Joel “forbid” me—and we all know how well that works– from posting what I am about to post. You may recall that Joel is the culinary master in our house. Not long ago when I dared to comment on his method of cooking, he said to me, “You telling me how to cook is like me telling you how to practice law.” If this were a fencing match, his verbal foil pricked me. Point well taken.
I can say, lovingly and thankfully, that Joel loves to provide sustenance to his family, and his neighbors. He inherited this trait from his mother, Vera. Vera serves a large Sunday meal to her family and assorted friends every single Sunday consisting of chicken, ham, biscuits, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, okra, beets or other assorted vegetables, fruit molds, a couple of desserts, and sweet tea. She is a gracious hostess who whips up three course meals from nothing in minutes and needs no notice as to the number of people to be seated at the table. Joel does the same. Where I will look in the pantry and refrigerator and see nothing, Joel sees the ingredients for a hearty meal. I am no Vera.
But, as Sanford used to say, “It’s the big one, Elizabeth! I’m coming!” I had that same thought minutes ago. Joel just caught our microwave, the brand new one we installed not two weeks ago, ON FIRE! I am so thankful I was not the one to do it, because I would never hear the end of it. So, may I just point out here, dare I comment on (use French accent here) Chef Jo-el’s kitchen expertise, even I know not to put jars in the microwave which have metal on them because…wait for it…. they catch on fire! I saw the sizeable orange and blue tipped flames in the microwave while his back was turned and I yelled “Fire! Fire!” He danced a nervous jig in front of the microwave while clumsily trying to find the stop button before the flames grew any larger. And, I was no help at all because I was laughing.
We recently changed churches and the church graciously held a pot-luck supper to welcome us. Joel prepared our dishes to take and I took care of other things around the house on Saturday while he cooked. He was happy and I was happy doing things that suited each of us, and staying out of the other’s way. That is one recipe I do know….the recipe for a happy marriage. I truly paid zero attention to what he prepared. After the food was blessed, we began the line. With a line full of new people and future friends behind us, I lifted the lid to a green bean casserole and said sincerely, “Oh, this looks good! Who made it?” Joel said, “Honey, that’s ours.” Laughter rippled down the line of people. Well, I guess the cat had to be let out of the bag sometime. For future reference, dear friends, the Cook family contributions to fellowship suppers will be from Joel.
Despite my ineptness and disinterest in cooking, I do like to prepare the Thanksgiving meal. Although grocery shopping makes me exceedingly cranky (what is all this stuff? what do you do with it? where is what I need? how many cups are in a quart?), I take pride in at least fixing the turkey and dressing. Somehow I feel like a better mother when the family sits down for Thanksgiving and I parade in the perfectly browned turkey to display in the middle of the table, served with dressing that I made from Grandma Sweet’s recipe.
But, I fought hard to carry the mantle for the turkey preparation. Not long after we married, and well before we had children, Thanksgiving approached and I began to plan the meal. I had never cooked a turkey. I had no recipe and no experience. But, I had the internet. While discussing the plans for the day with Joel, I casually mentioned that I planned to cook the turkey. Joel stopped, cocked his head, and raised his eyebrows. Not in a good way. In a way that made me instantly defensive and waiting for his next move. Which wasn’t a smart one. Joel said, “Are you sure you don’t want my mother to help you with that?”
We had two turkeys that meal. The dead one on the table and Joel.