And Other Lies

When I started Cate Can’t Cook, it was because I was an absolute disaster in the kitchen. Most of my forays into food have ended in culinary disaster and tears, if not fire. Just the question “Mom, what’s for dinner?” fills me to brimming with existential dread and leaves me reaching for the car keys, to find a faster solution. Healthy food is really important to me and it’s incredibly hard to find that if you are headed to the nearest drive-thru or TexMex joint. I wanted to try to do better for my family, though I knew it would be a huge sacrifice on my energy and my ego to attempt to cook something more difficult than a box of mac n cheese. Taking my husband’s favorite saying to heart “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” I spent time researching food prep and cooking skills, but I knew I also needed to address the biggest hurdle, my own self doubt. I took a good hard look at what helps me relax, what helps me to learn, and realized that I would have to find a way past my own criticism and fear of failing. I love to diffuse tension (especially my own) with laughter, and it gives me great joy to have people laugh along with me. So I began documenting my kitchen disasters here. It helped me keep everything in perspective. It helped me be less self-critical. And it helped me to accept failures as opportunities.

fall

Ever so slowly, I began to notice that the disasters grew less frequent and less appetite ruining. And one day I found myself not only creating my own recipe after being inspired by one that I’d read, but cooking something that delighted my family without burning any of the food or myself. It was a proud feeling to know that I had cooked something healthy and delicious for my family that everyone enjoyed. I didn’t feel overly stressed. I didn’t feel embarrassed to set this meal on the table. I didn’t feel frustrated that I’d made something else the kids wouldn’t even try. (Yes, I’ll be sharing this recipe soon!)

enchiladas.jpg

Cooking is still not one of my charisms. I have to work hard to create in the kitchen without getting sidelined by mistakes. I’m not sure that it will ever be something that I love, but it has reminded me of something important. Everything takes a willingness to fail, often repeatedly, and it also takes practice, practice, and more practice. I’ve been learning so much about food and nutrition, and I hope to continue to do so, but I don’t want to stop there. I want to carry these lessons into doing what I love so much, which is learning new things. And I want to continue to tell a good story about all the fun and failure along the way.

So I hope y’all will continue to laugh along with me as I discover more lies I believed before I tried.

tothefuture

My Empty Cup

Mea culpa! I have sorely neglected this little space. I wish I had a more interesting excuse or at least a neat and tidy resolution, but the truth is, y’all, sometimes your cup overflows and other times it is drained to the dregs.

emptycup

I came down with some weird throat and respiratory virus that lingered for 2 weeks. The doc said it looked awful, but it wasn’t strep. It seemed to exacerbate what had already been taking me out at the knees– extreme exhaustion.

After about three months of steadily worsening symptoms, I finally called the doc to get some blood work done. In the meantime, I tried all the things: Cutting out all sugar (Ten days of this just made me more tired and depressed to boot). I added sugar back in (I wasn’t less tired, but I was definitely happier). I started drinking green smoothies at least 4 days a week (not a sacrifice, I love a good spinach and berry smoothie). I began monitoring my water intake attempting to get at least 80oz a day (I officially know where all the restrooms in town are). I draaaaaaaagged myself to the gym (okay so far, I only made it 3 days last week, but it’s a start!)

When my blood work came back- it was flawless. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better A1C level in my entire life. My thyroid looks healthy. My iron levels are spot on. Which is fabulous… except that it really doesn’t get me any closer to figuring out what is wrong. However, just as I slowly sunk down to this level of exhaustion, I seem to be just as slowly regaining some energy and strength. Bodies are weird.

So, I apologize for the long hiatus, but I’m thrilled to finally feel energetic and clear-headed enough to start filling up this space with more adventures, and I’ve been saving up new dishes and new disasters, not to mention more than a few tasty books!

Kitchen Skills

On the same ill-fated bookstore trip in which I discovered not only do otherwise westernized people eat reptiles and amphibians, they actually wrote a whole book of recipes about it, I also came across something from The Great Courses. If you haven’t seen these before, and you are addicted to learning new things like I am, I highly recommend them. I have several courses on history and science topics that are pretty amazing. (I know– Nerd alert!) It’s like getting to go back to college lectures without worrying about all that pesky homework (ie- my version of heaven). This particular course was entitled “The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking,” and it was a STEAL! Basically a quarter of the normal price AND I had a coupon… not that I’m completely obsessed with getting bargains (lies. totally obsessed).

