Chicken Soup à la Text Message

There are a few things to love about winter.  Snow, for example.  Hikes in a winter wonderland.  The Narnia look of our neighborhood as flakes fall through trees lit by softly glowing streetlamps and a gently silvered moon.  Chicken soup.

Now, I love chicken noodle soup.  I’ve loved it since I was a kid.  But it’s not a dish I know how to make very well.  Mary Anne, on the other hand, makes a delicious chicken noodle soup.  Homemade noodles, fresh vegetables, our own broth, a dash of freshly ground cumin, and I’m a happy fellow.  Add cornbread, and things are just about perfect.

All of this is important because, a few days ago (on a cold gray day much like today), I realized that dinner time was approaching.  Sadly, I didn’t have a clue what was on the menu.  You see, I may do a lot of the cooking at our house, but I’m not great a “winging it.”  Having had both my darling and the bouncing baby boy look at my dinners and say “Oh.  You thought I might eat that?” I’ve learned to check the menu before starting to cook.  A plan is essential — and I didn’t have one.

So I texted my darling (even though it was a weeknight and not really her job to come up with a meal) to ask if she had any preference for dinner.  I got the following slightly grumpy reply.

You can just hear my reaction, can’t you?  In about a half second, it went something like this:

“Wait!  What did I do?”
“Ooh, that sounds good!”
“Wait!  I don’t know how to make that.”

Fortunately, Mary Anne could hear it, too.  So she just went ahead and texted me the recipe.

Being a guy, I consider a recipe to be a roadmap.  You begin at the beginning and follow it to the end.  Mary Anne, on the other hand, is what I call a creative cook.  She never follows a recipe.  Never.  She sees a recipe as just a suggestion.  A hint.  A jumping-off point.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  It’s not a language I speak well, but I could follow what she sent well enough to make soup.  When she got home, she tweaked it using ingredients that weren’t included in her text (like points of interest that I somehow should have known to visit) while I made cornbread.  It worked well.

And that’s one of the things I love about cooking together.  About out life together.  We understand each other’s shorthand.  We get it.

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