by Carole Lee
I’ll admit it, I could be a full-on Betty Crocker if given half a chance. I can stew like you never knew. I can fry to put a tear in your eye. I can sauté to make your day. Sadly, my culinary masterpieces fall on deaf palates around here. Mr. Vagabond has simpler tastes than mine, and some of his favorite indulgences are puzzling to me.
While living out on the farm several years ago, he woke one morning and asked for something different for breakfast. Always game, I was ready to rattle the pots and pans. Would he ask for quiche? Maybe eggs Benedict? Could he be craving some unusual fare that would require me to dust off one of my sadly neglected cook books?
He wanted an oatmeal sandwich. That’s right, friends and neighbors, Mr. Vagabond wanted a sandwich made from two frozen waffles with a big glob of oatmeal in between. I ate Cheerios, and put away the pots and pans.
More often than not, Mr. Vagabond says, “I like my lunch like I like my women: Cheap and easy.” That usually garners an eye roll from me, a cheeky brow waggle from him, and then I head off to the kitchen.
Roast Beef on White Bread with Ketchup. Yep, that is one of Mr. Vagabond’s favorite lunches. To me, it seems dull, weird and gross. To him, it may as well be a freshly toasted French Dip with steaming Au Jus. While he’s having his sandwich, I usually make one for me with nothing but a fresh, ripe tomato slice, whole wheat bread, a little mayo and a dash of salt and pepper.
Mr. Vagabond has the weirdest taste in snacks. Sometimes. For example, he delights in croutons dipped in ranch dressing, and he swoons over the perfect strawberry Popsicle. But he also loves one thing that we agree on.
Cream puffs with hot fudge. Oh, yes. There is no treat quite like tiny, fresh cream puffs dipped into a bowl of warm, melty fudge. At least he always get that one right.
Dinnertime is the thorn in my side. If I’ve made spaghetti, I have to strain out all of the tomato, onion and other veggie pieces. I tell him he may as well pour tomato soup over his noodles. If I’ve made a roast, I have to fish out all of the onions and be sure none escape to his plate. When I ordered a Bruschetta appetizer in Provo last fall, and it arrived at the table with beautiful, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a light drizzling of balsamic vinaigrette, he asked the server for mozzarella sticks. Left to his own devices, one of his favorite suppers is...
Bachelor stew. What is bachelor stew, you ask? It is browned ground beef mixed with brown gravy, and served over Ramen noodles. White bread covered with margarine is the perfect accompaniment. I’ve even witnessed him douse the whole thing with ketchup.
Although my darling and I will never agree on food, one thing is certain. To please his palate, I only need to pretend I am cooking for a 5-year-old. It might not be fancy, but it’s certainly cheap and easy.