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Stepping Up To The Plate – And, Wherein I Am Awesome

Last week ‘The Parents’ went away on their respective Annual Ski Trips. My mother ventured out to Vermont for a week with the girls, and my father flew out to Canada for a week with the guys. Leaving yours truly in-charge of the household.

My first thought was, ‘Finally, I am going to get in some much needed alone time!’ But, that relaxing thought was immediately followed by, ‘Oh Snap! WE’RE ALL GUNNA STARVE’.

You see; my father does most of the cooking around here because he’s really good at it. I mean it’s almost impossible for us to go out to eat in a restaurant since we’ve been spoiled by the gourmet caliber of delectable delights my dad creates almost on a daily basis.

And, it’s no secret that I’ve struggled inside of a kitchen. Cooking for me is about as natural as a fish building a fire.

But there I was with two hungry people also known as: my 13-year-old son JCH, and my 89-year-old Grandfather Poppa Sye. And I was responsible for feeding them. Let the adventures begin.

Monday night, I managed to pull off dinner quite easily. I made my usual stand-by meal that has always been a huge success. Pork Chops and Mashed Potatoes. It’s simple and it’s delicious if I do say so myself.

Tuesday night? Well, let’s just say that presented with a few challenges.

I opened the refrigerator half expecting to find something fabulous and already made. Sadly, that was not the case. In fact, the inside my refrigerator never looked so empty. Aside from the shelves overloaded with condiments, there wasn’t as much as a head of lettuce to be found. And, Bacon Flavored Ranch Dressing is only good if you have something to pour it on!

Empty Fridge

I remained hopeful the freezer would reveal a secret stash of yummy goodness just waiting to be cooked. But, I couldn’t find a scrap of meat or a chicken breast anywhere. All that was in the freezer were a few bags of frozen vegetables. Had there been any rice in the house, I may have been able to work with that. But of course, we were fresh out.

I wondered aimlessly over to the pantry with my fingers crossed. And once again, I was greeted with emptiness.


Rummaging desperately through cereal boxes, and cookies, I started to panic. There wasn’t a whole lot I could do with a jar of Mandarin Oranges and a half eaten box of Oreos.

[Side bar: Dear Mom & Dad,
Thanks for going away on vacation and leaving empty cupboards and a vacant refrigerator behind. Don’t worry about us. We’ll be just fine. Love, the hungry people.]

Forty minutes into my quest for food, I noticed a box of Penne Pasta hidden behind an empty box of crackers and immediately felt relieved. Ah yes, pasta would be perfect.

I raced over to the cabinets, pulled out the biggest pot and started boiling water. I quietly hummed a tune to myself while adding just enough Olive Oil to the water ensuring the pasta wont stick. I was prematurely confident that I would be capable of making an edible meal.

I took out a second pot and placed it on the stove – which WOULD HAVE been used to cook the gravy. EXCEPT that when I went back to the pantry I realized, WE DIDN’T HAVE ANY SAUCE. And we didn’t have ANY TOMATOES.


Now what?

Staring blankly into the pantry my mind raced. I searched high and low for anything that could be added to pasta other than tomato sauce. Because while I love me some Chinese Food, I am pretty sure I am not supposed to add Soy Sauce or Teriyaki to PENNE pasta. Right?

By sheer luck, I located a single jar of Roasted Red Peppers, two jars of Artichoke Hearts, and one can of Black Olives, which I found conveniently hiding in the metal cabinets of the garage. [Right next to the paint cans. W.T.F.?] At least I knew I could slice and dice them up to add to the pasta for color and flavor, but I still needed to figure out some kind of saucy mixture.

I went back to the kitchen and spun the Lazy Susan filled with every imaginable spice when I happened upon a bowl of fresh garlic cloves. And that’s when my Inner Italian took over. I peeled, sliced and washed the cloves, grabbed my father’s garlic press and crushed until my hearts content. I took out a frying pan, threw in some Olive Oil and Chicken Broth, sprinkled a dash of Crushed Red Pepper and simmered the garlic until browned.

Unsure of how this would taste when combined together, I wisely called upon my fearless 13-year-old son to test the food. Before handing him a plate, I grated some Romano Cheese and lighted covered his dish.

He took one bite, while I anxiously waited for the expression on his face to cringe. Much to my surprise, my son’s green eyes lit up and he said, “Mom, this is really good. In fact, it’s almost as good as Grandpa’s food.” My son continued to shovel heaping spoonfuls of the pasta into his cake hole.

At first I thought he was exaggerating, or just trying to be polite. But then I saw my son eat an Artichoke Heart. And that’s when I knew with utmost certainty my dinner was indeed fantastic. Because my son? Hates, loathes, abhors, artichokes.

