I admit it – I like to cook. I hate the cleanup stage, but I like to cook, always have. In this short phase of being ‘house husband’, (I say short because I don’t know how long it will last), I am doing all the cooking. This makes me King of What to Eat Tonight.
The dishes I make fall into just a few simple categories:
* recipes all 3 of us love (only 3 of us left in the house)
* recipes Kim and I both love
* recipes only I love
There aren’t a whole lot of recipes that all 3 of us love because our son, Tim, is a picky eater. He loves my meatloaf and my chili, but the really good go-to dish is a fajita that I make with peppers. The secret ingredient is Creole seasoning and lots of it!
There are lots of dishes that Kim and I both enjoy. Almost everything that I cook, Kim will enjoy. She loves the fajita dish. We’re both extremely fond of blackened wild salmon. That’s an easy and very tasty dish. Use a blackening season and simply cook each side of the fish for four minutes, no more. Get your iron skillet hot beforehand and turn the fish only once. Wild salmon is a lot more expensive than farm-raised, but well worth it.
The dishes only I like I only cook when my wife is out of town. There aren’t a lot of these but the one I never fail to cook up is a good old real Italian marinara sauce with lots of oregano, garlic powder and Italian sausage. It makes my mouth water just to write about it. It’s just a little too ‘Italian’ for Kim’s taste.
I love Italian dishes, just love marinara sauce! It’s one of those flavor that I honestly could eat every night. Pizza is no different, I love pizza but I’d put on 50 pounds if I ate it too often. It’s difficult for me to ‘hold back’ with foods I love. Thank goodness for bike riding to help compensate for all the extra calories.
We’ve always tried to make foods that our boys liked. That’s not how I grew up though – you ate whatever was cooked in my house or you went to bed hungry. It didn’t matter if it was boiled newspaper – if it was dinner, you ate it.
Sideline note – I don’t know if I’ve written about this memory before, but that last line I just wrote brought back a strong memory. As a young boy, one night I was complaining about being hungry. I don’t know if I got punished and was not allowed to eat dinner or if there was something that night I just didn’t like, but I was so hungry that I tried chewing up and swallowing some paper. This is a strong memory – I remember thinking I was going to make my mom feel guilty and so I’d get to eat. That’s all I really remember about this memory, but it’s very strong – I can still see where I was standing in our bedroom as I was chewing paper….I sure do wish I had some marinara sauce to dip it in.
Our oldest boy, Mitchell, really took to the southern flavors and just loved to put Creole seasoning on just about everything.
At this point, maybe I ought to talk about the heat and humidity in the South. It’s a perfect environment for insects of every kind. Anyone who lives there knows that just about everyone has to have a pest control company service their home. Want a guaranteed income? Work for an exterminator in the South. Even so, it’s nearly impossible to keep your home totally free of pests.
One of the favorite side dishes my boys used to love for me to fix was homemade Cajun French fries. Sometimes I’d cut up the potatoes and fry them in oil and other times I’d bake them in the oven with a little bit of oil sprayed onto them. On this evening in 1991, I had baked the fries and just taken them out of the oven. Still on the baking sheet, I set the sheet onto a couple of oven mitts sitting on the kitchen table.
Mitchell reached behind him into the kitchen shelf where we kept all the seasonings and grabbed the Creole seasoning. As he always did, he shook out a generous portion of Creole onto his fries and then let them cool a bit. After he’d gotten ten to twelve delicious fries into his belly, he asked why they were so crunchy this time.
As I bent down to take a closer look at the fries, I noticed tiny little round “spices”. Hmm…..I reached up to get the Creole seasoning and opened it up again to see that it was almost full……full of little, round dead weevils that had filled up on seasoning and then died inside the canister.
In unison, we all, the whole family at the same time, “eeooyuk!”
And then we all cracked up laughing and teasing, carrying on about Mitchell, “ooh, the fries are crunchy”. We all must have laughed all night, even Mitch was laughing.
Today we still joke every now and again about the weevils. My son lives in Arizona now but since we have a place there only two miles away, we get to see him and if there’s ever a moment that includes fries or Creole seasoning, you can bet the weevil jokes come out. Funny memories like those are one of the greatest pleasures of family time. Maybe it’s a ‘boy thing’, but in our family there are four of us boys and only one Kim. We boys do like to laugh and tease, don’t we.
It’s Thursday night as I’m finishing up on this story and coincidentally I cooked up a great Cajun dish, sausage, chicken and crawfish gumbo. It’s delicious, even without weevils!