Steel- The Greatest Chef in the World!...Almost
“This is the best dish I have ever tasted ever!” Mumbo Pango raved, waving the rest of Steel’s sandwich in the air. “I have never been so satisfied, I will release the Flotsam Chef and only eat once a week from now on. You have pleased me! Now-Wake up, Steel! It is time for breakfast! Mom made omelettes!”
“Oh, it was just a dream…”Steel blinked in the bright sunlight. He found himself in his own purple bed in his own purple room, with his Barlow sleeping on his chest. He could hear his younger siblings talking and chatting excitedly downstairs. One of them was calling his name.
“Steel! Come on! You know mom won’t let us eat till we are all at the table!” His sister Jungle called his name again. Jungle may have been the smallest of all of them, but she had the biggest appetite.
“I’m coming,” the darigan poogle called back pushing Bon Appétit off his chest. He dressed quickly and rushed down the stairs with his Petpet running after him.
“Come on!” She insisted. She was waiting for him at the doorway to the kitchen. “What took you so long?”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to sleep in,” He ruffled her hair as he entered the kitchen and took his place between his mom and sister Kookie.
“Good morning, dear,” She smiled at him and slid a slice of sausage and pepperoni omelette on to his plate, before serving the rest of his siblings from the platter of omelettes in middle of the table.
Steel couldn’t help noticing that her smile looked a little strained. She would have never said it but Steel had a feeling neopoints were tight. He knew she traveled all over neopia to collect the free food and items that were offered all over the world of Neopia. They got a free slice of omelettes every day but he knew their stock that they kept in the safety deposit box was running low. The jelly stock was also running out.
Mom didn’t like to tell them about their neopoint problems. She always did everything for him and his seven siblings. It wasn’t cheap to take care of all nine of them, and their petpets, even if Scarlet’s was just a plushie. Most recently she’d spent a huge chunk of their savings to get Jungle a new petpet when the Turmaculus ate her old one. Jungle had been crushed and she couldn’t stand to see any of them cry.
She’d never let any of them go hungry though, even if that meant she skipped breakfast. It didn’t escape Steel notice that his mom didn’t have an omelette. She smiled at him when she noticed his gaze, but it was just as fake as the previous one.
“Come on Jungle, let’s go, up for battling today?” She asked. Even though Jungle was the youngest, with the exception of his nephew Door, she was the strongest. Their mom had asked them all but Jungle was the only one interested in battling in the battledome. She trained at the training school almost every day. They sold her winnings in their shop, but mom made sure that most of the profits went to Jungle (after all Jungle made the points, that’s what mom always said) and the rest went to taking care of the family. Jungle wasn’t greedy so she made sure that any points mom didn’t insist on going to her training went to the family. Recently they hadn’t been getting very good prizes, and the lines at the Healing Springs were often long.
“Yeah, let’s go! I got a good feeling about this!” She said bouncing up on her tail excitedly.
“All see you all later,” Mom said, she hugged each one of them before following Jungle out the door, but not before popping her head into the kitchen one last time. “Steel would you mind doing the dishes? I know it's not your day but Forest and Dred wanted to go down to the beach early to work on their boat. Do you mind?”
“No, not at all, that’s what being the oldest is all about right?”He replied with a genuine smile
“Thank you, Steel you are a lifesaver.”
“Come on, Mom!” Jungle called.
“I’m coming dear.”
“Steel is mom back yet?” Steel looked up from his book to see his sister Scarlet and brother Bandy watching him expectantly. He had spent the rest of the morning after doing the dishes in the library. Most days he spent his time cleaning the house for his mom, but when the house was clean, he buried his nose in cookbooks. Although he never actually cooked anything.
“Um, no I don’t think so. I didn’t hear either of them come in,” He looked at his watch. It was getting close to twelve. No wonder his siblings were looking for her, it was getting close to lunchtime, but he didn’t think their mom would be home anytime soon.
“Aw, we’re starting to get hungry,” the starry xweetok frowned.
“I’ve got some berry bushes in the garden,” Bandy offered. “We can snack on those till mom gets home.”
“I can make lunch,” Steel offered, standing up and stretching. “I can make everyone something. Why don’t you guys grab some of those berries from the garden okay?”
“Okay!” They answered, excitedly, and ran out of the library together toward the garden.
“Hmm,” Steel looked at their almost empty cabinets. There wasn’t much, only a couple helpings of jelly, some omelettes, and a few tchea fruit. He picked up the tchea fruit. There wasn’t enough to fill up everyone, but- He had a feeling he could stretch it. He went through the rest of the cabinets looking for the ingredients he thought he might need.
“How’s the boat coming along?” Forest and Dred looked up as Steel approached. He held a plate in each hand.
“Whatcha got there?” Forest asked quizzically with her one eye squinting at him curiously. The mutant aisha stood up, and stretched.
“Lunch,” He said answered proudly. Dred put down the piece of sandpaper he’d been using. The old boat was starting to look pretty good Steel thought.They had been working on the old shipwreck for weeks. “It looks pretty good guys.”
“Thanks,” Dred said as he accepted one of the plates.The maraquan eyrie looked at it suspiciously. “This looks delicious, but-”
“What is it?” Forest finished for him. She sniffed at it, and before she could stop them her antenna both moved forward and each took a large bite.
“Warm tchea pie,” Steel said, as her antenna began to growl and hiss at each other as they both went back for another bite. Forest brushed them aside.
“Well they like it,” She laughed, as she picked up her fork to take a bite. Steel turned to his brother to see what he thought but the eyrie was licking the plate clean. He looked up sheepishly.
“I made have eaten a little fast,” He answered. “Is there more at home?”
“I made lots, there is enough for everyone to have two pieces, but you’d better hurry, I’ve already fed everyone else, and I’m not sure they leave yours alone. I made them promise to leave mom and Jungle’s portions, but I told them I was bringing you yours.”
“Steel this is fabulous!” Steel beamed with pride as their mom gushed over the dinner he had prepared. He’d taken the groceries she had brought home and made orange chicken bread bowls and whipped up another desert, blackberry pie with the berries from the garden. “Thank you so much for making dinner.”
“And desert!” Jungle added, excitedly.
“Yeah, this is delicious!” Kookie asked licking some of the blackberry juice off her paws and swatting one of Tenz’s wings away from his plate. Tenz was their younger mutant hissi brother.
“Thanks,” Steel blushed. “I’ll make breakfast tomorrow if you want mom!”
“We’ll do the dishes!” Forest and Dred volunteered in unison. Steel smiled with pride.
“You really helped me out,” Mom said as she tucked in Steel. “Thanks again Steel. You know things aren’t that bad, I would never let you guys go hungry. You don’t have to cook if you don’t want to.”
“Its okay, mom, I like it,” Steel assured her. He pulled up his blanket and closed his eyes."I really like it."
“This is the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten! I want you to be my personal chef!” King Skarrl raved in Steel’s dreams. He smiled as his mom kissed his forehead and turned off his light. “You are the greatest chef in the world!”