I got to Gayle’s with two large paper grocery bags full of food. Gayle had gone to visit a neighbor, so the job of finding refrigerator space fell to Chuck. I don’t think he knew whether to laugh or cry, so he just groaned as he shifted things in the freezer and refrigerator. He had almost completed the task when Gayle arrived and began identifying the leftovers already taking up space.
Gayle had cooked and diced some chicken breasts and made chicken broth for use in creating quick, high protein meals. Her daughter Kathleen had turned her onto coconut milk as a healthy alternative to cow’s milk for use in certain culinary creations. Gayle had a quart of the stuff, and wanted to know if I knew what to do with it. It’s not for nothing that I’m the wing-it queen.
I had placed a half bunch of scallions and a bit of a bulb of ginger in the crisper drawer, and had arrived with most of a head of organic garlic. It was time to crank up Gayle’s soup pot for my variation on one of Rachel’s favorites, Thai coconut cream and chicken soup. I had never cooked in Gayle’s Mississippi kitchen, so this was a homecoming, of sorts, for me.
When our children were small, Gayle and I were next-door neighbors. Gayle loved to grow food, but she was never keen on cooking. Her mother and I thought it our duty to provide Gayle’s family with all manner of soup and such. Gayle’s mom would cook at home and transport her food fantasies. I’d simply take over Gayle’s kitchen.
Gayle and I dreamed of retirement with both of our families sharing a large farm house with two distinct wings with one community kitchen. We agreed that I’d do the cooking and she’d do the clean-up. Even though Gayle’s Mississippi home doesn’t have two wings, it does have two stories. I was happy as a clam laughing with Gayle as I threw things into the soup pot and she cleaned up my mess.
My presence in his kitchen was actually an improvement in Chuck’s life from the first days of my friendship with his wife. When we first met, we were so enamored of each other’s philosophies that we’d forget to cook anything until Chuck walked in from work. Chuck would take one look at me, and with a look of utter despair, walk out of the kitchen. He didn’t seem to appreciate that Gayle and I were solving the problems of the world while we weren’t solving the problem of what’s for supper.
Poor Chuck probably thought he was safe from my invasion when Richard and I moved to Tennessee. I’m back, with my traveling cooking show. I hope the foods I feed them make the pain of my rather oppressive presence worth it to him.
Scott and Buffy seem to be holding up well with me in their home. Buffy has been craving Richard’s avocado soup. I may have to make that for her, since Richard isn’t here. There’s still a spot of empty space in her refrigerator.