The Ham Souffle (and Cereal)
Sometimes I sit here in front of the blinking cursor and I have so many ideas for things I’d like to write that I take a nap.
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But, it often starts with trying to pick my tone so that I can whittle down the topics to the one that speaks to my heart most. Do I try to ease possible anxieties? Do I try to empower? Do I try to convince you of your beauty and worth? Do I try to take your minds off everything as a whole?
After the year-that-shall-not-be-named, I chose the latter. I know I could use the break, and I imagine you’re not feeling much differently. So here’s a story for you.
But first, there are things I’d like you to know about who I am, who my family is, because you and I are still developing our relationship as reader and writer, so I need to lay some foundation:
We’re very close and communicate to a fault.
We’re also happy and affectionate and excellent at not taking this life too seriously. It’s like we’re just a bunch of vessels for dad jokes.
Cooking is my love language and, like many of you, I’ve taken to cooking and baking as almost a form of therapy throughout this whole global extravaganza. It’s my way of keeping idle hands at bay while creating something that’ll serve a purpose: feeding those I love most.
But, every now and again, I have to needle my husband while I do it. So he doesn’t forget who he married. Just like I promised I would in my vows.
It was a little over ten years ago when I went from typical cooking to doing so as much from-scratch as possible. We were living on an Army post and had an almost one-year-old who was branching out into solids. I had just started learning about true nutrition and food’s impact on the body, and I had met someone, who’d eventually become one of my very best friends (and still is!), who was teaching me everything she knew.
With her help, the first thing I made from scratch was alfredo sauce. And it was so good I thought for sure it’d bring peace to the nations.
I kept cooking and learning and practicing. I got to the point that I was ready to bestow a ham souffle roll upon my giant soldier husband for breakfast. I readied myself for my future induction into the Wifely Hall of Fame.
For those not aware, every morning soldiers have PT (physical training). Generally speaking, it’s very early. They come home to shower/eat/grab gear for the day and head back in to begin work. Meaning, I had to be up at o’dark thirty, even before our baby, to get these wheels in motion so that he’d be able to eat it fresh before heading out for the day.
As a relatively new cook, it took me one hundred thousand days and nights just to solidify the schedule of baking what amounted to my Everest.
He got back from PT, and I timed it so perfectly that it was coming out of the oven as he got out of the shower. I managed it! Aces!
Yet no one even asked for the rights to my story to write the book. That’s fine.
That tall, delicious man came out, all uniformed-up, and sat down at our tiny dining room table. I was sitting across from him, eyes the size of dinner plates, waiting for my accolades.
And this man. The person I love most, the person who loves me and protects me like no other, looks at me and my Japanese anime, future Wifely-Hall-of-Fame-inductee eyes and says,
“You know what I miss? Cereal.”
C E R E A L.
Naturally, that day has, and will, lived in infamy. Until the sun burns out.
I mean, I get it. Sometimes you want those nostalgic, no-effort-required, feel-good foods. But, the material is just too good to pass up:
Him: “You know what you should make this weekend? One of your apple crumble pies!”
Me: “Oh yeah? After souffle-gate?” * flips hair *
Him: “Think you can put my very favorite dinner you make into the rotation next week? The meatloaf with the glaze and garlic butter mashed potatoes!”
Me: “I’m not ready to be hurt like that again. #toosoon”
The teasing is good-natured, no one’s feelings are ever hurt. But, he calls me the “grandma-level cook” now so access to an event like this is just the stuff of dreams.
It’s important to note that while lockdown-cooking has been a thing, so have walks down memory lane. Scrolling through all those old photos of our babies with their dimpled hands and fluffy, cloth-diapered booties, us at proms, and moving all around the country has been such a beautiful thing. But, like I said, until:
Him: “I found the most adorable picture the other day! It had to have been when Hunter [our youngest of the four] was about a month old!”
Me: “I don’t know if my heart can take it! But, let me see!”
I’m calling the police.
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Hi, I'm Samantha! I get to be married to my delicious high school sweetheart, and we've made 4 of the most rad humans to ever grace the planet. I have a BS in psychology, am a proud veteran's wife, & believe there's nothing that can't be solved by a hot shower and a marathon of Friends. I love Jesus, Joanna Gaines, babies, & Trader Joe's.
Great article! I love your family’s sense of humour and also the reminder that creating a great meal doesn’t always mean hours of work (One of my family’s favs is sliced tomato on toast!)