Since the beau and I have been together, I’ve really blossomed in the kitchen. All the years before, I lacked the desire to prepare meals that were worth a hoot. The string of boyfriends before him were the kind of fellows who either thought a. their mother’s way was the only way or b. they were Chef Boyardee. There is no gumption to try when you know the end result will be unnecessary criticism.
The beau, on the other hand, came with an iron gut and bravery to try whatever internet recipe grabs my attention that week. He dives in every meal with enthusiasm and raves to anyone who will listen about what I made the night before. It’s one of the many reasons we’ve turned out to be a good pair, my need for culinary growth and his fearless hunger for food. The line from Shakira’s ‘The One’ always comes to mind, “So I learned to cook and finally lose my kitchen phobia ”
There are several sites that I run to for supper support. Budgetbytes gave me hope that I could create food with a few simple ingredients. Back To Her Roots is another site that uses easy recipes with incredible results. I really feel like I’ve made a breakthrough.
The other week, we were stuffing our faces at the table and discussing food of our childhood. I reminisced about my mom’s spaghetti. It was plain and simple with ground beef in the sauce. Both being children of watermen, we remembered fish, crabs, clams and oysters. We both agreed we would never eat conch ever again. Then, the beau thought of something.
“I want macaroni and cheese. We’ve never had that.”
I sipped my iced tea and said, “We have. Remember, I baked it in the oven with Panko crumbs on top?”
“I remember that. I was thinking about the regular kind.”
“The regular kind?”
“Yeah, you know…”
“Wait. You would rather have that weird powdery mac and cheese and not the fancy homemade kind that’s toasted in the oven with Panko crumbs”
I understand the drive. It’s a nostalgic issue like with my mom’s spaghetti. I make an amazing baked spaghetti these days that will knock your socks off. It is so good that the beau has a baked spaghetti dance that her performs several times before it comes out of the oven. You know what I wanted for my birthday? To have regular old angel hair noodles and Prego sauce with ground beef.
I ignored it the week after, but by Tuesday the beau was distraught. “Oh my God!”
I’m sure the house is on the fire. “What?”
“We didn’t get mac and cheese for dinner this week!”
I cover the topic again. Crispy Panko Macaroni and Cheese vs Kraft Mac and Cheese. He definitely wants the Kraft.
The following week I comply. I make Honey Balsamic Chicken Tenders, broccoli and that God forsaken Kraft Mac And Cheese. Do you know the large box requires a whole stick of butter? No wonder people love it, it is Paula Deen heaven. Not to throw out two Halloween pictures in a week, but holding that whole stick of butter in my hand made me think of my sister’s costume again.
I admit, there is some sort of ‘crack’ satisfaction with this side dish. It sends you back in time (or fills up my wrinkles with fat so I look at wee bit younger). As the butter’s fat crossed my blood brain barrier, I found myself nestled in a little safe place. At my mom’s kitchen table, back when meals didn’t come with ‘is this going to taste okay’ anxiety, just a full stomach. Damn you, Kraft Mac and Cheese. Damn you.