Beginning with stumbling through recipes and several disastrous experiences (including cracking the coating on my new mother-in-law’s enamel roaster), I have cooked all my married life. When I got married, that’s what women did. No male admitted to actually cooking unless he was a chef. (And, back then, “convenience” foods were limited to the new miracle of angel food cake mixes and truly awful TV dinners.)
So I cooked. Not gourmet. Not even fancy. Just meals based on uncomplicated recipes and a strong reliance on ground beef and chicken.
I worked away from home in “9-5″ jobs for the first forty-two years of my married life. That added to my lively interest in simple and quick.
But, dreaming of future kitchens, future leisure time, I began a recipe collection. Some fit the easy and simple (but good) category, and were soon easily identified by their worn look and food spots, not to mention added notes like “Cut this in half,” or, simply, “Good!” Others in my rapidly growing collection spoke of imagined exotic meals and praise by awed guests. I began filling ten inch file boxes with categorized recipes on 3 x 5 cards or clipped from newspapers and magazines, plus recipes hand-written on scraps of paper by my mother and by fellow employees and friends. The collection grew until I had eight file boxes labeled from “Appetizers” to “Vegetables,” and on to “Misc” and “Meal Planning.” They were part of my wealth. I’d never be at a loss for something to cook.
But as years passed, plain and simple cooking, aided by an increasing number of excellent convenience foods, was what came to the table in my kitchen. Still, my files of recipes grew.
Over the past five or so years my work load as a multi-published writer using the Internet increased, and my long-suffering (and hungry) husband frequently came to my office door around 5:00 to interrupt my concentration on the latest adventures of Carrie McCrite and Henry King. Hesitating in the doorway, he invariably asked, “What are we having for supper?”
I was always startled when this happened. Time and hunger had vanished behind whatever I was putting on my computer screen. Guilt was my most frequent reaction to John’s question because I still had a long-ingrained opinion of what my housewifely duties were. Since I rarely stop for a noon meal, John’s question also reminded me that I, too, was hungry. It was time to–rather frantically–think about what I could prepare for our supper.
Then, slowly, this began to change. John had retired by this time and, when we had viable left-overs, he realized it was easy to begin heating dishes for supper. Then, little-by-little, we became kitchen companions.
I am doing a much better job of quitting work in my office by 5:00, and now the two of us frequently work as a team on meal prep, with John sometimes doing some of the work before I leave my office. He is much better than I at what we call “prior planning in advance” so we usually have decided on supper’s make-up by breakfast that day, and have the needed ingredients (and the recipe) all ready to go when we meet in the kitchen around 5:00.
Isn’t marriage–and cooking–fun?
More about those saved exotic recipes, and the recipes that season my novels, next week!
Radine at http://www.RadinesBooks.com