Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Delectable Disagreement

In honor of my favorite veteran, my husband, and posted with his blessing.
Jay is good-natured and level-headed. But, like us all, there are times he's not in the mood to listen to reason. On those rare occasions, I've learned that it's easier to agree with him than to argue.

For example, when we were first married, he wanted to learn how to cook. I used the term "learn" loosely since he refused instruction and abhorred following recipes. He just haphazardly threw food items together hoping an edible dish would miraculously emerge. Most experiments rapidly emerged from his mouth directly into the garbage can.

I'll spare you the details of debacles he concocted at home, and merely mention that he was banned from the firehouse kitchen for "helping" with dinner by surreptitiously adding arbitrary ingredients to meals as they were being prepared. You don't get between hungry firefighters and palatable food without suffering consequences.

When he complained, I was unsympathetic. "Sorry, babe, I don't blame them. First, you can't add something to a meal without telling the person who is cooking it. Second, until you have experience, you have to stick to recipes."

"But I see people grab stuff out of cupboards, add it or substitute it for something else, and the meal turns out great. If they can do it, than I can do it," he insisted.

"But, honey, we don't add random ingredients. We've cooked from recipes long enough to understand which flavors work together," I reasoned. "When the Oriental dressing ran low, I added sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and brown sugar to stretch it. Not olive oil, lemonade, Dr. Pepper, cinnamon, and jelly beans. You have to know what you're doing if you want it to taste right."

He remained unconvinced.

One weekend, friends were coming to dinner. They'd asked if I would serve a casserole that I'd made them on a previous occasion. (Well, not that casserole exactly, because we ate that one, but one remarkably similar to it.) Jay had been my sous-chef in the past, but this time he wanted to make the casserole by himself. It's not a difficult recipe, so I didn't mind as long as he agreed not to change anything without consulting me.

He reluctantly promised, and so I stayed out of the kitchen.

Later, Jay came to the bedroom to tell me that the meal was progressing well. As he walked away, he tossed over his shoulder, with feigned nonchalance, "Oh, and we're out of unsweetened cornflakes for the casserole topping, so I'm using something else."

"Wait!" I yelped.

"What?" He poked his head back into the room with a set expression.

Trying to sound calm, I answered, "Yeah, see, honey, I'm just curious about what you plan to use in place of unsweetened cornflakes. Especially since we don't have any unsweetened wheat, rice, or oat flakes."

"I'm using granola," he firmly replied, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Yeah, no, see, we have like mango yogurt granola. And a berry, vanilla, and brown sugar granola. Neither of which will work on a chicken, veggie, and rice casserole."

"The recipe calls for cereal," he enlightened me, with exaggerated patience, "and granola is cereal."

"Yeah, no, see, sweetie, the recipe specifically says unsweetened cereal. And we don't have any."

"I don't have time to go to the store, so I'm going to use granola," he informed me, determinedly.

"Yeah, see, that won't taste good with chicken, celery, onions, mushrooms, and rice."

"I'm using granola," was his stubborn reply. "Cereal is cereal!"

At that point, my patience waned, and I wanted to yell, "Are you crazy? Don't you dare do that to our guests. What is wrong with you!" But 1 Corinthians 13 says that love is not irritable or rude, and I vowed to love Jay, so (for better or worse) my response options were greatly limited. Also, had I forced him to go to the store "unnecessarily," he would have been grumpy for the rest of the evening. I didn't want that, so instead of arguing, I agreed with him.

"You know, Jay, you do have a point," I acquiesced. "Cereal is cereal."

"Yes, it is." He affirmed, nodding with satisfaction at my capitulation.

"Then leave the topping off 3/4ths of the casserole, make a topping with granola, like you want, and put it on the remaining 1/4th. That portion will be just for you."

That gave him pause.

"Who knows? It might even be edible, " I added, brightly. "You can let us know."

He mulled that over, and then muttered, "I may have time to go to the store."

"Really, darling, if you're too busy, you don't have to," I assured him. "We'll enjoy the meal without the topping, and you can have the wonderfully unique experience of eating sugary berry-granola-chicken casserole."

Another pause. 

"That's okay," he finally said, grudgingly. "I think can find time to go to the store."

