Editor’s note: This column originally published April 22, 2016
I fixed liver and onions for dinner the other night. Mmmm…can’t you just smell the onions caramelizing in the butter? My choice for our evening menu stirred some conversation amongst several of my friends on Facebook, which got me thinking — liver and onions is one of those love/hate dishes. Hubby and I love it, my three kids hate it. But the fact that we’re empty-nesters means their opinions on my choice for dinner doesn’t matter anyway. Well, in actuality, their opinions didn’t matter when they lived at home either, because I like liver and onions.
I enjoy cooking and — all modesty aside — I’m a pretty good cook. I enjoy getting my well-seasoned cast-iron skillet out, heating it up and creating a meal fit for a … dare I say “King?” It takes me back to my childhood when my grandma would throw a scrumptious supper together for the farmhands or family that often gathered. I’m talking a spread with multiple sides dishes. In those days the cast-iron skillet took center stage.
I generally get a positive response for my cuisine, but I have had a few misses during my tenure as head cook of the King household. You know, the times you stray from the tried and true entrée, everyone eats it but without great enthusiasm, so you decide it really isn’t worth the effort to bother with that particular recipe again.
But there was my one epic fail.
In my family, it’s referred to as the notorious ‘tomato stack-up incident’ of 1985.
I was a young wife and a stay-at-home mom with a 2-year-old son. In those days I owned two cookbooks — a 1979 reprint of a 1969 Betty Crocker Cookbook and my gifted copy of the First Christian Church Cookbook, the church where I was dedicated as an infant and where our wedding took place few years later. Seriously, what more could any novice chef need?
It was the summer of 1985, we lived at the Lake of the Ozarks, and we had a bountiful garden that produced glorious beefsteak tomatoes. I found a recipe for tomato stack-ups and it sounded delicious.
At that point in my life, I didn’t venture far from the proverbial meat and potatoes meal. But we liked tomatoes, so what could possibly go wrong?
I worked so hard to prepare a lovely, summery dish of which I was quite proud, and the three of us sat down to eat.
Without going in to great detail, my little boy, Josh, was too young to properly understand table etiquette regarding vomiting on your dinner plate, so...
Hubby wasn’t much better as he sat to my left, gagging, and making excuses for Josh’s sudden illness and his own reflexive reaction to the food, while trying to console me as I sat there in tears. I’m not sure if those tears were because I had served ghastly food or if it was because they had the nerve to react to my cooking in that manner.
Suffice it to say, that debacle has followed me for 30 years.
When discussing my failed attempts to find the tomato stack-ups recipe recently, I mentioned it had probably been recalled by the USDA. Josh was eager to suggest it was more likely poison control.
Where that kid gets his smart-alecky attitude, I’ll never know.
Contact Dana King at firstname.lastname@example.org