“Baby, let me cook for you!” or Tales of the Kitchen Tease


DH is a kitchen tease.

He promises great meals but has yet to deliver.  He rattles on with tasty dishes, exotic ingredients, culinary techniques that would make Julia Child gasp in wonder.  He waves his arms with grand gestures describing chili and hearty meals of Texas barbecue with baked cornbread.  With emphatic whispers, he describes barbecued ribs where the juicy meat drips from the bone, the meat drenched in a sauce constructed  out of clover honey and smoky peppers soaked in apple cider from a recipe, he swears is older than the Alamo.  Not only DH’s regional Texas cuisine fills his culinary offerings, one day he will also produce tasty treats like potatoes roasted with rosemary and white wine or cupcakes with a French custard filling.  Each delicious offering is made with equal promise.  The sincerity as unctuous as homemade butter cream toffee.

Unfortunately, these promises are as mythical as Big Foot riding a unicorn while bearing a coupon for a free Louis Vuitton bag of my choosing.

Even sadder, I fall for the tease every time.

His tease routine started early.  One evening, a week or so into our marriage, we were snuggled on the sofa.  A fire was blazing in the fireplace, the cats curled on the hearth.

He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a neatly folded piece of paper.  It was lined in light blue ink and had three holes punched down one side.  This was a sheet of binder paper, the same kind kids everywhere used for homework assignments.  I smiled, sitting in expectant silence…it’s so romantic when guys recite poetry to you.

DH smiled, “This is so old fashioned, you’ll love it.”  I sank into the sofa pillows and smiled urging him on, “Go ahead, sweetie, read it to me…” Puzzled, DH  shrugged as he cleared his throat:

“1 tub of sour cream, 1 bag of egg noodles, mushrooms and 2 cans of tuna.”

I sat back up, surprised.  This was DH’s personal recipe for tuna casserole.  Love poetry, eh?  I wasn’t disappointed as much as confused.  I had quickly learned that DH and Lord Bryon will never be mentioned in the same sentence by anyone.  Yet, I was still confused on a couple of levels.  We had just eaten a meal of chicken in wine with potatoes mashed with blue cheese…and he’s offering tuna casserole?

When we were first married, I suffered that Uber Wife Virus…every dinner was going to be worthy of at least a 4 star restaurant meal—Zagat would list our kitchen!  (By the way, after five years of relative wedded bliss, I can say in all honesty, I have been cured of the Uber Wife Virus).  Symptoms included tome-like shopping lists and oh-my-god—weekly menus!  I’d sit at the kitchen table every Saturday morning with a stack of cookbooks searching for dishes for the upcoming week’s dinner menus.  I’d choose the dishes, list the ingredients I needed with the page number for each recipe.  Luckily, time heals some forms of madness.

I gave him a quizzical look.  Did he really expect me to use tuna that came in a can??  Unfortunately one of the lesser known symptoms of the Uber Wife Virus is food snobbery.  I wondered if the casserole could be made with that tuna in olive oil that comes in those pretty jars from Italy.  He woke me from my Italian tuna reverie, by saying he used to make this dish all the time.  My eyes widened, “Really?  You cook?” I had heard rumors of such a thing—his father even told me once, that “Yep, your husband loves to cook.”  This is like finding out that your shy and reserved spouse was once a Chippendale dancer.

The next day, there was a large canvas grocery bag perched on the counter.  The bag was filled with the ingredients for DH’s tuna casserole.  “Is there anything I can get you?”  I asked, putting the tub of sour cream and bag of shredded cheddar into the refrigerator.  He paused, as if I were speaking Portuguese.  He just nodded “Nope,” as he grabbed a cookie, heading out for his morning run.

Later, he returned with a flyer for a new restaurant down the block…”This looks good”.  A new food experience is always an excuse not to cook.  I didn’t even think twice about his offer to cook.  The ugly truth didn’t rear its head until a few days later…

With the expiration date on the bottom of the tub of sour cream quickly approaching, I wondered when my home cooked meal would appear.  The next day when DH walked in from work, I chirrped, “Let’s have tuna casserole!”

“Oh yeah,  that’s my favorite!” DH perked up excitedly.  “I have been craving that lately.”  We stood silent for a minute.  I swear, suddenly I felt as if we were gun slingers at the OK Corral:  Instead, of six shooters, we were going to draw saucepans.  Finally, DH totally oblivious, cheerfully offered, “Why don’t you use my recipe?”

I pointed it that it was his recipe and it would be so cool to try his cooking in a voice I use to coax the cats into their carriers to go to the vet.  Sheepishly, DH always replies with the same thing, “But you’ll make it so much better than me.”

I am afraid I fell for this tease once again.  The other day at the grocery store, DH put a bag of crimini mushrooms in the cart.  “What are those for?”  I was totally confused, DH always says I use too many mushrooms—I figure some people (me) are more mushroom friendly than others.  “Stuffed mushrooms!” he said as he went to look for breadcrumbs.  He returned to the cart bearing a box of Panko, the Japanese style breadcrumbs.  “These will be soak up more of the sauce…we’ll need sausage too”   As he gathered the ingredients he explained how to remove the stems and chop them into the stuffing for even more flavor.  I was totally impressed.

Days later, the mushrooms remained sitting forlornly next to the package of sausage and slowly wilting parsley that DH said would add that “verdant” taste.  I have come to learn that his sudden use of GRE level adjectives is always a bad sign.  (The use of  “visual optimization” preceded DH coming home with a giant flat screen TV).  He called me from work to see if I needed anything.  “Are we having the mushrooms tonight?

Here’s what I did:

1 lb of crimini mushrooms (choose large flat ones), stems removed and set aside

½ lb of sausage

1 12 oz bag of Panko breadcrumbs

½ c butter

1 bunch of Italian parsley finely chopped

1 Tbl of lemon zest

  • Chop the mushroom stems into tiny pieces
  • Brown the sausage, breaking it into small pieces, add the stems to the meat, when cooked, set aside
  • Pour out the fat, and melt the butter – you want the sausage flavor, but not the sausage grease
  • Add the panko to the pan and coat with butter
  • Add the sausage pieces and mushroom pieces to the panko
  • Add the parsley and lemon zest to the mixture
  • With a melon baller or teaspoon gently fill each mushroom cap with about a teaspoon of the filling.
  • Bake the filled mushrooms at 400° for 30 minutes or until the caps are cooked.
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Published in: Uncategorized on December 3, 2009 at 3:09 AM  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Oh girl, you are in trouble!! Once you agreed to do that first tuna casserole, your goose was officially burnt.

    And this – “potatoes mashed with blue cheese” – I want to be buried in a tub of those, right after I succumb to overeating a truckload full.


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