Before I tear into tonight’s nail-biting topic, I have one last word about the post from Tuesday night: I could have gone on. I stopped because I’d written well over my 400-word target and was tired. Realistically, though, I think I could have probably gone on for quite a while, because, really, I do tend to enjoy the little things. Sure, winning the lottery’d be okay too, so I’m not opposed to the big things either. They just tend to be, you know, rare.
One thing I forgot to mention in the Ginormous List of Things That Please Me is having a satisfying, home-cooked meal ready for the family as I walk through the door in the evening. Granted, the family meal usually deteriorates into a competition to see which of my children can be the first to nonchalantly slide the word fart into the conversation somehow. Nonetheless, it sure beats coming home and facing the prospect of microwavable Chef Boyardee.
It wasn’t always like this. In the beginning, when we were first married and had no regular timetable for dinner, I did most of the cooking. I enjoy cooking, and occasionally produce food limited enough in exotic spices that the Puddinette can consume it without following dinner with three gallons of water and a container of Ultra Tums. She won’t let me make chili anymore, btw, but that’s a completely different post. Unfortunately, as the kids have gotten older, we’ve found that they really need to eat at a reasonable time in the evening lest they devolve into wild, cranky, ravenous beasts resembling a cross between Wild Things and the Tazmanian Devil. In other words, unless it’s hot dogs and mac and cheese nightly, waiting for me to cook dinner after I get home at 6 just isn’t realistic.
The Puddinette, then, has been forced to adapt. Originally, she resisted the shackles of cooking actual food, and was content with the processed goods that could be heated without too much fuss. I figured that was way better than a bowl of Trix and a piece of string cheese*, so it was ok with me. However, preparing such a meal often resulted in a kitchen that looked a lot like London after a WWII bombing raid. I’ll never understand, probably, but she has a knack for using every single cooking instrument in our home regardless of what she’s making. Hamburger Helper requires three pots, two strainers, and a minimum of four measuring cups to assemble. God help you should you interfere when Hurricane Puddinette is cooking up a pasta dish.
The past six months, though, something completely new has happened around here. She’s cooking with actual raw foods, from a grocery store, and she’s not using every frying pan available on a nightly basis. Sometime last fall, my wife discovered…dramatic pause…the Crock Pot (angelic chorus). She has not looked back since. Now sure, you could argue that using a slow cooker isn’t always the best way; that it can be somewhat limited in what it produces. But I wouldn’t make such an argument to my wife, though, if I were you. You’d be wrong, and you’d lose.
Pot Roast? Crock Pot.
Chili? Duh, Crock Pot.
Stew? Oh, definitely, Crock Pot.
Lasagna? Hells, yes, Crock Pot.
Smoked Salmon? Pshaw… Crock Pot!
Sushi? Come on, everybody digs a Crock Pot roll.
Fried Chicken? I’m sure there’s a Crock Pot recipe out there somewhere.
Kidding aside, I am very proud of the culinary progress my wife has made since we first got married. She once handed me a bag of Doritos when I asked her if she wanted to make dinner. If only she could get me to make as much progress in house cleaning.
*For the record, I made up the Trix/string cheese dinner combination – she’d never consider such a meal. The Puddinette is and always has been very concerned about the overall nutritional content of the foods we give the kids. I’m the one with a more relaxed attitude. What’s that you say, Puddinpop? You’d like potato chips with ketchup and macaroni and cheese for dinner with a side of Twinkies. Well…ok, but you need some fiber in there too, so here, have a Fig Newton – they look fibery.