"I'm cooking something special tonight..." I said to Larry, sensing that he was not in the best mood last night.
"Yes. Curry chicken," I said, then prattled off a bad description of the recipe, hoping to impress him.
"So...what time should I start to cook?" I asked.
"Start now," he said, probably knowing that it would take forever, which it usually does. You should see how long it takes me to make a salad. My chopping skills are that of a five year old.
"Okay!" I said, as if it were a game show.
I started by chopping the onion. The recipe only required that I slice it, so that took the pressure off, but before you could say Kleenex, the fumes were burning holes in my eyes.
I trotted over to the coffee table and rummaged through the basket. "What are you looking for?" asked Larry.
"What happened to the gum that was here?" I asked. "There was a package of gum here. They say that if you chew gum while cutting an onion, you won't cry." (I had read this on the underside of a Snapple bottle cap and was secretly thrilled that I could finally try it out)
"Just light a candle," he said. "It will burn the fumes off." So, I grabbed one of the candleholders I made and lit a new tealight inside, carrying it into the kitchen and setting it down on the cutting board.
Unfortunately, the flame on this tea light never really grew big enough to have an impact, so I still cried, mostly because I didn't want to cook now.
"This isn't working," I whined, blinking and closing my eyes tight.
"That's because the candle is too small," said Larry from the couch. This man has eyes in the back of his head.
Finally, I finished cutting the onion, threw it into a bowl, and set it aside. I turned to the laptop, which was open to the webpage featuring this recipe.
I poured a small amount of olive oil into the pan and turned on the heat. Once it started to sizzle, I dumped the onions in and flinched as the oil almost splattered on me.
I looked around and began to panic. Where is the curry powder I bought? Did I leave it at work? Can I fake it by adding cumin and cayenne pepper? And how soon will Larry kill me?
I sighed with relief when I found the curry "blend" (Food Emporium didn't have any real curry) hiding in its bag next to the laptop.
After I stirred the onion for a few minutes, I dumped a teaspoon of the curry blend into the mix. Even though it smelled really good, I was starting to worry that it was too much and would be overpowering. I imagined Larry taking a bite, grimacing, then pushing his plate away from him as I reached for the stack of takeout menus.
The next step was to salt and pepper the chicken. I can't stand handling raw chicken, so this, as you can imagine, was a pain in the ass. As I pulled the chicken breasts out of the package, I realized that they were enormous, so I decided to only cook three. The fourth was placed in a bag for "another time" and into the fridge.
I now had to sprinkle them with curry powder. I was impressed with myself, since I managed to do it without dropping any of them.
Now it was time to add the chicken. I pushed the onions to the side of the pan, added the chicken breasts and looked at the clock. I always watch the clock, which is something I didn't do when I lived in Astoria and experimented with grilled chicken. Looking back, I understand why my mother never really wanted to try anything I made.
With the chicken breasts cooked, I carefully transferred them to a plate, and then reached for the sour cream, pre-measured in a Pyrex measuring cup in the refrigerator.
I gently spooned the sour cream in and watched it begin to liquefy. I turned the heat down so it wouldn't curdle. (I've made that mistake with ricotta cheese - don't ask)
I returned the chicken to the pan and let it all cook together for a few minutes while I set the "table." (We eat at the coffee table every night so we can watch
I sat down and dug right in. "Mmm!" I said, covering up my utter disappointment. How could something with curry, onions and sour cream taste so fucking bland? For fuck's sake!
I looked at Larry, but he didn't say anything right away.
"This needs rice," he finally said. I began to mentally kick myself for leaving it out.
"I can cook up some chickpeas..." I offered.
"You should have cut the chicken into smaller pieces," he said. Even though I agreed, I didn't say anything.
"It's kind of bland, right?" I finally asked.
"Yeah. I'll make it next time."
And that, dear readers, is how you get the other person to do all the cooking.