Tag Archives: cooking

Kiss the cook (It’s me! Kiss me!)

I recently acquired a new hobby. I take food items and mix, bake, grill, chill, slice and dice them, (all sans a Slap Chop, mind you) transforming them into delicious other food items. Eggs become omelets! Celery becomes ants on a log! Hamburger becomes…hamburgers! Food is always better plural.

Consider making ants on a log for that next fancy dinner party.

How the media hasn’t blown this fad outta portion yet, I don’t know. (Food jokes!)

I’ve decided to call this newfangled activity “cooking” (let me have this), and it’s great because it inevitably leads to om-nom-noming. Not to mention that the gorgeous glow I get upon devouring half a pound of turkey bacon in my favorite breakfast quiche is almost akin to exercising. Almost.

I’m not sure exactly what prompted my passion for the culinary arts except that whenever Clay and I have a free evening, it always seems to turn into an Iron Chef episode. Think more jammies and less narration. For awhile, we stopped going out on Fridays at all. That was scary. Then there was our last shopping trip to Wal-Mart:

Clayton (adamantly): “We need a spatula!”
Me (thrilled): “They come in different colors! I want purple! No, red! Green!”
Clayton (suddenly alarmed): “Ea-sy…”
Me (instantly out of control): “We also need a can opener! Tongs? An egg thing-a-ma-jig!? Spaghetti strainer!!”
Clayton (cautiously): “Ok, Cass. One at a time. Can openers appear to come in all different prices and sizes here. Look, this one has a grippy rubber handle.”
Me: Overwhelmed silence and reverence

I also can’t leave out all the Hy-Vee trips where a certain cart boy inevitably greets us with a demanding “Ladies first!” every time we approach the entrance. On cue, Clay and I rowdily push one another out of the way to get inside first, running off of love’s purest, truest and most gentle adrenaline (him – testosterone; me -feminism). This irritates the cart boy.

Once inside, we freeze instantly in our tracks, always stunned by the life-sized cardboard cutout of Ellen DeGeneres—whoops, that’s Curtis Stone.

It's uncanny! It's...not right...

Then, onto fruits and veggies. We don’t make it out of the produce section for a good 15 to 20 minutes, and trips that should take half an hour become twice as long as I explore new ingredients with the tenacity of a kid at an ice cream parlor. I stop investigating the mangoes, white asparagus and herbs only when I see Clay taking a trip of his own to frown town.

Our cart slowly becomes filled with random ingredients we’ll most likely hate – papaya and Korean pear – and of course, wine. You know, for the cooking. We exit the store past a now wordless cart boy, satisfied until the next time we get a food fetish.

One time we went to Hy-Vee four days out of the week.

Once back in the kitchen, I immediately take over as sous chef because I excel at vital tasks like  pouring wine, washing produce because men consider dirt just another seasoning, and of course, stirring. Nothing makes you feel more important than having yourself a good stir. It’s also a great way to look busy in an effort to avoid cutting onions. (For the love of God, someone teach me already)

The more we cook, the more we like to think our tastes become increasingly refined. Our meals consist of seafood more often than not, and it’s a must that red or white wine appear on the list of ingredients. And, although our dishes only call for a ½ cup of it or less, we feel obligated to finish the bottle because we hate waste. Life is so hard sometimes.At the height of sophistication...puns!
I keep with the evening’s theme of pure sophistication and class by setting the coffee table in front of the TV with paper towels, covering our water glasses with coasters to ensure Chloe doesn’t dunk her head into them. As I do, I can’t help but think how wonderful it is to have a hobby where I’m constantly learning and trying new things. It’s my special time alone with Clayton, where we bond over the entire process of creating and eating a meal we made ourselves — garlicky hands, burnt pancakes, “natural turkey casing” and all.

