This is not a food or lifestyle blog. I don’t post recipes or pictures of meals. I skim posts like that on other blogs. I can’t help it. I just don’t care. I also flat-out do not cook. I mean, I can assemble simple meal components (salads, sandwiches), but I don’t like to do it, so I usually just heat up a can of soup for lunch, and eat it with an undressed bowl of spinach, and I don’t like to think about the food I’m making so I have no problem eating the same thing day after day. I can also stir noodles in a pot of water, although I will inevitably overcook those noodles, whether they are ramen noodles from a crinkly orange package, or macaroni noodles from a box, or even fancy non-store brand whole wheat noodles (which I just eat with butter and salt, lest you think I am too fancy). I think the only exception to the general rule that I don’t cook is that I can and sometimes do make a delicious scrambled egg, with chives and cheese. And that’s it.
In the coming-up-on 7.5 years Robert and I have been together, I have cooked him maybe seven meals? Not counting the week’s worth of ramen and macaroni I made the week after he had surgery earlier this year and other things that don’t really count as cooking, or the marble rye/sourdough stuffing I prepare on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Roast beef sandwiches and caprese salad for a picnic on Valentine’s Day 2006. Blueberry pancakes for breakfast on his 22nd birthday. Frozen potstickers with jasmine rice and edamame like twice in 2007 and 2008, on cold nights when Robert was sick of cooking in my weird little Ann Arbor kitchen, but we didn’t have enough money to go out. Baked chicken with butternut squash in fall 2010, my first meal after I decided I was going to start cooking once a month. Homemade gnocchi and a ludicrous bacon and Jerusalem artichoke salad later that fall, my second and last meal prepared in pursuit of that ill-advised goal. Steak and mashed potatoes with a tomato salad for his 27th birthday. I’m wracking my brain for other meals, revisiting special occasions, and flipping through cook books, and that’s it. Seven.
Robert’s always extraordinarily grateful and complimentary (except in the case of the potstickers, which I messed up and forced Robert to intervene) when I decide to don an apron. And even though each of these meals was clearly both a challenge and an accomplishment for somebody with such limited kitchen experience, I haven’t been terribly proud of any of them. I always liked what I made, because I like everything, but oozed uncertainty between bites. “Are you sure you like it? Is it too salty? Here, feel free to add more salt. How would you have done it?” I realize this is obnoxious behavior, but that’s what happens when you lack confidence, and it’s hard to muster up confidence when you’re cooking for somebody who is as fabulous at food as Robert is.
Until this weekend, folks. This weekend I made food so good, I’m subjecting you to an entirely too long and self-indulgent blog post about food, without pictures or recipes. Food so good, Robert ate leftovers (Robert never eats leftovers). Food so good, I called my mom before it was even on the table to brag. I didn’t execute the meal perfectly: I didn’t realize until moments before I left to pick up ingredients at 5:00 the evening I intended to cook that the recipe called for a 2.5 hour bake-time. I wasn’t 100% sure what a leek looked like, and the label was missing from the shelf at the store, so I had to guess (I guessed right). I didn’t get everything on the table until after 10:30, at which point, Robert was pacing around the kitchen announcing the depth of his hunger (a real role-reversal, for us) and I was nearly sick with exhaustion. We had to scrap our plans to go watch the Arizona game, with its 9:00 kickoff time, at a newly discovered Arizona bar in Chicago. Dinner was really good, though.
Basically, I stuffed (sorry, veggies) some adorable lamb shanks with herb-y butter and cooked them in foil with a bunch of white wine and chopped vegetables, mashed some potatoes with a couple of glugs of olive oil, and mixed up a vaguely alternative Greek salad (with shallots, avocado, and goat cheese instead of feta, in addition to what you usually find in a Greek salad) with lemon-y dressing. I used this Jamie Oliver cookbook, which I really recommend, because it’s beautiful, and it teaches you replicable skills. And when it was all said and done, I warmed a pre-made blueberry pie in the oven, and let Robert stir up a batch of homemade whipped cream because why push my luck?