I am a crappy cook.
Well, not really crappy. I am just a disinterested cook. I'm bored with the things we always make. I'd be just as happy to have a bowl of cereal for dinner as anything.
Part of the problem is that I USED to cook for the thundering hordes. A minimum of four kids (and, depending on the marriage and the time frame, as many as six) plus a spouse (or not) meant preparing meals in large quantities.
So when it was just a couple of kids, it seemed like too much trouble to go to. And now that, for the most part, it's only the Roo-girl, Wonderhubby and me every night, I completely lack enthusiasm for the whole ordeal.
But the Roo-girl feels the loss. In a fit of emotional incontinence over a dollars-for-chores argument, she vowed to make dinner three times a week.
The first effort was ... um ... edible. Pasta with red sauce and green beans. All of it served cold. (And have I ever told you how I feel about red sauce?)
But recently, we discovered something in our neighborhood that changes everything.
It's a place where you prep a meal with fresh ingredients, making all the sauces or whatever else. Then you take it home and pop it in the freezer for cooking later.
This? This is something that spoke to Roo -- IN. A. VERY. LOUD. VOICE.
We turned the experience into a mother-daughter bonding moment as we put together chicken yakitori, mango salmon, chicken with lemon and artichoke sauce and a very interesting lasagna (no red sauce!).
As part of the "experience," the place offers bottles of water or soda to its customers, so, of course, we imbibed. The diet Coke was just what the doctor ordered, while we covered lasagna noodles with a spinach and alfredo concoction.
Until I hit it with my elbow.
And it spilled all over the counter ... and into the shredded cheese.
Roo and I looked at each other in horror, and, while we scrambled to clean up our mess without anyone noticing, she glared at me.
"When you dish out the cheese, you better make sure you take the stuff in the back where you spilled," she hissed.
So we did.
And next week, when we serve up our lasagna, we two will be the only ones who know:
The secret is in the soda.