I wasn’t feeling well Saturday and my husband decided he really wanted spaghetti and meatballs for dinner so went grocery shopping. He also brought home soup for me and a number of other items but that’s not the story.
In one hour, probably longer, he decided to bake store-bought (butcher counter fresh) meatballs and had me get up and turn on the oven prior to his arrival. He got an expensive bottled sauce and some pasta. I figured this non-cook could do it.
His hour was spent dirtying every pot, pan, dish in the house while he constantly asked questions about preparation. I could have made a marinara and meatballs at home and cooked pasta in half the time. At the end of this agonizing (for me) feat of culinary genius, with my husband cooking prepared foods here are the results.
The pasta was OK, but my pots and pans and especially my large pasta pot are at ground level and he’s very tall so he critiqued my placement of those items in MY kitchen that I placed 18 months ago. I’m a foot shorter than he so basically the arrangement is that he helps me get stuff off high shelves and I fetch from lower cupboards and things under the sink. Plus, he doesn’t cook! And he brought me a limp piece of pasta and made me check it. I said OK and gave it to dog Zoe who was appreciative.
No-one could ruin the sauce. I just had him warm it in a small saucepan on low heat which included a ten minute conversation on how much sauce and demonstration from him of which saucepan to use. I was on the sofa under a blanket, not even wanting to smell food.
Then the meatballs. With surgical precision, he placed a piece of aluminum foil on the sheet pan, a huge sheet then tucked it in over all the edges for five minutes. I had him set timers because he is a true absent-minded professor. When he gets on a subject, there’s no reining him in. And he tells me frankly that he cannot multi-task. After many years together, I believe him.
Of course he overcooked the meatballs! They stuck to the tin foil and were the consistency of golf balls. Then he couldn’t find the Parmigiano Reggiano. He asked if cheddar was a good substitute. No, I got up from the sofa and found the parm on the cheese shelf, made sure he had a colander for the pasta and a bowl to eat it from, fork, napkins et al.
Later I found that not a single item had been rinsed, washed or placed in the dishwasher. I awakened to a disaster. In order to restore my kitchen, I spent an hour cleaning and putting away every dish before making him breakfast.
Admittedly, this was not the best environment in which to teach basics to a non-cook, who even has trouble with making a grilled cheese sandwich. And he does help when he can but it is better for me to be standing by him (as Tammy Wynette said, stand by your man) advising every step. He’s extremely bright and does remember lessons, even knows the difference between baking powder and baking soda because of me, referenced to Harold McGee for verification of the scientific principles (he’s educated as a physicist and engineer).
For the holidays I’m retaking my kitchen. It is his birthday today. He accidentally opened his birthday and Christmas gifts a few weeks ago because they arrived addressed to me and I had no idea the sender, and it turned out to be something I ordered for him a few months ago and I was there. They were shoes, he’s tough to fit and years ago we found a pair that works and the company has discontinued them so we bought out 2-3 pair at a local store and I asked HQ to comb the country to find more because his size is unique and they won’t be able to sell them. These casual Friday work-day and “dog walking” shoes will last him 8-10 years.
I will figure out a favorite dinner to make him this evening. No, it will not be spaghetti and meatballs. He’s really a steak and potatoes guy but I may roast a chicken. Who knows, I haven’t been shopping yet to see what’s great.
Today I make some special treats, mainly for gifts, so need to go to the grocery early to avoid crowds and get the best stuff. I’m hoping it doesn’t snow so my husband won’t steal my car again because I really don’t want to walk in snow with a cart. I’ll tell you later what they are. We wouldn’t want recipients to know in advance, and I’m still not certain of my final menu.
I’ve also taken on another dog. Only for a few walks, not taking over the bed or having to temporarily reorganize the open pantry because our last guest was three times our dog’s size, has hips and can smell crackers or a pie or whatever is in the pantry or on the counter. Ah, the holidays. And we thought it would be a serene time for us and the dog. We do miss family and one or two may visit sometime during the week. Cheers! All the best to you and yours, Dee