How habit almost cost us supper

At 5.30, my husband walked through the door. “Hello,” he smiled, came over and gave me a kiss. Raised his nose and sniffed the suppertime air.

“Mmmm. Smells good.”

“This moment, this second,” I said to him, “could have turned out much different.”

I could have been frustrated with him. He could have been ticked off at himself. We could both be hungry and grumpy – throwing out spoiled food, trying to bite back recriminations instead.

See, we’d planned to make pulled pork for supper. The previous night, I’d put together the marinade – an alchemy of acidity and sweetness – poured it over the roast, leaving the pot in the fridge ready to be put in the slow cooker in the morning.

Along with my cup of tea the following day, my husband brought upstairs to me the news that he’d put the meat on for supper. “On low, right?” he’d asked. “Perfect,” I’d said pleased that routine was ensuring a pleasant start to the day: the tea was in hand, dinner was on and in a few hours we’d be well fed.

And then I went downstairs. The slow cooker was plugged into the outlet by the stove.

About two weeks ago, that outlet stopped working. It caused some consternation as that’s where we usually plugged in the kettle. We had to move the kettle to a new spot – and every time we went to boil it we’d go to the old spot, look slightly confused until we remembered what we’d done.

But the slow cooker’s not the kettle and my husband, through force of habit, plugged the slow cooker into the malfunctioning outlet.

I looked at it and felt slightly confused. “Why is it plugged in there?” “That’s it’s usual spot.” But wait. “Is the outlet working now? Did he manage to fix it?” I felt the outside of the pot. Stone cold. No smell beginning to waft under the cover, making my mouth water like Pavlov’s dog.

I moved the slow cooker to another outlet, felt the sides to ensure it was warming up. Thanked my brain for looking at a familiar tableau and noticing something was wrong.

Later that night we ate; all was well.

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