The pleasure of a home-cooked meal cooked for me


Why is it that food cooked by someone else always tastes great? It may actually be pretty crappy, but since I don’t cook it myself, it is heavenly.

I was in heaven yesterday when I came home from work. Tim, my son, had taken the leap and fixed up some Hamburger Helper, and a bowl of it was set aside for me to eat when I walked in the door. The bowl was still warm in the fridge, so it only took a minute and a half in the microwave and I was enjoying supper within minutes. Oh, you bet a steak would’ve been nice, and having a side of veggies would’ve made the goop a meal, but I can’t complain. How could I complain about a meal that was ready to eat faster than going through a McDonald’s drive-thru?

Best of all is that Tim chose a Hamburger Helper that not only was my favorite – stroganoff – but it was the whole wheat version. I was honored. I had the healthy version of chemicals and knew right then and there that my son loved me. A mother couldn’t be happier.

So, I tucked in and polished off that bowl, scraping it clean to get every last morsel. It was great. Stuffed, I pushed the bowl aside, sat back in my chair, patted my belly and let out an un-lady-like belch that echoed through the house. I was happy. I enjoyed every spoonful of that meal, prepared with loving care by my loving son.

During the flurry of activity of getting that bowl of goop out of the fridge, into the microwave and then onto my desk, I failed to notice what slapped me in the face when I brought the empty bowl back into the kitchen: The stove.

The sight of that stove stopped me in my tracks; my jaw hit my chest.

“Oh, my God!”

If you’ve ever prepared Hamburger Helper, you will recall that the directions say to reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the noodles are the desired consistency. If you’ve ever followed those directions, you know that they should’ve said, 'reduce the heat, wait a few minutes until the goop cools down a bit, then cover and simmer.’

Tim is great at following written instructions. He is not great at standing around, watching, waiting, if said instructions were followed and completed. Based on what I saw, I knew he walked away from the stove once that lid was in place, probably for the duration of the minutes the instructions said to simmer.

There was white goo everywhere. The frying pan had goo running down its sides, the lid was covered having vented the goo from the steam vent on top, the stove top was a big puddle of white that overflowed down the front of the stove. And, by then, it was drying, solidifying in the places that it wasn’t cooked on.

It looked so devastating, so much like a science experiment gone bad, that the dogs didn’t even go near the stove, let alone lap up the white goo that had dribbled down the front of the stove to puddle on the floor.
The dogs wouldn’t lap it up? Suddenly, my stuffed belly didn’t feel so pleasantly satisfied. I ate something – no, I pigged out on something – that dogs won’t eat?

“What?” Tim asked from the other room. “I wiped up most of it. You should’ve seen it before.”

Dishrag in hand, and many trips between the sink and the stove later, I realized that nothing would spoil the simple pleasure of a meal prepared for me. Goop and goo aside, I was in heaven.

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