Recommended wine for today’s entry: I suggest you try a Murphy-Goode fume blanc. It’s perfect for a reminiscence about my Dallas days – my boss and I used to drink Murphy-Goode as we made sales calls. (Ah, the days of the three-martini lunches) And I had a glass of this the other night. It’s still good. As Wine Spectator says, lemon and flint notes…
I had Fox News on as I labored on the treadmill today and Megyn Kelly was talking to Bill Hemmer about her lack of cooking prowess. As she said, she shoots for “not horrible” when preparing meals. I always liked Megyn. We have a lot in common. Unfortunately for me, looks are not one of our similar traits.
But I can TOTALLY relate to shooting for “not horrible.” When Bill asked if her husband said, “hey, this isn’t horrible!” like it was a good thing, I could hear the voice of my own husband …
I have a plethora of cooking disaster stories, but here’s one of the early ones. When we first married, my husband had just completed his second year of law school and was clerking for a large, prestigious Dallas firm, filled with very serious businessmen and their perfectly dressed, perfectly poised wives.
One night, at a catered dinner in a Highland Park (upper, upper crust) mansion hosted by one of the senior partners, we were seated next to a young associate and his wife who were very nice, approachable and not too much older than us. Before consulting with my husband, (of course), I invited them to dinner the next weekend.
My husband was nervous at the very premise. Little did he know what was coming.
The Friday that they were due for dinner, I left work at like 3:00, because I had an hour commute and I still needed to go to the grocery. My plan was: grocery, assemble dinner, then shower and change while it began cooking. A great plan with a slim chance of success.
Traffic in Dallas on Friday afternoons, quite frankly, sucked, and the grocery was packed, so I was about an hour behind on my self-imposed schedule. I raced up the three flights of concrete stairs and pulled out the saucepan (we had exactly enough pans for this meal, I might note). I put the frozen spinach into the pan and covered it, deciding to blow off the two Tablespoons of water or whatever they called for, because how much difference can two freaking Tablespoons of water make anyway and this way I wouldn’t have to drain it.
Then I got busy starting the lasagna noodles to boiling and opening the cans of Prego spaghetti sauce. The spinach lasagna – a gourmet masterpiece – was coming along nicely and I still had a half hour before they were due to arrive.
Proud of my progress, I believe I opened a beer at this point. I wanted to wait until the lasagna was safely in the oven to jump in the shower. These were the days of the navy suits with little bow ties that left women looking like male-wannabees (sorry Chastity), so I loosened my tie to expedite the showering process when the time came.
Once the spinach was done, I set about to mix it with the ricotta cheese. But the lid wouldn’t come off the saucepan. No matter what I did.
Then the lasagna was due to be taken out of the boiling water, so I put the spinach aside and carefully laid the noodles flat to dry on Reynolds Wrap that covered the kitchen table. Which was also the dining room table. So I guess you know that it wasn’t set for company yet.
Now we have about fifteen minutes until they’re due. No one is on time for dinner parties, though, so I’m still not panicked. I set about trying to open the saucepan. No chance. Downstairs I go, hammer and saucepan in one hand, beer in the other, and settle onto one of the little concrete chunks that prevent cars of drunken residents from careening through the windows of the first-floor apartments on Saturday nights.
As Marc and Wendy drove up, right on time, there was their hostess, blue suit, tie askew, legs spread, lifting a new Cuisinart pan that was hermetically sealed above my head and slamming it onto the concrete chunk between my legs. Oh, and if seeing that scene PLUS my underpants wasn’t enough, I had a (now empty) Miller Lite can sitting next to me.
A far cry from the weekend prior and the Highland Park hostess with a full array of servants, huh?
Luckily (for me, not for him) my husband drove up right after them and started the laughter. In the end, one of us trekked across the street to the 7-11 and got a can of the smushy, stringy spinach that my mother used to dump vinegar on and top with a hard-boiled egg. The lasagna was, well, smushy and stringy and ready at about 11 p.m. I think we may have made another liquor store run, too, which probably was precipitated by the guests’ realization that while I was sitting by the dumpster in the parking lot attempting to smash open the saucepan, our lovely cat Gus had licked all of the lasagna noodles dry. Of course we still ate it. And it was “not horrible.”
The funniest part? My husband still got hired by that firm!
Somehow I don’t see Megyn Kelly in this situation.