Ponder this:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Different food

Husband and I have been married for a long time. The only thing we get excited about anymore is food. 

I have my mental Rolodex of dishes, things that require no recipe reading, things that are easy to put together when I get home from work. An additional requirement is that the meal be able to stay Prepared-And-Tasty for a couple of hours because neither of us ever knows when he'll get home after his workday. Husband is tired of all of my old standbys. Additionally, he's tired of food in general because he eats lunch in restaurants every single day. Me, I'm off to the office daily with my Tupperware container of leftovers or my hummus and Triscuits. It's a big day for me when we order pizza delivery for a group lunch.

"Different! I want something different!" he said early last week.
He consulted one of his Jacques Pepin cookbooks and made, two nights in a row because it was so good, Mustard Crusted Chicken. I loved it! It was delicious. I was glad there were only four pieces of chicken so I didn't embarrass myself. The following night he made a different chicken recipe. That one wasn't such a hit with either of us. Yesterday I phoned him and said, "If you aren't already planning it, don't make anything fancy tonight."
"Why not?"
"Oh, I'd just as soon have some Triscuits or a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich."

Early this morning I woke up and mentally cast about for some kind of different food to prepare for him. The internet offers me recipes for which he has already expressed distaste.

  • I'm not really a soup kind of guy.
  • I'm not really big on salad.
  • I'm not crazy about chili.
  • I really don't like Feta cheese.
  • I'm not big on wraps. This last one is a big disappointment to me because wraps are like thIndo-European language family with a million offshoots. To my mind, you can put anything in a wrap and it becomes Different and Delicious.

Many of the recipes call for ingredients I've never heard of . . . one-eighth teaspoon of some spice that I'd have to order online or drive three and a half hours to Brooklyn to get. If I make the dish without that particular spice, I fear, all the rest of my efforts will have been in vain. The finished product will be met with a gimlet eye, and a quiet, polite, and cheerful "It isn't my favorite." It's hard to take for a woman who breathes a little faster at the thrill of goulash made with ground beef, or macaroni and cheese. "Fancy" to me is macaroni and cheese made with Swiss cheese in addition to cheddar.

Several weeks ago, Phyllis brought sweet potato lasagna for lunch. It was left over from her family's dinner the night before. This morning I got up early to search for a recipe. I found one. It calls for:

  • sweet potato (slice and bake first)
  • kale (cut up and blanch first)
  • zucchini (slice and bake first)
  • two or three kinds of cheese
  • red onion (slice and bake first)
  • broccoli (cut up and blanch first)
  • God knows what-all else.
It also calls for four cups of good marinara sauce. I have a freezer full of tomatoes that I harvested, skinned, and bagged last summer. I can't use jar sauce! So that means making the sauce first...

Suddenly I'm thinking of the relatively exotic meals that I find "in my grocer's freezer case." Sure, they're expensive, but what's the cost of the leftover spice for which I paid $6 and which I'll never use again? I think my shopping list just got a lot shorter.


georgia little pea said...

We eat all kinds of food every day, from pasta to Chinese to Indian to grill. I would get bored eating the same thing every day. I wish I could add more variety to my cooking too. But really, cooking for just 2 is ho hum.

DJan said...

We eat the same stuff day in and day out, and neither of us has much difficulty with the lack of variety. However, every once in awhile I'll make a good soup out of leftovers and we really enjoy that for days! :-)

Mac n' Janet said...

I've gotten some good and simple recipes off of Pinterest because we were tired of the same old, same old.

Particularly good was the chicken and chorizo, you basically just throw it in the oven for an hour,

Joanne Noragon said...

I am not the cook in my house. The eaters know to always be nice to the cook and praise the meal. In almost thirty years I have only had one meal I couldn't eat. Now, we joke she can make anything except black beans and rice.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

How about letting him cook for a month , while sticking firmly to the household budget ? If he can manage it , I'd let him take over !
( what are Triscuits? )

Olga said...

My husband grew up in a family where the dinner routine varied little from week to week. Beans and hotdogs on Saturday nights was a law in New England until its repeal in the early '60's. I grew up with a mother who loved cookbooks and new recipes. I believe that the NYTimes magazine never printed a recipe that she did not at least try once. Meals are pretty much a constant compromise in our house.

Grandmother Mary said...

My Honey is the cook. Over the years, I've given him scholarships to various local cooking classes that culminated three years ago with a week cooking school in Tuscany. He's become a better and better cook and loves it more and more because of the input. Me? I'm a happy woman!

Muffy's Marks said...

same dilemma here!! Except hubby very seldom cooks... So since we have retired, if I cook, I choose. If he complains, I'm still the cook and I still choose.... suck it up buddy!!!

June said...

SmitoniusAndSonata, Triscuits are a woven wheat cracker. Like shredded wheat cereal except with a touch of salt in the mix. Does that help?

#1Nana said...

All I need to say is ditto! (except for the hummas part of your diet. I can do without that.)

