26 Oct 2010

(I Fell Into A) Blubbery Ring of Plenty

This is an account of Day 1 of the 50s Housewife Experiment: Husband Obsessed Edition.

Before starting the experiment, I compiled a list of food my husband will tolerate (but just barely), foods he hates, and food that will literally kill him. I will obviously turn to these when I've had enough of this crap avoid using those this week (or use them just sparingly in the case of the first list) while still attempting to create meals from 1950s cookbooks:

Patrick Is Unimpressed With:

  • Cauliflower
  • Fish
  • Gelatin-based molds
  • Grapefruit
  • Green peppers (especially if in big chunks)
  • Kidney beans
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Mustard
  • Peas
  • Pie (especially fruit pie) - really? really? *Sigh*
Patrick Loathes:
  • Capers
  • Celery
  • Cilantro
  • Coconut
  • Cooked fruits
  • Coriander
  • Cucumber
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Pineapple
  • Raisins
  • Relish
Patrick Is Deathly Allergic To:
  • All seafood shellfish (shrimp, oysters, clams, mussels, lobster, crab, etc.)

(He actually used to hate a whole lot more than what is on that list. I've slowly chipped away at it over the years. Yay, me.)

There is a lot in that list that was considered a staple in 50s cooking, especially when it came to adding those "fancy" touches (I'm looking at you, pimento olives), but I will make do and attempt to add the little flourishes in other ways.

So, with list in hand, I got up and made him breakfast. Thankfully, typical breakfasts of the time weren't all that different from modern breakfasts, and they very, very seldom included olives. I kept things simple with scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, strawberries, fresh-squeezed orange juice and coffee.

Below is a pic I took with my cell phone (yes, cell phones were not available in the 1950s, but I'm using mine in this capacity anyway. I figure on things related to the blogging process, I can use modern technology to get 'er done). This time around, so as to make my husband happier(!), I'll likely be taking pictures as we're eating rather than before, as he complained last time that he didn't like having to wait as I snapped pics. That poor, poor man.

Off he went to work, and then off I went to work as I actually had some freelance stuff to take care of in the morning (here on out referred to as "volunteer work at the Junior League"). I then went on to tidy up a bit and bake a batch of spice cookies - a recipe that essentially comprised of molasses, shortening and flour with just a pinch of ginger, soda, salt and cinnamon. Because I want to support my husband in every way possible, and that includes positive subliminal messages in food, I cut the cookies into shapes of stars - because HE'S a star. Awwwwwwwww.

Around 12:15, I gave him a call at the office to see (in non-nagging fashion) when he planned to be home for lunch (his new office is literally a minute from our home). He hadn't realized the time and said he'd come home right away. Two minutes later, he was in our hallway.

Emotional! Antennae! Activated! Husband Status: Irritated

I got lunch on the table right away: A toasted sandwich of lettuce, tomato, mayo and cheddar, homemade (not cooked!) Honeycrisp applesauce (with the peel - that's why it looks pinkish with specks), cookies and milk. This particular menu was straight from one of my book's 50s menu plans.

Obeying my Emotional Antennae, I said, "having one of those Monday mornings?" He then unloaded what was on his mind (trying to get the swing of things at his new job, especially the lingo and acronyms they heavily use) and I attempted to "lize" (listen with my eyes) throughout it all. I have a feeling this is something I need to work on as I felt my face getting tired of being so actively positive after just a short while. As suggested, I gave no advice but encouraged him to keep at it, that he'd get the hang of things and gently reminded him about raising his EQ (Enthusiasm! Quotient!). This is so *not* my style of motivation normally (I like to come up with solutions, not cheerlead), so I found this to be largely an exercise in restraint on my part.

He enjoyed lunch (but was not wild about the applesauce, hmph), took some cookies to work with him and then was off, leaving much happier than he arrived. That's a win in the wife's corner.

Patrick had informed me he was going to be home at 8pm at the latest as he was meeting a colleague after work. Naturally, this "meeting" was at a bar, but, as a good 50s housewife supporting her husband's ambitions, I pretended this was a legit meeting of the minds that he "needed" to do.

Based on this, I timed my day around when he'd be expected home. I cleaned, did some laundry, updated the blog, voted in the city election and then finally got going on dinner.

I've found that cooking by 1950s standards takes more work and time than how I usually cook as there's almost always some sort of sauce to be made. This dinner was no exception. I used the Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book to create something called a Ring of Plenty with creamed chicken and broccoli along with a green salad.

