Thursday, September 23, 2010

"A" for effort

I love my husband. He's my matching puzzle piece. Sometimes when I see or talk to other guys, I think to myself, "Man, I'm so glad I married D instead. I could never deal with xyz about that other dude." Or, an even more grateful thought: "Man, I'm so glad I married D. Pretty sure that other dude would never be able to put up with me."

There's lots of things D is good at. He's good at being a father, for one. And that's a pretty big one.

He's also amazing at keeping up with repairs. If something goes wrong with the house or with one of our vehicles, he is ON it. Which is particularly fantastic because that means that I don't even have time to fake concern or pretend like I'm trying to come up with a way to fix it. Like last week, I was driving home from my mom's group, and my right blinker started blinking fast because one of my lights was out. So I texted D when I got home (he was at work) and told him about it. To me, these things are usually "Oh crap" moments, because I hate having to even think about stuff like this. But to D, it's like, "What? You need me to fix something? HELP IS ON THE WAY!" and he was like, "Ok I'll get a new bulb tomorrow."

And even better, he likes doing that stuff. When my van miraculously healed itself (which is actually one of the features that led us to purchase it) and the light stopped blinking fast, I think he was actually disappointed that he didn't get to fix something. Since we've moved in with my parents, he's really been hankering for a good repair.

There are many more things that D is awesome at. Sports, his job, cutting lawns....I really could go on and on, but I don't want to get into the blog equivalent of embarrassing PDA, so I'll reign it in. D hates PDA.

Amusingly, one of the things that D is not good at is something that endears him even more to me. He is not really an awesome cook. (Oh, how I wish the same quality in myself would further endear me to him!)

He wants to be a good cook. He really does. But when he cooks, he ends up happening on the same conundrum that trips me up whenever I try to cook for him. By the time he's finished taking ingredients out of the recipe that he doesn't like, he usually ends up with the same boring thing that we eat most of the time.

But I think his biggest stumbling block is mostly just a lack of experience.

When we were first married, D decided he wanted to make some stew in the Crock Pot. So, I left him to it. I got home from work, excited that I didn't have to think about dinner, and sat down to eat. I noticed that the house didn't smell like stew, as one would normally expect a house to smell after stew had been slow cooking all day, but I put it out of my mind. When I went to ladle some stew into my bowl, all I saw was a weird, liquidy broth that I'd never seen in my life. Then, I reached the ladle to the bottom of the bowl to get some meat and came up with.....ground beef.

But you know what? I ate it anyway. Because he had worked so hard on it and really, really wanted it to be good. I just salted the crap out of that stew and I ate it. After a few bites, D was like, "This is terrible." And I had to gently say, "Well....I think you're supposed to use stew meat, not ground beef." And he was crushed that he had worked so hard on it and it had flopped.

Fast forward to last night. I came home from work and smelled something in the oven. I assumed it was my parents' dinner cooking, and I headed to the living room to hang out with my guys.

After a few minutes, D was like, "I made dinner. It's in the oven."

After I picked myself up off the floor from the shock of it all, I asked him what he was cooking. He didn't want to tell me because he wanted it to be a surprise. That only made it more cute, so I asked him where he found the recipe. He didn't want to tell me because he was afraid I'd go look, but he eventually confessed that he'd found it on the back of the Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup can.

When it was time to take it out of the oven, D uncovered the foil from the baking dish and said, "....We might have a problem."

Turns out, he wasn't quite familiar with the guidelines for when you're tweaking a recipe, and he'd tweaked just a bit too much. The recipe didn't call for any butter, but since D usually puts butter on chicken when he bakes it, he thought he'd add some...or an entire stick, whatever.

So when we pulled the dish out of the oven, we were met with three good-looking pieces of chicken, sitting in a pool of rice, corn and melted butter. As I've said before, I love my husband, but there was not enough love in the world that could have induced me to eat a bite of the soupy rice and corn mix. I'm pretty sure I would have dropped dead from the cholesterol upon contact.

But with all the thought and effort D had put into it, combined with the fact that he'd done it completely on his own accord, topped off with the fact that because of his consideration, I didn't have to figure out what was for dinner....I couldn't bring myself to say anything. Before we ate, I'd teased him a bit about how I was going to be just like him and make disparaging comments, but when push came to shove, he was so darn hopeful about the meal turning out well that I couldn't let myself do it.

So I ate the chicken and pushed the rice around my plate, commenting on how much I liked the spice he'd chosen to use on the chicken, and after a few bites he said, "I probably shouldn't have added butter to this."

I took that opening to tell him (in the nicest way possible) how butter is not usually a discretionary ingredient, and when you're making a recipe that already involves soup or other liquids, it's probably not a good idea to just toss in a stick of butter for good measure.

So between the stew catastrophe and the chicken and rice disaster, I'm guesstimating that my husband will continue to be inspired to cook on average about once a year. And if the meals keep turning out like this, it might go down to even less than that. My hope is that in 5 years or so, he'll put himself in my shoes and realize what it feels like when you work so hard on a new recipe, only to have it either not turn out at all or have your dinner companions not enjoy it.

Probably not. But if I had to grade him solely on his effort and enthusiasm, I'd say the stew and the chicken were probably the best meals ever made.


Nicole Everitt said...

Too sweet. I am so thankful that Chris can cook, bake, and do plenty of helpful things... The only thing that he really CAN'T DO is use a can opener and a screwdriver (seriously, both things are out to get him.)
And, for the record, Chris likes to omit salt from all "sweets" baking recipes.

Lindsay Poag said...

HAHAHA! This post made my morning! It is just too cute : ) Thanks for sharing!!