Anyone else have a spouse or partner who is so gifted in the kitchen the only thing you need to do is clean up? It’s a wonderful thing but also insidious in that over time you find yourself less and less capable of or willing to enter the terrain. J’s a great and careful cook. Me not so much. My knife skills (or lack thereof) scare him and I’ve actually been waved off from peeling apples. My attitude is, I made it through 39 years with all ten fingers so I must be doing something right and if I choose to peel the apple towards my palm so be it.
Still, J owns our kitchen. When we bought the house I decided on the location of the plates, silverware, and glasses in the cupboards because I am the sole keeper of the dishwasher (he had no idea how to maximize load). Every other pot, pan, chafing dish, measuring cup, and pantry item was decided by him. I let him, but now it means I have to ask if we have any light brown sugar because I have no idea how he’s organized things.
It is so nice to be taken care of (I have issues) but at the same time I’ve abdicated my ability to take care of myself. I can cook. I did it for the 21 years I lived without him but I no longer have the desire to do so and he does. For him it is a relaxing end to the day. Is this one of the normal division of duties that occur in a marriage or does it mean more? For me does it mean the loss of a part of myself that needs to be preserved for later use?
He’s been gone for 2 days and I’ve made dinner, dessert, and deep cleaned the counters, microwave, cooktop, and toaster oven. I’ve even cleaned/degreased the wooden cabinets (not done in two years. Yuck!) and polished them. Why don’t I do these things when he’s around? Is it learned helplessness or laziness? Feel free to chime in with your thoughts.
Deep relationship issues aside here are two of the meals I’ve made. Easy but healthy and delicious. I also made a batch of cupcakes from a Barefoot Contessa recipe but was not impressed. Despite having sour cream, butter, and buttermilk they’re dry. Not a recipe I would make again. I know hard core bakers don’t want to hear this but I still find cake mixes yield the best results. There I said it.
Even though I’m not recommending the recipe I did promise my friend Amy I would include a photo of the result of my efforts, hence the chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. Hold your applause.
Lemony Shrimp Salad with Couscous
1C couscous1lb cooked medium shrimp
½lb snap peas, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces (I used green beans from our garden and they were delicious)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4c torn fresh basil leaves
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2T olive oil
2t lemon zest
3T fresh lemon juice
Place couscous in a large bowl. Add 1C very hot water and 1/4t salt and pepper.
Cover and let sit for 5 minutes; fluff with a fork.
In a medium bowl combine the remaining ingredients and toss to evenly coat. Serve over the couscous.
Adapted from Real Simple, July 2011
Nice vegetarian, no mess option when you just want to gaze at your sparkling clean cooktop a little longer before searing something and spattering grease everywhere.
Gemelli Salad with Green Beans and Nuts
8 oz uncooked gemelli (short twisted tube pasta)1C cut haricots verts
1/2C chopped nuts (pistachios, hazelnuts, or almonds all work)
2T fresh thyme leaves, divided
2T grated lemon rind, divided
1T minced shallots
2T Champagne or white wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
5T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2t kosher salt
1/2t freshly ground black pepper
1 oz shaved fresh Parmesan cheese (about 1/3 cup)
Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add haricots verts during the final 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and rinse pasta mixture under cold water; drain well.
Place the pasta mixture, pistachios, 1 tablespoon thyme, and 1 tablespoon lemon rind in a large bowl; toss gently to combine.
Combine remaining 1 tablespoon thyme, remaining 1 tablespoon lemon rind, shallots, Champagne or white wine vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add olive oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add salt and black pepper; stir with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture, and toss gently to coat. Top each serving with Parmesan cheese.
Adapted from Barbara Lauterbach, Cooking Light, May 2011
A final shout out to a wine that is perfect for summertime meals. I've never been a fan of rosé but this still maintains the crispness of a red with the softness of a white.