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MOORE COLUMN: Kitchen goddesses could use some help

My sister, Patrice, is the best cook I know. When my birthday rolls around, I do everything in my power to be sitting at her table and she does everything in her power to cook whatever I can dream up.

When friends tasted her cakes, they started paying her to bake their holiday desserts. Some ask her to cook the side dishes, too. She can even make Brussels sprouts delicious.

It almost isn’t fair that Patrice is such a wiz in the kitchen. We both have a love for cooking that has sprouted from years of watching Food Network and reading cookbooks.

We essentially took over the kitchen when we were in middle school. It wasn’t a coop. Mom relinquished that throne without hesitation. She was never big on cooking. Her weeknight dinners were usually made in about five steps: first, cover a protein with Lawry’s Seasoning and stick it in the oven; second, boil a pot of plain white rice; third, boil a pot of frozen vegetables. No seasoning necessary; fourth, have a cup of coffee while watching television.

Lastly, return to the kitchen just in time to turn off the oven (to this day, beef jerky makes me reminisce about mom’s steak) and stove (the rice was always bland but perfect and vegetables pale and mushy).

At 7 and 8 years old, my sister and I learned to cook at the local recreation center in a kids cooking course that was worth every penny.

The “bologna eggs” and chocolate-covered bananas gave us all the confidence we needed to take over beef jerky duties and eventually stage that coop.

It also gave us the confidence to pick up any cookbook we saw and make something pretty darn good.

Somewhere down the line, my food stagnated at “good” and Patrice’s grew into “A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.”

What’s even more amazing than Patrice’s Brussels sprouts and perfect cakes is how she manages to make her elaborate, delectable meals despite working 12-hour graveyard shifts.

Of course, no one is at the top of his or her game after a 12-hour shift. She once shattered a glass table by placing hot pies on it to cool. And she has been known to burn her cornbread while browning it. But, it’s Patrice’s cornbread. So, we’ve all been known to scrape off that brown part and dig right on in.

When the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office sent a list of reminders for safe holiday cooking, it seemed like it was written especially for my dear sister. But, if you know of a few overworked kitchen goddesses, you may want to share the following tips with them, too.

And remember, even a food goddess can appreciate a hand in the kitchen during holidays. My mom has found her station as sous chef aka “chopper of all things” and “washer of all dishes.” Dad can bake a cake almost as good as Patrice’s. My nieces rarely leave their mom’s kitchen. Who knows? I may even bring a dish or two this year.

Here are the Fire Marshal’s holiday safety tips:

·  Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.

·   Stay in the home when cooking your turkey in the oven, as well, and check on it frequently.

·  Keep small children away from the stove.  The stove will be hot and kids should stay three feet away.

·  Make sure children stay away from hot foods and liquids.  The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.

· Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over toys, pocketbooks or bags.

·   Keep knives out of the reach of children.

·  Be sure electrical cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of children.

· Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children.

·   Never leave children alone in a room with a lit candle.

·   Make sure your smoke alarms are working by testing them with the test button.