Rose ~ from Oz said...

Oh June so much of your post had me in stitches, your opening line just cracked me up.
My tuppence worth is:
Thanks you I wondered what Triscuits was.
You haven't lived until you've tried peanut butter and chopped banana sandwiches (together on the sanga)
Yes! long live the wrap and all it can hold dear inside.
-whisper- if I were you I'd stick with the old stand-bys and let 'husband' experiment in the kitchen with 'something different'!!
I have an old friend whose husband has done ALL the cooking for the past 30+ years (because he LOVES it) and had the kitchen in their new home designed especially to his specifications!!

John M said...

Maybe I'll take a chance and cook some experimental dishes.
John M

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

My husband is a fitness fanatic and food-as-fuel person. If I made dinner, he wouldn't eat it. He likes to forage and come up with his own mini-meals. He won't eat sugar, white flour, processed food or red meat. He prefers to eat one meal of his own making in the middle of the day. It does give me a lot more free time in retirement, not having to plan and make meals, though I used to enjoy that. But his health-minded habits are starting to resonate a bit with me and I'm hoping 2014 will find me slimmer and much more fit.

Barb said...

I had a long comment typed and had to go check the roast A grandchild changed the page. Everything lost! I think the gist was that our staple meals are the ones your husband scorns.

Carolynn Anctil said...

Oh, you are singing my tune! The Frenchman takes a packed lunch with him to work because he's often gone for 14 - 18 hours or more at a time. There's only so much I can pack that doesn't require heating and can stand the test of time in a cooler bag. He's not as tactful as your husband. I believe the word "barf" was used when he let me know he was tired of sandwiches.

Same for dinners, apparently. He's tired of my choices - many of which have to be prepared early and be able to sit (like yours) or be made with little more than 30 minutes notice when he calls to let me know he's coming home.

I've scoured my recipe books for inspiration and have bought new ones. He's also a moderately picky eater who doesn't like things like pesto or most cheeses. Makes it tricky.

Okay...I've had my rant. Gawd, it feels good to know I'm not alone in this.

P.S. If you want a truly delicious taste sensation, add smoked cheddar to your mac & cheese. Hmmm...yum.

June said...

I need to add the following: Husband loves to cook and by golly! his cooking is positively inspirational. I told him a while ago that when he cooked I felt guilty and he said, "I don't cook because you haven't. I cook because I want to." So he isn't . . . churlish about any of this.
I think, truly, that I could eat the same thing day after day and not be bored. Perhaps not.

Wanda..... said...

You are a good match for my husband as far as eating goes, June. I'm the one that craves adventure in the kitchen. My favorite seems to be salads....anything can find it's way in, to create change!

Rian said...

At our house, I'm the main cook, but DH likes to throw his hand in now and then. He makes fantastic red beans and rice as well as stuffed peppers... and occasionally will try a new cajun recipe. We're both from New Orleans and enjoy cooking as well as eating. BUT we also like PB and banana sandwiches!

Vicki Lane said...

Cooking for two is always something of a compromise. I like goat cheese and arugula and cilantro -- he doesn't. He wants hot meals at night -- I'd be happy with a sandwich most of the time. For the past few years he's made delicious pizza (from scratch) one night a week.

And when you are both working, it really is a challenge.

Tom said...

Like Rose ... I found your first line gave me the best laugh I've had all week!

rachel said...

I'm relearning too - after years of simple eating to suit myself, I now cook for a vegetarian man who hates eggs, and who would happily live on pasta or wraps with some sort of cheese. Fattening! But to give him his due, he's relearning too, and will cheerfully eat my more experimental efforts. Good luck! PS As he says of our fussiest cat, lock her in the shed for a few days, and she'll come out ready to eat anything! Perhaps if your husband took Triscuits (what are they, by the way??) and hummus to work now and then, he'd find dinner time more appealing?

Pauline said...

I used to try a new recipe every week. Now I'm lucky to try one once a year... you've inspired me to step out of the "because it's quick and easy" mode and try something new again. Thanks!

Friko said...

Have you never heard of cooking big meals, like stews, casseroles, etc. and freezing half of them for another meal?

I do it all the time and always have a quick ready meal or two for the days when cooking pisses me off.

And what’s wrong with cooking enough to have left overs for the next day? They taste twice as good fried up or reheated in the microwave.

And then there are the days when we have egg and ham and chips and baked beans. Chips (I think you call them French fries?) from the freezer, beans out of a tin. The only thing I have to do is fry the eggs.

June said...

There isn't a thing wrong with freezing half of a big batch, Friko!
Except that it goes for lunches for me . . . so there really isn't another supper out of it.

Sally Wessely said...

I can commiserate with you on this post. I wish I lived in a world where I did not have to figure out what to fix for dinner.

Terra said...

The mustard crusted chicken sounds delicious. Sometimes, as you say, it is hard to come up with a good recipe or even the desire to cook so my hubby and I trade cooking duties.

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