As a residual effect of spending far too many hours immersed in Cooking Mama, I discovered the actual task of cooking was less daunting if I began thinking of food prep as a series of timed minigames. Instead of being crushed by the sheer volume of grunt work required to get everything ready before cooking an evening's dinner, I'd focus on completing a single task at a time. This helped the minutes pass more smoothly, but it didn't remedy other problems in the kitchen.

Diagnosis: Culinary ADD

I possess an uncanny knack for destroying cookware. A combination of untreated attention deficit disorder and Cake Mania are solely to blame.

Boiling water shouldn't be a difficult task. However, I never had much patience for standing around waiting for the heat to do its thing, so I'd often wander off and forget about it completely. It's a miracle my apartment is still standing. In one incident, I returned hours later to find the water completely evaporated and the pot glowing bright red. My poor tea kettle suffered a similar fate. Attempts to reheat leftovers on the stovetop sometimes result in burnt muck - ironically, I'm typically sitting only several feet away distractedly typing on the computer or playing a portable videogame. In the fine tradition of passing the buck, I'll point the finger at a game that substantially deteriorated my already weakened attention span in the kitchen.

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Cake Mania is a puzzle game that lives up to its name. Crafting cakes and other goods in Jill's bakery was my first taste of the fast-paced multitasking required to dish up treats and run a business. Baking a cake for a single person quickly leads to dozens of customers who all want tower cakes of wildly differing design. Making matters worse, they quickly grow impatient with slow service. Frantically flitting about from one station to the next, prepping, icing and decorating tons of cakes as fast as you can click your mouse, it's easy to get accustomed to a state of near constant stimulation in the kitchen. After hours of keeping up with orders at such a rapid pace, even mere seconds of down time can feel like an agonizing eternity. Unfortunately, this carries over into my actual cooking endeavors. It's in these dangerous lulls that my attention wanders and bad things happen. Sorry pots and pans. May you rest in peace.

Greasy Spoons and Egomaniacs

Had Order Up! existed many years ago when, as a youth, I reluctantly got a part-time job behind the grill at a major fast food joint, I'd have been far better prepared to face the stresses of serving several busloads of hungry customers smack in the middle of an already busy lunchtime rush. Sweat, grease and adrenaline can be an intoxicating (and disgusting) mixture.

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