A Lesson in Evaporation


I was starving, bored and home alone, a classic beginning to the first kitchen nightmare I can remember. As a fiercely independent fifth grader I strode into the kitchen looking for a quick snack to satiate my hunger. I ignored the dishes in the sink, noting to myself that I would have plenty of time to clean the kitchen later, and before my parents came home to complain about my slovenliness. I continued into the cabinets, pantry and fridge rummaging for a quick fix meal to hold me over to dinner. Finally, I laid my eyes on the Holy Grail of snacks. . . Instant Ramen. I quickly grabbed a small saucepan, filled it with water, set it on the stove and turned the burner on to high.

As I stared at the pot on the stove I thought about my favorite ways to prepare Instant Ramen. Should I drain it completely, toss the noodles in tablespoons of butter, while sprinkling the flavor packet heavily over the noodles? Or should I instead, drain only half the water, dump the flavor packet in the water and eat it directly from the pot? Or should I . . . at this point my brain had wandered and since I was an eleven year old who was weak from hunger, I most likely made my way over to the couch to sit while I waiting for my water to boil.

At this point I cannot say for certain what I did, however I am failry sure I again became bored and decided to go pester my older sister. I distracted myself from my hunger and managed to completely forget about the glorious Ramen I should have soon been consuming.

After a while I wondered back into the kitchen, most likely looking again for a snack, as soon as I spotted the pot on the stove it all came rushing back to me. I quickly inspected the now smoking pot and noticed that there was no water to be found. I panicked and threw the pot into the sink to fill it with cool water. A huge cloud of steam rose from the sink and after much spitting and hissing the pot calmed. I took a look around the kitchen made note that there was no evidence of my error found a ready to eat snack and continued on with my day.

Hours later my mom came home. As soon as she entered the kitchen I was beckoned. Shoot! I had forgotten to clean the dishes in the sink. I ran into the kitchen expecting to be lectured on my laziness, but was quickly corrected. As I entered the kitchen my mom was holding my Ramen pot from earlier, however the pot had a bit of a new appearance. When I placed the pot in the sink, I had inadvertently placed it on top of our plastic cutting board. The pot had melted into the plastic cutting board and was now forever stuck to the white plastic base. My mother was not pleased, I thought it was one of the coolest science projects I had ever attempted.

That day I learned the importance of staying aware in the kitchen. I also learned not to panic! I would have saved us a pot and cutting board had I just turned off the stove-top and let the pot cool on its own.

To this day I never leave my cutting boards in the sink and almost always use my electric kettle for boiling water.