When repeating my wedding vows, I can’t for the life of me recall saying: “I take this kitchen to be my wedded responsibility till death do us part,” but evidently it was hidden and included in those vows somewhere, because I spend the majority of my waking hours in the kitchen. I do believe when the good Lord calls me home, I’m going to have to ask for a time-out so I can finish cooking dinner before I leave.
While not actually living in the kitchen, it sure seems that way, what with planning menus, shopping for groceries, cooking and cleaning up afterward — the dreaded KP duty. In my kitchen, the dishwasher is named “Me, Myself & I.” You guessed it — I have no automatic dishwasher.
But on to the cooking. There is a choice of plans to choose from: Either plan your menu ahead or act on the spur-of-the-moment.
If the menu is planned in advance, food items in the freezer have to be taken out earlier in the day to thaw normally or be defrosted in the microwave. Then there’s another decision. Do I use the Crock Pot overnight to tenderize the meat or wait and use the pressure cooker for 45 minutes prior to the meal?
If you choose the act-on-the-spur-of-the-moment option, you scurry around like a crazy person or open your refrigerator or freezer, check out the accumulated, labeled leftover food items, choose a meat with a couple of sides, pop it all in the microwave and, voila, you have what’s called a “second-time-around” meal, one of my favorites.
Of course before any of these meals are prepared, you have to make your list, travel to the grocery store, find the items, place them in the cart, proceed to register, take the items out of cart to be scanned, carry the bags to the car, unload them, carry the bags inside when you get home, unpack the bags, put food away, take a Tylenol, kick off your shoes and have a rest. Which leads me to believe that the average housewife is overworked and underpaid.
I realize that now, generations from when I married, couples actually share household and kitchen duties. Wow! That is so cool. Many men today know where the bread aisle is at the supermarket and know what section to find the milk and eggs. They, including my sons and grandsons, can actually cook for themselves and survive. I say, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”
My husband, though, cannot cook and proved it when he and his brother-in-law returned home after a fishing trip one day to an empty house and with empty and hungry stomachs to match. He decided to cook up a pot of grits, which came out so hard they couldn’t cut them with a knife. Thank goodness for a can opener and a can of pork and beans or they would still have been hungry.
Having married at a young age and learning how to cook at the knee of my mother and my mother-in-law, I could always cook big meals for a crowd, whether it be raising three sons with big appetites or at family gatherings with all the in-laws and out-laws. My cooking habits haven’t changed over the years, which means I always have food left over from a meal that is labeled and placed in the freezer. These containers come in really handy when grown sons pop in from a fishing trip with their buddies or just for one of those lazy “second-time-around” meals.
It makes for a walk in the park — or in this case, the kitchen — and gives the cook a day off.
Contributor Jean Tanner is a lifetime rural resident of the Bluffton area and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.