Monday, April 6, 2009

June Cleaver, I ain't

It was a bright Saturday morning in June, and I was going to make breakfast for my new husband. We had recently returned from our honeymoon, and I was anxious to give him a preview of the delicious meals I’d be providing him with in the blissful years to come.
I didn’t have a lot of cooking experience under my belt. Mac and cheese, Ramen noodles, and sandwiches were about the only dishes I’d mastered up to this point. I once attempted buttermilk biscuits, but I didn’t know there was a difference between baking SODA and baking POWDER and what I pulled out of the oven were hockey pucks not even our dog would eat. This is not my fault. As a kid, our family moved around all the time. I went to a middle school during sixth and seventh grade where the eighth graders had Home Economics. We moved to a new town when I had one month of seventh grade left. In the new middle school, seventh graders took Home Ec. I got one lousy month of cooking grilled cheese sandwiches with a teacher who spent most of her time flirting with the assistant principal. On the first day of school, I actually filled the Home Ec room with black smoke from a charred sandwich. I got a “D“. After my parents divorced when I was 16, my grandmother made attempts to teach me how to cook, but I wasn’t interested in pot roast, I was interested in how to get A.J. Hernandez to realize I was the flat-chested, frizzy-haired woman of his dreams.
I assumed, however, that when I got married, the knowledge of how to cook, clean, sew, and throw dinner parties would just magically come to me, like it’s hidden in a female’s brain until the words “In sickness and in health” pass through her lips. All of a sudden, the secret Domestic Arts brain door would spring open and I’d become June Cleaver!
Of course, it didn’t quite turn out that way. I stood in our eight-square-foot apartment kitchen and surveyed our groceries. Scrambled eggs, toast, orange juice, and sausage was surely the perfect breakfast to showcase my new culinary talents. I put the bread in the toaster, scrambled the eggs, and plopped the frozen sausage links into a pan. The toast popped up, I carefully slathered it with butter, and then realized my mistake. Oh, no! I hadn’t timed it right! The toast was done and now getting cold, and the eggs were cooking swiftly in the pan, but the sausage was still frozen! I cranked the heat under the sausage pan up to high. The higher the heat, the faster it cooks, right? The eggs finished cooking, I deposited them onto a plate with the toast and willed the sausage to cook faster. My husband sat politely at the table where I’d directed him, watching me unravel. I peeked in at the sausage. NO! NO! It was burning on the outside! I whisked it off of the stove and rolled the links onto the plate.
I walked to the table, hair awry, panting, and presented my husband with his feast. The poor guy tried. He gave a valiant effort to eat it, but the sausage was frozen in the middle, and the toast and eggs were cold. He assured me everything was delicious, he just had to heat things up in the microwave a little. I dissolved into hysterical tears, feeling the accusatory disappointment of generations of my Polish ancestors shaking their heads at my ineptitude. If I couldn’t do a simple breakfast, how was I going to manage Thanksgiving dinner, when our children and grandchildren sat at my table, anticipating the kind of delicacies my mother and grandmother have provided at every holiday feast for years? I had no business trying to be a housewife! I should release my husband from his vows! He could find himself a new wife, someone who would provide him with omelets and homemade cinnamon rolls in lingerie, instead of charred or frozen food in a ripped T-shirt and old boxer shorts.
My husband, used to dealing with unreasonable females due to the fact that he has half-Irish, half-Polish relatives, put his arms around me and assured me that it would take time to learn everything about cooking and that he wouldn’t trade me for a million other women who could cook omelets. Eventually, I calmed down and told him next time, I’d do better. But my husband is no dumb cluck. We’ve been married for six years now, and he makes his own Saturday morning breakfast as I happily munch away on my cereal. You can’t burn cereal.


  1. Ok, first let me say YAY you're back. Then I shall say. Although I am not a bad cook the first few times i cooked for Dave was a disaster. I didn't know he feared chicken with the bones in and once I was making him pancakes and had my cup of water next to the cup of pancake batter, guess which one I threw into the hot oil.

  2. Nope, you can't burn cereal. But you CAN accidentally put salt all over it instead of sugar. Don't ask...

  3. well, I'll start by saying that I'm a damn good cook now...but I really do remember making spaghetti and meatballs a million years ago and putting the meatballs in the marinara for that 'authentic' intalian flavor- only they were raw and it just never occurred to me until I served them that I should have baked them first.
    luckily, no one was dumb enough to eat them.
    glad you're back :)

  4. Hooray, Lindsey's back! In college a friend of mine called me to ask how to make pasta. Boil water, I told her, add pasta. 9 min, drain. A few minutes later she called back. "Um, how do you know when the water's boiling?"

  5. Audra - Did you have splater burns all over? Because I've done that, too. Fun.

    Samsmama - EW.

    Mary - I once ate raw chicken kiev at a bridal shower, and the feeling I had once I figured out it was undercooked was the same feeling I got imagining your raw meatballs. Blagghhhhh...I'm sure your food now is delectable. Mine hasn't improved much, sadly.

    Cheasty - I feel better. Um, does your friend have a driver's license? Because that kind of scares me.

  6. Aud - I meant to type "splatter", but my keyboard buttons suck.

  7. No, I am quite adept at dodging splattering oil. I didn't work at McDonald for 100 years for nothing, although the pan was totally fried.

  8. "to realize I was the flat-chested, frizzy-haired woman of his dreams" ~ I love you.

    I didn't a lot of cooking and cleaning growing up. Not elaborate cooking or anything, but I could make a couple of things. But I too thought, something would click on and everything wifey related would go into high gear....still waiting.

  9. Haha...I think I remember the SODA/POWDER episode, was that at your old house in North Aurora? Hon, it all takes time. I'll send you some super easy "even my sister can make these" recipes that'll have everyone drooling (and trust me, you cook better than Gina anyday!!!) Super easy, and non-Ramen noodle-y. Either that or just throw a bunch of stuff in a crock pot and wait 8 hours...instant dinner! Also those prepackaged Voila meals...veggies, pasta and chicken all in one bag, heat it up in a pan with a little water and, pun intended..are Voila!!!

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