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Shocking: My Husband’s Reaction to My Cooking

My husband isn’t what you’d call and adventurous eater.

And he’s been anti-vegetable since I’ve met him. Basically, if it was green and it wasn’t salad, it shouldn’t be on his plate.

This was extremely limiting to the cooking process. Coupled with my lack of culinary skills and I was left with about 6 recipes that we could all agree on.

And I was BORED. So, so bored.

I was so bored that I felt bitter every time I had to cook dinner again.

Through a series of unfortunate events involving a scale, Chris and I both concluded that we had to start eating healthier, and we stumbled across a plan that intrigued us. Problem was, it cut out all grains and processed sugars.

Did you know pasta is made out of grain? And tortillas are made of grain? And rice is a grain? I mean, there went ALL my recipes.

But my husband said the most beautiful, magical words to my ears, “All bets are off. I’ll eat anything.”

A blank slate! And no veggie was restricted (except artichokes, because I once sneaked them into a meal and he still hasn’t forgiven me).

As exciting as this was, I was also dreading the experiment a bit, because of past trauma with feeding Chris food he didn’t like. During an offensive meal, he didn’t talk. He just concentrated on choking down the awful food and he didn’t talk at all. Awkward silence.

So I kind of started out slow, sticking to veggies I knew he tolerated. And then I got brave and reckless.

I made roasted broccoli. And he said it was so good he could eat it every night. He took a second helping. I cried a few happy tears.

I made “spaghetti” and meatballs with zucchini noodles. He declared it delicious.

I made bacon wrapped asparagus that I didn’t even like. He loved it (OK, I did say bacon, so…).

ohmyAll this acceptance kind of went to my head. I decided to have a treat night of pancakes and my recipe had me make cinnamon apples to put on top, instead of syrup.

I thought, “Well, that will never fly.”

Chris wasn’t a big fan of anything apple related. But it looked delicious to me, so I thought maybe I could smooth things over by having real maple syrup on the side that could be drizzled over the apples to sweeten the deal.

He took a bite and exclaimed, “What did you do to the apples?”

“Nothing. Just cinnamon and butter,” I hesitantly admitted.

“They are SO good! They’re so sweet!” (By the way, these were Granny Smith apples, which probably don’t get described as “sweet” very often.)

Honestly, it’s a pretty big thrill for my less-than-skilled-cook heart to hear my husband extol my cooking. But I have to admit. The most exciting part is that the things he is enjoying are items I’d been trying to convince him to eat for years.

I win.

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meatloafI made meatloaf the other night.

Not my mom’s meatloaf recipe, because that would have been too easy. I already knew that one would taste good.

No, this was experimental meatloaf.

I’d attempted an awful meatloaf recipe a few weeks previous. It relied heavily on bulking up its mass with shredded carrots. The result tasted like a sponge. Dipped in boring. Boring sponge.

This one seemed more promising.

In addition to using plenty of seasoning, the recipe had a unique plan of dividing the ingredients between 2 loaf pans, cutting the cook time down to 25 minutes.

That was a really awesome idea, because through the years, the majority of my meatloaf trouble has come from, “cook for 40 to 45 minutes.” Being a procrastinator, that means I start preparing dinner 53 minutes before I need it. And prep always takes longer than 13 minutes. And cooking ALWAYS takes longer than 40 minutes.

My other meatloaf pitfall has been that my meat never thaws as quickly as I expect. It’s very hard to mix all the ingredients together while there are still big chunks of icy ground beef.

Even though it was ground turkey this time, the pattern stayed true to its non-thawing form. But it didn’t daunt me. I scraped off the thawed part and put the still frozen chunks in the microwave on defrost.

While that problem was resolving, I finished mixing the spices and other ingredients into meat that had thawed on time.

While I was doing this, my husband called on his way home from work.

