Casserole o’ His Dreams



That young bride looks so comfortable in her kitchen. Hard to believe she was virtually clueless!

Well, I could boil pasta and open a jar of Newman’s Own (serve the hot pasta, and pour the sauce straight from the jar). I could kinda boil an egg, and made a decent potato salad, pasta salad, and tuna salad. Oh, and I could also make Eggs & Tortillas. That became a staple, along with Kraft Macaroni & Cheese with a can of tuna and frozen peas. I made a tuna and canned green bean salad, too, but Doug wasn’t very impressed with that one.

Thinking about it now, it seems hard to believe I had so few cooking skills, and so little interest, but at some point in my childhood someone told me, “You’re a baker, not a cook,” and I believed them. It didn’t help that I grew-up at a time when women were being pushed out of the house and into the work place. Learning to cook was so 1950’s!

Doug liked cooking, but he didn’t know any more than I did. He had a Rice-a-Roni version of Mexican Rice, and at one point he learned to make Linguine with Clam Sauce. (That was an instant hit.) His most ambitious recipe was learning to make his mother’s Chicken & Noodles for our first Easter. With handmade noodles! It was good enough to become a tradition, but Easter still only came once a year.

Maybe, it was my shelf full of  cookbooks, or the lovely, wedding shower gifts that filled our kitchen. Maybe, it was discovering our income could not support eating out five times a week, or maybe it was Doug speaking longingly and lovingly about favorite dishes his Mom used to make. I’m not sure when or why, but at some point I decided I just had to learn how to cook.

So, I began to cook. The first thing I made was meatloaf, because that was something familiar my Mother had made, but what Doug really wanted was Tuna Casserole. (Can you hear the angels sing?) The way he spoke of Tuna Casserole, you’d think it was Heaven sent! I had never eaten it, and the only recipe I knew of back then had a mushroom soup base, but it was still a far more advanced recipe than anything I had ever made. Even a sauce from a can of soup required more skills than I had ever used in the kitchen. However, from the way Doug talked about his Mom’s Tuna Casserole, I knew I had to take the plunge and try. And, it wasn’t half bad. That Tuna Casserole was the start of my learning to cook.

The other day, on our way to our prayer meeting, Doug said to me: “You know what I’ve been wanting?” I didn’t have to ask. I knew. Twenty-five years later, I can hear it in his voice. Longingly and lovingly he asks, and I very gladly oblige. Who knew a man’s stomach was so close to his wife’s heart?

By the way, I make my sauce from scratch now.

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