A Ring of Plenty consists of macaroni, bread crumbs, eggs, cheese (2 cups!), whole milk (2 cups!), butter (4 Tbs!), parsley, onion and pimentos (which I omitted to better please Mr. Fussypants). This is all baked in a ring pan for about 30 minutes. Once cooked, you then fill the hole of this mold with chicken and brocolli that have been cooked in your standard white sauce (which means even more butter and milk or cream).

When I flipped the mold onto the serving plate, the Ring of Plenty (of lard) was so greased up that it literally skidded off the plate and slid along the counter like a curling rock. I was able to slide it back onto the intended plate, leaving a huge streak of fat in its wake, giving me a glimpse of what was about to happen to my arteries from eating this thing.

Unfortunately, at 7:53 (yes, I noted it), Patrick called to say he was still at the bar and wanted to know if he needed to come home right away. Um, yes. But I said it wayyy more politely than "Modern Jen" would have. I then played that fun game of try-to-keep-things-hot-but-not-dried-out for the next half hour until he got home.

Emotional! Antennae! Activated! Husband Status: Three+ Beers In (a.k.a. Content)

We ate straight away - here's a look at our meal in its full glory:
He enjoyed it - a lot. I found it tasted ... beige. I feel like something with that much slide-off-your-plate fat in it should be totally decadent, but this really, really wasn't. Oh well, HE liked it, and THAT'S THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS. *Sigh*

That night we watched the horrifying election results roll in. Oh, Toronto, you stupid, petty city.

Later, I sat on the couch and lized my interest as Patrick chatted uninterrupted about the rest of his day, his post-work "meeting" and his thoughts on all kinds of things. I'm not sure if it was all that active listening or the election of Blob Ford, but I felt completely drained by 10pm and decided to go to bed.

And that was Day 1. Onto Day 2.


Anonymous,  1:51 pm, October 26, 2010  

I have a feeling you'll want to strangle him by the end of the week. I would if I were doing this for my husband!

Anonymous,  1:56 pm, October 26, 2010  

hahahahhaa... enjoyed it a lot.. esp the fat mold of food sliding on your counter ..tuni and mern

Dan,  5:15 pm, October 26, 2010  

This looks to be a fun experiment (your last one was a good read!). Looking forward to more.

Unknown 9:39 pm, October 26, 2010  

I'm not gonna "lize", but that dinner sounds and looks like our new mayor!

Julianne Ward Lawrence 10:53 pm, October 26, 2010  

Are you allowed to call him Mr. Fussypants?

Capucine 5:11 am, October 27, 2010  

Totally LOLed at the imagery of the curling rock (AKA "Ring of Plenty") as it went sliming down the counter...

I enjoy your style of writing immensely!

I'll be looking forward to reading the rest of this new edition of the 50s Housewife Experiment...

Anonymous,  10:14 am, October 27, 2010  

I suspect my husband would eat this sort of attention up with a spoon. I, on the other hand, would have to take that spoon and brain him with it.

Jen 11:55 am, October 27, 2010  

Thanks for commenting, everyone!

Tuni & Mern: :D

Anissa: How true. If I added some pink food dye to match his skin tone, it would be perfect

Juli: Ha - probably not. Is that one for the nag jar?

Dan & Capucine: Thanks so much! Also, Capucine, you have one of my favourite names, ever!

Anons: Ha, I know. Maybe this project should be called 50s Housewife Experiment: Controlling The Rage.

Anonymous,  3:45 am, October 28, 2010  

I am being unnecessarily picky, but technically your husband has a "shellfish" allergy, not a "seafood" allergy. I noticed in a previous post that he was able to eat halibut.

I have a seafood allergy, and cannot touch, eat, or be around the cooking of, fish (both the ichthyoid and shellfish varieties). It sucks. I ate catfish once on accident but my throat closed before I tasted anything.

Jen 7:38 am, October 28, 2010  

Picky or not, you're right, Anon! Corrected! Sorry to hear about your allergy - that sounds brutal.

Diego R. 3:09 am, May 17, 2011  

I know this is a little late of a comment but I'm curious if you asked him how to vote?

As someone who's volunteered for political campaigns before, I'm amazed at how many women I call who STILL say "I have to talk to my husband; HE deals with that stuff."

Anonymous,  11:10 pm, November 06, 2012  

I haven't commented yet, but gotta say- I am addicted to reading your blog. Hilarious. And helpful at the same time. LOVE your writing style. Any book deals, in the works? This could be a best-seller!

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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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