Let me just say something about this. Chris is my favoritest person in the whole world. There is no one I’d rather talk to. But he literally calls at the craziest point in my day. All the kids are home, and the dogs want dinner and I’m chopping things. So I try to just add him into my multi-tasking, because that’s how much I like him.

This time, I managed to do all-the-things simultaneously. I divided the meat into the two loaf pans and popped it in the oven for its 20 minutes. All while finishing up my conversation with my husband.

And you know what? The 2 pan method worked! The meatloaf was totally done in 25 minutes. Obviously the pieces were smaller/shorter, so I had to serve each person more, but my husband loved the flavor. And the kids didn’t hate it, which is basically a compliment from them.

After dinner, Chris opened the microwave to heat up some baby food. And do you know what he found? The rest of the meat that was supposed to be in the meatloaf.


There was a reason those meatloafs were so short. Literally a third of dinner was missing.

And the thing is, if I make it right next time, the family probably won’t think it tastes as good. But with my track record, do we really think that making it “right” is a concern?


Because people always seem to want these things, here is the recipe. My husband took a bite and let out a happy sigh. I asked if it was good and he replied, “It tastes like meatloaf.” This glowing review lets you know how bad the previous attempt had been.

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Giving Up on Gourmet

When Chris and I first got married, we didn’t hang out with people our age a lot. I mean, I was 20 and he was 21, so most of our peers were just trying to finish high school or college or something.

If we were invited to someone’s house for dinner, it was generally a couple who’d been married for like 15 years and had it “all together.” Their houses were not only clean, but actually decorated. Our house looked more like a college dorm room, complete with put-it-together-yourself bookcases (which we still have 5 moves later, by some act of God).

And they didn’t just cook. They PRESENTED their meals. With more than one fork. I was lucky all my forks matched.

So my expectation of normal was a bit skewed.

Somehow, a few years later, everyone our age caught up to the stage of life we were in.

eating spaghettiThe first time a family with little kids invited us over for dinner, they served spaghetti. I was like, “Wait, you can serve spaghetti?! I could do that.” It was like the heavens parted and angels started singing.

Somehow, I’m still learning and lowering my expectations. Recently, a friend commented that when she had company, she wanted to enjoy them rather that being stressed about dinner. So they ordered pizza.

Again, angels singing. You could do that? My life was revolutionized!

It turns out, people don’t actually mind eating Jimmy Johns or Dominos. What’s really important is welcoming friends into our homes, having them sit on our couches and share our lives.

Hospitality is not about presentation or impressing our friends. It’s about sharing stories, and laughter, and making time for each other. (And clean bathrooms. That’s still important.)

**My dessert cheat: A bucket of vanilla ice cream and a couple of toppings. I promise, no one will think you’re a slacker when they see caramel sauce.

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The Turkey that Was Late for His Own Funeral

I know some of you are probably waiting with bated breath to find out what I messed up for my Thanksgiving Dinner. Because, you know it’s inevitable.


I don’t like meat items that still look like the original animal. Frog legs? No. Clams? No. Squid? No. Hogs head? No one’s ever offered, but no.

So a turkey is really stretching it for me. Because it’s just a naked, headless bird. So weird.

And last year it wasn’t even completely naked, because it still had one little feather sticking out of each of the wings. Horrifying.

This year was my 3rd time cooking thanksgiving dinner. (My sister claims it’s my 4th, so either she’s crazy or I’m blocking a traumatic memory.) So I SHOULD have it down. But that’s actually where I’m at my worst. When I’m like, “Oh, I know how to do this. No biggie,” that’s when things go horribly wrong.

So the day before Thanksgiving, I checked the turkey cooking chart on the box of my turkey-cooking-bag. Don’t judge me, it’s only my 3rd (or 4th) time doing this. Later that evening, without looking at the box, I asked Chris (who is my personal calculator) to do the math for me, “It’s supposed to cook for 10 minutes for every pound, and then add 15 minutes. And the turkey is 20 pounds.” He said that meant about 3 and a half hours.

