When I was growing up my mother never cooked. She simply opened a can of Ravioli for me, dumped it into a bowl and popped it into the microwave. So I have never really been exposed to true cooking, like with seasonings and ingredients and all of that. I thought Hamburger Helper counted as cooking until my ex husband so cruelly popped that bubble so many years ago. Today I stayed home from work because my son is ill and I’ve also caught some remnants of his illness. It ended up being the perfect day for me to call out because we had freezing rain last night and the roads were covered with black ice. So since the roads were slick school was cancelled so my daughter was at home as well. For breakfast they wanted waffles. This isn’t exactly the breakfast of champions but it falls under the category of cooking for me because I have to extend effort to put it into the toaster and push the little lever down. After preparing the waffles I then realized I was out of syrup and neither child would eat them without it so they ended up with an even more nutritionally devoid meal of a toaster scrambler filled with bacon, eggs, and cheese. For lunch I decided during a moment of Zoloft induced euphoria that I was going to make an extravagant, big, healthy lunch for my children. I had some frozen spinach in the freezer that I had bought on a whim when it was on sale because my daughter likes it. The package said to dump it into a pot of boiling water, cover, and boil for eight minutes. Apparently you are supposed to also season spinach to make it appealing and edible. I cooked a canned ham, or what I referred to as a canned ham which I found at the grocery in the aisle with the tuna. It was ham and it was in a can. Apparently this is not the kind of massive canned ham that is served at Christmas. No this was some variation of high quality potted meat product, although since it said to bake it at 300 degrees I thought it was an actual ham. I poured a can of peas into a bowl and zapped them in the microwave for my son since he loves them. Apparently when a child has a cold they hate them. I made macaroni and cheese, from a box with all of the stuff included, since I have to actually measure out milk in a measuring cup this is truly cooking for me. It turned out the be a mac and cheese blob because I cooked the shells for too long. I then stumbled across a pack of blueberry muffins in the cabinet and decided they would be perfect for dessert. I do not own a muffin pan but figured it would just be like a blueberry cake if I made it in a casserole dish. The whole time I was standing at the stove stirring I was imagining the excitement my children would have when they came in and saw the food I had prepared. We’d all sit around the table, enjoying our meal, just like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. Then I called the kids to come to the table to eat and my dream bubble was promptly burst. Our dialogue went as follows:
Elizabeth: I thought we were having Tuna Helper.
Me: I thought I would surprise you all with a big meal.
Elizabeth: Did you just watch Rachel Ray or something?
Me: No dear. Sit down and eat.
Elizabeth: This is ham?
Me: Yes I baked it and everything.
Elizabeth: It tastes like Spam.
Elizabeth: Okay so I guess it is supposed to be fancy upper crust society Spam.
Me: The upper crust society doesn’t even eat Spam. They don’t make fancy Spam or any other variation of Spam. That is ham!
Elizabeth: Did you buy it near the Spam?
Me: It might have been near it. I don’t think that’s a relevant question.
Elizabeth: You just answered it. This is mac and cheese?
Me: You like macaroni.
Elizabeth: I thought I did. Then I tasted this.
Damien: What’s wrong with this macaroni?
Me: You have a cold; nothing is going to taste right to you.
Elizabeth: It’s not your cold Damien.
Me: Well I’m sorry my good intentions turned out to be such a bad meal. Hey at least I cooked spinach for you. You like spinach. Try it.
My daughter takes a big bite of the spinach I so lavishly boiled in a pot staring thoughtfully across the room.
Elizabeth: How did you cook this?
Me: I followed the instructions on the box.
Elizabeth: My granny puts salt and vinegar in hers.
Me: Vinegar? Who would cook with vinegar, it stinks?
My daughter then stares at me somberly.
Elizabeth: You might want to go get some lessons from Granny on how to cook. I like her food.
Damien: Yeah mommy!
Me: You have a cold so your taste bud’s opinion doesn’t count. Granny doesn’t cook, getting food at a deli and slapping it into a serving bowl so you appear to be super cooking Paula Dean type Granny isn’t cooking.
Elizabeth: At least she’s not in denial about the fact that she can’t cook.
Me: Well at least you will like dessert.
I then pulled the dish out of the oven to find a big puffy blueberry center surrounded by charred sides.
Elizabeth: I thought you made blueberry muffins?
Me: Well it’s kinda going to be a blueberry cake. It will taste just the same. The sides burned a little but let me just scoop some out of the center.
I then cut into my blueberry blob with a fork to hear a very inappropriate crunching sound that shouldn’t be present.
Elizabeth: Do you need a hammer to cut it or the phone book to order a pizza and feed us?
Me: (Admitting defeat) The phone book.
Tomorrow I’m going to work even if there is a big tundra of snow present and I have developed Pneumonia. Then the kids can have a lovely home cooked balanced meal from school.