Saturday, April 1, 2017

Husband in Kitchen...

                                     The hot dog, spicy chickpea, fresh cut pineapple early effort.   ;)

Every wife/working woman knows that after years of having her husband at his office all day, when he retires, things change around the house.  Mine retired and flopped around for several years before hitting on something to do with all this new time on his hands. I suggested that there were things he could do around here which would be helpful—instead of just micro-managing me, reading The Economist, and playing solitaire. Eventually, he took something up.

Typically—at least, I think it’s typical—the tasks he decided he’d like to take over were also the ones I most enjoyed most about housework—shopping and cooking. Somehow, women are always left with the scrubbing, mopping, vacuuming, and cleaning of bathrooms, the least favorite parts of the routine. We must have it written on our foreheads, or on some stone tablet with a curse on it somewhere:  “Woman, Thou Shalt Clean ***Toilets and Vacuum Cat Hair off the furniture to the End of thy Days.”

Anyhow, at last he took up doing something, so the food stuff is now mostly off my to-do list. I need to mention that he’s not much of a yard work or DIY guy either. Not going to launch into painting, or even mowing when it’s the season for that. I do half the mowing and at least half of the snow shoveling, so I’m standing by my man on those fronts, but I sometimes wish he had more of a bent for DIY. We’ve got a carpet in the unfinished basement that could probably qualify as a super fund site, but I digress.

First of all, he “learned shopping.” This, before he started cooking, entailed  annoyed calls from the supermarket to ask me what the hell my handwriting says, or what the hell is that ingredient and where the hell can that "weird-ass" ingredient be found? There’s a small locally owned supermarket that we’ve patronized for the last 30 years, so I pretty much have the place memorized.

There are pitfalls, however. The other day he returned with two sacks of yellow onions because they were a two-fer. I didn’t see how we were ever going to use two sacks. After all, there are only two of us! So they sat on the counter, withering, until this weekend I thought of a frugal solution: onion soup. Hating to throw anything away like a good Yankee, I suggested he chop them up. He, chef-like, has been working on his knife handling skills.

He chopped meticulously and produced an entire mixing bowl filled to the top with onions. Then with butter, salt, and low heat, I slowly stirred them over medium/high for a very long time, while they cooked down and down and down and finally changed color. Next came the chicken stock, added a little at a time, all the while cooking and cooking, reducing and reducing, and at the end, a LOT of Parmesan, quickly whisked in.  It took us about three hours, but eventually we’d produced about six bowls of very tasty onion soup. (Not yet ready for Chopped, I fear.) And yet, 3+ hours for onion soup...not the 30 minute meals that I spent my entire life putting together after I fell in the door after a full day at the office.

Now, however, he's begun a new obsession which is -- drum roll, please -- cooking Indian food.  The approach is singularly male. At least, I think it's gender oriented because it involves, first of all, the acquisition of lots of specialized tools and ingredients. First, he had to buy cookbooks. Second, he proceeded to map out all the Indian groceries in the area and scout them, recipes in hand. here, He stressed out all the barely English-speaking staff with questions about where to find the Kari Leaves...

We've acquired two large plastic tubs under the worktable (my stuff has, of course, been moved) filled with lots of little glass jars + lids  and an aluminum pot called a masala wala which contains six smaller pots. These are filled with genuine, direct from the Indian grocery spices--he now scorns Mr. McCormicks' offerings--as well as several 1/2 tsp. spoons with which to measure. The coffee grinder has been commandeered to process whole coriander, black pepper, whole cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds. Serrano peppers are a regular on the shopping list. The mini-blender is permanently stained red pepper and tumeric orange.

When I do get into the kitchen to make something like an old-fashioned split pea soup in the slow cooker, or a pork and kraut supper, he simply doesn't eat it. So, I've resigned. At least he doesn't expect me to do the dishes for him--he tried to turn me into his dishwasher, but as he uses every single pot, pan, spoon, ladle, spatula we own for each meal he makes, I wasn't going to fall for that.  

In all fairness, he's making us quite delicious meals, spicy vindaloo, saag, and briyani. Today it was chicken tandoori, which was absolutely wonderful. This dish requires marinating in five spices and lemon juice, then basting with yogurt sauce and then baking.

Heaven help me, though, if he starts to order (online) Ganges clay in order to construct an authentic wood-fired tandoori oven in the backyard...

~~Juliet Waldron

18th Century and 15th Century novels, as well as 19th Century fantasy and rural romance

A Master Passion, Mozart's Wife, Roan Rose, Genesee & Hand-me-Down Bride aButterfly Bride
and many others.

See them all at:    and at:

also available  on Kobo, Smashwords, and itunes

1 comment:

Hart Johnson said...

Ha! Growing pains, eh? I have always worked any my husband USED to be home with our kids, so he was the shopper and cook. I really miss being taken care of, though you nailed it that the wife always seems stuck with the scrubbing. And the laundry. GADS, the endless laundry!

I also wanted to let you know about A to Z. It's a blogging event, annual in April since I think 2010 (hosted by Lee at Tossing it Out)... it is choosing a theme and then posting an associated (relatively short) blog post to cover the alphabet... one a day every day but Sunday (that gives you 26 letters except on the odd month with 5 Sundays)

Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Manic Readers

Manic Readers

She Writes

Historical Fiction Books

Readers and Writers of Distinctive Fiction