I proudly served the meal to Poppa Sye, who, by the way, could not stop raving about just how scrumptious he thought it was. In-between bites Poppa Sye kept calling me, “Femme Di’ Casa” which means ‘Woman Of The House’ in Italian and is the highest form of compliment.

Seriously people. Dinner was nothing short of a miracle.


But, I didn’t stop there.

Wednesday and Thursday, I also made dinners [and practically out of thin air] that also were pretty darn good. [Said the girl patting herself on the back.] I did have to take one trip to the grocery store, because there are endless options when it comes to making chicken. [Yanno, as long as I don’t use any flour.]

But, by Friday night, after cooking – for four days in a row? I just wanted to order in pizza.

I am happy to report ‘The Parents’ have returned home, the fridge is now full, as is the pantry. And, I am really looking forward to my father’s cooking! Because I am totally ready to hang up my apron. [At least until the next time The Parents go away!]

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  • … **intraprendenti** femme di' casa 🙂

  • *blushing*

  • You did great and the pasta that was a creation…my daughter is like you and can't seem to embrace cooking you either do or don't however, your a survivor which is most important and when the chips were down…you done did it…

    Dorothy from grammology

  • That was such a fun adventure. I have found myself much in the same predicament plenty-o-times. Looks like you truly did pull a delectable meal virtually out of thin air. LOL 🙂

  • Oh hey I sent you an email letting you know you won a Free advertising spot on my blog. Did you get it? I need you to send me your banner ad code so I can post it up in my sidebar for the month of February 🙂

  • I did done it good!

  • Ive never been more proud!

  • Oh nice! Im going to check my email now. However, I have NO IDEA what my banner ad code is?

  • I was on the edge of my seat… is she gonna have to run to the store? lol
    Congrats on that tastey meal it sounds yummy!

  • Isn't cooking therapeutic? 😉

  • I will look for ANYTHING before going to the store!

  • Actually yes! At least when it comes out good!

  • michellegartner

    It sounds awesome- I love artichoke hearts.

    I don't like pasta dripping in tomatoes or sauce much anymore. For some reason as I have gotten *ahem “older” tomatoes don't agree with me at all.

    Sometimes I have my moments in the kitchen and other times I make things so wickedly nasty, that I amaze myself that I don't get arrested for exposing minors to indecent cooking. ;OP

  • Well done! But you have cooked lovely meals before, so why doubt yourself?

  • Oh I know that feeling. Tomatoes can give me a mean case of heartburn!

  • I guess Im just not that confident in my cooking yet!

  • silverneurotic

    My dad was so worried about me starving while him and my mom are at the hospital that he made my mom freeze a shepards pie, chicken soup and a big pot of tomato sauce. Plus the night before they left we had chinese (and had leftovers for several meals) and plenty of canned soups and chef boyardee. I haven't even touched half the stuff (except the chinese).

  • territerri

    You totally have a hidden talent! Go with it!

  • Apparently!

  • Awwwwwwwwww! That was SOOO sweet!

  • Is this the longest convo you have ever had (bloggish wise), 11 comments ? OK, gotta go, need to dye my hawk from blue to red !!

    ps I think ur seriously awesome, just sayin…. in fact, you are ALMOST as kuul as Deb ;>)

  • Im not sure if this is the longest blog comment conversation Ive ever had or not. And thanks for the compliment.

  • bacon flavored ranch?! YUM

  • That's great! I wish I had that pasta recipe.

  • I KNOW!!!

  • The recipe is easy: make things up as you go along and hope for the best!

  • well nobody died. you did good girlfriend. next time your folks go away, set a plate for me.

  • Now that's a DEAL!

  • I can't believe they left you with a bare fridge and pantry. I'm going away for 2 days and am leaving enough for an army. You go girl! You definitely have a talent you need to tap!

  • OMG, I wish YOU could leave some food for me! Your recipes are A-mazing!

  • Steph

    Thanks, Sweetie.

  • xoxoxo

  • Hi! I see by the way of the “my father link”, that he has an apprentice in toe. Yes, if I'm to be remembered for anything, it should be that I taught my sons well in learning to survive, cooking that is with my claim to fame being spaghetti bolognese!

  • Oh man, there is NOTHING better than a really GREAT bolognese!!!

  • You don't give yourself enough credit. Should have brought them to KHCC.

  • Aw! shucks!

  • Good job, Mel! I have been avoiding my kitchen in the past month or two. Gotta get back in there some time I guess.

  • I am NOT a fan of cooking YET, but at least Im getting better!

  • Good job, Mel! I have been avoiding my kitchen in the past month or two. Gotta get back in there some time I guess.

  • I am NOT a fan of cooking YET, but at least Im getting better!

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