Toothless Tuna

When your boyfriend becomes Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon, you have to learn how to plan meals around someone who can’t chew. Soft foods become a priority and you feel guilty for eating his favorite crunchy foods, like chips and dip or movie-theater popcorn.

Meals now rotate between go-gurt, pumpkin mousse, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and tuna salad.

I tried to make tuna salad for him once before, but it didn’t taste as good as his dad’s, and I ate it alone. But now, his senses have been dulled and I can feed him anything and he won’t fully taste it. I have successfully become a good chef by his standards.

It’s time for tuna salad: take 2.

But before I can even boil the eggs, we have to go to store to buy them, which means spending an hour in Wal-Mart while my boyfriend gets distracted by everything. It also means eating Steak ‘n Shake because it’s right across from Wal-Mart and we just spent an hour looking at food.

Tuna salad has now become dessert after greasy burgers. Thankfully, the burgers fall apart and I don’t have to guiltily eat in front of a sad boyfriend. We also both drench our burgers in honey mustard, which luckily makes it easier to slide down your throat when you don’t have teeth.

So after this detour, we can go home and boil the eggs. But boyfriends aren’t much help here, either. While I wasn’t looking, he turned the heat up all the way and I came back to a bright red burner telling me it was too hot.

After using my noodle arms to fight him to the stove, I turned down the heat, but the water never simmered and the eggs never stopped bouncing around. We (and by “we” I mean “my boyfriend”) cracked all the eggs.

Next comes the easy part of letting the eggs cool, which means putting them in the fridge while you go to class. When you get back from class, peel and cut the eggs, drain the tuna, mix with mayonnaise, and add salt and pepper to taste.

This tuna salad came out better than my first attempt, but Toothless had a hard time with the bread, so I ate it all alone again.

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Kraft vs. Homemade

I have made it clear that I do not know how to cook. I also don’t have the patience for it, and my boyfriend’s apartment doesn’t have the kitchen for it. So we tend to eat a lot of boxed mac and cheese. But I ready to make the perfect homemade mac and cheese and eliminate Kraft from our menu.

I dragged Andre out of the house so we could buy ingredients, and let me just say, do not bring your boyfriend grocery shopping. At one point, I turned around to a cart full of lettuce. But back to the mac.

Being a college student, my wallet can only afford trips to Aldi. The recipe that I vaguely followed called for mustard powder, which apparently doesn’t fit into my Aldi budget, as it didn’t exist in the store. So I kept telling Andre that we needed something special for the dish, so I picked up a can of tomatoes. But of course, Andre hates tomatoes, so they would have to be added to my plate separately.

So these were the ingredients that I ended up with:

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Note the boyfriend eating the cheese, the milk that’s already been drunk, and the open macaroni box. Yes, he ate raw pasta while I was cooking.

I followed the steps with the recipe, but avoided measuring things out of rebellion for the rules. So another tip: don’t let your boyfriend tell you how much pasta to make. You will end up with double what you can eat. But this is okay, the leftovers heat up well.

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Overall, we avoided too many disasters, but the biggest thing we did was manage to burn our milk and flour mixture. When making your sauce, turn down the heat on the stove. I also forgot to add in the tomatoes because I was worried about getting the cheese sauce right. Dinner was good, but took a lot longer than Kraft. I don’t think we will stop buying boxed mac and cheese.

Midnight Snacks

Remember that oatmeal post?

Yeah, I don’t like oatmeal. But like many other things that I don’t like (tea, yogurt, fish, etc.), I like to occasionally try oatmeal just to make sure I still don’t like it.

So I gave oatmeal a try. Again. Cooked this time.

I’m sure several of you enjoy late-night snacks, but my roommates like to pick on me for making midnight (or later) pasta. Sometimes I just don’t have time for regularly scheduled meals.

So this night was one of those time where I didn’t eat dinner like a normal person. So midnight came around and I wanted something warm. I didn’t feel like waiting for water to boil and noodles to cook. I remembered the box of oatmeal under my bed.

This time, rather than picking the worst flavor, I picked what I thought would be the best: Apples & Cinnamon. The smell gives me memories of my mom’s occasional breakfasts while she was getting me ready for school.

The mushy texture has always been my problem with oatmeal. I loved the apple-pie smell of my mom’s breakfasts, and maybe this is why  I keep trying oatmeal, but I could never get past the texture. I thought that if I added less water, that the texture wouldn’t be so bad.

But when it came out of the microwave, I was still skeptical.

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However, I was hungry. So I ate it. All of it for once.

The texture was still horrible, and I could barely taste cinnamon, but it was tolerable. I don’t imagine I’ll start replacing my midnight pasta with this, but I tried.

Salmon

Rather than spending my birthday at a fancy restaurant with my family, I spent my 18th birthday dip-netting on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Or rather, I spent my birthday sitting on the dirt beach watching my half-brother dig a hole twice the size of his body while my dad fished for salmon.

