Authors: Judy Delton
Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers
a division of
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
New York, New York 10036
Text copyright © 1995 by Judy Delton
Illustrations copyright © 1995 by Alan Tiegreen
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.
The trademarks Yearling
are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries.
For Aunt Snooze and Aunt Maybelle and
ow, are you sure you’ll be all right while I’m gone?” asked Molly’s mother.
Molly and her dad nodded. Mrs. Duff was going out of town to visit her friend Roxie for the weekend.
“I’ve got Molly here to take care of me,” said Mr. Duff.
Molly giggled. She was seven. She knew that her dad was supposed to take care of
Molly carried her mother’s suitcase to the car. Her dad put it in the trunk.
“There are TV dinners in the freezer and fresh fruit in the fridge. Be sure to feed Skippy and put the recycling bin out and—”
Mr. Duff held up his hand. “I’ll be sure and put Skippy out and feed the recycling bin,” he said. “Have a good time!”
He and Molly gave Mrs. Duff a kiss, and she drove off down the street toward the highway.
When her dad went to the garage to recycle, Molly went to her room. The house was quiet for a Saturday with her mom gone. Usually on her day off Mrs. Duff tried a new recipe, and the smell of cookies baking or a roast roasting came from the kitchen.
Suddenly Molly had an idea! She could make that happen! She could cook dinner for her dad. They didn’t have to eat frozen dinners. She could make his favorite dinner. Pork chops and mashed potatoes. How hard
could that be? And the best part of doing it was that it would be a giant good deed to report at their Pee Wee Scout meeting on Tuesday! Their leader, Mrs. Peters, heard the same old good deeds over and over, like raking the leaves and carrying packages and helping people across the street.
Molly would be able to report something big. Something huge. Cooking a dinner was better than any good deed yet.
She ran to the kitchen. There were potatoes in the bin. All she needed were pork chops! She raced to her room and counted her money. She had $4.62. That should be plenty.
On the way to the store she stopped in the garage.
“Hi, babe,” said her dad. “What do you say to dinner out this evening? Just you and me at the Big Burger.”
Molly was tempted. Big Burgers were very good.
“I want to cook dinner,” she said. “It will be a surprise. I have to go to the store for something.”
Her dad looked surprised. He opened his mouth as if he was going to say “It’s too much work” or “You aren’t old enough” or “You don’t know how” or just plain no.
But he didn’t. He just said, “That will be fun. I’ll bring the wine!”
Molly laughed. She knew he meant apple juice.
She ran down the street toward the store. The money jingled in her pocket. Her dad liked the idea! She hoped she wouldn’t disappoint him. Did she know how to make pork chops? Just pop them in the microwave. How hard could that be?
In the meat department she found four small pork chops in a package. That was just right. They cost $4.50. She paid for them.
On the way home she thought of something. Mashed potatoes needed gravy. How did you make gravy? She would stop at
Mary Beth’s house. Mary Beth’s mother would know.
Mary Beth was her best friend. And she was a Pee Wee Scout too. There were thirteen Pee Wee Scouts. One was in a wheelchair. And one was a temporary Pee Wee Scout from California. They met every Tuesday in Mrs. Peters’s basement. They earned badges. Like baby-tending badges, skiing badges, and horseback-riding badges. Molly wished there were a “cooking a pork chop dinner” badge.
When Mary Beth came to the door, Molly told her the plan.
“Come and help me,” Molly said. “And you can stay for supper. And I’ll share my good deed with you. Does your mom know how to make gravy?”
“Of course,” said Mary Beth.
Mary Beth ran to ask her mom and to tell her she was going to Molly’s house for supper.
“You mix a quarter cup of flour with one cup of water,” Mary Beth’s mom said. “And add it to the pan the meat is in.”
The girls ran to Molly’s house. “Mary Beth is staying for supper,” said Molly.
“Good,” said Mr. Duff.
When they got ready to cook, Molly’s dad came out and asked if they needed help.
Molly shook her head and pushed him into the living room. “You just read the paper and wait,” she said.