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“Sir, the cup and ½ isn’t an option. You can have a ½ and a ½…”

When I think of the surely darling children I’m going to have one day (sans the van – cool soccer mom reputation to maintain here, and yes – I DO shell out extra cash for the quality Hi-C juice boxes at practice), I can’t help but already feel for these unfortunate children with whom no one will want to trade lunches.

At best, I can put together an appallingly delicious sandwich – I mean it. That thing will blow away any previous sandwich standards, especially when the works slap you squarely into tomorrow. Tomato, lettuce, pickles, turkey, and TWO cheeses will fight a dirty and epic battle to conquer your taste buds. Place your bets now, folks.

Ok, so I know you’re thinking that you can get that sandwich anywhere. And probably with a few chips thrown in on the side, or some homemade potato salad. No doubt a pickle slice.

But, guys. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.

 I toast the bread. I TOAST the BREAD!

At worst? Well, fellow blog readers, I am ashamed to tell you that more than once a month, I open the refrigerator to find a year-old jar of peppers, three mismatching beers left behind from a game night I hosted a year ago, and what I can only assume at one time was a piece of fruit that has slowly disintegrated in the crisper drawer. On a positive note, I won’t have to add raisins to my grocery list. Ba-dumm-tumm-dshhhh. Just kidding. I don’t have a grocery list.

Ironically, on the scale of things, my best and worst are only marginally separated.

If you’re single, it’s completely acceptable to live off of sandwiches in your 20s. It’s not like I’m going to come home on my lunch hour and happily slave away in my “Commander in Chef” apron to prepare a roast that I will then slowly devour in a month’s time thanks to those new freezer bags that now offer 25 percent less freezer burn. About time, am I right? Besides the obvious glitch in that plan being that no one under the age of 75 likes roast anyways.

I fear for the day some poor guy slaps a shiny ring on my hand without even questioning why we never eat at my apartment.

Because then. ONLY THEN. A day to mark the end of an era. Sink or swim. Ride or die. Cook or be divorced after years of unhappy silence upon coming home to find an assortment of meats and toppings slapped hastily between two pieces of (perfectly toasted) white bread.

“But…we had sandwiches for lunch,” he’ll say as I hear his stomach literally whimper, acidic tears dripping from its shrunken encasement.  

 “I thought they were so good, that we’d have them again for dinner,” I’ll say, smiling brightly, for I have a surprise for him. A special dessert of the likes only I can manage. Not just any sandwich. ICE CREAM sandwiches. Hy-Vee special: two boxes for $7.50. Helloooooo, Wife of the Year.

At least, that’s how it goes in my mind.

Every Christmas at work, our department has a Thieving Santa party. Our first time around the table last year, I picked out a nice set of decorative plates for dip, alongside a blinged out spreader. Everyone fawned over them and at the time, I chuckled alongside them with seemingly utter delight while quietly having a panic attack thinking, “Now I have to make DIP?!”

When my inner temper tantrum – and the trading – subsided, I looked down rather reluctantly to find I held a crock-pot in my hands. Which, OF COURSE, no one wanted because everyone on the face of the Earth already has a crock-pot. Winner, winner, aaaaahhh, crap, I’m gonna have to make dinner.

“How lucky for you; now you’ll be able to cook easy meals for the whole family!” said the masses, eagerly sharing simple recipes hearty enough for a group of 8+. Except that it’s just me and my cat. And what’s “cooking?”

 It’s still in the box.

I have the cookbooks and the painstakingly handwritten family recipes handed down throughout the generations. I have a recipe holder in the shape of my favorite thing in the world – shoes. I have a spatula and a handful of forks. But, at the end of the day, I have absolutely no ambition to cook.

So, my cookbooks take up much needed space, my recipe holder sits restlessly atop my microwave longing for the day it’ll grip instructions for homemade lasagna, and my kitchen is just a means to get to my dining room, which is a means to get to the television.

And on the days when I’m too tired to make even the simplest of sandwiches?

Thank God for Jimmy Johns.