Finding my way

Explorations into the Male mind in which situational awareness of the kitchen occurs without a Female presence. So, I guess the logical rhetoric would be, did it really happen. Ba dum, tss!
Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here until I get this damn project finished. Tip your waitress and don’t ask for the veal, cause it ain’t gonna happen.

I may have mentioned this before, but it bares repeating, Mrs Hottie Chef has left the building and it’s just me and ole Sweet Pea holding the bag and the fort, as it were. And as such, I’ve been holding mini self discovery sessions in the kitchen, mostly because SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) informed me before leaving that I must eat good and take care of myself. Hmm. That sorta rules out pizza and beer for every meal. I guess this is why we can’t have nice things.

I’m a soup and samich kinda guy and was duly accommodated when I had a live in cook. As of last Thursday, I was left with 3 days of spinach soup – hey! Don’t wrinkle your nose at that. It’s a favorite of mine and everybody that’s tasted it has loved it, too. As I said, 3 days of life giving sustenance and then bingo, into the land of where in the H E double toothpicks did she hide whatever I’m looking for now.

I’ve learned some things along the way. Let’s start with coffee, cause coffee is important where I come from. A first of the morning eye opener, mid morning break, lunch, afternoon break, and any time company is coming over or you end up in a church basement discussing the whys and wherefores of what people usually talk about in a church basement. And face it, if you can’t have decent coffee, then why bother with the rest of it. I might just be an idiot, sure, but in that case, lots of other people’s coffee I’ve drank, were idiots too. Coffee is bad most of the time if you’re just winging it. The hard won secret of decent coffee is to wash every removable part of the coffee machine, every dang time you brew a pot. And if you were following along with all the opportunities for coffee up in the top part of this paragraph, well, you’ll be spending the better part of your day washing the stupid coffee pot parts.

Next up was bread. Mrs Hottie Chef made homemade bread every week and buns and pizza dough and pie crust and jeez I miss that woman. She showed me how to make bread the last day she was here, and with her standing here, it was easy, painless and it turned out like it always does. Yesterday, I was out of bread. I still had bologna and mustard left, but that was gonna be a little awkward without some bread to cozy them up. I get her recipe out and start the whole shebang. How hard can it be? Well, it’s a little like welding. Welding is easy to do, but hard to do well. Keeping that in mind, I briefly thought about wearing my welding helmet while making bread. Kind of a talisman of good luck. But I figured if, say, the Jehovah Witnesses showed up at that particular moment in time, and happened to look in the window, well, coffee would be a little bit tense with long uncomfortable pauses and such between sips. So, with standard head gear, namely my glasses cause I am old now and can’t see for squat, I followed the recipe and made bread. The dough turned out very sticky and developed an affliction mostly seen on clueless people who wear skin tight jeans without putting in the effort to look good in skin tight jeans. I’m talking about muffin top. It raises well and then loses its happy thought and sags in the oven. And I pretty much had to use the Jaws of Life, a butter knife, to get the baked loaf out of the pan. Mrs Hottie Chef informed me that not enough flour will do that. A case of you don’t know until you know, capisce? It tasted good, and we’ll just leave it at that. The good thing is you can eat your mistakes and do better next time.

So now the bologna and mustard have a comfy home. To make a complete meal, I needed soup. Soup is a big deal, and by that, I mean homemade soup. I don’t eat that canned crap. A guy’s gotta have some standards. The soup my wife made took a good part of the day to make. I am currently doing trim carpentry in the Mudroom and Kitchen. I thought about juggling the installing trim and making soup at the same time and came to the conclusion that a man’s got to know his limitations. Better to do one thing right, than 2 things wrong, and I didn’t want to thicken the soup with sawdust. So I took all of Thursday, the somber day of my beloved up and leaving me to the cruel fate of living with just a dog, on the lone prairies of Kansas. Man, it’s getting dusty in here, my eyes are watering. Ahem. Time to nut up as they say, well, I’m not sure what girls say when they need to “nut up”, as it were. I’m pretty sure it’s pithy, though.

She left me with a recipe for potato soup. In it, it said add stock. She left me with no recipe for stock. Another case of how hard could it be? There were pork bones and chicken bones in the freezer. I sent her an e-mail asking for the pro details to making stock. She sent back, two hours after I started my stock making, add meat to water, spices, simmer and you got stock. Thanks Dear, that was just the sort of pro tips I was needing to… I winged it. Years back, I got Mrs Hottie Chef a very decent set of cookware. A Calphalon 12 piece set and she had some boffo cast iron pans to boot. I dug out one of the larger pans and added the frozen meat, some salt, pepper, paprika, red pepper and thyme. Filled the pan to 3/4s full of water and on the stove it went. That was 9am. 10am I added some more water and looked at the soup recipe. I figure it was going to take me an hour to find all the stuff I needed, that she had hidden in the kitchen. One of the big reasons for making soup was, I need some for my samiches and I also needed to use the milk whose expiration date was today and I had half a carton left of it. And, the bacon I had left was starting to look a bit bedraggled and I’m pretty sure that’s a crime in some states. All the spices needed, required me to empty the spice shelf and sort through what was what. Going through the list I found I did not have any celery at all, and that was going to hurt. What would the carrots and onions do without their buddy? I shook my head and started to send a firmly worded e-mail to the chick whose job it was to, wait, that’s on me now. I deleted the draft e-mail and pressed on. Got the bacon browned, then poured off the grease and added the carrots and onions and let them get happy. The stock was pork chop bones and had some good meat left on them. Turns out I made 2 quarts of stock and added 1 of those, and the pork meat to my soup pot. Then added the milk and the pan of veggies and bacon and 2 large potatoes that had been chopped up. It was at this point I discovered that I should have read the recipe a bit closer, cause now it said to add flour and that was going to make flour balls and, I stood and mashed my mistake against the side of the pot until all the flour lumps were dead. In with the rest of the spices and simmer baby.

It was now 11:45am and I’d been hungry since 9:30am, but sometimes you just have to wait your turn. 12:45pm and it is finally done. First sip and of course I burn my tongue, but dang it was good. I messaged Mrs Hottie Chef that it was the best thing I’d had on my lips since she left. Earlier this week, she e-mailed me and said she had bought a jar of olives and managed to open them herself. At that moment in time, my inner Id opened a door and walked off into the rain, sobbing “it’s over.” I slammed the door on that freak. He’s been such a whiner these days. I sent off a reply to her “go girl empowerment” e-mail and asked if now that she can open her own jars and I can make my own bread and soup, do we now have irreconcilable differences? Asking for a friend. Even though I’m not Jewish, guilt is the best way to extract concessions. Skandi’s of all types know this well.

And now the final act of this situational awareness rodeo. Dishes, the final frontier. Wholly Molly Ole, there was dishes. Yes sir, Yes sir, 3 loads full, to mimic a well known nursery rhyme. Basically, it took all day to make something to eat and clean it all up. The side benefit of that was I now have about 3 quarts of awesome soup and 1 quart of pork stock. Along with the bread, I now have soup and samiches for most of the week. The bummer of that is now I have to go to town and restock. When the heck am I going to have time to finish this place while keeping myself fed and reasonably presentable? Clearly, this is why weekends were invented. I’d look into hiring a man servant, but that’d be another mouth to feed.