While Alaska in general is known for its wild salmon, Kenai is popular for King salmon, and my birthday just happened to fall on one of the best times to go fishing.

I had never been fishing and I had never tried salmon.

I don’t even like seafood. I will tolerate shrimp, but it has to be smothered in sauce or breading. But when you go to Alaska, you just have to try salmon.

I had warned my dad that I probably wasn’t going to like it, but he and his wife both assured me that salmon didn’t taste fishy and that it would be different than regular seafood.

I was hoping that it wouldn’t be recognizable as fish on my plate. But when I sat down at the table, a bright pink slab of fish taunted me. It was even covered in a thick black sauce that made me feel like I was about to eat tar.

My dad must have seen my face because he said, “Don’t worry, if you don’t like it, we can make you something else.”

All eyes were on me as I took my first bite. If I was at home with my mom, the salmon would have already been in my napkin. But I tried to carefully chew and swallow without tasting.

I honestly don’t even remember tasting it. The soft texture, the way it just falls apart in your mouth, is a turn-off for me. I would prefer if my chocolatey dessert fell apart, not my fishy dinner.

I ate mac and cheese for dinner that night, and my dad made it up to me by making my favorite (pieorgie lasagna) the next night.

I will do many things – attempt to hike to a crashed bomber, camp out in the Alaskan wilderness and fly in a tiny airplane (haven’t done this one yet), but my dad and I both agree that my list of things I will not do consists of dip-netting and bike riding.

Grandma’s Pretzel Dessert (“poem”)

Ingredients:

  • crushed pretzels
  • hungry granddaughter
  • butter
  • sugar
  • cream cheese – don’t worry about being lactose intolerant, it’s not for you anyway
  • whipped topping
  • strawberry jello – her favorite
  1. Wait until your granddaughter’s favorite holiday or special occasion rolls around. Perhaps Thanksgiving, birthdays, cookouts.
    1. Remember, granddaughter must ask for pretzel dessert and you should let out a sigh when her request is made.
    2. Make her work for it, pretend it is a burden for you, that you hate making it.
  2. When you are done with work, shop for ingredients. Remember which are her favorites.
    1. Forget about the time when you bought the wrong ones and made pretzel soup instead.
      1. Remember, even if you forget, granddaughter will always bring it up.
    2. Magically combine ingredients in pan – pretzels, butter sugar – bake in oven, then chill
      1. Granddaughter does not know the magical steps required here. Keep them a secret so she will continue to ask for you to make the dessert before she learns and makes it herself.
    3. Pour cream cheese and jello overtop of pretzel base, chill again
    4. Bring dessert to the desired special occasion
      1. Granddaughter will think you have forgotten her request and will reward you with a hug and kiss when you present her with her favorite dessert.

Dorm-room dip

My roommate used to make the best buffalo chicken dip. I had never had any until I met her, because I grew up hating spicy foods, and I was a vegetarian for five years. I always had an excuse. Until I moved in with Allie and she encouraged me to try new things.

We would make dip on weekends when she stayed at the apartment. We would sit at the kitchen table and talk about our world-ending problems. “Did you see the way she looked at me today?” “I’ll pay you to take this test for me.” “I want to drop this 8:30 class.”

If it was exam week, sometimes we would study over dip. But we usually just ate.

I’ve now claimed this recipe as my own and take it to parties and events. I’ve never heard a complaint and I never have left-overs. But I never tell people that it’s adapted for a dorm room.

This means that I use canned chicken and heat it up in a microwave.

Over the summer with my dad, I mentioned that I was craving buffalo chicken dip and that I make the best dip at school. He immediately got the same craving and said that his wife also has a really good recipe.

Kelly came home with the ingredients and asked if I wanted to make the dip. “Uh, you probably don’t want me to make it. Mine is made for a dorm.”

My dad asked what that meant and I explained. He apparently thought that “for a dorm” meant that it needed alcohol. I’m still not sure what he thinks I do at school. But making alcoholic dip certainly isn’t it.

So I encourage you to steal this dorm-room recipe and impress your mom & dad. Or your friends.

 

 

Recipe:

  • 1 can of chicken, drained
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of ranch
  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of Frank’s Redhot

Shred chicken with a fork and combine with softened cream cheese. Next add a cup of ranch, followed by hot sauce – the hot sauce will clean up any ranch left over in the measuring cup. Now add your cheese. The recipe calls for one cup, but we all know you’re going to want more.

Now, if you’re doing this dorm-style, heat it up in the microwave. Start with 5 minutes, then check. 5 more minutes, and check. Repeat until heated all the way through.

This should serve a small group of people, but I won’t judge if you eat half of it in one sitting. Enjoy!

Breakfast for dinner

It’s 8:51 pm on Tuesday night. I have a post due tomorrow. I’m sick and have completely forgotten date night.

“Aw, babe, I was supposed to make us dinner and then write about it!”

