Thursday, November 03, 2011

Dinner Dictation

My friend Elly once told a story about her husband cooking something. The story entails her having to give him step by step instructions which led to more questions than he had originally and her doing far more work than she would have expected since he was doing the cooking. It was hilarious in that many of us could relate to the situation where a helping husband is more trouble than help.

Thatboy is always offering to help in the kitchen, but in truth, I rarely let him. I've tried on a couple of occasions which resulted in sriracha and spaghetti, and me having to walk him through dumping a frozen bag into a skillet. Usually I give him a simple job to do like shucking peas.

But throw a kid into the mix and you start turning to help in unlikely places. It was easy when we had frozen meals. Thatboy has become very adept at heating up frozen entrees in the oven. (Especially when his wife writes instructions on how to reheat on the foil covering it.) It's a little more difficult once those freezer meals are gone.

This is a dinner that was a complete joint effort, due in part to a fussy child. So while I took care of the baby, Thatboy asked if he could help get dinner started as it was getting late. I told him he could do the pork tenderloin if he was so inclined. Which really entails him running back and forth between the kitchen and the baby's room between each step as I dictated. Because of that, try to picture a 2-3 minute pause between each of these interactions.

Me: Turn the oven up to 375 and rub the pork with olive oil and seasonings
He: What seasoning should I use?
Me: You can use any seasoning you like. We have an entire shelf full of them.
He: I don't know what seasoning goes with pork.
Me: Well, I usually like rosemary. Why don't you use some rosemary, salt, and pepper.
He: We don't have any rosemary.
Me: I find that hard to believe. Did you check the spice shelf?
He: yes
Me: And the spice rack beside the oven?
He: Yes
Me: Uggh. I can't find it for you, I'm kind of stuck with the baby here. Why don't you use Cajun seasoning? We have two different bottles. The front one is unlabeled and that's the Emeril seasoning. The other is a giant bottle that says "Cajun seasoning" you can't miss it.
He: Which one should I use?
Me: Whichever you can find - I'm trying to make it easy for you. We've already been at this for about 15 minutes and the pork isn't even in the oven yet.

After that it got quiet for a bit, so I figured we were all good. Until of course the pork actually went in the oven and Thatboy needed advice on how long to set the timer for. And around this time I was ready to rejoin him in the kitchen and get to work on the side dish. So while the pork cooked, I tossed together some cabbage and bacon. But this time, I also added some apples. Sweet apples, bitter cabbage, salty bacon, along with some vinegar - all work together to create a sweet and savory dish. Better than coleslaw and a perfect fall dish. Especially served alongside some pork. And as for that pork? It came out delicious. I'm sure you're as surprised as I am. Although I think that I might be off the hook for cooking pork tenderloins. I might make them Thatboy's specialty for nights I want off!

ABC - Apple Bacon Cabbage

4 slices bacon
2 Tbsp sugar
1 onion, chopped
1 head red cabbage, shredded
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp caraway seed
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup red wine
  1. Cook the bacon in a skillet. Remove the cooked bacon, but leave the drippings in the skillet.
  2. Add the sugar to the bacon drippings and cook, stirring, for two minutes.
  3. Add the onion and cook slowly until lightly browned.
  4. Crumble the bacon and stir it in with the cabbage, apples, vinegar, caraway seeds, nutmeg, cayenne and red wine. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Partially uncover the skillet and add 1/2 cup water. Cook for about 35 minutes.


  1. I LOVE that Elly story! I don't know how I lucked out and ended up with a guy that's a good cook, but I'm happy about it!

  2. Haha you've trained him well! cooking at first is mainly following directions anyway...I think he can handle it.

  3. Now I know why my mom never let us cook in the kitchen, we would have been eating at 8:00 which wouldn't have suited a family growing up back in the day.

  4. Cute stories. One common trait men have is they can't find things even if it is under their nose. But in the end, the joint effort has resulted in nice meal.

  5. Thatboy did very well. And yes, I can sympathize. Although to be fair - my husband has four meals he can make on his own - the same four meals he lived on for a decade while single! And I like rosemary with pork...

  6. I love cabbage and pork together - this sounds delicious!

  7. So how was the tenderloin? This was very funny and resonated with me. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  8. Despite not being a wiz in the kitchen, it's so nice that he is willing to help out! My husband is also always worried about screwing up the little things (that are pretty hard to mess up).

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  10. 15 minutes?! That is impressive! It takes Tom an hour to make a salad. I'm loving all you're doing with cabbage lately.

  11. Totally relate to what you're talking about here. R will come up with recipes he wants to try (usually some strange combination of carrots, raisins and seeds/nuts and other random ingredients) and then ask me how to do every step and where everything is. Then he screws something up and starts sulking. I give him credit for trying, but it's probably just easier for me to make the meal and give him small, specific tasks.

  12. Oh my goodness...that is the best Elly moment ever. I loved when she did that. Thanks for a great memory and a yummy post!