Encyclopedia Brown here. I've found another clue. Yep. I'm taking time off from Mystery Inc. to work solo for a while. OK, I'm not really Encyclopedia Brown. I'm still Hillbilly Mom. But I DID solve another mystery.
Several weeks ago, I noticed that the stove burner drip bowl thingies on my stove had turned from silver to black. My first clue was when I looked at them after stirring something because they sent a cloud of smoke and a charbroiled stench into the atmosphere of my kitchen. It's hard to put one over on Mrs. Hillbilly Mom when she's boiling food over a burner, rather than heating it in the microwave or warming it in the oven.
My first attempts at solving this mystery were not successful. I ruled out my own actions, because the two burners on the right side of the stove were involved. Sweet Gummi Mary! We all know that Mrs. Hillbilly Mom would never prepare more than one dish at a time. I could not possibly have despoiled two silver stove burner drip bowl thingies simultaneously. Besides, I always notice if something boils over. I am the one who cleans the stove. I nip that drip in the bud, the moment it occurs.
The usual interrogation tactics did not work this time. That being the loud, accusatory statement of, "I don't know what you people have done to my burners, but they're certainly a mess!" This is usually followed by a response of, "Quit calling us you people! We didn't do it. When do we ever cook? Alls I did was..." Generally, this is followed by a confession of frying bacon, flipping a quesadilla, or pouring half a bottle of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet to fry an egg. No confession was forthcoming. Only a complaint about the you people.
I tried to slip in a pointed question here and there, but my leads had dried up. I started trying to think of how I might have made two of the exact same messes, one on the big front burner, and one on the small back burner. I rarely use that front big burner. It has a habit of trying to spontaneously combust my clothing if I lean over to reach something in the cabinet above the stove.
This evening, as I was waiting for a mixture of water, milk, and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter to boil on the small back burner so I could dump in a packet of Afredo Noodles, I offhandedly stated, "I sure wish I knew what burned up under those burners." And the #1 son appeared, wasting ice from the freezer door of Frig, dropping it on the floor before spilling his Crystal Light fruit punch.
"I think it might have been that frosting that I made. Remember when we had that project to make a cake out of a poster board of our book, and I used the Crisco and confectioner's sugar to make Lord of the Flies? I think some of it flew onto the burners."
Aha! I DO remember him complaining that his frosting was too runny, and wanting to know how to thicken it up. He must have flung it from the mixing bowl onto the stove, and not bothered to clean it up. Or not known how to pop that burner coil loose and wipe out the silver stove burner drip bowl thingies. He's only planning on a career as an engineer, you know. So he can't be expected to look at a gadget like that and see where it comes apart. That's a skill possessed only by crime scene investigators like Encyclopedia Brown, Mystery Inc. members, AND MRS. HILLBILLY MOM.