It's not about the house.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Would You Trust This Guy to Make Your Watch?

I know I said I was going to tell you more about the kitchen today – and there is such good news, wait till you hear! – but first I simply must tell you about something ridiculous that happened in said kitchen last night.

Let me begin in the morning, when I’m leaving for work. Johnny asks me, as he always does, what I want for dinner, and I remind him that I’m on the forty-pounds-in-twenty-days plan. Vegetables are what I’m having for dinner, always now, and you should know that. Vegetables, and – if I’ve been really good – a bit of rice. He starts muttering about how maybe he’ll make himself a spaghetti sauce.

I know what this means. This means a pound of ground beef, peppers and onions and carrots and celery and spices and everything else, cans of tomatoes and paste – and then, at the last minute, opening a jar of sauce to mix in, too, because what he made is too thin or too chunky or not spicy enough. This means upwards of a gallon of spaghetti sauce, with meat in it, to feed one man one meal.

Now, I do eat meat these days. I didn’t, for twelve years – and I was about to say I started up again when I moved in with Johnny, but even that’s not true. I lasted almost five years after that. But we took this one particular vacation in 2002, and I decided I was tired of going to all these places that we used to go before we bought the AssVac, and eating nothing the whole time I was there but bread and cheese (and beer and wine). Local cuisine has its charms, and it doesn’t always cater to the finicky. So I carnivored up slowly, in preparation for that trip, and I’ve been off and running ever since.

Except not exactly running. I eat it, it doesn’t disgust me or anything, and once in a while I remember something I realize I haven’t had in almost twenty years, and sometimes trying it again is a truly transformative experience. (Seriously. You go two decades without a piece of bacon and see if you don’t cry a little bit at the first bite. There was a while there we couldn’t keep bacon in the house. I mean literally. I made a rule.) But for the most part I’ve still got the palette of an herbivore. I likes my lasagna and my chili garden-variety, my grinders vegetarian, and lordy-knows I want my marinara sauce meat-free. Especially now that I’m on track to look like Mrs. Skellington in three short little weeks, I did not want a Dutch-oven full of Bolognese around.

All this is to say: I talked him out of the spaghetti.

“Why don’t you just have vegetables and rice with me, Hon? Didn’t you say you were going on a diet, too?”

“But, I need to eat more than vegetables and rice for dinner.”

“Well, then, why don’t you take out a chicken breast as well, and we can split it.”

“Okay. Yeah. That sounds good.”

“Good, then. Okay. See you later.” And off I went -- to not bring home the bacon.

When I got home, he was positively giddy. The work he’d been doing in the kitchen had gone well, and he even had a lead on some added good news (added good news that I’m too superstitious to share yet at the moment, but if it does come through, I swear you-all will be first to hear. You, and the creepy guy who reads this poppycock over your shoulder. Boo! Made you look.). He kissed me hello, and then he started stuttering like a little kid.

“I made,” he started. “I made, I made, I made, I made, I made – I made two steaks.”

Um, and what does that mean, exactly?

He pointed to the crockpot, then opened up his Crockpot Cookery paperback and pointed to a recipe.

Ah. Well, that explains the stuttering. Poor bastard got his Porky Pig stuck on “Stroganoff.”



Oh this is wrong on so many levels, I can’t even count. But I will try.

#1. I kid about the forty-pounds thing, but I really am trying to diet. And, not for nothing, but he says he is, too. Beef and sour cream. Oh yeah. That’s light.

#2. Even if I weren’t on a diet, I never eat whole steaks. A few bites of his, maybe, and that’s it. He could have made this dish with only one.

#3. But even if I weren’t on a diet, and even if I would eat a whole steak, I sure as hell wouldn’t have crock-potted two of the Omaha Filet Mignons that were a birthday present to him from my Lady! Christ, I could have put my shoe in there with a bit of sour cream and it would have tasted much the same. Which brings me to my next point.

#4. Even if #s 1 & 2& 3 were all okay, I don’t like stroganoff. I never have. It tastes like hot, creamy, mushroom-wine -- and it looks like throw-up. Bleah.

#5. Last, but not least: We agreed on vegetables and chicken! Why do you make me tell you in the morning what I want for dinner, if you’re just going to go and throw up in the pot?

