I'm sure we have all done it sometime in our lives...made a dinner or two that was simply one of those ones where your husband looks at you and says, "Do I really have to eat this?" I must say my husband is amazingly thoughtful though, and is careful with his words when it comes to my cooking. Over the years I have learned what he likes and what doesn't appeal to his pallette. I try to cook things specially for his taste, but back in the day when we were young and just married, I was just learning how to cook. I wanted to be a good wife. I wanted to cook healthy, low-fat meals, so I bought the no-fat cream cheese, the whole wheat pita breads, and the low-fat mozzerella. It all sounded good in the recipe I was using, but seeing those small, brownish pizzas on our plate was another thing. I took a bite. I felt like I was eating cardboard, but struggled through the rest of it. I glanced at Joe and he was eating it too, so I figured it must be okay. We had a few more left and I wanted to diligently plan ahead for the next day so I asked him, "Would you like me to pack one or two up for your lunch tomorrow?"
He looked at me with eyes of fear as he thought about having to eat more of these pizzas at work the next day. "Um, sure?" he answered.
It suddenly hit me that he was not enjoying them either. He was just eating them to please me and make me feel good. My heart sank.
"They really aren't that good, are they?"
He shook his head.
"I don't really like them, either," I told him.
I quickly stood up and carried the tray to the trash where I dumped the terrible healthy, cardboard pizzas. We were both relieved we didn't have to eat anymore of that!
We still laugh about that time now, though I must admit, I've had a few other failed dinners since then. But nothing like last night...this was completely different. And it wasn't entirely my fault. Maybe.
I had my dinners all planned out for this week, but things changed when I heard I needed to make dinner for my in-laws last night. I changed out my meal idea for the evening and opted for my meatball soup with homemade bread, which was something that could stretch for a lot of people. I have been having a hard time learning to cook for smaller groups now that my children are here and there and yon most nights, so I was excited to make a big pot of soup for a crew. I went out to the store to get my ingredients. I stood in front of the ground chicken and a thought briefly crossed my mind that the chicken didn't look as bright and fresh as it should. The date said it was good until the 21st which meant there were still six days until it expired, so I brushed the thought away. I got four of them and the other items I needed and went home.
I began making dinner early so I could get the food over to my in-laws before church that evening. I opened the first package of chicken and slight smell of something off hit my nose. Now I know that chicken always has a little smell to it, so I kept thinking that it was just the normal smell of raw meat. I opened the other packages and they didn't have as strong a smell, so I put the first one aside and made my meatballs with the other three. But something just wasn't sitting right in my spirit. There was an odd smell in the air that still seemed off. I just hoped it was the first package of meat I decided to throw away. As I rolled the meat into little balls and dropped them into my pot of boiling broth, I prayed over the meat. I know this sounds stupid, but God can change anything after a prayer of thanks, right? I prayed that there was nothing wrong with this meat and that nobody would get sick from food poisoning if they weren't good afterall. :(
As the meat cooked, I made up my bread dough and popped it into the oven to rise. My mind was not thinking clearly having been a little stressed over what was boiling on top of the stove and I didn't realize I set the oven a little hotter than I wanted to allow my bread to rise. When I took it out half an hour or so later it seemed hard and dry on the top, almost like it had been cooked a little bit. Needless to say, I pulled off the top part to reveal still soft dough underneath, so I managed to make about fifteen rolls with the good stuff. The other half of th dough ended up in the trash.
Ben came upstairs to see what was cooking for dinner. He often comes in to see what I'm making, but I think he does it to see if it passes his liking or not. He was very happy when he saw the huge pot of meatball soup cooking, so he went back down to his room to eagerly wait for dinner.
It was almost 5:00 when I decided to taste test a meatball and see if it was all right to eat. With my dairy issues, I didn't want to eat a whole one because of the parm inside it, so I took one bite and chewed it. It had a funny taste to it, but I had to prove that it wasn't just my own fear cautioning loudly in my head. I took the other half of the meatball to Joe and asked him to try it. As he chewed it I asked him, "Does it taste okay?"
He nodded, then glanced at my face in question. "I think so. Why?"
I shrugged as I began to head back in the kitchen and then I heard him shudder and say, "Ugh!"
I turned around. "Does it have a bad aftertaste?"
He was looking at me now like I had sprouted horns. "Yes!"
"Oh man, now we can't eat that soup. I wasn't sure if the meat was good from the start, but the expiration date said it was good until next Tuesday!"
"You mean you fed me bad meat? Are you trying to poison me?"
"No! I just needed your opinion without knowing the facts that might have changed the ending here."
And then he tells me, "Well, the air has had a bad scent in it, like bad meat for awhile now..."
I wish he would have told me that before I had made the soup!
But now I had a new problem! I still had to make dinner! I still had to feed my family plus my in-laws... Tomorrow's dinner idea came into my head. I had the ingredients for stove-top parm pasta, so I dumped the nasty meatball soup down the disposal and began making a whole new meal with different pots and pans for all the items needed. About a half an hour later Ben came back up and stood in front of the stove in confusion. I had pasta boiling in a different pot on the stove, as well as sauce and two other pots in the back. He glanced at me with a raised eyebrow.
"What happened?" He looked around the room still in obvious confusion. "Weren't you cooking meatball soup?"
I wanted to tease him about how that was yesterday and how he had missed an entire day between then and now, but I was worn out and didn't feel like teasing anyone. I just wanted dinner to be done so we could move on from this disaster.
Well, it all moved smoothly from that point, but I learned something here. Maybe a few things....first of all, if there is a check in your spirit about the meat sitting on the shelf, don't buy it. Move on to a different type or brand. Stick with your gut.
Secondly, if there is a smell in the air that doesn't sit right in your head, don't use it. Stick with your gut.
Thirdly, if there is something you want your husband to try, explain the situation and he may have some insight that can help you decide whether something is safe or not. Two noses are much better than one. ;)