I spent the weekend away from home, bowling in the Women’s State Tournament with a couple of girls from my Monday team and a few others from my Saturday league. Some of us got hotel rooms and spent the night. We bowled the team event on Saturday and then wandered into the bar where a d.j. was playing fun dancing music. We talked and laughed and danced until midnight. On Sunday, we bowled the doubles and individuals events. I bowled respectably, but more important, I had a great time.
But… the homebody part of me was anxious to get home when the last event was done. I missed Mark and Jake and the dogs and was ready to get back to my own bed. Mark called me from work just as we were finishing up the individuals event and asked when I’d be home. I told him I was getting ready to leave and after dropping Joan off at her house, I’d be home around 5:30.
“Good,” he said. “Jake will have dinner ready for you when you get there.”
I was momentarily speechless. “What? Jake made dinner?”
“Yep. I told him to get the corned beef out of the freezer and then I sent him to the grocery store for the fixings.”
“Jake went to the grocery store?” I was incredulous.
“Yep. And I talked him through cooking the meat.”
“Over the phone?”
“Ohhhh-kayyyyy,” I said. “Umm. Thanks?”
Jake cooked dinner. This would prove to be interesting because Jake doesn’t cook. I mean, unless you count melting cheese on a tortilla or heating pizza rolls in the microwave as cooking.
“Don’t you think having him cook corned beef as his first attempt at cooking is a little ambitious,” I asked Mark?
“I talked him through it. It’ll be fine, I’m sure.”
“Okay,” I said in a most unconvinced tone. But I figured no matter how bad it was, I would eat it and I would be thankful because I wanted Jake to know I believed in his ability to cook.
When I arrived home, Jake was in the kitchen. He had the bread and sauerkraut on the counter.
“The Swiss cheese and Thousand Island are in the fridge,” Jake told me. “And I sure hope I did this right because trying to cook something by listening to Dad’s instructions over the phone is not the easiest thing in the world! He kept calling and telling me things he forgot to tell me!”
I peeked at the pot of meat and told Jake it looked right to me.
“You got the seasonings in there. Looks good,” I said. (The seasonings came prepackaged along with the cut of meat when we bought it.)
“Well, I didn’t know if those seasonings would cut it,” Jake said. “So I added some of my own.”
“You did? What did you add?” I was trying not to look skeptical.
“Some garlic salt and some red pepper flakes.”
“Red Pepper! Hmmm. Okay,” I said.
“Is that bad?”
“No! I’m sure it will be good,” I encouraged, trying to hide my worry.
Mark had told me he’d had a talk with Jake a few days ago about being more mature and responsible. He told Jake that if he was going to continue living at home, at twenty-one years-old, (almost twenty-two,) he could pick up some bigger responsibilities around the house, like cooking. Honestly, I’d never thought to ask Jake to do any cooking. He’s never expressed any interest and quite frankly, I wasn’t willing to take the risk. But Mark decided to put him to the test.
Working in the kitchen with Jake to finish up the meal preparations, I realized we were having the most in-depth conversation we’d had in a long, long time. He kept expressing doubt that the food would be good and I kept telling him it looked great and I was looking forward to eating it. When the meat was done, I sliced a few pieces and tasted it. It was good! Jake must not have gone too heavy on the red pepper. I couldn’t taste it at all!
I passed Jake a slice of the meat and said, “Here, try it! You did good!”
“It’s kind of dry,” he said doubtfully.
“No it’s not, it’s just the way it should be.”
We made up our sandwiches, Jake insisting that he didn’t want sauerkraut on his, and we sat together at the table to eat. Jake’s first home cooked meal was delicious and I very much enjoyed having dinner with my “quiet” child, just the two of us.
When Mark came home, he made a couple of sandwiches and agreed. The food was great!
When it was time to clean up the kitchen, Jake asked, “Do I get to play the ‘I cooked, you clean’ card, like you and Dad do?”
“Sure do,” I said. “You cooked. I’ll clean up.”
“Well, I sure hope you guys don’t think I should be cooking all the time now.”
“You blew it, buddy,” I laughed. “If you didn’t want to be asked to cook again, you shouldn’t have done such a good job!”
“Great,” he deadpanned, trying to look disappointed. But I’m sure I saw the corners of his mouth turn up in a smile that he was trying to hide from me.
He’ll be cooking again!