GreatCourse

I settled in a night later to watch the first couple of lessons. Sure, the graphics were a little, shall we say– ’90s, and maybe I was a little snarky about the chef’s exuberance (because my own Bearded Chef agreed to watch them with me, and I just love to make him laugh), but I soon settled in and began to learn. The first lesson was mostly a review of the five basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (which is basically a savory flavor). Then the chef began to discuss the importance of knowing how these basic tastes, interact with each other and which will bring out the best in others. It was probably quite simple, but I found it an important reminder. The next lesson was on basic skills.

For as long as my husband has been cooking in our kitchen, I have teased him mercilessly about how many little ramekins and other containers he uses while he cooks. I’ve told people that he uses more accoutrements than a Food Network show. The second lesson had me eating my words! The chef discussed the importance of mise en place. I love some well-placed French, don’t you? (Pun intended). Mise en place basically means putting everything in its place. Further it means organizing and arranging your ingredients, so that they are easily accessible as you prepare a dish. I had always thought those televised cooking shows were just creating food for the eyes, and that may be part of it, but as the chef explained more, I found myself truly appreciating the meticulous set up that my husband constantly creates in our kitchen. I also realized that this lack of preparation on my part is probably why things get chaotic and steps get missed when I attempt to fix even the simplest of dishes. The lesson also involved knife skills. Once again my husband was vindicated as the chef explained the exact chopping technique that Eric had attempted to show me so many times.

I was excited to try out my new skills and a couple of nights later. I pulled out my recipe for a vegetarian curry and read the directions carefully (see, every teacher since kindergarten, I can do it if I want to!)

curry

And slowly (oh so frustratingly slowly) practiced my knife skills as I created my mise en place. I chopped the spaghetti squash, the turnip, and finally the carrot. I learned in the knife skills lesson, that an important part of chopping vegetables is to be very uniform. If the pieces are not the same size, then they will not all cook at the same rate and then you’ll have some over and some under cooked. Doing this with carrots is tricky, because they are naturally thick to thin. Enter the roll cut. I learned that if you cut at an angle and then turn the carrot 180 degrees as you cut, you end up with more evenly sized pieces, and that the unique shape gives them more surface area for a better cook. It took me ages, but I was pretty proud of the outcome. Look at those beginning to border on almost being the same sized root veggie pieces. Ha! I’m trying here, y’all!

roots

I was so excited by the Instagrammy goodness of my veggies, that I set up a whole other plate for the seasonings. At this point, my gracious husband exclaimed: “See? SEE?!” Before God and this whole blogosphere of three, I proclaim: My husband was right. I was wrong.

This ONE time.

I should also confess at this point that beautiful mise en place is much easier to embrace when you know someone else is doing the dishes. Thanks, honey!

mise

I was feeling pretty fantastic. The veggies were roasting in the oven. The curry was simmering and filling the house with delicious smells. Nothing had caught fire or burnt up. Clearly this whole mise en place thing was the magic that was missing from my kitchen life.

The oven timer went off and I checked on the veggies. I consulted with Eric, who said they probably needed a little more time. I hit the cancel button on the stove interface to reset the timer. Nothing happened. I punched it harder. Nothing. The timer went off again (as it does every minute until you turn it off). I punched the clock, the timer, and then the off button to the oven. Nothing. I couldn’t turn the oven off!

Eric came over and began pushing buttons at random with no more success. We decided to just turn the thing off from the breaker. All the kitchen lights when out. When flipped back on, the oven remained in the same state- permanently stuck at over 400 degrees. We tried punching more buttons. Then back to the breakers two more times. Suddenly, I smelled it. Burning. Ach!! In the chaos of trying to fix the oven, I had been blocking out the timer that kept shrilling one minutes at a time.

The top pan of veggies seemed unscathed, but the bottom baking sheet contained decidedly (ahem) “blackened” fare. Eric gave a fierce punch to the off button and suddenly, off it went. Thanks for that, oven. Strong work.

In the end, I plated the less carbon-charred veggies over the curry, and Eric quite enjoyed it. I felt that it lacked complementary seasoning to help give the curry flavors more depth, but decided that the fact I could taste that difference was proof that I was learning more about this whole cooking thing. I’ll take the wins where I can get them.

plated

 

Grenouilles and Other Dishes

No matter what I set out to learn, everything is centered around books of one kind or another. They may be filled with cello music or foreign language or pictures of people signing ASL or delicious recipes. My personal library, which is slowly spreading to every room of our house, has Beauty and the Beast sized aspirations. Sure there are plenty of resources online, but for me, there is no more comforting teacher (or more effective self-soother) than the bound pages of ink covered paper in a book.

cooksbooks

Unfortunately, my book addiction can sometimes overwhelm my goals, as the acquisition of resources distracts me from the practical work of learning. Sometimes a certain find can inspire me to action, other times a particularly bracing volume can rattle me back to reality, and in this particular case, the kitchen.

