December 30, 2008

Secrets of the Hot Oven Meal

Julia Child I am not

Since Son left the nest this fall I have been cooking for Husband. Husband had been the primary cook since “The Incident in the first year of our married life, but work schedules now dictated a change. More on "The Incident" later.

I don’t have a very good track record with cooking. This despite winning many white ribbons as an active member of the Go-Getters 4-H Club from 1967 to 1969. (Family member may recall my setting fire to our kitchen while baking brownies. Another story for another day.)

Husband married me for my combination Jayne Mansfield sex kitten persona and Madam Curie intellect. Cooking never was one of my strong points. Tonight I made lasagna which I have prepared dozens of times by following the recipe on the box. Somehow I neglected to buy the “no bake” noodles and thus made a new family favorite: crunchy lasagna. We quickly discovered that lasagna should not make noise when you chew it.

With my extensive repertoire of food preparation, I will share some of the family favorites as well as special cooking tips. Feel free to adapt.

Preparing vulcanized tuna casserole
Husband and I lived in Ye Olde Co-ed Dorm in college, (me room 714, he room 814). I decided to make Tuna Helper using the community Radar Range. Prior to Peloponnesian War, college students did not own their own microwaves. The “helper” was too soggy so I added a sleeve of soda crackers which gave it the texture of baked rubber bands. Strike one.

Handling germ-free Chicken Jeanette
This is an actual recipe containing pieces of chicken, various creamed soups, mayonnaise, celery, pimentos, and then baked with a crust (no kidding) of potato chips and cheddar cheese. Seyferts Chips are the best, though Charles Chips or Ruffles will suffice. (As a completely unrelated aside, this recipe is named for an elderly woman whose major claim to fame was that she had never taken off her wedding rings in 60 years. This still turns my stomach. I always thoroughly wash my hands when cooking.)

I used to make Chicken Jeanette all the time and I am convinced it is without question the truly most unhealthy, disgusting casserole of all time. Is unhealthy casserole an oxymoron? Strike two.

Learning Saran Wrap does not add flavor
Husband became our primary cook around the time I learned that you do not cover a casserole with Sarah Wrap and bake in the oven (unless you are studying Chemistry). You are probably wondering how I learned this: THE HARD WAY! (This is what we refer to as “The Incident.”) Strike three.

And a bonus tip: yeasty cinnamon rolls with shards of metal
Another culinary faux pas involved the time I wanted to bake those cinnamon rolls that come in a tin for Husband and Son, to surprise them early on a Sunday morning. Was Husband surprised when he found a round, sharp-edged metal lid attached to his biscuit? Son is a Boy Scout, so Husband’s lip bleeding did not last too long after First Aid.

Bon appetite.

Quoth the raven.