Real Cooking

Marriage is a funny, complicated piece of business that forces two people into what, at least in an ideal world, should be a lifetime commitment of mutual respect, love and devotion to one another.

And although there are those of us who have had to deal with the pain of separation and divorce, there are still plenty of confident hopefuls who march down the aisle, dewy-eyed and fresh faced, looking forward to a lifetime of happiness together.

And their attitude is usually something like this: “My darling, nothing can come between us. Sure, life may throw us some punches, but with our love-and with some help from above-we will be able to surmount any difficulty for nothing, nothing, will cause my love to fade for you, my dearest, my precious, my one and only.”

And my response? Just wait. I’m here to tell you that, in reality, there will be times when you look at your spouse and wonder what ever possessed you to marry such a person.

“My darling, nothing can come between us.”

I remember feeling that same sentiment. Nothing? Try light fixtures.

Picture this. Keith, the kids and I are standing in the middle of a Wichita home-improvement store on the first leg of a “let’s get a lot done today” shopping trip to the city. We’re looking at recessed lighting for the basement’s new family room.

“What do you like, dear?” inquired my farmer-turned-electrician husband. “Do you prefer the white or the brass trim?”

“I like the brass better,” I replied, trying my best to imagine what Martha Stewart would say. “If we paint the ceiling white or another light color, the white would be OK. But if the ceiling is of a darker shade, the white would look too stark. Therefore, I would like the brass with its warm tone.”

“OK, you like the brass.”

Keith’s eyes were scanning the displays of stacked boxes.

“They seem to be out of the brass. How about the white?”

“I like the brass, dear. Maybe we could ask someone….” My voice trailed off as I looked about for someone in an apron.

“Remember these are going in the basement,” prompted my husband. “There’s not as much light as there is upstairs. You wouldn’t want to paint the ceiling too dark of a shade. The white is in stock-do you like the white?”

“I like the brass.”

“Well, they have the brass in the eye-ball style.”

My husband reached for a box to study the packaging. “What do you think about that?”

“That would be fine with me.”

Returning the box to the shelf, Keith again looked up to some lights on display and asked, “Do you like the eye-ball or do you like the one that is flush with the ceiling?”

“I really don’t care. The color is more important to me.”

“Do you like the white?”

“No, Keith, I like the brass.”

By now the children were getting fidgety.

“Mom, how long is this going to take?” asked my daughter.

“I’m not sure; we need to make some decisions.”

I looked to my husband.

“Well, which one do you like?” he asked again.

And there it was. One of those split-second moments when you look at the man you love, the father of your children and say to yourself, “Who is this guy? And what did I ever see in him?”

“I like the brass,” I repeated again, only this time through clenched teeth.

“Do you like the white?”

And then I knew for sure that he really wasn’t asking me what I liked. He just wanted me to agree with him that the white would be the better choice.

“Buy the white.” And put me out of my misery, I thought.

There must have been an edge to my voice because he was quick to say, “I want you to be happy with this. What do you like?”

“Buy the white.”

“But you like the brass.”

“Buy the white.”

“Mom-th, I’m-th thirsty-th.” My son is adjusting to a new retainer. “How-th much-th longer-th?”

“Here’s a dollar. Take your sister and find a drink machine.”

I turned to my husband.

“You want me to agree with you and be happy with the choice, but I really think the brass is better. If you like the white, fine, just tell me. But let’s quit playing this game and make a decision.”

“Do you like the white?”

“I’m going to go find a restroom,” I said. “Make a decision.”

“Well, before you go, how many lights do you want?”

“I thought we should have eight.”

My husband looked pensive and then said, “I think we should have six.”

I dug a piece of paper out of my pocket and we tried to map out a rough draft of our building project.

“Two here, two here, two here, two here,” I said.

“Two here, two here, two here,” he said. “What do you think?”

“I think eight.”

“Uh-huh. Do you like white?”

I think I glared at him as I left to find a bathroom. When I returned, Keith and the kids were loading up light fixtures in our cart. I counted… six.

But the boxes just contained the inner parts that could be roughed into the ceiling. We’ll get the brass trim later when it’s back in stock.

So, there it is folks, one of the key elements of any good marriage: the ability to compromise. And to laugh about how-finally-you worked through the problem at hand.

And then I realize, once again, just why I married him.

* * *

Something new to make for Easter dinner besides the old reliable green-bean casserole.

Swiss Vegetable Medley

1 (16 oz.) pkg. loose-pack frozen broccoli, cauliflower, carrot mix

1 (10 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/3 cup sour cream

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 (2.8 oz.) can French fried onions

In a large bowl, combine the frozen vegetables, the soup, 1/2 cup of the Swiss cheese, the sour cream and the pepper. Stir in half of the fried onions. Spoon into a two-quart square baking dish. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Sprinkle on remaining cheese and onions. Bake uncovered for five minutes more or until heated through. Serves six.

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