I didn't appreciate the effort it took for G'ma to live up to Ladies Home Journal and Daddooooo's mom, the world's most judgmental mother-in-law. G'ma wrote out the week's menus and went to the Kosher butcher once a week, collecting minute steaks (arguably the toughest cut of meat on the poor dead beast) and chickens and ground beef. If it was Tuesday, it was spaghetti and tiny, rock hard meatballs with Ragu heated up on the stove. She became a better cook once the kids were out of the house, but I never entered into the "My Mom is a Better Cook Than Your Mom" contests.
I didn't hide my dissatisfaction with culinary arts from my husband-to-be... a fact of which I remind him on those occasions when my efforts in the kitchen lead to less than salubrious results. It's hard to put in all that time and effort only to be disappointed with the results.... and we were often disappointed with the results.
Then Big Cuter sent me a link to Blue Apron, with a coupon for one week's free meals. I ignored it. I continued to ignore it even after he asked about it.... the second time. Neurasthenically avoiding housework, I clicked through to the website and found, within five minutes, that three meals from the categories I'd not eliminated in my profile (tending to TBG's fish allergy) would be delivered sometime between 8am and 8pm two Wednesdays from then.
The delivery service brought the crumpled but serviceable, very heavy box to my front door. TBG took it the rest of the way. In the kitchen, I unpacked sealed packaged of chicken and ground beef and plastic bags of bulgar and rice and paper and plastic containers of all shapes and sizes
holding heirloom tomatoes and garlic and shallots and those microgreens.
Thursday, Big Cuter and I put our speaker phones on the counter in our kitchens 900 miles apart, and began to cook. Not more than ten minutes into the process, my son said "Maybe this can be our thing, Mom." From then on I really didn't care if the meal was tasty. My heart was full.
But, cook we did, from our laminated instruction sheets. They left nothing to chance. There was a picture of everything about which one could wonder... and wonder I did. Often, and with feeling.
First step was to wash and dry the produce. Then there was chopping and mincing and dicing and medium dicing and Big Cuter startled me by remembering the conversation we'd had when he was 9 or 10 and scoffing at the notion that there were actual directions for cutting something up.
His enthusiasm for the knowledge and the memory of our sunny California kitchen kept me smiling as I spent more time than I usually do preparing more ingredients than I usually have into a dish that looked more elegant than anything I usually create.
It was tasty, too.
The next night I struck out on my own, creating Pan Seared Chicken Breasts with Cucumber Salad.
There was little or no conversation at the table. As Daddooooo would have remarked, "The silence is a compliment to the chef."
I took it with a smile.... and that's how we ate.... smiling... right up until we looked at the kitchen.
The first night, cooking with Big Cuter, we madeFilipino Beef and Squash. I was too overwhelmed to add photography to the endeavor. The pictures for this post are from the second meal, for those of you who are keeping track of such things.