Love Me Tender or Just Plain Cooked to Death

Cooked it, threw it out

If there’s one topic that bores and irritates me enough to want to viciously hurl dried out and grizzled breasts (not mine… the chicken’s) against the wall… it’s COOKING.

Again, I’m the odd-woman out who can’t find a remedy for the “I Gotta Cook Again Blues.” Okay, eating out is a given. But it’s a bit embarrassing to attempt to do it three times a day.

My husband of almost forty years and my three grown boys have gotten used to my ‘absolutely no desire to emulate Paula Deen or Rachael Ray’ bad attitude. To be honest, I just don’t care what these spatula-driven divas can whip up in only a few minutes. So slap me with a wet lasagna noodle. The truth just doesn’t hurt anymore.

The first breakfast I ever made for my husband was “Stick-to-it Waffles.” They didn’t have a chance to stick to the poor guy’s ribs because they were stuck to the waffle maker…and burnt to a crisp to boot. Then, there was the macaroni casserole. When I went to serve this bubbling culinary delight, it lifted (in its entirety) right out of the bowl.

Hubby’s favorite veggie growing up was asparagus…until I served it almost every single night as soggy green sticks. He figured a safer bet would be corn-on-the-cob. That’s difficult to ruin…unless you forget it’s on the burner boiling madly away while you are busy with more important things in life.

The truly sad part is that my mother-in-law was a first class cook. She grew up in New York City amongst many German, Italian and Polish immigrants. She only had to throw handfuls of this and that into a pot and she created a gastronomical miracle. I gained twenty five pounds after I married… and I blame it all on her.

When my kids were young, they would beg me to please buy brownies for their class because their friends got yelled at by the teacher for making such a mess trying to peel off the burnt bottoms. It got to a point where the PTA would avoid me when bake sale time arrived. Instead, I got phone duty.

When the boys went off to college, they were the only students on campus who constantly raved about how delicious the cafeteria food was. How embarrassing is that?

When we lived in England, I wanted to have a proper little birthday party for my youngest son who was turning four. I decorated the house in a Sesame Street theme and decided to make him a ‘Cookie Monster’ cake. I baked the thing and it came out as a humongous fudge-like lump. A friend’s daughter helped me just shape and mold it so that it finally looked like some form of monster. The blue icing was a cinch and the marshmallow eyes stuck to it well. The kids loved it, but their Mums weren’t thrilled that their Sunday-best pretty little dresses and crisp shirts and trousers were smeared with chocolate (their plastic forks had all broken).

A friend in Connecticut invited me over to her house and treated me to a big slice of her fantastic orange pound cake with drizzling lemon icing. I copied her recipe and drove back home, thinking that I could double it and put it into a Bundt cake pan and make it for my husband’s birthday the next day. I was thrilled after baking it. The only problem was that I soon got into a tizzy trying to figure out how to get the cake out of the pan. Not to worry. I drizzled the icing over it and left it there, thinking that I would just cut and serve from the pan. That evening, hubby looked happy as a lark. His wife had made a real effort to make him a cake. He started to cut into the cake stuck to the pan and grinned, “Hey, this is neat… a cake with a cream filled center!” he announced. Every single birthday since, we've bought ice cream cakes. ‘Nuff said.

We used to vacation each summer with three other families. One year we all met at Martha’s Vineyard. Trying to help with the food, I had frozen my homemade six-inch deep lasagna to bring along for the first night. It had been a very long drive for many. Nine adults and ten kids waited patiently for the thing to thaw and cook. None of us regretted heading out for pizza.

When we have long term company, I only cook and serve five dishes – chicken or potato salad, lasagna (never higher than an inch nowadays), stuffed peppers, veggie soup, and mushroomed soaked beef over rice. If company stays longer than five days, this menu repeats itself. Most company we have suggests we eat out.

Can you imagine moving eighteen times? Well, that’s our number since we married. So, when looking for a home, the kitchen is never a priority on my list. Just give me the plain old sink, stove, oven, and especially the fridge. I have a lot of “cooking” signs to stick on the fridge…my very favorite being, “If you don’t like my cooking, lower your standards!"

Bon appétit!

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