Flicking through my old recipe book, I found the perfect meal. Quick, easy and delicious! I thought. Gathering the ingredients, I couldn’t wait to tuck into a South American meat-stuffed pumpkin.
Juggling two sons, 18-month-old Leo and baby Matthio, three months, I barely had a spare moment in the day to cook.
As Matthio giggled on a mat in the living room, I got a small gem squash pumpkin from the fridge. ‘Mum’s nearly done,’ I cooed to him. But trying to cut through the cold pumpkin, I huffed in frustration. The vegie was too tough for my knife to pierce. Running it under some hot water, I tried again. Still nothing!
Needing to get dinner prepared before I collected Leon from daycare, I popped the pumpkin in the microwave. Punching in two minutes, I strolled over to Matthio and gave him a quick blubbery kiss.
When the microwave beeped, I headed over with a cloth to take it out. Pulling the door open, I peered inside and went to touch it. Suddenly, I heard an ear-splitting pop!
Scalding hot pumpkin exploded all over the kitchen, coating my face, chest and hands. I screeched in pain as the searing mushy veg clung to my skin. It felt like lava dripping all over my flesh.
Glancing over to Matthio, I was glad to see him still playing happily. I couldn’t leave my three-month-old alone, so instead of a shower I splashed cold water from the sink all over me. Flecks of it had sprayed my face but the worst was on my wrist and chest.
After scraping the pumpkin off my body, I rang my husband, Glen. Pick up, please, I thought. He was busy at work so couldn’t answer. Then I called my in-laws, Jo and John. ‘I’ve had a cooking incident,’ I explained sheepishly, wincing in pain.
They rushed over and were horrified by the pumpkin war zone. My walls were splattered with orange goo. The pumpkin had exploded like a bomb! Luckily, none of it had hit my precious boy.
Thank God I wasn’t holding him, I thought, agonising over what could have been. Leon was a clingy toddler too and just loved to see what his mum was up to in the kitchen. I was so relieved he was at daycare.
John stayed to clean up and to watch over Matthio as Jo took me to the chemist. The assistant behind the counter offered me burn cream and helped to bandage up the worst spots.
A huge bit of the scorching pumpkin had hit me in the middle of my chest, melting my skin. I could see a blister already starting to form.
Back at home, I told Glen what happened. ‘I had no idea a pumpkin could explode like that!’ I exclaimed. I’d usually boil it or put it in the oven, but being time poor, I thought a microwave would do the trick.
I spent that weekend – including Mother’s Day! – applying cream to my burns, but they seemed to get worse. So on Monday morning, I went to hospital.
‘What happened?’ the doctor asked, curious. When I told her it was a pumpkin, she looked stunned. ‘I put pumpkins in the microwave all the time!’ she told me. ‘I did too!’ I told her. But not anymore.
‘You should have come to us yesterday,’ the nurse said, as I was treated. I had second-degree burns!She changed my dressings and applied another cream, which would stop the blister becoming infected.
Still, I struggled to breastfeed Matthio. His little head would rub against my chest burn as he nursed. Plus, Leon was as clingy
as ever and wanted to be picked up all the time. I had the dressings changed five times over the next week before my wounds began to heal.
That seemingly quick recipe turned into a nightmare!
Now, I tell everyone about the dangers of cooking a pumpkin in the microwave. It’s better to do it right, slowly, than take a short cut and injure yourself as I did. I’ll need to be a bit more veg-iliant next time!