Sunday, February 11, 2007

I am not naturally or intuitively a nurturing person.

When Daisy cries because she's sad about something stupid, it takes every ounce of self restraint I have to not say, "What?? You're crying about that?! What are you, seven?!?!"

When Hank gets sick, she dreads telling me, because my natural reaction is to say, "Again?!?!" and stomp around the house like a seven six year-old.

("Hey Mike," you interject, "Doesn't this make you a lousy husband and father?"

Screw you! Get your own blog!)

Anyway, through great self-study, introspection, and constant berating by my family, I'm slowly learning how to act more like one of you humans. For example, if Hank is feeling under the weather, I now know to unclench my jaw before asking Hank if she'd like a cup of hot tea. Me smart!

All of this training has come in handy this week, because Hank and Daisy have both been home sick FOR THE LAST FOUR AND A HALF DELIGHTFUL DAYS. Oh, the euphoric joy of forced confinement. Pinch me. Meanwhile, I've been immune to this bug. For the last several years, I haven't really gotten any colds. Occasionally, I'll get a little bit of a sore throat, or I'll be sniffly, but it's always really low-grade stuff. I am impervious to the common cold.

Anyway, with Hank out of action, I've been taking on more of the cooking duties this week. Mostly this consists of us ordering more take-out, but I have "cooked" up a batch of fish sticks and frozen pot stickers. I am, in case it's not blindingly obvious, an untrained, terrible, and very lazy cook. Today, however, when contemplating a dinner plan, I stared at the packages of defrosted chicken legs that have been sitting in our refrigerator for the last four and a half days. Something needed to happen with them, but what?

Microwave chicken ala Mike? Maybe not so nurturing.
Boiled chicken fiesta? With salt? Hmmmm, maybe not so tasty.

Then, inspiration struck. Maybe it was the discussion I had at brunch about the Houston market with its impressive lard display (19 facings!). Maybe it was the fact that I rarely get to eat one of my favorite foods because it's unhealthy and not Daisy friendly (allergens). Maybe it was hubris. Regardless, I googled a bit, and then turned to Hank and said, "I'm making fried chicken!"

Ok, the recipe didn't look particularly delicious, but it had the irresistable quality of looking allergen-free and easy. I'm all about the easy.

Hank suggested a complementary side vegetable (chard!) and gave me detailed instructions on how to cook it. Meanwhile, I started to heat up nearly all of the cooking oil in the house. I love fried! I chopped, sauteed, seasoned, rolled, and fried the various ingredients. At the end of this absurd exercise I had some chard which was almost as good as Hank makes, and six legs of fried chicken.

So, was it good? Good is a strong word. It was slightly overcooked and a bit bland, but to be perfectly honest, it might not have been the worst fried chicken I have ever had.

I don't say that to be self-deprecating. I say that to brag. I have been fist-pumping and thrusting my arms in the air, touchdown style, ever since dinner. A casual observer would assume that I had thrown the chicken legs into the end zone rather than turning them into mediocre fried chicken, but they would be tragically incorrect.

I am THRILLED to have made overcooked and bland fried chicken. I can't believe I didn't start an oil fire, or give my family salmonella. Having the meal be edible is really just figurative gravy. Daisy, whose favorite food might be crispy chicken skin but had never had fried chicken before, really dug it.

Afterwards, Hank turned to me and and charitably said "You cook. You clean. Now all you have to do is cure the common cold."

I raised my eyebrows at her and said, "I have cured the common cold."


chess h said...

Mike, I recently discovered that I Could Cook as well. The secret is Multiple-Word Ingredients: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Kosher (or Sea) Salt, Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing, Gently-Used Broccoli... the more words, the better the taste when you mash it all together and put it in a toaster oven.

Want to start a cooking show with me?

Mike said...

Chess, after mere seconds of contemplation, yes, yes I do. I'm picturing something zany where you introduce ingredients with complex names and I deep fry them. Who wouldn't love deep fried Kosher Salt or deep fried Extra-Virgin Olive Oil? Terrorists, that's who.

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