The kitchen nightmares of a clueless widower
TAKE-OUT BE GONE
For years, when my wife and I lived in Miami and made good money, we ate in restaurants three or four nights a week. Dining out was a way of life. The nights we didn’t eat out, my wife would cook, and she made some good dishes.
For the past two years with my wife gone and living alone, I have survived on take-out, and prepared and frozen foods from the grocery store.
But amid the scourge of Covid I now eschew (interesting word eschew and very appropriate in this context) buying food prepared by other hands and have taken up cooking.
Since I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, my cooking attempts are traumatic experiences in experimentation, frequently with dire results such as godawful messes from spilled pots and moments of terror from stovetop grease fires. Not to mention inedible food.
I’m not a complete dunce. I do know how to make basic meals, like bacon and eggs, grilled steak and tomatoes, spaghetti and a few others. But my linguine and clam sauce was seriously unsuccessful.
MYSTERY OF THE SPICE RACK
Yesterday I made a big pot of chili with ground beef, onion, canned tomatoes and red kidney beans — a fairly easy meal but uncharted territory for me. I added the mandatory packet of McCormick’s chili seasoning mix, and salt and pepper, but the chili still turned out bland. Next time I will add other ingredients to spice it up.
My wife’s spice rack is still in the kitchen and full of wonderfully mysterious ingredients, from which she knew precisely which ones to use for each dish. I don’t know basil from rosemary (I did know a Rosemary once but that’s another story).
One day I will write my own version of that wonderful book ‘The Joy of Cooking’ — my wife’s Bible in the kitchen. When I first set out on this treacherous road, I would have called my version ‘The Hell of Cooking.’
But now, as I boldly continue down this road, such a title would not apply. I have found that this cooking racket is good for the soul, especially in this age of isolation. And since I often invoke God’s name — as in, Oh, God, I hope this turns out all right — I’ll call it ‘Sous-chef to God.’ My next adventure: this delicious cabbage and ground beef dish.