Our honey moon was a five-day drive from Macon, Georgia to South Prairie, Washington. My grandmother lived there and it was conveniently close to Fort Lewis, where Ric’s first assignment in the Army was to help supervise ROTC summer camp for two months before proceeding to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
We were newly-weds in my Grandma’s house which was weird, but my grandma was very cool and we were pretty close to broke, so the price was right.
The price was also SO right on a perspective apartment in Lawton, Oklahoma that we decided I should go ahead of Ric to nab that dive before any other bottom feeders snagged it. The trek with two cats in a Blazer and a trailer that I couldn’t backup is another story, but it places me in Oklahoma, well out from under the umbrella of Grandma’s cooking, to greet my husband upon his triumphant arrival.
I should mention here that I didn’t know how to cook anything that mom hadn’t dictated via notes atop my formative kitchen catwalk (that’s the countertop) regarding what to drop in the crock-pot before I left for my days in middle school.
But…I was married now.
So, I tore into to the stack of wedding gifts and unboxed my very own slow cooker, with a chic early ’90’s cornflower adorning the poorly designed crock. I was in my microscopic culinary comfort zone but married life called for something sexier than the meat and veggies that mom had always set forth.
Chili, of course!
I can’t even remember what I might have dumped into that mess, but I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t humble enough to consult a cookbook. Ugg!
Anyway, everything was fine until Ric was getting closer and the chili was runny. My solution seemed ingenious at the time – yellow cornmeal! After all, chili goes SO well with cornBREAD. Surely dumping cornMEAL into chili would be a tasty way to soak up extra “juice” and perfect my first wifely culinary offering.
For the record, cornmeal does NOT smooth out the texture of runny chili. It hangs tough in the face of tomato acid and remains just as hard and grainy as it is raw. And, the chili is still runny.
After 30 hours on the road, Ric arrived to his first romantic, home-cooked meal.
I wish you could see the color in my face twenty years later as I recall that first taste. I learned a valuable lesson that night about my own kitchen intuition and began to consult the printed work of experts.
My officer and gentleman never acknowledged any issues. What a man!