Can She Do It?

Posted: June 2nd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Housewife Superhero, Husbandry | 1 Comment »

Guess what? I made dinner tonight like a big girl!

It’s true. My dirty little secret is that Mark is our dinner-maker night after night. I know. I’m not working and there is really no excuse for this. Though the story that I have constructed around the situation is that “Mark likes to cook dinner” and “it helps him unwind after work” and “comparatively my food sucks.” The reality is that really only that last statement is consistently true.

After hearing me say “Mark likes the in-the-trenches daily dinner prep and I much prefer cooking for dinner parties (when I also don’t have children to tend to)”–hearing me say this perhaps a zillion times in different social situations where some small indication of our domestic set-up was revealed to someone–well, it’s really a wonder that I’m still here typing today and that Mark hasn’t strangled me.

I can’t believe it took him as long as it did to finally set the record straight over pillow talk one night and say, “Uh, I don’t always LOVE cooking dinner every night, you know. Sometimes I’d like to just come home and relax too. I mean, if you wanted to do it some time that would be great.”

At least, that’s what I think he said. I was too busy sticking my fingers in my ears and repeating “la la la la” loudly.

Sure one of my wedding vows was to always appreciate Mark’s dinner-cookin’. And I think I’ve upheld that, and without much effort or prodding. I do appreciate having a personal chef as I often refer to him. (My God, it’s a wonder I’m still alive.) I mean, my level of appreciation can’t rival my brother-in-law Roland’s who between bites nearly moans with grateful gastronomic delight. Me, I lick my fingertips, sop up gravy off my plate with my bread, and say at least once per meal how awesome the [INSERT ONE] [pork tenderloin with peach salsa] [pasta with homemade meat sauce] [chicken parm] [flank steak and baked potatoes] [chicken and corn chowder] [ziti bake] or myriad other meals are.

And he’s not only about dinner. At lunchtime Mark makes a world-class tuna salad, a mean grilled cheese (with tomato soup, bien sur), and other fabulous sandwiches, quesadillas and left-over reincarnations with a twist.

I won’t bore you with his mouth-watering breakfast and brunch offerings, mostly just because I don’t want to run the risk of someone breaking into our house to steal him. Suffice it to say his skills in the kitchen have little to no boundaries.

So last night, after preparing another knock-out meal for childhood friend Sydney and hubbie Tere, we cleaned up, hung out, went to bed, and halfway through the night when Paige woke up to nurse Mark could not manage to get back to sleep. Just kinda tossed and turned and watched the hours on the clock tick by until of course he fell fast asleep mere minutes before needing to wake up.

Inspired by his measly 4-hours of shut-eye, I went to the grocery store with a fierce determination to do right by my man and to wrangle us up some dinner tonight.

For the record, it’s not that I can’t cook. I mean, I used to have a somewhat limited but solid repertoire. But somewhere between us dating, moving in together, and getting hitched those skills, well, atrophied. I can bake with the best of them, but always found savory foods more challenging. First there’s timing everything to finish all at once, then there’s the nasty handling raw chicken or having your fingertips smell like garlic the next day. (I’m such a princess.)

And frankly I just don’t seem to have the basics of seasoning and discerning meat done-ness down pat. I’m a dyed in the wool recipe follower, which is why the precision of baking suits me to a T. To me hearing that you cook something “until it’s done” and not for, say, 11 minutes, is arcane and maddening. My brain doesn’t understand what to do with that directive, so before it short circuits I tend to flee and ask Mark to take over.

And that did happen a little bit tonight too, but I think I still get 98% credit for cooking this:

  • Roasted chicken
  • Oven roasted potatoes and carrots
  • Corn on the cob
  • Sippy cup of milk or beer (age dependent)

Not bad, eh? And the thing was, it WASN’T bad! Mark complimented me on it, though at this rate he’s likely choking down raw chicken just to reinforce this behavior in me.

Kate even said twice, “Thanks for cooking this, Mama!” (Though maybe it was Mark throwing his voice.) She asked for more chicken a few times too, but did turn her nose at the roasted carrots in lieu of “crunchy baby carrots.” The roasted carrots had “brown on them.”

At any rate, the culinary merit of the meal aside, the whole dinner experience was, as Mark and I would say, exceedingly pleasant. I gave Kate a refresher course on table-setting, served everything up hot not long after Mark got home, and we all talked about our days like a nice little nuclear family as we ate. For her part, Paige happily did judo kicks in her bouncy seat while waiting for my breasts to be freed up for her dining pleasure.

So here’s the thing. Even if I can’t dice mirepoix in perfectly symmetrical micro cubes like Mark, and wouldn’t likely take on anything that required mirepoix in the first place, I decided tonight I want to humbly try to bang out some dinners around here. Five nights in a row of me-cooked dinners is my self-imposed challenge. At the end of the week I’ll either determine that I can contribute more regularly to our dinner-makin’, take it over altogether (not my hypothesis), or just really amp up on my appreciation of all Mark’s hard work.

No promises of gastronomic rapture. The goal is to make some healthy balanced meals that both Mark and Kate would be willing to eat. And that don’t use Hamburger Helper.

Can I do it? Tune in to hear tomorrow’s menu, and Mark and Kate’s review.

1 Comment »

One Comment on “Can She Do It?”

  1. 1 Nell said at 3:48 am on June 3rd, 2008:

    Sounds like a delicious dinner.
    You might like “The Six O’ Clock Scramble” book/website to get back in the kitchen swing of things! The hardest part for me is the planning…so many yummy options out there. I can burn u a lot of time watching what my husband calls “food porn.” Especially Jamie Oliver!

Leave a Reply