Learn how to cook, guys. If you want to make a good husband of yourself, learn some dishes to cook in the event that your lady needs help. In my case, that’s fairly regularly, because my wife Anne and I have worked out an arrangement, where it’s agreed that I’m not big on cleaning and she’s not wild on cooking. So we’ve largely separated the duties, although she’s been known to pull out many fantastic meals, and I’ve on occasion tackled the dishes without her.
I tend to get hungry before Anne because I’m a bit fat and she’s not. So I’ve gravitated toward making many of the dinners and sometimes breakfast, as well. Lunch is a free-for-all.
Our arrangement is more common than I thought, I’ve found from talking with several of my married friends. These guys do a fair share or a majority of the cooking in their families and their wives tend toward housework. Most of these friends have 9 to 5 jobs, as do their wives, but these men still do much of the cooking. One of them is actually married to a professional chef, and he still cooks at least half the meals. When I’ve asked these friends if they feel funny about doing much of the cooking, they look at me like I’m silly.
“Why would I?” they all say.
They might for the same stupid reasons that I did—traditionally, the kitchen is considered the woman’s territory, and I never thought I would ultimately become a husband who did most of the cooking. It’s an old-fashioned concept, I know, but every so often I am reminded that others have the same view. While out to dinner with Anne’s parents and a friend of theirs one night, Anne offered that I did most of the cooking in the household.
“You don’t want to know what I think about that,” said Polly, an older lady who is a friend of my in-laws. She looked askance at me, then at Anne, and softened. “Well, I guess whatever works for you is just fine,” she said.
I’ve been interested in cooking since I was a kid. I would hang around my mom in the kitchen while she was cooking or baking, particularly when she was baking, because I have numerous sweet teeth that are always looking for a fix.
“Cooking is an act of love,” Mom would say back then. I’ve remembered the saying and thought of it when I was making a somewhat difficult supper, like chicken cordon bleu.
Some of my buddies are practically gourmet chefs, while others use gourmet ingredients, and others are practical chefs. I’m in the last category. I generally stick with a regular menu of easy-to-cook meals to keep my woman filled. And since there is no Emmett Post for men, I’ve included the following menu tips for the culinary-challenged man who is starting a new life with his better half. Following are some “survival” dinners you can cook for your wives:
- Pasta. Spaghetti with meat sauce is simply browning ground beef, adding some onions, mushrooms and other vegetables, mixing it with a jar of sauce and boiling the pasta. You can brown slices of sweet Italian sausage for the meat part, as an alternate recipe.
- Fish. I like salmon baked, swimming in the juice of a couple lemons and some butter, lightly spiced with fresh herbs. Or poached in orange juice, smothered in fresh dill and lemon juice.
- Steak. Dust cracked black pepper on the steak and grill it. Topping the steak with fresh herbs and baking it is another way to go.
- Chicken. You can get pre-roasted chickens at most, if not all of the supermarkets in the area. Mash up some peeled and boiled potatoes with some warmed milk and butter. Make some gravy from the powdered package stuff and add sliced mushrooms to it to liven it up. Boil some fresh green beans or broccoli or another green veggie—the little lady will be impressed with your health-consciousness. For another chicken meal, simply take some skinned chicken breasts and sauté them in some Campbell’s mushroom soup, and add a little sliced onion, fresh sliced mushrooms and some black pepper.
- Filet mignon. Get some thick filets and crumbled bleu cheese at the grocery and slice the filets lengthwise, then stuff the filets with the bleu cheese. Bake filets to preference.
- Pork chops. Make some scalloped potatoes from any recipe book, throw some thick pork chops into the mix and bake. Or get a package of Shake-N-Bake and follow the directions. Round out that meal with some potatoes or rice, a salad and some cauliflower.
- Pork roast. Get a pork roast and some sauerkraut at the store. Put the roast in a pan or dish, fat side up. Dump the kraut on top of and around the roast and cover. Place in the oven at 325 degrees for three hours.
- Chili. Get some cans of Bush’s chili beans, spaghetti sauce, crushed tomatoes, a couple pounds of ground beef or ground sirloin, an onion and fresh mushrooms, green peppers and red and or yellow peppers. Slice up the veggies and follow the directions on the can. Top the bowls of chili with shredded cheddar and Fritos, if you like.
- Lasagna. Lasagna is just a bit more difficult then making spaghetti. Follow the directions on the pasta package and add other cheeses or veggies too taste. Hint: Too many cheeses could make the lasagna unbearably heavy and salty.
- Hamburgers. Get some lean ground beef or ground sirloin and a package of Lipton Onion Soup and follow the directions for burgers. Slice up some potatoes into French fries and bake them on a cookie sheet after dashing with a bit of pepper and salt. Toast some English muffins and butter them, put the cooked burger on the muffin and garnish with sliced tomato and lettuce. Add the cheese of your liking to the burger.
- Beef roast. Get a nice beef roast and a box of herb recipes for cooking the roast. Follow the directions and put the roast in the bag with the herbs and water. Chop up some carrots, celery and onions and add them to the bag before cooking. Bake or mash some potatoes and make a salad to round out the meal.
All this food talk is making me hungry. I’ve got to go.