I’ve been cooking for 37 years with no fatalities or a single stomach pump. However, my husband swears that I’m looking for untraceable ways to get rid of him and collect the insurance.
Now I’ll admit, in the first year of our marriage, the man had the patience of Job. He’d gnaw on biscuits the dog wouldn’t touch, he’d swallow vegetables that were unrecognizable, and he accepted the fact that I only knew one way to cook chicken – buried in cream of mushroom soup.
But somewhere in the second year his halo began to tarnish. The man that would smile and tell me, “That’s okay, honey – I like shoe leather,” vanished. In his place was a man that had an opinion—and wasn’t shy about voicing it.
“What’s this green stuff?” he’d sniff suspiciously.
“It’s the latest thing in casseroles,” I would smile, anticipating his delight at the first forkful, that tantalizing taste of vegetables mixed and blended into a culinary masterpiece. When his chewing slowed to one grind every thirty seconds, I just knew he was savoring the flavor.
He finally gave up and spit it out into a napkin. “We’re going to starve.”
Where before he would have patted me on the back and told me he could live on love alone, now he had the gall to suggest I call his mother and ask for help.
My problem was that I had thought we’d defined our roles from the start.
He worked. I spent.
He threw his clothes on the floor. I picked them up and washed them.
He mowed the yard. I built planters he had to go around.
I cooked. He ate.
Neat and simple.
But when he started getting into my kitchen, the battle lines were drawn. This was my domain, and I set out to prove to him that I had talents he’d only dreamed about. I didn’t tell him when to change the oil in the truck, and he was not going to tell me how to cook.
Then one Thanksgiving I had the chance to prove to him once and for all that I could be every bit as Martha Stewart as I wanted to be. It was also the first time I ever displayed masochistic tendencies.
I invited the whole family over.
From both sides.
I was horrified when my husband suggested just cooking the vegetables one at a time and putting them in their individual bowls on the serving table. No casseroles? No gelatin salad?
But the final straw was the turkey.
“What are you doing?” he asked when I pulled the bird out of the refrigerator the night before Thanksgiving and turned the oven on.
“I’ve got a recipe…”
“Oh good grief! You’re going to start experimenting? Now?”
There was that word …experiment. I hated it when he questioned my cooking abilities. I eyed him coolly. “Don’t worry. I know what I’m doing.”
“You’ve finally learned how to cook a decent turkey. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” He was actually in my kitchen, giving me cooking advice!
Shields up! Battle stations! This was war! I’d show him. And when his mother told me how good it was, he was going to have to eat turkey and crow.
The recipe called for preheating the oven to a certain temperature, cooking the turkey for so many hours per pound, then turning the oven off. You weren’t supposed to open the door for many more hours, retaining the heat. The turkey would finish cooking by itself. I had timed it to be ready about 30 minutes after everyone showed up around noon.
That bird was still flapping his wings well into the next afternoon.
I could have crawled under a rock.
My husband came into the kitchen after the last of our guests had gone, and started helping me put the food up. The turkey was still raw, and had begun to smell funny.
We threw it in the trash.
“Not a word,” I cautioned, when I saw his mouth start to move. “I admit, I shouldn’t have…experimented…not today. But don’t rub it in.”
He clutched his chest. “Those words… from your lips. I don’t think my heart can stand it.”
“Oh, shut up,” I growled.
He grinned. “I know the turkey was a disaster, but how does the crow taste?”
I admit … crow’s a tough bird to swallow.
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