During Spring Break this week, I’ve been treasure hunting at various Half Priced Book locations around town. Have I cooked a single meal? No. No, I have not. But I got my comeuppance when I walked into a rarely visited store and sat down to peruse the cooking shelf. A glossy, textbook-like tome caught my eye. When I pulled it from the shelf I saw a bowl of pasta beneath the title The Herpetologist’s Cookbook. It didn’t quite register at first, and then I looked closer. There was a FROG sitting in that pasta bowl.

frontcover

Sure, I thought, SURELY this is just a misguided play on… something. Something not at all amusing to people who are not herpetologists. I flipped the book over in my lap to read the back and clear things up. They were SPLITTING a lizard. A LIZARD.

backcover

Remember that time my cookbook wanted me to pop a pigeon? How desperate I was in that moment to go back to those beautiful, by-gone days of culinary innocence and simple disgust. Whatever horrific part of the human brain compels one to look upon the source of revulsion was very much at work as I flipped through the pages with my mouth open.

First came the salamanders. That’s the icky gicky lizard, y’all. In case you were under any illusions that it was some freakishly odd choice of moniker for an obscure English pastry.

salamanders

Then like some nightmarish witches’ grimoire came the frog AND TOAD recipes. I mean, I’ve at least HEARD of frogs’ legs. But a TOAD? I live in Texas, y’all. Those enormous blobs of brown and warty flesh have to be avoided like the plague on the sidewalks when nights get warm. And should your teacher’s heart feel bound to pick one up and give a brief zoology lesson to your kiddos, they pee on you. Riiiiight down your arm. This is the main thing I think of when I consider a toad: urine. Mmmm. Yummy.

frogsandtoads

Apparently things were ordered by size, because the final chapter began with a detailed butchering chart of the meat cuts on an alligator.

gator

Color me shocked that this book ended up on the shelf of a dilapidated used book store, though I shudder to think it may have gotten any use before that point.

That’s it for me though. I’ve learned my lesson. I’m taking a break from the bookstores and getting my tail back in the kitchen. Where I plan on cooking up something delicious…

And DEFINITELY vegetarian.

 

Stir Fried

After a nice long weekend of freedom from the predestined disaster of me in the kitchen, I was back at it Monday. All the shopping was done over the weekend, I actually had all of the ingredients and DIDN’T end up with 4 dozen eggs in my refrigerator. I’m trying to move away from the (albeit easier) pasta type dishes, because after having my fitness freak of a bearded chef filling my belly, I’m just not used to the heavier stuff.

I decided that stir fry chicken and vegetables would be on the easier end of recipes and easier on my belly. This of course meant that I would face my nemesis. Raw (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit) meat. There is something that I deeply appreciate about a well cooked meal which arrives looking in no way like the creature from whence it came. And while I’m not headed out to the backyard to ring chicken necks, I’m going to venture to say that raw breasts are a little too close to the beast itself. I cracked open a Shiner before I even attempted to pull the meat out of the fridge.

After a few sips, I opened up the pan cabinet to find the skillet I wanted. After digging through the pots and pans and lids and various and sundry loud kitchen implements (please send help, Container Store!), I stood up it was right in front of my face. On the stove. Dirty. I’d like to pause here to say, I didn’t leave it there. And I’m not naming any names, I’m just saying that there are only two adults of cooking age in this house. Moving on. I picked up the skillet (I keep saying that because I just like that word– skillet!– but honestly maybe it’s just a pan or a… something else kitcheny. There are pictures, you be the judge) and turned to the sink to wash it. Unfortunately, the dishes have been going through a small industrial revolution and when their urban area ran low on space, they started building upwards. We have skyscrapers, they have faucet-scrapers. It became abundantly clear that I needed some musical back up and to pay a little more attention to my bottle of Shiner. I sent the girls upstairs to play and put on Beyonce’s Lemonade. After unloading and re-loading the dishwasher, I was finally able to wash the skillet and begin cooking. At this point it was 6pm and the natives were coming in to inquire about food with such regularity that the evening’s musical pairing had to be switched over to Johnny Cash.

