My Husband, The Chef
How my family discovered that a man’s place really can be … in the kitchen!
Maayan Jaffe Photographed By Justin Tsucalas
It’s actually pretty ridiculous how all of this happened. You see, we’ve been married 11 years. And from the time my newlywed rose-colored glasses broke, up until several months ago, I would not allow my husband within two feet of my pots and pans.
Sure, Yiztchak was in charge of the grilling – that’s manly work. (But I always boiled the corn on the cob and made any accompanying salads). He could pour the children’s cereal, but I hated how he would dribble milk off the side of the bowl and not wipe it up. Yuck!
But then we had our fourth child and reality struck. Nowadays, I am working a more-than-full-time job and don’t get home until 5:30 p.m. or even later. My husband is a hard-working teacher, but he’s done at 4 p.m. I’m content eating a nonfat yogurt and banana for dinner. Yitzchak needs a meal.
But the truth is, the busier I got – first at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and now at the JT – the more frequently (nearly every night but Shabbat) I served the children mac and cheese or spaghetti with ketchup. Our once-stellar diet (I’ve always been big on fresh fruits and veggies, fish and whole grains) had been substituted for a Dunkin’ Donuts egg-and-cheese sandwich and a bowl of Cocoa Krispies.
After witnessing our children’s “suffering” for some time, my husband came to understand he would have to take action. I remember it well – the “intervention.”
Yitzchak was waiting for me to come home from work (late as usual). He forced me to sit down.
“We have to talk,” he said. That is never good.
“I’m proud of you, Pook.”
He used the nickname. He was trying to cajole me. A “but” was on the tip of his tongue.
“It’s not that you are not around at all. You do homework with the kids, handle apointments, pay the bills, arrange the taxes, but WE’RE HUNGRY!”
I looked at my son, then 8, for support.
“It’s true, Ma,” he said. “You give us the same thing every night.”
I wanted to cry. Am I such a bad mother and wife? Is it so important that we sit down as a family together, eat a balanced meal and talk about our day? Besides, my son Shlomo only likes challah and Israeli chocolate spread. What could he possibly be asking for?
Netanya, 5, and Devarya, 2, were listening eagerly from the stairs.
“I have a solution,” Yitzchak said.
A solution. The men always have a solution!
I did not mean to let that look of horror cross my face. I love my husband, really I do. But the last time he cooked – 10? years ago – he left the kitchen a mess. He burnt the bottom of the frying pan. He mixed peanut butter with rice. He didn’t know that tbsp. stands for tablespoon and tsp. for teaspoon. This was not happening.
But it was.
“I have more time now, and I am willing to take on the grocery shopping and the cooking,” Yitzchak proclaimed.
And so he did.
My husband started Googling how to make chicken skewers and homemade chili. He looked into onion soup and fruit soup. At first he followed recipes. Then, he started making up his own.
And weekday cooking turned to Shabbat cooking – fresh chumus and flavorful chicken soup. Preparing dishes with himself in mind (meat) changed to preparing dishes with the kids and me in mind. We eat Pareve or dairy.
This week alone, we had beans and rice, broccoli with cheese, breakfast for dinner, roasted sweet potatoes and homemade whole wheat pizza – with cauliflower on top. Everything was delicious.
Now, to be fair, he is still male. He can’t multitask to save his life. When the kids run through the kitchen, he panics. He doesn’t want people
(especially me) offering him suggestions and advice.
Of course, he thinks everything he makes is delicious. When I made fruit soup, he said, “I’m not into fruit soup.” When he makes it: “This is pretty good.” The male ego …
And though he cleans up after himself, I usually do it a second time in the morning. He just doesn’t see the food caked on the stove or the grease that got behind the sink faucet.
Still, I have to be honest, there is nothing like a home-cooked meal. We’re all healthier and happier.
Marinated Chicken Skewers
Boneless skinless chicken breast
Cut all the meat and vegetables into chunks. Then place randomly on the skewers leaving about an inch on both sides. Each skewer should have at least three pieces of chicken, and for esthetic reasons it’s nice to vary the color pattern. Next, brush each skewer lightly with olive oil. Then roll the skewer lightly on a dish covered with spices. Barbecue until thoroughly cooked and somewhat crispy.
Extra Easy Homemade Chumus
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oilr
In a blender or food processor combine garbanzo beans, garlic, cumin, salt and olive oil. Blend on low speed, gradually adding reserved bean liquid, until desired consistency is achieved. Serves four.