One day few years ago, after my husband retired and after consuming several glasses of a lovely Cabernet,Â he offered to cook dinner twice a week. “Now that I have time on my hands it’s only fair that I help out around the house a bit more,” he said in a weak moment of benevolence no doubt brought on by the wine. “How about I cook dinner Tuesday and Saturday nights?” Not being a huge fan of the kitchen arts, I was thrilled, ecstatic even. The next morning, in the light of day I thought he might a) conveniently forget his offer, or b) try to weasel out of it. He did neither and a culinary star was born, sort of.
The first week was glorious beyond my wildest imaginings. He cracked open one of my dusty, neglected Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and delivered a meal worthy of a fine restaurant. During preparation when I asked how he was doing, his response “I’m just waiting for my sauce reduction” was not only music to my ears but a phrase I don’t recall having ever used personally in my entire life. We then spent a lovely hour enjoying the meal he had lovingly and carefully prepared. He was an eager and enthusiastic novice who shared with me in minute detail his tips and techniques throughout the entire meal. But I’m not complaining.
As time went on, he did not renege on his twice-weekly cooking adventures although conversations with friends were liberally peppered with “We’re available any Tuesday or Saturday if you want to go out to dinner or invite us over.” More recently I noticed however, his culinary creativity is largely determined by what appeals to him at Longo’s prepared deli counter. The Jamie Oliver 5 Ingredients cookbook he got from Santa is growing metaphorical mold. But I’m still not complaining.
Then, this weekend my lovely neighbour Fauzia rang the doorbell bearing one of those complete meal-in-a-bag kits that are delivered with an ice pack directly to your door. Each kit contains pre-measured fresh ingredients for a complete meal you select from an on-line meal preparation company. This one was for Tuscan sausage linguine made with pork which her family doesn’t eat so she kindly offered it us to try. Coincidently, it was Saturday night, not my night to cook.
While I took a nap on the couch (something I am skilled at), honey took over the kitchen, banging pots and pans to assemble the dinner. The commentary about how much cookware was involved was further complicated by the tab breaking off the can of diced tomatoes requiring an assortment of tools to crack it open. Eventually the dinner was ready. It was tasty, cost effective (we’ll get two meals out of it), amortizing out to about $6.00 per person per meal, although thanks to Fauzia, we got it free.
It was a worthwhile adventure but he found the preparation more labour intensive than he would have liked, especially compared with picking something ready-made from Longo’s deli counter. “Only the onion was precut!” I was just thrilled to have a night off. And, as part of our arrangement, the cook also does the cleanup. Sort of. Tomorrow I’ll rewash the kitchen floor, rewash the stove top, the counters, the pots and pans and empty the dishwasher. But as Scarlet O’Hara so eloquently stated, tomorrow’s another day, and a night off is still a night off. Sort of.