dishes

I pulled out my vinyl gloves wondering briefly how much a positive pressure hazmat suit might cost and then reluctantly turned to the fridge to get the chicken. I can’t even get into it, but the chicken made it to the pan which had a healthy coating of coconut oil and eventually turned a color that didn’t turn my stomach. Once the breasts looked mostly cooked, I checked the recipe– time to add the vegetables. I went to the fridge to get the carrots and green beans and realized: oh yeah. Carrots have to be washed and peeled before they’re chopped, and green beans need to be washed and snapped. Clearly, I’m just valedictorian of pre-planning in my little cooking school.

beanprep

I was at least wise enough to move the pan (skillet? metal cook container?) off the heat while I worked on the veggies. I quickly took care of the carrots and then washed the green beans. With the first snap, I was in my grandparents backyard, sitting at the table snapping beans with my Mammaw while my Pappaw picked more fresh veggies from their large garden. In the midst of this reverie as my fingers made quick work of the beans thanks to long muscle memory, I smelled… burning?? I took the dang pan off the heat! I lept across to the stove and found that the chopped garlic had burnt to the bottom of the pan like gooey charcoal.

I pulled the breasts out and scrubbed the char off the bottom of the pan. In went the veggies (and I’ll have you know that I DIDN’T catch the broccoli on fire in the microwave thank you very much) with some newly chopped garlic.

chicken

Next up was slicing the chicken. I reached down as if it was a loaf of french bread (something I have FAR more experience with) and immediately burned my fingers. Apparently grabbing a piece of meat with your hands that has just come off the stove isn’t in the Cordon Bleu textbooks. The more you know…

beerskillet

Eventually, everything found its way back into the skillet, and I got dinner on the table (and just a shade past 2 hours from when I started!) It was actually really good. We topped it with coconut aminos (a soy sauce substitute) and a little teriyaki sauce. The girls ate it up, though my little on a little reluctantly. Eric loved it. And I had seconds. Definitely keeping this one in my apron pocket. And maybe I can cut prep time in half on the next round! Maybe.

finishedfry

Lenten Penance

On Ash Wednesday, I was talking to my dear friend and she mentioned that she was making broccoli cheese soup for dinner. I was thrilled, because I had planned on making soup for dinner in observance of the day, but hadn’t yet managed to pull out a cookbook to look for a recipe. Because broccoli cheese soup is one of my favorites, or maybe because anything edible sounded good at this point in the afternoon, I said: “I’ll make that too!” She quickly told me the ingredients I’d need, and with a lovely insouciance added, “I just kind of wing the measurements.” I loved it. LOVED IT! I, too, would wing the measurements. I also needed to run to the store and buy the ingredients, because I had to leave to pick up the girls in 20 minutes. Yes, I waited that long before deciding on a recipe and going to the store. In my defense, I’m doing better, because I went to the store moments BEFORE pick up instead of after, and to be fair this wasn’t really a recipe.

After I got home with the girls, I looked at the vegetable broth and the cream and the BAGS of shredded cheese I’d bought and realized: “WHO AM I FREAKING KIDDING?! I have no IDEA how much of any of this to use.” I pulled up the interwebs and looked through a few recipes before finding one that had at least most of my ingredients. Right there at the top of the chosen reference recipe: “One stick of butter.” This is ALREADY my kind of recipe. I noticed that the first line in the instructions said to start cooking the broccoli and then sautéed the onion and garlic in butter. So I poured some frozen broccoli into a glass bowl and added the amount of water suggested by the bag, and then tossed the whole stick of butter into a pot while I chopped onions. I am VERY proud to say that I chopped the heck out of those onions and I didn’t lose any nails or finger tips. Witness my ability to adapt and improve.

