As I was growing up, grand refused to teach me the basics… like cooking, laundry, cleaning. I have pretty much had to learn this stuff on my own. Grand taught all four of their children these staples of independence but when I came along, I was left out of this instruction. I once asked them after I was married why this was the case and was told “Well, you were so damn independent in everything else, I didn’t see the point.”
Before I got married though, my mother had made an attempt to rectify the situation and pass down her vast wealth of experience and wisdom in the realm of cooking in about the 15 minutes before she had to go to work.
She walks over to a door in the kitchen and opens it, “This…. is a pantry, it has canned foods. The magical machine on the counter opens them.”
She walks to the fridge, “This is a refrigerator, it keeps food cold.”
She walks to the stove, “This is a stove, it makes things hot, don’t stick your hand on it if its on.”
She further points lower to the oven, “This is an oven, it also makes food hot. Don’t put anything plastic in it.”
She opens one cabinet after another and points to the various cooking containers and utensils inside, “These are pots and pans. They are used to hold food to cook them on the stove and stuff.”
And as she walked out the door,”Oh yeah, have dinner done before I get home, k?”
That, ladies and gentleman, was my one and only cooking lesson.
Now understand that I had enough logical sense over the years of watching both my mom and grand to understand there were some logic to it, so I looked around at what she had and had already decided that something akin to a Shepard’s pie was both doable, available and easy enough I wouldn’t burn the house down making it. She didn’t have any fresh potatoes, so I found some canned sliced ones, canned mushrooms, canned onion soup, canned peas, canned french onions rings, she had some extra sharp cheddar, about a pound of ground beef.
My mom called later in the afternoon to check what was on the menu. Because I decided revenge was the best way to go, I responded. “Well, I watched an episode of Designing Women today that gave me the inspiration I needed for dinner.”
Me mom hesitantly asks, “Oh yeah?”
I responded,”Yep, you see BJ was talking about how her mom joined the Recipe of the Month Club but they had to put end to that when she made 5 Can Casserole.”
mom:”Uh huh…which is?”
me:”You basically grab the first five cans in the pantry without looking, throw it into a big casserole dish and toss in enough Velveeta to glue it all together and bake it.”
me:”So that’s what we’re having.”
me:”5 Can Casserole”
If you’ve ever watched a feral cat having second thoughts about entering a building, you can pretty much imagine what my mom looked like entering the house that night. She even carefully sniffed the air, expecting to be assaulted by the stench of whatever five cans of heinousness she has imagined (I found out later, she could only remember pineapple and cat food being in front). When she found the smell to only be beefy, cheesy awesomeness, she got more curious.
To the very end, my 5 Can Casserole remained her very favorite.