We were planning Thanksgiving Dinner for about 3:00. And we were kind of locked into that, because, not only were Chris’ parents at our house, but we’d also invited some friends over.

Thanksgiving Day, I was feeling pretty chill, since the turkey only needed to cook for 3 and half hours. I lazied around, drinking coffee and watching the beginning of the Macy’s parade.

Around 9:30, I decided to get a jump start on the turkey. I was feeling really proud of myself for being proactive and not waiting until the last minute, since it didn’t really need to be in the oven until 11:00.

First thing I did was to check the box instructions again.

Guess what? The cooking chart said 15 minutes for every pound and then add 10 minutes. Now, I’m no mathematician, but I knew that when I had transposed those numbers, it drastically affected my cooking-time calculations. I checked it on my iPhone calculator, since Chris wasn’t around. 5 hours, friends. 5 hours.

And if I could have just popped the turkey in right then, it would have been fine. But it’s never that easy.

Because, even though I’d looked up on the internet how long it takes to thaw a 20 pound turkey in the fridge, the turkey was still frozen. The internet lies.

I panicked-ly enlisted Chris’ help. Because we needed to get the nasty stuff out of the inside of the bird. (Anyone know of a turkey company that just throws the neck and giblets away? Please hook me up.) But all of the turkey’s holes were frozen shut AND it had it’s legs crossed. It wasn’t giving up without a fight. When we got it all unfrozen and unhooked, we pulled out the neck (ugh) and went digging for the giblets. No giblets.

After we’d both groped around inside of a dead bird for awhile, we called Chris’ mom. She wasn’t super interested in sticking her arm inside (can you blame her?) but she eyed it a little and said, “Well. I don’t know. They should be in there.” We discussed whether maybe they’d forgotten to put the giblets in. But I could never be that lucky. Then in a moment of genius or something, Chris found them in the OTHER hole. So awkward.

So we finally got the turkey in its bag (stop with the judging!) and into the oven. And it only threw our dinner itinerary off by about 30 minutes.

Everything else went pretty smooth. I did manage to fling some sweet potatoes around the kitchen, but that wasn’t much of a story, comparatively.

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Cooking with Hannah

I don’t have people over for dinner a lot. Not because I don’t like people. Or dinner. I like both of those things very much.

The problem is I lack confidence in my cooking skills. When I do have people over, I usually feed them tacos or spaghetti. Pretty much anyone who has eaten at my house can attest to this.

But last night, some of the people I was having over had already had tacos and spaghetti at my house, so I decided to branch out. I mean, not fancy or anything, but it had more than 3 ingredients.

And when it came time to shred the chicken, I retrieved a latent memory from one of my 5 times on Pinterest (I avoid Pinterest, because it makes me feel guilty) where they assured me I could shred chicken with a hand mixer. I did it. And it worked like a charm. I felt like a Pinterest Queen!

So I assembled my dish, popped it into the oven and sat back to rest on my accomplishment laurels.

And then I saw it. The pot of rice on the stove top. The rice that was SUPPOSED to be in the dish that was already in the oven.

We had a staring contest for a couple minutes, me and that rice pot. I even opened the oven and stared-down the dish in there a little, trying to decide if there was any way to still get that rice inside of it. My conclusion was… no.

I do stuff like this a lot, so I’m pretty good at coming up with solutions.

Last nights’ solution was to eat the dish over rice. Which was fine. No one died of food poisoning (yet). Granted, Isaiah didn’t like it much, but he never likes anything I make. Overall, I feel like it was a non-fail.

And so what if I’m not a Pinterest Queen? Or Martha Stewart? At least I make other cooks feel good about themselves. Everyone has to do their part.

By the way, I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner in a week. Should I be worried?

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How I Spent a Week’s Salary on Potato Salad

Do not trust a tattooed, mumbling deli guy. That’s all I can say for myself.

It all started with potato salad. I was craving it and we have a cookout at Destiny Church tonight, which seemed like a pretty good excuse.

