19 May 2010

Failure To Launch

"You've failed me."

Those were the first words I heard when I cracked open my eyes yesterday morning.

"What?" I croaked.

"Why don't I have bacon in my mouth yet?" he asked.

Patrick had decided to go into work early and I didn't hear him get up. I was still in bed sleeping when he hovered over me, ready to leave.

"I'm kidding. I didn't want to wake you up just because I'm having an early morning," he said.

Ugh, Day 2 and I was already failing at the 50s Housewife Experiment. According to the guides, old wifey is supposed to serve breakfast, even if it's early for her, and then go back to bed.

"Um, you want some cereal? I can do that," I suggested.

"Nah. I gotta go. I just wanted you to know that your breadwinner was going to work without knowing how much you care and support him," he grinned.


I got up, put the dumb bow in my hair and basically stared at him until he left, sure to give him his goodbye kiss at the door. Then it was onto my daily list of chores and the chore-of-the-day: cleaning the bedroom and handling all the laundry.

There were no real scandals there except one - when I removed our under-the-bed bins and started cleaning, I discovered two things:

  1. My asthma isn't entirely gone. Hello, dust!
  2. Our old pal Mickey (and possibly his wife and purse-loving baby) apparently used to have a gay old time under our bed: a lovely collection of mouse poop greeted me. Great. That's not disturbing or anything. The only silver lining was that they were old (some had turned green - I presume that means old, right?) and not fresh. That definitely would have been worse.
That rag went right in the bin. I don't care how economical or whatever 50s housewife strove to be, that thing was outta there. So second silver lining: I got a new rag! Oh joy! It's officially a red letter day for Mrs. Byck.

For lunch, I reheated the shepherd's pie. In the oven, not the microwave. It was at that moment that I realized I was already cheating at this experiment, as I've been sending Patrick off with leftovers (which he undoubtedly zaps in his office's microwave). A 50s husband wouldn't have had that luxury, so instead, the Mrs. would have had to pack a cold lunch for him (sandwich, soup in a thermos, etc.). Crap.

So - I have two options:
  1. Presume my husband lives in a Twilight Zone, where everyday he heads off to "The Future" with a microwave and such; OR
  2. Start cooking so that there's only enough for dinner, no major leftovers, and pack him a 50s-era brown bag lunch.
If you have an opinion on which I should do, feel free to post it in the comments. For the meantime (because of my menu planning thus far), he's taking the leftovers with him. Our fridge isn't big enough to hold them all.

Since my poor husband was so cruelly denied his bacon this morning by his failure of a wife, I decided to incorporate it into dinner by preparing coq au vin. At first I thought maybe that was a tad "fancy" for the 50s housewife, but the recipe (in various forms) appears in nearly every cookbook I have from the era, so I considered it approved. Plus, the recipe's insistence of canned mushrooms over fresh ones brought the concept back to 50s earth. In the picture, the coq au vin looks a bit like sewage backup, but it was quite nice.

With the chicken, I prepared potatoes au gratin (which is more like potatoes au fatten - bring on that whole milk, butter and cheese, people!), glazed, minted carrots and heated the leftover biscuits.

The major thing I've learned thus far is that in the 50s, a vegetable couldn't just be a vegetable. It needed to have fat, sugar and / or flour dumped on it before it could be eaten. The glazed minted carrots were no exception. Here, too, I had to cheat a bit because the recipe called for half a CUP of butter and half a CUP of brown sugar for a simple bunch of carrots, supposedly enough for just two people. I halved those amounts, but as you can see, there was still plenty of diabetes and heart disease to go around. Look at that pool of sugar and (separating!) butter around those carrots!

I will say, though, that the carrots tasted really good with fresh mint. I'm thinking there's probably a good way to get that flavour without having to drown the veg so thoroughly.

Dessert was leftover angel food with berries, but I didn't bother to take a picture of it. Meh.

Patrick most definitely liked this meal more than the first, but he still delivered one of those snotty little nose scrunches when I revealed that the coq au vin contained a bit of celery - yet another thing on the list that he "hates." I actually knew that one already, which was why I didn't tell him celery was in it until he was chowing down and paying me the ultimate compliment of laboured breathing while eating.

While it's totally un-50s-wife of me, I'm a big ol' bitch that way; I believe half of his food phobias are in his head and that if he'd only try the stuff he claims to hate, he'll realize they're not that bad.

Did you know that before dating me, he thought he hated steak? Really. Maybe it's because I originally hail from Alberta, but I thought that was impossible.

Anyway, this week buddy boy is likely to enjoy all kinds of things he hates while the Mrs. stares at him from across the table with the smuggest of smug looks. I wonder if this is what women who poison their husbands' food feel like too?


Elizabeth 3:45 pm, May 19, 2010  

I say go forth with the occasional leftovers for your husband's lunch - perhaps you could pretend his office has a hotplate (they would have been around in the 50s).

Tamara 4:09 pm, May 19, 2010  

I don't have an opinion on the brown bag vs. twilight zone microwave, but I wanted to say how incredibly awesome this experiment is!

dinah34 6:57 pm, May 19, 2010  

go for the twilight zone microwave. you could just pretend that you've sent in a thermos, which would have been totally 1950's appropriate.

those carrots sure do look sweet!

Foxy Renard 10:05 pm, May 19, 2010  

I seriously want you to make him brown bags. Just because it seems so crazy!

Those buttery carrots made me want carrots for the first time since... well, probably ever. I will try to make something similar this week!

Kim,  10:51 pm, May 19, 2010  

I say leftovers is fine - as long as you send it in real Tupperware...


Jen 11:44 am, May 20, 2010  

Thanks for the comments, everyone!

I think I might go with Dora's suggestion - a bit of both.

Kim: Totally! I actually scouted some original Tupperware (bought second-hand) just before this experiment began! :)

Renee,  11:54 am, May 20, 2010  

First off, who hates steak?

Secondly, I say go with Twilight Zone.

Love the experiment.

Jodi Williams,  2:28 pm, May 20, 2010  

This is excellent. I can't wait for your Caroline Ingalls Experiment.

Nicole G.,  10:51 pm, November 06, 2010  

"...didn't tell him celery was in it until he was chowing down and paying me the ultimate compliment of laboured breathing while eating."

Pure genius. Love the way you write!

Laurewyrm,  7:34 pm, November 26, 2012  

Plan meals that create cold friendly leftovers! Meatloaf turns into great thick cut sandwiches. Chicken and ham can be sandwiches, or turned into chicken and ham salad. Or rather, chicken salad and ham salad.

Danielle 12:23 pm, July 31, 2013  

I LOVE this experiment and might have to try it myself. I fear all the dust bunnies I might/will find.

Anonymous,  8:05 pm, July 13, 2015  

I think the reason men of the 50's didn't complain about dinner was because they had a cold sack lunch. Awesome experiment! Great voice!

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Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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