It was about this time of year in 2004 that I first cooked a meal, by myself, for my future husband. He was working on his final school project and in order to stay out of his hair I volunteered to make dinner so he wouldn’t have to worry about that either. He agreed to work hard so that he could get it all done and we could spend the rest of the evening together. I went back to my apartment and started looking through cookbooks to find the perfect meal. The recipe I decided on was from a Campbell’s cookbook. In fact, I think it was this recipe. Ham & Pasta Skillet. It called for a can of cheese soup. Or something like that. I didn’t have it, but I did have a can of cream of mushroom soup, which I thought would be a fine substitute. It called for chopped ham, which I didn’t have. It didn’t phase me a bit. I just left it out. And it called for broccoli and I didn’t have that either. But I did have celery, which is also green and good for you and was certain to go well with the mushroom soup. I did have milk. And shell pasta. And mustard. Yellow mustard, not the spicy brown it called for, but mustard is mustard, right? Certainly nothing could go wrong with this plan.
Oddly enough, it did go slightly wrong. Micah came over as I was prepping the meal (I think I’d spent most of the afternoon making some sort of dessert, which I do not remember in the slightest) and said nothing as I took out the celery to chop it up. In retrospect, I should have noticed from his face that I was doing something wrong, but I didn’t. I plowed ahead and finished making the dish, then put a plate of it in front of him and a plate of it in front of me. I dug in and was not at all put off by the strange substitutions. But then I noticed that Micah was very carefully eating around the celery. I think he may have finished his pasta, but I’m pretty sure I ate his celery. It turns out he doesn’t like cooked celery. At. All.
I ate the rest of my unusual concoction over the next several days and never mentioned it to him again. Oh, wait. Nevermind. I’m pretty sure I mentioned it all the time. Because I learned a lot from the experience. Namely: 1. Ask the people you are cooking for if there is anything they don’t eat. 2. Follow the recipe. If you don’t have the ingredients, find another recipe. 3. (And I break this one all the time . . . ) Make the recipe at least once before you serve it to guests. 4. Learn to cook. Learn. To. Cook. 5. Don’t use cans of soup for anything other than making, er, heating, soup.
Number 5 is only kind of a joke. I think what I really took away from the experience is that I wanted to learn to make tasty food from the most basic ingredients. And for the past 6 years I’ve been learning how to do that. Perhaps I am still trying to live down the failure that was Pasta Celery Surprise, but I haven’t bought a can of soup for years.
Anyone else care to share their favorite cooking fiasco or success?