“You two girls might burn yourselves,” said Mr. Duff.
“We’ll use the microwave,” said Molly. “And hot pads.”
“I use our microwave at home all the time,” said Mary Beth.
Mr. Duff said, “I’ll be right here if something explodes.”
The girls laughed. What could explode?
Mary Beth washed four potatoes. She had seen her mother do it. Or did her mother peel
them? She put them in the microwave and turned the dial. The oven hummed happily.
Molly took the chops out of the package.
“They can go right in with the potatoes!” she said. She put them in. This was easy! When they were done, they’d just mash the potatoes and put everything on plates.
“I’ll set the table,” said Mary Beth. “And then we have to make the gravy.”
“I can’t wait for Tuesday to report our good deed,” said Molly. “Wait till we tell them we cooked a real dinner all alone.”
“And Tuesday we find out what badge we get next,” said Mary Beth.
Just then the girls heard a loud pop. Then there was another one! The sounds were coming from the microwave!
hat was that?” called Molly’s dad. “Do you need help?”
“No!” called Molly and Mary Beth together.
What kind of a surprise would it be if her dad came out now?
“Our microwave never makes those noises,” whispered Mary Beth.
The girls opened the microwave. Pieces of
potato were all over the oven. They hung from the top. They lay on the bottom. The chops were curled up and gray.
“Rat’s knees! Why did they do that?” said Molly. She got a spatula and scraped the potatoes into a bowl.
“At least they’re already mashed,” said Mary Beth. “That will save time.”
The potatoes were not exactly mashed. But they were in small, soft pieces. The girls worked and worked to scrape them all up. Then they washed out the oven with a wet sponge. It looked smeary. Did this happen every time her mom cooked? wondered Molly.
“Something smells good,” called her dad.
That was a surprise.
“Maybe it smells better than it looks,” said Mary Beth.
“Or tastes,” said Molly, tasting a piece and making a face.
She went to get the flour and a measuring cup to make the gravy.
“Did your mom say a quarter cup of water and one cup of flour, or one cup of water and a quarter cup of flour?” Molly asked her friend.
Mary Beth thought. “One cup of water sounds like too much water,” she said. “It must be one cup of flour.”
“We have to make a lot,” said Molly. “My dad likes plenty of gravy.”
Molly mixed one cup of flour with a quarter cup of water. It was hard to stir. Maybe it would get softer when it cooked.
Mary Beth set the table with three plates. Molly got a hot pad and opened the oven and took out the dish with the chops.
Her dad was walking back and forth outside the door.
“Don’t come in,” she called.
“Are you sure you don’t need help?” he said. He sounded worried.
Molly dumped the flour-and-water lump into the chop dish. Then she put it back in the microwave oven and turned it on.
“Did you put salt in?” asked Mary Beth. “Gravy needs salt.”
“No,” said Molly. She opened the oven and sprinkled some salt on top of the lump.
“Now we just wait,” said Mary Beth. “This cooking is really easy.”
Molly put some artificial flowers in a vase on the table. She got out the paper napkins.
“I think it’s ready,” said Mary Beth, peering through the oven door.
“I’ll call my dad,” said Molly.
Her dad came in and sat down. He rubbed his hands together.
“Boy, am I hungry!” he said.
Mary Beth put the mashed potatoes in a dish and put them on the table.
Molly got her mother’s gravy boat out of the cupboard. She would just pour the nice brown gravy into it.
But when Molly took out the chops and gravy, they were not brown. And the gravy did not pour. It was a big chunk. A big chunk of white gravy on top of the curly, gray chops.
She took a fork and lifted the gravy into the gravy boat. She set it on the table. She set the chops beside it.
“You were supposed to take the chops out of the dish before you put the gravy in,” said Mary Beth.
“You didn’t tell me that!” said Molly.
“It looks fine,” said Mr. Duff. “No problem.”
But there was a problem. Molly knew it and Mary Beth knew it. And she was pretty sure her dad knew it.
But Molly’s dad was pouring the apple juice. Then he said, “This is my favorite dinner! How did you girls know this is my favorite dinner?”