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  • 07/23/2002
  • WildlandFire.com Team
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Sammi, TreeHggr, FireChica,Fire Momma, Nerd, Dawn, OD, et. al. and Ab’s-

So now we’re discussin’ dinner?

Fewer subjects create greater havoc about our humble abode than food and it’s preparation and presentation. Mom has always said that being married to the @*^%$ boys is a burden none should bear alone. She should know. She had to deal with Dad and his two brothers and she said they were bad enough. Due to a family emergency years back, she pretty much raised her brothers and ran the house while both her parents worked- unheard of in the prim and proper 1950’s. But Mom saves a fair bit of vituperation for her two cubs of positive ancestry. She sez the Dad and Uncles were bad, but us boys are worse by a damn sight. Needless to say, Mom tends to be extremely fair in any argument and takes our wives side.

Back in the days when I was packing, working the odd movie job, or getting up early for any other reason, you could bet next weeks pay that there was Mom. Breakfast ready, a pot of coffee and enough lunch to carry a squad through a shift or so. God forbid one should become faint with hunger while tackin’ shoes on old Dobbin. Then, short of coming home gassed to the gills, there was dinner. Mom grew up in the hills, but of somewhat genteel stock. Dad’s outfit on the other hand was still struggling through the Neanderthal era.

Dad’s bunch ate everything fried- in about a quart of grease. This included the coffee. Dad grew up with indigestion at home. I really think he went to the woods just to get a decent meal. Everything was also cooked extra well. Actually, well done everything in the woods was standard. No refrigeration- so cook it or get whatever was making a home in your food. The folks get hitched- enter Mom stage right with dinner- lamb (which Dad can’t abide) and vegetables (which he won’t eat). Dad saws through the main course which is rare to perfection and turns as pale as the meat. Mom spends several decades learning to desecrate beef and pork to Hubby’s taste.

So I grow up in the hills eating everything well done, fish, fowl or four legged. Mom and my brother still manage to cook meat well done but not cremated. They also eat lamb and other meat medium rare. But back to basics, Mom can cook, and she’s good at it. She also forced my brother and I to learn to cook, which looking back over 30 some odd years was basically the lioness teaching the cubs to hunt. This has stood me in good stead through many a failed relationship and one that’s still strong. It has also kept a few packers from mutiny on the high peaks when the trail crew cook said they wern’t getting up.

A quick note about Dad. Every year he does the turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Damn fine job if you like your bird dry as an Arab’s sandal. When Mom had to go away from time to time to help with family emergencies and the like, Dad cooked. Night was fried hamburgers, fried potatoes and pork and beans. It’s a meal I still love, but night after night gets a little stale. Breakfast as kid was an adventure. Fried bacon, fried eggs and fried potatoes (do we discern a pattern here?).

Occasionally though, even Dad got tired of the same ol same ol and reverted to cereal. Not just any cereal. Out came Mom’s largest mixing bowl. Into this went three or four kinds of cereal, any cereal, as long as it wasn’t kids stuff. Rice Krispies, Special K, Wheaties. Give it stir. Dump a cup or so of milk, a cup or so of hot water, half a stick of real butter and sugar and salt to taste. I was in my twenties before I could eat breakfast without getting violently ill and still cannot eat cereal.

My wife was essentially raised by her Grandmother who eked out a living on Social Security. Her mom drank, drugged and god knows what else. When my wife to be left for greener pastures, it was with the help of some fine people who were mutual friends. Her Grandmother was wonderful baker, but the stipend barely covered day to day stuff. My wife to be’s mom was taking my wife to be’s paychecks and using them for some nefarious purpose- certainly not to improve the home grounds. Needless to say, my wife’s ability to cook is somewhere near nil. She’s sure as hell rather go put the finish on some horse or work fence than spend time over a stove.

Now, those who know me will relate that I can be somewhat south of sensitive. In fact, ‘cold nosed bastard’ has been spoken more than once- my Mom included. So, insensitive lout that I am, there have been times when what was placed on the table was met with a “What the hell’s this?” or “Christ, how’d you manage to screw this up?”. And many times I have asked in all innocence what is for dinner and been told “Leftovers”. To which I’ve replied “Leftovers? How the hell can they be leftovers when I’ve never seen the originals?”

This has led to tears, words and an invitation to do something anatomically impossible. Telling her to watch what Mom does in the kitchen gets a tepid response at best. Mom, ever one to side with her eldest, will declare “Oh hell, &*$#@%^! You cook!”

So, just to keep some semblance of peace within the neighborhood, I cook when I get the chance. My wife loves it. She loves it so much that if my team is not on call or we are not working OT, she’ll try every trick in the book to get me in the kitchen. So last night I get hungry. L—– (the Engine boss’ girlfriend- who also can’t make water steam) comes over. I’ve got a house fulla women. 2 who can’t cook and my daughters who I refuse to let cook at their tender age. And the dog and the cat. So, I can already tell who’s gonna feed this mob and it’s forty miles to the nearest take-out.

So, Sammi and all, here’s what we had. Boneless chicken breast in lemon, butter and rosemary. Baked slow. French cut green beans with fine cut and fried bacon with the dripping removed, butter and salt and pepper, baked slow. A homemade pesto (we make our own), a clam sauce of tomato and basil with clams (no Oil) and a fish sauce, again, tomato and basil with sardines. The sauces were simmered slow. Ravioli and rigatoni noodles, garlic bread and a South African white wine or a South African red wine (Shiraz). Corona beer for Dad. Fresh Fruit for dessert. Lots of good conversation. The ladies and westinghouse did the dishes.

Sure, sounds like a lotta barnyard effluence, but it’s the little things like dinner, doing a few loads of laundry or just wiping down the shower or making the bed that make my wife’s life easier. And in reality, mine. It’ has not been the easiest of roads for us. My wife learning not to take offense at every little thing about the kitchen and me learning to be a skosh more sensitive (though I’m no closer than the missing link to being a ‘new age man’).

So, we put up witha lot of guff from our spouses as we see it. And they from us. The folks just celebrated their 40th, us our 8th, my brother and sister in law their 15th. My grandfolks saw time past their 50th before they passed on. Married, they saw the depression, WWII, Korea, one son off to Vietnam and his safe return and great grand children. I guess that we all must be doing something right.


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