Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Bachelor Takes a Wife

Home Sweet Home

When we became engaged, my fiançé opened his heart and home to me. I worry sometimes, now that we are married, that his head spins with the changes that are taking place, but mostly, he seems to take things in stride. 

Before we went to the grocery store for our first shopping trip together, I did an inventory of his kitchen. The cupboards weren't exactly BARE, like Mother Hubbard's, there just wasn't much in the way of FOOD in them. What kitchen would be complete without an electric wok, or TWO electric frying pans, or TWELVE coffee cups with saucers? The man doesn't even drink coffee. I stifled a chuckle as I filled box after box with the things we wouldn't be needing any time soon in the foreseeable future. Goodwill was going to be getting a very generous donation of kitchenwares from us!

There were plenty of containers for leftovers, but not tops for the bottoms. There were a couple of shelves for snacks; chips and one very stale package of Chips Ahoy cookies. The silverware drawer could have handled a crowd of fifty. Chuck lovingly divided his cutlery into "the matching set," which was kept in a drawer organizer, and the "Island of Misfit Silverware," which covered every square inch that the drawer organizer did not.

"WOW! Your stovetop is so CLEAN," I said.

He just laughed. "Well, it's never been used."

"The oven, too. I'm so impressed."

"We only use it to make pizza. It's pretty easy to keep clean."

There were two cabinets dedicated to housing candles. What a romantic. This may also explain why he is so fit and trim; he has more candles than treats. 

The fridge door was FILLED with Powerade Zero bottles. There wasn't much in the fridge;  a partially full gallon of milk, and opened packages of cheese and ham. That was about it. On top of the fridge, there were not less than five boxes of bran cereal. I looked at him with raised eyebrows.

"You'd be surprised at how fast cereal disappears around here," he said somewhat sheepishly. 

The only other cabinet that housed food had a couple of cans of soup and some green beans. I asked if he had any flour. 

"You're kidding, right?"

"So, I assume that means you probably don't have baking soda..." His head began slowly shaking back and forth... "Baking powder?" He continued shaking his head, as a smile was spreading across his face, and he looked down at the floor. "Sugar?" Still with the shaking head. "Pam?" His eyes lit up.

"I have baking spray!" Eureka! There was something I actually needed in his kitchen! It was the first thing I asked for that DIDN'T go on our list.

So, we set off for the store with a rather lengthy grocery list. The next day was Christmas, and we were having two of his sons for dinner. 

We plowed through the crowds at Walmart on Christmas Eve (THERE'S a tradition I hope we won't keep), in hopes of making our cupboards less Mother Hubbard-like, and he smiled the whole time as I dropped items into the cart; flour, sugar, spices, turkey, potatoes, chicken broth...

"We're going to have real food in the house," Chuck grinned. 

One of Chuck's earlier holiday meals made almost
exclusively in the microwave.
Lucky for me, the bar was set pretty low. This year I was getting away with Stove Top Stuffing, a pre-cooked turkey breast, canned cranberry relish, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, frozen dinner rolls, and a simple icebox cake for dessert. For good measure, I'd be baking some homemade peanut butter cookies, too. I'd been there less than a day; his boys would understand. Chuck assured me anything would be better than his microwaved feasts of years gone by.

Chuck's iPhone pic of our fridge of real food.
Note that there are still plenty of Powerades!
Later on Christmas Eve afternoon, I busied myself with Chuck's favorite peanut butter cookie recipe. As I was mixing the dough with the vintage, avocado-green hand mixer, the handle snapped. Did I mention it was AVOCADO GREEN? Did I mention it was vintage?  I think that dates it back to the late seventies at the latest. It was an ANTIQUE. Perhaps I should have treated it with more care.  Of course, I am the THE BAKER WHO BURNED UP A KITCHENAID, so I shouldn't be so surprised. I added "hand mixer" to our ever-growing shopping list. 

After mixing the rest of the dough by hand,  I was ready to drop spoons of dough on the cookie sheets, and I searched the kitchen for the promised baking spray. I found it. The expiration date on the can was 2006. No problem. I'd seen some vegetable oil. 2009 on that one. Dang. Might as well check the olive oil while I was at it. 2010. So, I greased the sheets with butter, and called it good. Old school!

It seemed those first two weeks we were together, nearly every day we ventured out into the cold to go to Target or Walmart for ingredients or kitchen appliances. We are slowly turning the kitchen into a well-stocked one. Chuck loves that the fridge is full of real food, and the freezer is stocked with leftovers that he can take to work for lunch. 

My husband is a creature of habit, and has eaten the same meals and snacks for a very long time. It has been fun to introduce him to some of my favorite recipes. Christmas morning we got up very early, and Chuck was happy to help make the sausage gravy while I made biscuits. 

Every once in awhile, I do reality checks with my patient husband. "Are you doing okay?" He assures me he is. "Am I doing too much too soon?" No, he says he loves watching our house become a home. "You'd tell me if you didn't like something, right?" He promises he has liked every single thing I've cooked, so far. 

The honeymoon is not over. The toilet seats are still down. (A friend of mine proclaimed him a keeper when he mentioned that he made sure all of the toilet seats were down before I arrived from Salt Lake City.) This honeymoon is still going strong. We plan to ride this wave on out to the end. What a great ride it has been so far. 


  1. What a fantastic peek into the life of the newlyweds! I've lived with the same man for over 47 years, so I can't imagine what an empty fridge and kitchen would be like! Sometimes I think we should just toss everything and start over. We'd probably be healthier if we had to make a conscious decision to purchase everything for the first time. Very enjoyable post! My husband enjoyed it, too!

    1. Oh, Janet, thank you. I often wonder what a man (other than Chuck) would think of my blog. I appreciate your thoughts!

  2. This is funny, and I was in the same boat after my daughter and her boyfriend moved out - apparently they stocked their new kitchen from mine. My spice cabinet had no spices. The pantry shelves were bare. Condiments? Gone.

    Glad you are now stocked and the toilet seats are still down!

    1. Oh, Deb, that would have been worse; to have everything, to KNOW you have everything, only to discover it was gone when you needed it. I KNEW I was coming in to bare! ;-) Yep, toilet seats are down; candles are still lit. Life is good.

  3. Denise, I love your writing. It is always so honest and insightful. You delight your readers. Chuck is a blessed man to have you in his kitchen. I am happy for both of you!

    1. Rebecca, thank you so much. I'm blessed to be in Chuck's kitchen, too!


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