Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gourmet It's Not

It's no grand secret around our household that I'm not a cook. It certainly won't hurt me to miss a meal or two and a bowl of cereal for dinner makes me happy enough. However, most people frown upon not providing proper nutrition to one's own children, so preparing well-balanced meals is a forced activity around here, at least for me. Fortunately for me (unfortunately for my waistline), Jason is a wonderful cook. Practically gourmet! Seriously. More than once, when I complained of not having any groceries on the shelves, Jason would walk into the kitchen, throw open the pantry doors, pull out a bunch of unrelated food items like bread, ketchup, a can of soup, and some seasoning and thence prepare a 3-course meal. It's truly a gift. I rarely even venture into the kitchen without a recipe and every single requisite ingredient.

The boys are especially fond of daddy's cooking. A couple of years ago when Jason was in school in the evenings and the responsibility of dinner fell on me one evening, the boys promptly informed me that PB&J with chips and a cut-up mango was NOT dinner. They matter-of-factly defined dinner for me according to what daddy makes: chicken, noodles, vegetables, rice... and the list went on. See what I'm up against?

Since Jason has started a new job with Ginormous Defense Corporation, I have to "cook" dinner more often than I would like. So far I've tried out some interesting recipes and some that even tasted decent. I was trying to decide what green vegetable we needed to round out our meal this particular evening, so I called Jason. He suggested that I buy some fresh green beans, cook them up in a little olive oil, then gather them in small bunches, wrap some bacon around them and bake them in the oven for a few more minutes. We both agree that everything tastes better with a little bacon grease! His suggestion sounded easy enough, so I agreed. Mind you, the only beans I've ever "cooked" have either come from a can or a bag in the freezer, but Jason, the gourmet, made this feat sound easy enough.

When I got home, I put the main dish together (which didn't turn out that great. Surprise.). A bit later I started the green beans. I know enough about fresh produce that I had the wherewithal to know I needed to rinse the beans first. Beyond that, I'm a blank page. I put the oil in the pan, like Jason instructed and cooked them for a few minutes. However, when it was time to put them in "bunches" I began to wonder what kind of masochist I had married. Those suckers were HOT and the oil they were soaking in was even hotter!! And I was supposed to use my delicate bare hands to gather them up and wrap bacon around them? I think not! I momentarily considered using my rubber gloves, but since they are primarily for cleaning, I worried about chemical film or grungy gunk rubbing off and poisoning the whole family. So I did the next best thing I could think of- I used a spatula to put the beans in the baking dish and laid a few pieces of bacon across the top of them. I figured they would still get the same tasty bacon-y flavor, which would be just enough to cut the yucky green bean flavor.

When Jason got home, we began dishing up our meal. He took a look at the green beans and made some comment eluding to the fact that I obviously had not understood what he meant about the bacon and the green beans. I told him that I in fact had understood, but how in the he!! was I supposed to gather hot green beans into bunches and hold on to them long enough to wrap them in bacon? Jason thought this was the funniest thing in the world at that moment- apparently, I was supposed to "blanch" (a fancy word for cooling them off in cold water) the green beans before bunching them, a little step he had neglected to mention. I guess he isn't as masochistic as I was beginning to believe. He just ASSumed I knew that. HA! At what point has he ever thought I knew two-cents-worth about cooking? His job must really be making his brain fuzzy.

Then we sat down to eat and Jason, once again, began to chuckle. I was already a bit self-conscious for missing the blanching step, not to mention that the chicken I cooked was dry as a piece of cardboard, and less flavorful. Now let me just throw this out there- Am I the only one who didn't realize green beans have stems? Because I didn't know that I was supposed to chop the little ends off before I cooked them. In my own defense (this bears repeating!), this is my first time making green beans from "scratch" (as in not already prepared). I look over at Jason's plate and he has a small pile of green bean stems stacking up on it. To make my own point, which was that green bean stems are clearly edible, I just swallowed mine down as quickly as possible.

Jason was actually quite encouraging, bless his heart, assuring me that the meal was quite good. Are precious lies like that still sins? The best I can say about tonight's meal is that it was filling, green bean stems and all. I didn't even care that the children didn't eat it. Honestly, I could hardly blame them. Thankfully, breakfast starts in just a few hours!

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