Tonight the Mr is “Mr. Kitchen Disaster” … “Taco the Terrible” … “Slaughterer of Poor Tortilla Chips” …
It wasn’t supposed to end like this. I was supposed to make second portions of a lovely, healthy dinner that The Mrs had made already, two nights in a row. She had helpfully left the recipe out on the counter, for a baked beef taquitos — one of those where everything that one usually would eat is substituted with something more healthy.
And so I thought, as I was assigned to go get more (lean) ground beef during the day, that I could surprise her when she came home from her after-work exercise class with: a hot meal, a cold beer, and the realization that she was done. A helpful surprise, if you will.
So, I started a half-hour early, pored over the recipe, and decided that — yes, I can do this!
I looked up “sautÃ©” on Wikipedia and I had to determine whether that knobby thing in the refrigerator was (or was not) an onion. My money is still on shallot but I haven’t gotten up the nerve to ask yet.
I decided that it wasn’t an onion and decided to try and substitute a mixture of “powdered onion” and “onion salt” — which I hoped would saute in with ground beef and a red bell pepper. It seemed to do well enough once I added the taco seasoning, some salsa and some mild cursing.
So, step 1. I can brown ground beef OK. I think that I chopped the red bell pepper a bit too thick, but I’ll call it “thick and hearty style” and make up a dumb story to amuse her. That wasÂ all going well. It tasted like something that I would eat, that someone else had made.
And then as I was scrambling about, I saw that the store-bought taco shells were still in their plastic sleeve and when I compared with the recipe, I saw that it was for the baked toquito (cue ominous violins). It called for spreading the beef mixture on to the 6in soft corn tortillas, roll up and place on a cooking sheet, and coat with cooking spray and bake until golden for 10 minutes.
I had taco shells instead, and I knew that I wasn’t going to put the meat in ahead of time … I coat those with the cooking spray and popped them in the oven at 425 and I start looking for our cheese. But then I find that we had finished off the special reduced-fat shredded Mexican blend the night before. I don’t have any time left to run to the store and my youngest is pawing at my leg to go outside. So I put my “BeBe” (phonetically “bay-bay”) on my hip, and start rummaging for cheese. Seeing none, I grab all my cheddar string cheese that I use for afternoon snacking and the old-school grater, and we get to gratin’.
The cheese now shredded — a meager looking pile — but hopefully she’ll go for it. And I’m ready to pull out the shells when I hear her car pull up, and I’m rewarded by a smoky haze and taco shells that are a wretched, wretched brown. If this weren’t a family-friendly blog, well, never mind. I’ve created something ghastly.
The Mrs comes in and the first words out of her mouth are “What happened in here?!!”Â And me, a pitiful sigh. Eyes look down, chin drops a little. I start with the small, run-on voice that says, “No look, we didn’t have this and so I did this, and then there’d be dinner for you and you wouldn’t have to do it ’cause you’ve been working so hard and working out and doing all the things ….”
The confusion and dismay gave way to a smile when she saw that her loving hubby had yet again proven his ineptitude in the kitchen.
So, she has driven off to buy more shells, hopefully ones that are not so desiccated, and I am resolved at last that this man should learn how to cook.
Now, to be fair, it won’t be frilly, heart-healthy, substituting-yogurt-for-fat cooking — but instead actual, proper “man cooking”. Which is very convenient, as for recent Christmas’s I’ve received books on man cooking and camp cooking, which have been sitting on my shelf, mocking me (in that way that unreadÂ books so often do).
And now we will begin an intermittent series, teaching this old dog some new tricks.
Time for some man food that someone other thanÂ this man would eat!