That last one’s not quite fair. It didn’t look like throw-up in the crockpot yet, because we were out of sour cream. He thought we had some, else he would not have started this endeavor, but that container turned out to be holding… “What is this, Horse?” he asked me. I looked. “I don’t know,” I said at first. And then… Oh. Leftover spaghetti pie. Throw that shit out, man. Now.

He told me to go ahead and cook my vegetables and rice, he would walk up to the quick-e-mart for sour cream, and we could both have both. He’d have more meat than veg, I’d have more veg than meat, and we’d Jack Sprat off into the tra-la-la.


Except the pub is right next to the quick-e-mart. And he might, while he was out there, just stop in for a little pint.

Oh, thank god.

So he went to the pub and I chopped and cooked and ate my vegetables, infinitely glad they didn’t have to share a plate with puke. And, two hours later, Johnny came home without the sour cream.

He tried to get me to go out for it, but I refused. “Why don’t you just take your meat and gravy as it is, pour it over the rice I made for you, and call it a meal?” I suggested, helpfully.

“No, this is a recipe, and you have to follow the recipe.”

Johnny can whip things up from his imagination with the best of them, but give him a recipe and he will refuse to deviate. We have cancelled plans for his beloved chicken curry because all we had were red peppers and the recipe calls for green.

“Well, I’m not going out.” I said. “Try throwing in the veggie cream-cheese that One Friend left in the refrigerator.” I was kidding, but he thought about it.

“No,” he said. “I’ll think of something.”

He pretended not to understand the concept of thickening with a paste of flour, and I still declined to provide assistance on that or any count. He considered and (inexplicably) discarded the idea of using Bisto. He tried to get me – again, and repeatedly – to go out for sour cream.

I kept iterating my suggestion about the as-is meat/sauce and the rice – because, honestly, it looked to me like a perfectly good meal, if you are of the eating-an-entire-steak persuasion (as, we have established, I am not). But he kept saying “Nah, nah, bollocks to that, bollocks to that.”

Finally, I heard him announce triumphantly “I know! I’ll use cornstarch!” And then I did get up and fetch it for him, because the poor bastard was never going to find it in the new cabinets on his own.

You’ll never guess what happened next. Ah, go on. No? All right, I’ll tell you.

He barely even got it open before he dropped the box straight down. I just so happened to glance up at that very second, and it looked like the goddamn 4th of July. Poff! It hit the floor flat-bottomed, and cornstarch went everywhere. Oh my lord, I laughed until I cried. I am so glad I happened to glance up so I could see it, otherwise the night might have ended in a yell-fest instead. Because look:

“Ka-poof.” Johnny said, a little stunned.

“It looks like the universe.”

And in case there are any physicists out there who might be wondering: when the Big Bang happens, the universe does, in fact, get all over the stove.

Also, if you try to rein in the entropy – by, say, plugging the vacuum cleaner into the rogue kitchen-plug – all the stars go out at once.


So anyway I threw the breaker, and he finished cleaning up (you’re damn right I didn’t help him!). Afterwards, he ate his meat and gravy (like I told him) over rice. “Strog-,” he said it was, “without the -off.” I don't know what happened to the -an-, but strog- sans -off was apparently a huge success.

And later, as I passed through the kitchen on my way to bed, I found a four-pound pork roast thawing on the counter.

What is it about vegetables he doesn't understand?!


Amalie said...

So... "you-all"? Really? Not even "yous guys"?

Does "y'all" make you a bit twitchy? It's ok. Take the plunge.


Anonymous said...

Johnny's cornstarch poof of the universe... sounds like a great title for your first novel.

Anonymous said...

Hey moderator - get the mf barbmichelen crap outta this nice lady's blog!

Anonymous said...

The universe part made me laugh.. puff, puff, pass..

Anonymous said...

just me testing some stuff...


EGE said...

Amalie -- I'm not afraid of y'all -- OR of using the word! I just needed the extra syllable right there. I can't explain it, but I get that way sometimes. One Friend thinks it's a bit psychotic, but all I can say is that it's a writerly thing. You may commence throwing eggs, now...

Lookit all of the Anonymice! I don't know if you're all the same or different, but thanks for checking in and laughing -- and for defending me against the spammenters.

Jean -- how dare you use me as a test? Do I LOOK like a guinea pig to you? Don't answer that.

Amalie said...

Well, when you put it that way, I actually completely understand. Though I would also suggest that you "ain't scirt" of us. But that's just little old southern fried me...