Now, my mom raised me to make stuff from scratch. Did she ever go to the Kroger Deli and buy potato salad? No.

But I just moved into my new house a month ago, and my kids started school today. And it’s Tuesday. Those all seemed like really good excuses to buy potato salad already made.

So I went to the store and asked the mumbly, tattooed deli guy how much a big thing of potato salad was. He said, “Mmrfh prbbly abt three.” Which I interpreted to mean, “Probably about $3.”

I was feeling particularly potato salad crave-ish and I assumed everyone else at the cookout would feel the same, so I told him I wanted two of the big containers. That should be about $6, right?

He was so kind, in a mumbly way, and said he could go in the back and get me some fresh and put it all in a larger container, rather than me have to carry around two containers. At least, that’s what I think he said.

Pretty soon, he came back with a nice bowl of potato salad, perfect for a cookout. It looked exactly like you would think two of the big containers in one bowl should look.

He placed it on the scale and gave me a scared look and said, “Sthat alright?” Which I think meant, “Is that alright?”

I don’t do good with numbers and there were lots of numbers on the scale, but I saw one set that started with a 7 and had two digits after it. And that seemed a little higher than $6.00, but who was I to quibble?

So I agreed. And I took the potato salad up to the self-check. It rang up as $32.00.

I stood at the self-check in shock for a while, trying to figure out what happened. Again, numbers aren’t my strong point. But from what I could ascertain, that 7 with two digits after it was how much the potato salad was per pound. And somehow, I had wound up with almost 5 pounds of potato salad.

I really didn’t want to pay $32 for potato salad that my mom could make or $3. But I didn’t know what to do. I had agreed to it, somehow. So I bought that potato salad. The  most expensive potato salad of my life.

And the only thing running through my mind was, “Chris is going to kill me.” And then I thought, “Maybe he won’t notice.” But it’s totally blazoned on a sticker on the top of the container. So, since there was no hiding it, I figured I might as well blog about it.

All I can say is, I hope everyone really enjoys the potato salad tonight.

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Baking Disasters and Lessons Learned Therefrom

I’m not worth much in the kitchen. I mean, I’ve gotten better over the years. But I still have some basic flaws that cause me problems.

  • I don’t make sure I have all the ingredients before I start making something.
  • I don’t read the whole recipe through prior to throwing things in the bowl.
  • I substitute ingredients with an alarming disregard to the recipe.
  • And I count wrong.

But I have learned some things. Recently.

When your mom (or my Mom, to be specific) says that boxed cake mixes taste better than making one from scratch, you may be wise to listen. Being that I’m a path-of-least-resistance kind of girl, I would never try to argue this one.

But when there’s been a snow storm, and the only working car is with your husband at work, and you can’t get to the store… you start to think maybe your mom didn’t know what she was talking about. Maybe she didn’t have your panache in the kitchen (ha!).

Turns out, mom’s DO know what they’re talking about. Cakes made from scratch are solid. Solid as a brick.  At least mine was. After trying it, my friend told me, “I don’t even like cake, but I really liked this!” Um, that’s because it’s unlike any cake you’ve ever had before!

I’ve also learned that you can make frosting without using powdered sugar. I’m not saying you’d want to, but when you’ve baked a cake for an event that evening and then check to see if you have powdered sugar… you probably won’t. At that point, other methods of making frosting seem pretty appealing. And if you sprinkle colored sugar on top to “decorate” people probably won’t notice that your frosting is kind of crunchy. Or at least they won’t say anything.

Another thing I’ve been surprised to discover is that more is not always better. When all the cheesecake recipes you read call for 2 packages of cream cheese and then you find one that calls for 3 packages, the cheesecake won’t be richer. No. Actually, it will fail to fit in your store-bought graham cracker crust.

BUT… the extra cream cheese can be poured in a pan, baked, and stored in the fridge for scooping with a spoon whenever one desires.

So I guess not every baking disaster has to end badly.

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