We were supposed to have dinner on Saturday night, while I was home. But he had Monday and Tuesday off and would be spending the nights with me at school. I figured my spacious dorm kitchen would be better than his stove that requires a lighter to cook anything.

So I pushed off cooking until later. I don’t have ingredients, or a recipe. But Walmart is open and I could throw something together.

“Well what would you write about if you did cook dinner?” asked Andre.

I replied, “Probably how much of a fail it was.”

So he suggests that I take a picture of him with a bowl of cereal and he will make a face. We laugh it off, but I tell him that this is perfect and I know exactly what I’m going to write.

But I don’t even have cereal. Or milk.

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So I take a package of oatmeal that I bought (I don’t like oatmeal, but I like to buy it sometimes just to make sure). I ask Andre what the worst flavor is. “Probably Strawberries & Cream.”

“Alright honey, here’s dinner.”

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Some dry oatmeal.

“What? No milk?” he asked.

“Nope.”

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Experimental Prose Poetry Thing

Thursdays mean payday. Thursdays mean waiting for boyfriend to visit. Mean going to Steak ‘n Shake at 4 am. Mean $84 after he pays bills. $44 after paying back dad. Praying for no snow. Clear, black asphalt roads. Thursdays mean writing papers at 5 pm. Subway for dinner. 6-inch veggie on wheat. Pepper jack cheese. No, I would not like it toasted. Lettuce, onions, green peppers, black olives, Italian dressing. Soggy salad on bread. Thursdays mean finishing homework and taking out the trash. Mean reading 50 pages of Jane Austen next to the broken too-hot heater. Mean weekly catch-up with boyfriend. Thursdays mean a paycheck stolen by brothers for drug money. Mean a window sill full of freezing pocket change for toll money when boyfriend leaves. Mean eating Guggisberg hot pepper cheese that boyfriend got from work while we drive to Steak ‘n Shake. Thursdays mean tired fights at 8 am because boyfriend doesn’t think I’m funny. He doesn’t appreciate JA jokes while falling asleep at 6 am. Thursdays mean burgers before bed. Garlic double steakburger with honey mustard on the side for dipping.

***Title, JA joke, Frank O’Hara line

Tuna Rejection

My mom used to make a lot of dinners that I didn’t like: swiss cheese chicken, vegetable stir fry, stuffed peppers, and so on. Her favorite thing to make was tuna casserole. But after making it for us for ten years, my dad admitted that he didn’t like tuna. When he was away on business, she made it again, but my plate remained untouched. When she asked why, I said that I didn’t like tuna. “That’s ridiculous. You’ve eaten it a million times and you’re only saying you don’t like it because your father said that.” But I was convinced that I suddenly no longer liked tuna.

When I got to college, I would hold my nose every time my roommate made a tuna salad sandwich. I didn’t see the appeal of eating mush on burnt toast. Then, my boyfriend, Andre, started eating tuna sandwiches every time we visited his dad. Every time, I asked, “Are you really going to eat that?” And every time, he ate it. In reality, it didn’t smell as bad as my roommate’s and I was curious to try it. It took several visits worth of tuna sandwiches before I spoke up and asked for one. Andre’s response was “Ooh, really?” He was proud of himself for getting me to step out of my comfort zone. I sunk into the sandwich and realized that I had been wrong.

When Andre and I moved into our studio apartment, I was looking for simple meals to cook in our cramped kitchen. I searched online for a tuna salad recipe, but each one called for two cans of tuna, and it seemed like overkill. I gave up my search and texted Andre’s dad for the right recipe: “1 can of tuna, drained. Five or six hard-boiled eggs, diced. Just a little salt, some pepper, and 3 or 4 tablespoons of mayo. However much it takes to be the right texture. Not dry, but not runny.”

I made it while Andre was at work, and I couldn’t wait until he got home. I barely let the eggs cool before making a sandwich, praising myself for how close it was to his dad’s. I was ready for him to come home and tell me how my tuna salad was better than his dad’s and that this is why he loves me. He clearly chose me based off my ability to recreate his favorite dishes from home. There was no way he would have anything bad to say.

He came home tired and I kept asking if he wanted a sandwich. He finally succumbed and said yes. He took one bite and complained. “You made it with that smoked tuna that I don’t like, didn’t you?” I immediately went on defense and said that I only used whatever it was that he bought and put in the cupboard. “It’s your fault if it’s smoked. You should’ve read the label in the store.” But I was still confident that it was regular tuna. So we dug the can out the trash to find that I was right. But this meant that there wasn’t an excuse for him to hate my tuna salad. He said, “Babe, don’t worry. I don’t hate it.” But he ate half of his sandwich and I ate the rest of the tuna salad by myself throughout the week. I suddenly understood what it meant to be a mom who cooked dinner and had her kid tell her she hated it. I now love and miss my mom’s tuna casserole, but I haven’t cooked anything else for my boyfriend, because I fear a second rejection.