I wonder, sometimes, if I’m one of those people who has too much time on their hands. I do talk about those kinds of folks a lot, and I think I’m either slipping into dementia or maybe I just don’t have enough to keep myself occupied.
For example, I spent a few minutes this morning looking at a foodie magazine and wondering where on earth these people find the exotic ingredients it takes to make a palatable plate of food. Mac and cheese I can do blindfolded, but where on earth do I find things like “garam masala” and “turmeric” and stuff like that? Not at Food Lion, I can assure you.
So I went through a few of the foodie mags that I like to read, just for the sheer pleasure of looking at the pictures of food that make me want to get out in the kitchen and rustle up some Shake ‘n Bake.
Gotta say though, the Shake ‘n Bake chicken is way better than the Shake ‘n Bake fish. It gives Hubs just enough to do and he can holler, “An’ ah hay-yelped!”
Don’t get me started about taters in a box, though. Mama don’t do boxed taters. Just ain’t natural.
As I’m looking at these photos and thinking of all the time those kitchen chefs took to prepare that food, I knew it would be somethin’ pretty plain stupid for me to try. Slave over a hot stove for my family? Honey, if Joan Rivers ain’t gonna do it, neither am I.
I have tried it, and it gets me about the same comments each and every time.
“That looks gross,” says Sunnybuns, pulling away with his face all scrunched up.
“I know, but taste it ... it’s delicious!” I encourage, standing over him with a pot in one hand and soup ladle under his nose.
When I was growing up, I stayed way the heck away from anything my mother said was “delicious.”
She had the gall to cook chicken in beer one time...used the absolute cheapest beer she could get her hands on.
Carling Black Label. Still can’t figure out which ditch she fished it out of.
That chicken was nuthin’ but nasty.
My dad even had to push his plate away, and he would eat almost anything as his taste buds had long been deadened by copious pots of coffee and infinite packs of smokes. He was pretty upset that his usual Tuesday night fare of chicken rolled in corn flakes and baked at 550 degrees for two hours was not in front of him.
We offered it to the dog, who turned her nose up at it. Rightly so. She did lap up the last bubbles of that beer that I snuck to her, though. Shoulda had a little nip of that myself.
Another major disappointment came the night my mother called us all into the cubbyhole of a dining room that we had, partitioned off from the living room by three tall plastic dividers she’d gotten from Sears. Pretty swank in the early ’70s. Almost too nice for the meager military quarters we lived in.
She came out of the kitchen proudly bearing this big chocolate confection. A cake.
Plates quickly flew around the table like frisbees as the other eight of us sat with forks at the ready.
Dad even had a cup of hot fresh coffee steaming beside him.
When the dessert had been doled out, Dad said, “Chow down” and we all took a big ol’ bite of that cake. After the first chew, eight mouths came to a dead halt and looked at my mother, who was sitting at the head of the table with a giddy expression on her face.
Napkins up, cake out.
After several minutes of subtle spitting, Dad looked at her and said quietly, “What the heck ah ya tryin’ tah doodoo us?”
Crestfallen, she said, “It’s a mayonnaise cake! I got the recipe from Good Housekeeping!”
“Weren’t ya sapposta put shugga innit?” he asked, pointing his fork at the plate.
She got up, walked around the table picking up the dessert plates, and scraped them into the garbage can. Then we heard the loud “chunk” sound as the rest of the cake found its way in there, too.
She had to close the kitchen doors so we wouldn’t hear her swearing under her breath. As if.
We sat quietly at the table, looking at each other like, “yikes...”
I was tempted to ask Pops for a smoke, just to get rid of that mayo cake flavor. I was young, but not stupid.
None of us had to be yelled at that night to brush our teeth before bed. We were fighting each other for space around that dinky bathroom sink, not wanting to be the one gouging out the last bit of Crest with the tips of the toothbrush bristles.
I guess it pretty well goes without saying that I come by my cooking skills, or lack thereof, naturally.
I did think of a really good recipe for a smoothie, though. I mean, they are so popular and people swear you can just have a smoothie as a meal replacement.
I came up with a really good summertime smoothie treat.
Take a half a watermelon, a bucket of KFC and a half bottle of vodka.
Chop the melon into chunks, strip the bones off the KFC, and dump all that into a blender. Not the bones, mind you. Save those for the cat.
Top with the vodka and some crushed ice, and blend that thing until it’s nice and smooth.
Insert straw and enjoy your portable summertime picnic.
But save the beer chicken and mayo cake for relatives you don’t like. They’ll be gone so fast the screen door won’t have time to spank their bottoms as they run yelping down the road.