There is no better way to start dinner than with butter, onion, and garlic. Even I know this. The smell was intoxicating. However, I was concerned because it already looked… well… soupy. There was just a LOT of melted butter happening. As I was pondering this, I started to smell something burning. I stirred the onions faster. They didn’t look burnt. The smell got stronger. I moved the pot over to see if something had spilled onto the burner of the stove. Nope. Suddenly a flicker from the microwave caught my eye. I yanked open the door, and there was the broccoli… ON FIRE. I pulled it out and set it on the stove top. Tips of tiny, blackened broccoli buds smoldered. Deciding this was probably precisely why kitchen shears were invented, I just snipped off the charred edges and turned my attention back to the “soup.”

broccoli.jpg

Still puzzled, I checked the recipe on my phone. Hmmm, the next step appears to be “use the remainder of the butter” to make a rue. Well… that explains things. I started making the roux. Which sounded VERY French, so I just relied on genetics to carry me through, and to be honest with y’all, my roux was exceptional and smooth and creamy. Bien sur! So I’m basically having a trophy engraved for myself this weekend is what I’m telling, y’all.

roux.jpg

After I finished the roux, it was time to deal with the onions which continued to soak in two cups of pure cholesterol. I looked through the cabinets for inspiration and found a colander. I figured: if you can drain beans, then you can drain butter off of onions. I mean, it’s only ridiculously expensive, grass fed Kerrygold butter. Why not wash a full stick down the sink?

No use crying over strained butter… though I have the sad feeling I’m not going to have the funds to go get tea this week.

From there, onions went into the (still amazingly-fantastic-thank-you-very-much) roux and then whole whipping cream… Annnnnd suddenly, I’m worried this was perhaps a case of letter of the law, but not the spirit when it comes to Ash Wednesday, but we’ve come too far now, y’all. There is no unburning the broccoli.

Finally it was time for the shredded cheese. Alllllll the shredded cheese. Some lovely extra sharp cheddar. It turned the soup a rich (probably unnatural) orange, and I let it bubble until it thickened.

cheese

I proudly presented bowls of it to the girls (as Eric was out for the evening with the band). I laid it on thick: “Y’all are gonna LOVE this! It’s cheese! And broccoli! Y’all love cheese and broccoli!”

My 11 year old took a bite and the 4 year old followed along like a little shadow. Her tiny little face looked across the table, caught my eye, and she solemnly said, “No.”

“What?”

“No.”

“What does that mean?”

“This not something good.”

“But… cheese! …broccoli!”

“Yes. I do not like that there is cheese…. between the broccolis.”

I looked over at her big sister who was still primly taking bites and congratulated myself on winning her over once again. She looked at me and asked quietly: “Mom, is it okay if… I’m done?”

“Did you not like it?”

“It was okay. It just.. I don’t know.”

“Maybe if you tell me what you didn’t like about it, I can work on it, or try and avoid the part you didn’t like next time.”

“Okay. Well… I guess the thing is… the part I didn’t like was… well… the taste.”

I’ll just be calling to have that engraving on my trophy changed from “Roux” to “Rue.”

Update:

Eric got home from band practice and heated up a bowl for himself. It could’ve just been his sense of self preservation or possibly the fact that he had fasted all day, but he said it was amazing, even better than one of his favorite broccoli cheese soups from a local restaurant. I’m going to go with his critique. What do kids know about fine cuisine anyway?  

soup.jpg

Second Attempt

I said I would make dinner on Mondays. It’s 5:15pm, I’m in hour two of helping my 5th grader with homework, and I haven’t been to the store. Plus, the cookbook I’m flipping through is apparently going to make me do something horrific to a pigeon. That isn’t a typo. I didn’t mean chicken. I wish to all that is good and holy I meant chicken, because I think we can all agree that pigeons are the rats of the avian world. Why would I ever want to… pop(??) a pigeon? It’s called “popping”? Everything is wrong with this, and I’ve lost my appetite.

pigeon

Fine. Other people probably still want to eat, though if I told them about the pigeons, I would probably solve the whole needing to make dinner problems. Next cookbook. I can’t even look you in the eye right now, Tim.

The first recipe I opened to in the Williams-Sonoma book was Chicken Souvlaki. Doesn’t a souvlaki sound like a breed of dog. Oof! Too soon on the heels of the pigeon situation. Next! I flipped past the soup section. Tomorrow is Mardi Gras, and there will be time enough for soups during the long days of Lent. Oh hey now! Pasta! Now we’re talking! Spatzle? That sounds so delightful, I don’t even care what it is… except that apparently you need a spatzle maker with which to create it. It’s a little late in the day for a kitchen store run. Okay, here we go: Roman-Style Fettucine and Chicken. This involves a bottle of wine. It’s not the meal I wanted, but at 5:45 on a Monday night, it’s the meal I need.

I’m still learning to navigate the grocery store. Usually Eric does this part, as usually he does the cooking. I mean, I basically know where things are, but things like say… capers. How does one categorize those? Maybe I shouldn’t judge myself too harshly on this particular ingredient. There is probably some childhood trauma lurking just below the surface. My maternal grandparents loved to make gumbo, but even more, my uncle loved to tell us kids that the capers were crab eyeballs. I would pick mine out and hide them in a napkin.

