My husband cooked for me...once! It has become one of those tales of any marriage: the same man whose specialty was defrosting a Lean Cuisine, treated me to his special fish dish. Coated in sheets (and sheets...and sheets!) of mayonnaise, even he had to admit that, while it was moist, maybe he should have cut back on the Hellman's. To this day when he kindly offers to cook, we both pass, and instead he is given a chance to use one of his true gifts: dish washing (at which I am a complete failure).
In many ways, this division of labor works. I can indulge my love of cooking and he can eat contentedly while knowing that the cleanliness of the kitchen meets his liking. There are, though, catches. I am, I admit, a sloppy cook. Within minutes nuts scatter on the countertop, eggs trace the stove and flour coast the floor. Now that my cooking fits in between the moments that R. is happily indulging in Cheerios or playing with his toys, my haplessness is augmented as I am constantly straddling the jobs of entertainer and chef.
This has, admittedly, led to the typical bickering of dual income parents: should I try to be neater? Should I do more of the clean up? Should we splurge, as many of my friends do, to a weakly cleaner? Should J. try to be more patient with crumbs on the floor? Do we just succumb to defrosted meals, straight from chez Trader Joes?
For now we've both tried to share the compromising. J is trying to be as patient as possible with the scattering of ingredients on the floor (and to appreciate that it is the price to pay for a nice dinner with an 11 month old). And I try (I really do) to keep my mess contained as much as possible (or at least to share the clean up.)
The best meals allow us both to be happy. Last night, in another of my Orangette inspired meals, our dinner consisted of opening sausages and cleaning stems of of grapes. Left with stems and packages to throw away, the end result was an incredible meal and only one dirty skillet. (Ok, and one lone grape that rolled away. But I found it before R.!)
This dish is absolutely one of those where the sum is more than the parts. I literally browned the sausages (Trader Joe's chicken) in a skillet, threw grapes and olive oil on top and baked it in a 475 degree oven for 20 minutes. Some how baking the grapes transformed them completely until they tasted of the freshest, sweetest, most complex fruit. Fabulous.