Jason Offutt

November 3, 3017 – My wife came home from a weekend visiting a college friend. She walked into the house carrying a bag of green tomatoes about the size of a suitcase.

The bag, not the tomatoes.

She also brought with her the crazy idea she was going to do something with the tomatoes, like cook. Cook? I briefly considered adding a random drug testing policy to the Offutt Family Handbook.*

My wife does a lot of things for the family. She handles the books, she cleans, she does laundry and she works at the local library where she, you know, handles books. What she does not do is cook.

“Why?” I asked, less out of curiosity and more out of self-preservation. For a short time after we were first married, she’d fix me breakfast I’d insist on eating in the car on the way to work. It was easier to toss out the window that way.

“Well,” she said. “(Name of friend) cooks all the time.”

That was it. Her friend is a stay-at-home mom who has time to do things like cook and had the audacity to fix meals in front of my wife. The look on her face was clear – she was serious. My wife was going to cook for her family whether we wanted her to or not.

I did the only sensible thing. I ran away from home.

OK, maybe not, but I’ve started carrying my passport with me just in case.

The problem with cooking is that it’s not just about following a recipe, it also involves a natural food problem-solving instinct some people do not have. I’m not naming names.

Sample problems:

While making cookies you discover you’re out of eggs. Do you:

a) Weep openly.

b) Use an appropriate substitute.

c) Shout, “This is why I don’t cook,” storm from the kitchen and binge-watch “30 Rock.”

d) Make the cookies without them because eggs are stupid.

The mixer breaks while mashing potatoes. Do you:

a) Serve boiled potatoes.

b) Mash the potatoes with a manual potato masher.

c) Fit a beater into the cordless drill because you’re awesome.

d) Use a food processor until you realize that was a bad idea.

The children won’t leave you the hell alone. Do you:

a) Send them to their rooms.

b) Include them in the cooking experience.

c) Lose your friggin’ mind.

d) Drink lots of vodka.

Although there are no wrong answers, the problem solvers pick B, C and D. Sometimes they pick D twice.

Cooking instincts also help when trying to decide things like whether a recipe would benefit from an ingredient not listed and what to do if you see a spider in the kitchen (the right answers being oregano and buy a new house).

The first meal is tonight.

And it was delicious.

—Honey, what are you doing at my computer?

*This book is a list of household rules such as Number 27: stop using the B-word, we were married when we had all of you, and Number 124: drain cleaner is not a toy.

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