Thursday, June 26, 2008

Get this man an apron!

Recently, my good friend from high school, Jason, came to visit from California. In California, they do things way differently. Way. We already know this and accept it in our Alabama way. But there are some things that are different and should not be. These things should be here and now. They are things that should be upgraded in our little family unit. I was very embarrassed when Jason asked if Mr. Husband cooks. Cook? Like in the kitchen, you mean, not ordering pizza. I scrambled, fumbled, and dropped the ball. I tossed out some lame answer about how I’m such a control freak that I won’t let Mr. Husband into the kitchen realm. Totally lame. I admit it.

I was shamed. I kept hearing the question over and over again, “What does Mr. Husband cook ... cook ... cook?” Its echo haunted me and reverbertated in my head as I realized I've overlooked an essentially needful education. It was like the tell-tale heart of scarlet letters, and my shame spilled everywhere.

Mr. Husband has cooked in the past. He’s made two meals before. Once he made Hamburger Helper that I refused to eat and which he later agreed didn’t taste very well and refused to eat further. Another time he made what we thought were the world’s best hamburgers. So we thought.

I vowed, as God as my witness, I will never be shamed again … for something that I am in control of and which concerns my Mr. Husband’s ability to create a meal. I will not have a husband who does not know how to feed the children. I will have a husband who knows how to make more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (his truly are the best—I’d enter them in an PB&J contest any day). And so this evening began the schooling of Mr. Husband and his culinary education.

This evening, on the way home from work, I announced that it was Mr. Husband’s cooking night. His eyes lit up with excitement. He asked what he would make on the side (we’re not to the point of planning the meal on his own, but that, too, will come). I told him “potatoes—we have some in the fridge that you can bake.” We’re also not to the point of full preparation for Mr. Husband. I diced the garlic and onion for the hamburger meat and added other random spices. We’re taking baby steps. I was the perfect and obedient sous-chef. Mr. Husband decided he wanted to cook the potatoes in a skillet. The dang bag gave him two options in the instructions. Stupid bag. Skillet cooking is hard. Baking on an oven pan is easy. It was his night. Skillet it is!

I relaxed and opened a beer to sit on the couch for TV watching as is Mr. Husband’s typical activity as I cook. Ultimate no-cooking freedom. I played the roll of Mr. Husband. He played the role of Mrs. Wife. The only difference in the role reversal is that I watched Jeopardy instead of Family Guy. I also knew that I might need to intervene at some point. As the apartment filled with smoke (as it had the other time Mr. Husband cooked burgers), I went to inspect the operation in the kitchen. Mr. Husband said, “this kitchen is way too small!” Aha! He understands my weary plight. The apartment continued to fill up with smoke as Mr. Husband removed the smoke detector from its ceiling mount and I tried to save the potatoes. It doesn’t say on the bag how one should cook with a skillet. Mr. Husband added butter, put a lid on, and cooked them on high. The poor things were burning and giving off a mountain of smoke.

Mr. Husband turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows. He cranked up the ceiling fan. The entire time, there was panic evident on his brow. He turned the burgers and skillfully added cheese that he grated himself. He worked on his masterpiece in our Calphalon grill pan while I readied the buns. The result was incredibly good. It was better than good. He pronounced the burgers perfect and the best ever, “this is a tasty burger!"

And then he cleaned the kitchen. He loaded the dishwasher. He wiped down one counter. He put away the extra food. He was so cute working with sudsy water and skillfully piling plates and silverware into the dishwasher. He earned a new title this evening. He is the Burgher of the Burger. He is solid all-white meat. And he is good. We have a long way to go, yet, but this was a darn good start. He must learn to feel the food and to trust instinct instead of instructions on a bag. He must learn to clean the top of the stove. And he must learn how not to burn my $100 All-Clad frying pan.

And I must learn how not to be controlling and to give of my kitchen. I must remember not to be my Dad. Give of my time and consider that many nights in our new kitchen-to-come will be spent teaching and learning as we come together as gourmet super couple. With enough room, anything is possible.


Ansley said...

SO Heather this is a brilliant idea and I think I shall try this with my own Mr. Husband, as he does not cook either. Maybe we could have a double date where the 2 of them prepare us dinner :-)

AliceAnderson said...

My dear, dear Heather. Don't let the man fool you. He cooked for Eric and me years ago. A dynamite spaghetti dinner complete with garlic bread.

So get his butt in the kitchen and don't let him act like he can't cook. He can. :)

Just don't tell him I told on him. *wink*

AliceAnderson said...

BTW, here's that link to your Wedding album on flickr:

Chris said...

I remember... one time when we were little... Jeff made Andy and I some Mac and Cheese. I don't remember what was wrong with it, but Andy and I ate it while we wondered when our parents were getting home.

mrcharlie said...


I'm not sure hamburgers qualify as "food" - maybe if they had sauteed onions or some exquisitely fine ingredients, but get the man a cookbook. Louise's mother likes to say, "if you can read, you can cook." So isn't cooking a literary aspiration- only one in which you can recreate the author's experience for yourself? When is Jeff's birthday? I'll hook him up to some Deborah Madison