Despite some expert coaching (thanks fixnwrtr) and my daily encounters with culinary greatness (thanks Corb, Annie, and Josie), the fact remains: I'm still one pathetic mess of a cook.
Oh, I will admit, I've expanded my menu options through the years, but even so, no matter how hard I try to improve, there's only so far I will ever be able to go. My inner Julia Child...was stillborn.
Yet for some reason, Ashes, my middle child, seems fascinated with my awful cooking. The more repellent my gastro-intestinal disasters are, the better she likes it.
Take for example, the most disgusting meal in my repertoire: it's Hiroshima on a platter, Mike Tyson on a bun...the dreaded, reprehensible hot dog casserole. While Corb and Theo recoil in horror at the mere mention of this meal, every night I have to cook, there's Ashes, egging me on: "Can we have hot dog casserole tonight, Dad? Please?"
Truth is, however, the dreaded hot dog casserole was not my own creation. Believe it or not, it was handed down to me from my mother and father. For mom, it was something to make on a tight budget. For my dad, it was the only thing he could make when my mom wasn't home (thank God, those nights were few and far between.)
Here's the really pathetic part: each time I have to make the damn meal, I have to call my parents for the recipe, because I honestly can't remember . I think it amuses my mom, having me call and having pathetic conversations like this:
"So, how do you make the dreaded hot dog casserole again?"
"Well, you just buy some hot dogs and potatoes..."
"I wanted to ask you about that. Dad says you can use instant potatoes, but--"
"He did?" I could just picture my mom, shaking her head. "I wouldn't do that, but I can see your dad doing that."
"Well, so that means you can do it. But what about in-between potato stuff?"
I think my mother was a little taken aback by that. "In between--"
"You know, stuff that's a cross between instant potatoes and real potatoes. The potatoes you find in a plastic bucket."
My mother was speechless. "Is there such a thing?"
"Yes, believe me. There is!"
"Well, I suppose you could use your...tub potatoes." My mom paused to make a silent gagging noise. "Anyway, then you fry up the hot dogs and mash the potatoes. Or in your case, heat up your tub. Then round out a little hole in the potatoes and place your fried hot dogs in the hole. Cover it up, bake it at 350 for twenty minutes, and there you are!"
Got that, talentless chef aficionados? If not, let me paint a visual picture for you. First, you fry up the hot dogs...
Next, you place a big hole in your potatoes...just like Close Encounters of the Third Kind!
Put them together, stick it all in the oven at 350, let bake for 30 minutes, and you get this:
A thing of beauty, if I do say so myself...
Postscript: Corb just returned home, and read through my post. Then he looked in the refrigerator. For some reason, he seems to think that last photo had been doctored! Can you believe it?
"This looks nothing like that picture," he said, staring down into the dish.
"We ate all the chives," I explained.