The girls and I finally made it out of the store, and I even remembered to bring all the groceries into the house. I put on my brand spanking new food prep gloves, because yes, I was a vegetarian for several years, not because I had some deep altruistic love of fluffy animals (though to this day I’ve never eaten veal or lamb), but because I read some horrible sci-fi book about prion disease (don’t ever Google this) and then found it utterly traumatizing to touch or eat meat (especially ground beef) for several years after. After putting on the manual prophylactics, I placed the four chicken breasts into ziplock bags and grabbed the meat hammer. Is it called a meat hammer? Meat cleaver? But cleaver sounds sharp… Now I’m singing Maxwell’s Silver Hammer in my head. Meat tenderizer! Got there! See, I can have a culinary brain! If there is one thing I’ve learned from my bearded chef, it’s that you beat the snot out of the meat before you cook it. So I got out some Monday aggression. And generally, I’d recommend it.

I tentatively placed the raw chicken into my skillet and popped my latest audiobook onto the bluetooth speaker. Next, I twisted open the white wine (nothing screams class like a screw top, y’all) to celebrate getting past the meat handling portion of the evening, and was taking my first sip as my tween daughter wandered passed looking for tidbits to nibble, she stopped and raised an eyebrow at me.

“What?”

“Are you… listening to Dracula while you cook our dinner?”

Judgement at every turn. I tell you what.

dracula

Eric came home while the chicken breasts were browning and I had just pulled out the red, orange, and yellow mini bell peppers to chop. While I was tempted to be impressive, because my husband chops ingredients like the Iron Chef, I took it nice and slow and was feeling pretty pleased with the pretty flower like shapes that fell in three colo– OW!!!

“What did you do?? Are you cut??”

“No! Kinda of! I think it just got my thumb nail.”

“Why was your THUMB in there?”

“Because I am amongst the lucky few species who possess an opposable thumb with which to hold things?”

“No! I mean your thumb shouldn’t be near what you’re chopping. And WHY are you holding the knife like that?”

He nudged me aside and tried to show me the correct way to chop. Once again moving with the speed of a Food Network poster boy. I attempted to mimic his hand grip.

“Not like that!”

He moved around behind me and put his hands over mine. I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it was… no really, I can’t. Because all I could think about was every cheesy movie ever where a guy tries to teach a girl to hold a baseball bat, so that he can have an excuse to move in on her, so I was laughing too hard to really pay attention. But eventually the vegetables got cut, and I only sliced through one more nail in the process. No blood, no foul– amiright??

peppers

Everything went into the pot to simmer and was smelling pretty darn good if I do say so myself. Also, I learned that sometimes you WANT the little burned black bits on the bottom, because you scraped them up and they give flavor to the sauce. Clearly all those meals I burned were really just my culinary precociousness coming through!

pancetta

“Don’t you want to start cooking the pasta?”

“Nah. This has to simmer for 20-30 minutes. I’ll start it in 10 so it doesn’t finish to quickly.”

In ten minutes, I put the enormous pot of water on to boil. Ten minutes later, the first timer went off. The chicken looked pretty done, but still not so much as a bubble in the pot. That’s fine, it said up to 30 minutes. Ten more minutes pass, still no bubbles. I turned off the burner under the chicken. Once it eventually boiled and the linguini was cooked, I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to do the stick to the wall test. Clearly, this requires an Italian wall. Though I must say, it stuck to the countertop where it fell quite nicely.

wine

I put everything into a dish and went to take a picture. “You do realized it’s past their bedtime?” Eric asked. “See here, my good sir. Dinner isn’t finished until it’s photographed…. There. See? All done. Oh wait. I was supposed to shred the chicken…” Insert husbandly death glare here.

finishedmeal

Look. The point here is that I got dinner on the table… and at just a shade past 8pm. Oooops. This time everyone really enjoyed the meal (probably because by that time they were starving beasts, ravenous for any scrap I’d toss their way). I was not as impressed. I’m used to my bearded chefs amazing abilities with spices, and to me, it all tasted pretty bland. Plus, we don’t eat much pasta in our house, and I couldn’t even finish my plate, because it was so filling.

However, I’ll call this one a win, because everyone ate it without complaint, and I only lost two fingernails and no blood. 

New goal: More spice, less carbs.