Real Cooking

“Have dinner ready. Prepare yourself. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking.”

This past weekend I was a guest at a kitchen shower for Tonya Keim, the lovely future bride of Ryan Bartel. Ryan is the son of our long-time friends, Pam and Doug Bartel, so I was delighted to take part in the celebration for the upcoming nuptials.

As a part of the merriment, one of our hostesses, Kathy Zimmerman, Ryan’s aunt, shared with Tonya some advice that was taken directly from a 1950s American High School Home Economics textbook. The essay she read was titled, “How to be a Good Wife.”

Oh my. You need to read it to believe it. And so that’s why I’m quoting portions of the essay here (in italics). Of course, I’m adding commentary from yours truly. So hold on to your stomach, here goes.

Have dinner ready. Prepare yourself. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

Have dinner ready? OK, I’ll have dinner ready when he walks through the door if he’ll just give me a specific time I can rely on. Who knows when he’s going to get in? It all depends on the season, the crop and the weather.

I can see trying to look half-way decent for my husband. But let me tell you, when I come home, anything and everything that might be considered “binding” comes off, and the oversized T-shirt goes on. And I’m not really sold on the idea that a ribbon in my hair would be the best complement to my style of “at-home” wear.

And really, should 40-year-old women still be wearing hair ribbons anyway? Scary.

Oh, and then there’s the line “he’s been with a lot of work-weary people.” Well, hello. Some days the only other faces my husband sees belong to cows. Try being at the elementary school on a Friday afternoon. Then you’ll know what “work weary” is.

Be a little gay and a little more interesting.

I suppose being a “little gay” might be more “interesting,” but neither Keith nor I lean that way.

Clear away the clutter-run a dust cloth over the tables.

Hey, as soon as Keith gets the addition finished, I’ll put away the clutter. At least the piles I’m responsible for.

Prepare the children: Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces, comb their hair, and if necessary change their clothes.

My kids generally wash their hands before coming to the table, but they’re not into ritual washing and grooming because Daddy is on his way home. That just sounds compulsive to me. With the remodeling project going on, we can’t afford to send our kids to therapy right now.

So what’s the point of the kids changing into clean clothing before dinner? As long as they don’t stink, I say keep the dirty shirts on so when they slop spaghetti sauce down their fronts, you only have one shirt per child to wash instead of two.

They are God’s treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

Who? God or Keith?

Minimize all noise…eliminate the noise of the washer, dryer, dishwasher or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

And who comes into the kitchen and immediately turns on the television to the Weather Channel or CNN?

Some don’ts: Don’t greet him with problems or complaints. Don’t complain if he is late for dinner. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Offer him a cool or hot drink. Speak in a low, soft, soothing and pleasant tone.

Oh puke, like I’m really going to want to come close to his work boots.

Listen to him: You may have dozens of things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first. Make the evening his.

Make the evening his? Between getting dinner ready and the clean-up that follows, helping the kids with their homework, finishing the laundry, paying bills, working on the house, going to school events or attending meetings-who has time to “make the evening his”?

And never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other pleasant entertainments.

No, just book a seven-day/six-night cruise to the Bahamas without him. And charge it to his MasterCard.

After reading through such tripe, one wonders if a lot of women were popping “happy pills” in the 1950s.

My, how times have changed. I’m glad I have a marriage based not on subjugation but on mutual respect. I hope that as our children see my husband and I work together to make this family function, they will take away lessons in fairness, patience, consideration and loyalty.

I wonder if the home economics book ever covered “How to be a Good Husband”?

* * *

I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for something new to do with vegetables and having a recipe that uses handy cans of green beans-or a bag of frozen beans, if you prefer-is a welcomed addition to my collection.

At our house, we always have at least one vegetable with each meal -not counting potatoes-and most times I also fix a nice green salad to compliment the entree. So when I hear about other families who don’t enjoy eating a variety of veggies or fruit, it always surprises me a little bit. Maybe this recipe will inspire some creative vegetable cooking.

Barbecued Green Beans

4 slices of bacon, cut in half-inch pieces

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup catsup

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1 (14 oz.) can of green beans

In skillet, cook bacon with onion until bacon is slightly crisp and onion is translucent. To skillet add catsup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for two minutes. Place beans in a casserole dish and pour bacon mixture over beans. Do not stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

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