grading.
Homework--
the kids' and mine.
Hours of graduate school assignments
Science fair and craft projects
LEGO builds and chatter
Family game nights
A thick smear of blue paint from a 
Halloween costume making session
and nail polish drips I couldn't remove.
Gingerbread house building parties 
that stopped because we outgrew the table and 
got so darned busy taking kids to 
holiday related school activities.
GNO get togethers
where we all sit around and color,
jars of colored pencils, pens, and markers 
snaking down the center of the table.
Pandemic teaching
Online Sunday night meetings 
with family across the miles.
Writing 
every morning, 
at least three pages, 
with a coffee mug by my side.
Asking for and giving grace.
They say home is where the heart is.
Ours gather around this table
where we live and breathe,
hope and dream.
And sometimes,
we eat here, too.