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Tuesday, 28 February 2012


By Mary B Summerlin who keeps a photostream at Flickr

Yesterday, Joyce and I did our own version of the TV show Chopped.

It began innocently enough. I’ve just had a knee replacement and am not very mobile at this time. I invited Joyce over to cook a spaghetti squash that I had. I bought it some time ago because it would look good in my bowl of fall veggies – squashes, potatoes, tomatoes, gourds and nuts. My plan was to cook it after I tired of the decoration.

I think I’ve cooked spaghetti squash once before in my life so I did not feel up to tackling that dish. My old and dear friend Joyce was up to the challenge and said sure, no problem. I might add that I thought she answered in such a nonchalant manner, I wondered if she really knew what she was doing. Oh well.

She was supposed to arrive about 11AM but instead called about that time to say she was in the middle of a project with her grandchildren (six of them) and it would be 12-12:30 before she got here.

“Fine,” I say but I’m thinking – what about lunch? I don’t see how this is going to work. I’m not energetic enough to think hard about it or make a plan – it will just evolve.

Joyce gets here shortly after 12 with apologies and a recipe. We immediately determine that the meal she is going to fix will be dinner therefore, “what’s for lunch?”

Okay, check the fridge and find something. She did and we had leftovers from the night before.

I showed her two recipes for spaghetti squash in two different cookbooks and she had a recipe. My advice was, “I don’t care what you do with it. Whatever you figure out is fine.”

Meanwhile, I rested in my easy chair, resting and being grumpy. Joyce was in the process of picking and choosing from the recipes and making something. I don’t know what all she put in the casserole but she raided the spice cabinet, pantry and the fridge.

After an hour or so she commented, “This is the last time I’ll ever cook spaghetti squash,” and she continued to mutter and mumble.

And I continued to grumble and grumble from my easy chair.

What makes this work is that we’ve known each other since our kids were little and they’re about 50 years old now. Therefore, we don’t have to put on a pretty face or be nice and proper. We can be “just old us” and its okay.

She kept remarking that she would never again do this. And from my easy chair, I mumbled that whatever it was, it was okay. Finally she said all done and put it in the oven. Now it had to cook half an hour, I think she said.

After careful calculation, we decided we had enough time to watch a movie before she had to leave for another appointment. I had nothing planned for the rest of the afternoon so we expected a period of uninterrupted time.

Now, under the best of circumstances, the two of us watching a movie is an iffy experience. Neither of us really knows how to work a DVD – it’s a matter of trial and error.

We got it started, settled down – me in my easy recliner and Joyce on the couch. Then nothing went according to schedule – a friend stopped by, my tenant brought in a package and visited, the phone rang and future plans had to be changed.

You understand, each interruption means the DVD has to be stopped and started and I have to get in and out of the chair (slowly and with difficulty). We have to find a flashlight so we can read the buttons on the machine. With all the happenings, the movie was just lost in the shuffle.

About this time, Joyce says that it’s time to check the casserole. She checks it and tastes it. She immediately realized that something was WRONG. She reread the recipes and realized that the squash was supposed to be cooked BEFORE the casserole was made! After it was made, the casserole was supposed to cook another 30 minutes.

Joyce simply decided that the way to make it right was simply cook it longer. So back in the oven it goes.

Finally, she announces that it is done, she tastes it and says, “You or I will never taste anything like this again!” She prepares to leave and we realize that we will not get to see the end of the movie. Sooo – by now, we’ve forgotten what it was all about anyway.

And so ends an afternoon when Joyce was the chef and was given a spaghetti squash to make something with. It was a challenge. I was like a judge – grumpy and cranky. The conclusion was that spaghetti squash will never be cooked again by either Joyce or me. And that hopefully my disposition will improve.

We both agreed – yesterday should be Chopped! As she left, she had the nerve to cheerily call over her shoulder, “And what would you like me to cook next time?”

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Oh, so funny in the telling--not so much in the living of it! Good story, Mary

Thanks, Mary, for trumping my reason to give up cooking in retirement.

A good story, Mary, and you made my day. I have a spaghetti squash that's been sitting on my kitchen counter since last fall. It's color is slowly fading and I know I should boil it or bake it or throw it out! After reading your story I guess tonight I'll try to figure out what to do with it. Thanks for getting me going!


I am sorry to hear that you had to have surgery, but you sound as if all is well now. I hope so.

Why do these pumpkins and squash etc. hang around so long? I do the same thing.

I brought home a pumpkin to carve and put on my front step and my husband said,"That's not a very nice looking pumpkin."

I answered" Oh,well, it will only be on our step for a couple of months at most."

It finally got thrown away when it was time to put Santa out there.

Who cares about the squash, just hope the knee replacement is coming along fine.

Thank you for sharing that strange afternoon with me. I now have many ideas of "great squash recipes". I'm also glad to report that my knee surgery is quite successful. Thank you for asking.

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