I grew up as a fairly sheltered child with a very overprotective mother. Because of this, I was never allowed near a stove, knife, or a grater.
Then I’d graduated college and found myself without the comforts of dining hall food, or the sorority house’s chef. I didn’t know how to cook, nor did I own any cookbooks, but I had a TV and cable, so I watched a lot of Food Network and taught myself the basics of cooking and baking.
My soon-to-be hubby never watched Food Network, nor did he learn to cook from anyone (or so I’m led to believe, because he’s not very good at all). His one claim to fame is repurposing leftovers – something I don’t bother to do. If it can be reheated in the microwave for 2 minutes (which is my default setting by the way), I don’t feel the need to dig out a pan, heat up some oil and sauce, and let it cook. That’s just a waste of a pan and seven minutes of my life, not to mention the additional time it takes to wash said pan.
Because Sam never watched my favorite food stars, he never picked up any basics, like how to chop an onion, or how to salt pasta water or meat before cooking. The first time he tried to make albondigas soup, he’d forgotten to salt the meat, so we had a very delicious soup, but with very bland meatballs. A 30-minute dish took him an hour and a half to make, because the prep took him so long.
But I’m touched when he does cook, because it’s a huge effort. While I pride myself on efficiency and the ability to wing it in the kitchen, he painstakingly chops each thing, measures everything right down to the last drop, and sets timers.
I call Sam my househusband when he works from home. Sometimes he helps me clean, and sometimes he cooks dinner for me so it’s ready by the time I get home from work. So to my delight, I walked in Monday night to an apartment filled with a wonderful, glorious bread-y smell. My stomach was hoping for homemade cornbread, or better yet, biscuits and gravy.
He walked out to greet me with a smug grin on his face.
“Did you make dinner??”
“Nope, I baked something!”
“…What did you bake?”
“Chocolate cake! In honor of National Chocolate Cake Day!”
At this point, I walked into the kitchen to see a large mixing bowl with freshly whipped chocolate buttercream, and a beautiful chocolate cake cooling in a glass pan. My heart burst and rainbow sparkles flew out, because I was so proud of my househusband for making this, AND my kitchen was still in one piece. He’d looked up a recipe from Barefoot Contessa and decided to go for it, even though it was his first time baking.
I couldn’t wait to try it. So I cut a small piece of cake and slathered it with frosting. He picked up a crumb and put it in his mouth.
“How is it?
“Really salty, actually.”
“Did you use sea salt?”
“Well, that might be why, because sea salt and table salt are different types of salty, so you can’t really swap the two out without changing up proportions.”
“Oh. Well, try it and tell me what’s wrong.”
No biggie, I figured. It was probably larger chunks of sea salt that weren’t mixed in probably. It could probably pass as a salted chocolate cake, right?
So I took a big bite.
And immediately choked, because it was so salty I felt like I just ate a salt lick. My eyes shot to the glass jar where I keep my baking supplies (table salt, flour, brown sugar, white sugar), and noticed that my jar of salt was almost gone.
In his first time navigating my baking supplies, he’d mistakenly used salt instead of sugar, so he’d put in two cups of salt into the cake batter, didn’t lick the batter spoon, and baked the entire thing.
After getting the bitterly salty taste out of my mouth with a glass of chocolate milk, I was able to make a batch of emergency chocolate cupcakes to go with the frosting, because that was actually very good, and I didn’t want to let it go to waste.
And I let him help me measure out the flour.