"You know, honey," I encouraged, "I think you should make granola topping. For your personal portion, that is." I was beginning to get curious. Not curious enough to subject our guests to the experiment, but curious enough to let him try it. 

"No, no. I'll go to the store for the cornflakes," he answered, dryly.

"Unsweetened cornflakes," I reminded. "Come on, be adventurous; put granola on your section," I coaxed, because by then I really, really, really wanted him to try it. "You might start a whole new food trend!"

He rolled his eyes as he put on his shoes.

"You might become famous," I continued, optimistically, "for inventing chicken and celery oatmeal cookies!"

He tried to hide a smile as he reached for his wallet.

"Or chicken, blueberry, and onion breakfast bars!" I enthused.

He snickered as he reached for his keys.

"While you're there, pick up some Lucky Charms. The marshmallow bits might taste 'magically delicious' with chicken, rice, and vegetables!"

He was openly laughing as the door shut behind him.

Yep, it's easier to agree with him than to argue.

Mushrooms, celery, chicken, onions, and Lucky Charms® are a nutritious part of this complete breakfast!

Verse of the day: (Ephesians 4:2-3) "Always be humble and gentle, making allowances for the faults of others because of your love." I've perfected the art of humbly and gently spitting out the culinary results of "the faults of others." Because of my love.

Follow up:  Shortly after this episode, he decided to leave the culinary decisions to me. So if we invite you to dinner, you can eat without fear.
For another Jay story, check out "Preplanned" Packing


  1. So what happened to "eat whatever is placed before you"?

    1. Barry, you have NO idea what things I graciously ate because it was placed before me. For a few months, I thought he was tasting his experiments and liked them, so I'd choke down the mess and say, "Tasty!" I wasn't lying--it had taste; I just wasn't saying if it was good or bad taste. Then he'd watch me eat, and then when I was almost done, he'd try it, gag, and spit it out. Finally, I refused to try anything until I saw him swallow it first. Many a meal ended up becoming dog food after that.

      He'd say, "I don't mind if if it's horrible and everyone is eating it--I just don't want to be the only one." That's when he discovered my obstinate side--he could experiment on HIS portion, but the rest of us weren't going to suffer for it, and an entire meal was not going to be wasted. It was getting too expensive.

  2. Pamela,

    You have the PERFECT contestant for the "Worst Cooks in America" show!!! I am *POSITIVE* Jay would win the $25,000 award over everyone else! ;-)

    (Don't forget about your sister when you get the money!)


  3. Actually, I cooked chicken for this picture. You can't see it well in the bowl, but I liked his expression in this shot best, so I used this picture, anyway. I wasn't going to waste the chicken, so I picked off all the Lucky Charms and put it in a soup. Absently, I put one of the cereal pieces in my mouth--soaked in the chicken juices. You don't even want to know how HORRIBLE it was!! I'm gagging at the memory.

  4. That's a great idea! Worst com in America! But he can BBQ!

  5. You have me curious now too- wonder what it would have tasted like to add the yogurt- haha. I have the opposite problem...Bill's a good cook but doesn't want to cook :(. Love the photo!

    1. Feel free to try it, Gisele ;o) When Jay became Captain, I said, "Now they can't throw you out of the kitchen, so experiment when you're at the fire station instead of with our expensive organic veggies, grass-fed beef, and organic, free-range chicken." But he didn't want a mutiny on his hands. I'd MUCH rather do the cooking. But he can BBQ--especially now that it's summer.

  6. Chicken, blueberry and onion breakfast bars. That had me laughing. I'm glad you both could laugh about it, too. Dave uses humor like that to break tension in our home, too, and restore peace. I love him for that.

    1. If I make them, will you try them? They MIGHT be edible... It's definitely a blessing I can make Jay laugh to diffuse tense moments. In my mind, it's not a power struggle, so there's no point in arguing. Now he listens up front since I never disagree without a well-thought-out, legitimate reason--unfortunately, that means I have fewer funny stories to relate than I had when we were first married.

  7. ahhahahah... My husband pretty much taught me to cook, though there ARE moments when I have been schooled enough to catch him at a fau pax. hahahahah... fun post!