I have come to the conclusion that my husband and I cannot cook together in the same kitchen. We have widely divergent styles, even in preparation for cooking.
I make a list before I go to the grocery store. When I taught school, I only went once a week. If I didn’t get it on that one trip, we went without. In retirement, it seems like I go grocery shopping every other day. I keep a running list. I never leave to shop without asking my husband what he needs. I sometimes come home without something that was on the list. But I try to be organized.
My husband goes to the grocery store when the mood strikes him. Usually after watching one of those dratted cooking shows. He wants to try to recreate a recipe his way, not necessarily the way the host instructed him to. He buys whatever strikes his fancy.
My pantry must have seven or eight kinds of grits. Everything from stone ground in cloth bags to instant in plastic packets. I also have the same amount on packages of rice. He would eat rice with every meal if he could.
I keep pleading with him to take stock of what we have before he buys more, but my pleas fall of deaf ears. He says we need more cabinet space; I say we need less stuff.
When working, I went to the same store for groceries every time. It was quicker. I knew where everything was. Now that I am retired, I flit from one grocery store to another. It just depends on my fancy at the moment.
My husband ranges farther afield. He looks for groceries everywhere and loves bargain stores and farmer’s markets. He can come home with the strangest things and some staggering amounts of things. Recently I ran out of laundry detergent. I wondered aloud where I could go to get some in a hurry, and my husband suggested one of the many dollar-type stores in Covington. I would never have thought to go there, but he was right.
My husband has always liked to cook, but he confined his culinary magic to outdoor cooking. He was forbidden to fry fish and cook in general in the house after his first attempt in the first few years of our marriage. I found oil in places I thought would be impossible to coat with grease, and I believed I would never get my kitchen clean. For a while, he was content to cook outside on his many cooking apparatuses.
What he cooks on the grill is always wonderful. He always smokes the turkey for holidays and cooks the ham.
But lately, he has taken to cooking indoors. Or staying in the kitchen and giving me suggestions on how to cook. Or buying something he wants me to cook.
He thinks anything is improved by cooking it in chicken stock. I rarely cook anything in chicken stock and, therefore, do not put it on my shopping list. Every time he gets ready to cook, his first stop is chicken stock. And we usually don’t have any because he used it all up the last time he cooked. Did he tell me to buy some when I asked? No. Did I remember to buy any? No.
This week he bought home a bag of frozen shoe peg corn kernels. He wanted some for supper. I read the directions on the bag. (I am not a spontaneous cook as he is.) The bag said to put the corn in so much water and boil for six to seven minutes. He wanted to eat at 6:30 p.m. and at 5 p.m. was urging me to cook the corn, in chicken stock. I told him the directions said use water and only cook seven minutes. He was not happy. I have to have a recipe and follow it. He is far more adventurous. He creates from scratch. And most of the time the results are good.
I like things to taste like what they are. He is not afraid of spices. Our kitchen table is littered with pepper sauce, hot sauce and various relishes so that he can spice up what I cook to content his palate.
I am no better. I drive him crazy when he is in the kitchen.
Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.