Happy Valentine’s Day, guys!
To celebrate, I’m going to tell you a little story that happened 5 years ago, today.
My husband Jack and I had just moved back to Minnesota and it was our first Valentine’s day in our new apartment. He was rushing back from a music gig to spend a romantic evening home and, after several years of marriage without preparing anything special, I was determined to finally prove my culinary skills were up to par.
And I wanted to look hot while doing it.
I went and purchased a slinky white dress, lingerie, pulled out my favorite stilettos and spent several hours primping away, getting my hair and makeup perfect for the big night. We’d recently eaten bomb lasagna at our favorite raw food restaurant in NYC (Pure Food and Wine) and I, in my infinite wisdom, decided to show off and make some UBER healthy lasagna using the most nutritious foods I could think of.
This was going to be my first-ever vegan dinner I’d prepare for Jack.
I brainstormed up some ideas and settled on a “green” theme for the holiday, to be original (grin), instead of the normal red and pink. I bought green table linens, a bouquet of green Gerbera daisies, and decided to paint my nails a shimmery lime color to complement my sparkly stiletto heels.
I was pumped, convinced my genius idea of making a 100% veganized lasagna, using nothing but green-colored ingredients aka “GREEN-SAGNA,” would impress my man. In my thinking, after he’d tasted my savory culinary invention, he’d realize what a smart and talented catch I was, and I’d get well deserved bragging rights!
I’m ready for your call, Food Network!
Cue the horror music.
You have to realize, guys, that up until this point, I’d never baked anything before except pizza (which I somehow managed to burn). But I was certain that my brilliant idea of GREEN-SAGNA would magically taste as good as I’d envisioned it to look. After all, vegan muffins are delicious.
I was ready for the challenge (imagine the Rocky theme song playing right now, that’s how stoked I was). The day before I’d spent a fortune on exotic-looking ingredients at the health food store;
Seaweed (for lasagna noodles), basil & a green tube of pesto (for sauce), almonds, tofu & mushrooms (dyed green with food coloring, for “cheese”), and green bell & jalapeno peppers (for “meat”). Before I became a vegan I enjoyed my lasagna thick and hearty – heavy on the meat, can I get an amen? – so I got a lot of peppers as a substitute. Lots and lots of peppers.
I’d never tried seaweed before, but the sweet girl working at the store assured me it had a very “mild taste” that would be a good base for any healthy dish. (Either that lady was misinformed or pranking me LOL! I don’t know if you’ve ever tried seafood, but let me assure you…it can be called a lot of things, but “mild tasting” isn’t one of them!)
So, fast-forward to me feeling all sexy, preparing the perfect meal for Jack. I started sauteing the seaweed in water to soften it up, while simultaneously tidying up the house and, before you know it, the smoke detector goes off! Much to my dismay, my beautiful seaweed was burnt to a crisp!
Keep in mind, this was going to be my awesome cooking debut! I could NOT f*** this up! And it was Valentine’s Day, and Jack was due to be home soon…I didn’t have time to go back to the grocery store and start over.
I decided I would fix it.
My brilliant solution? I added some salt – what I now know is a lot of salt – figuring the clear crystals wouldn’t alter my green color palette, and would mask the burnt flavor. So I put it all together, burnt seaweed and all (with copious amounts of Pesto to cover the charring), and shoved it in the oven.
I wisely used this time to paint my nails, like the multitasking Betty Crocker-esque domestic goddess I was, and expected to have a wonderful tray of GREEN-SAGNA waiting for me. With my toenails still wet with polish, I lifted out the tray from the oven to taste it, and was devastated to find it much too salty (and DISGUSTING).
By this point I realized, horrified, that my cooking “skills” were scary. Paranormal Activity scary.
Most people would give up at this point and order pizza, right? Seems like the sane and reasonable option? But noooooo, not this girl. I’m MUCH too stubborn (and stupid) for that. 😉
To top things off, I’d thrown out our bag of white sugar a few weeks ago after reading an article on natural sweetener alternatives.
Honey is healthy and sweet, right?
And sweet is the antidote to salty?
So I lathered on a generous amount of honey, and opened the oven to pop the lasagna back in. Just then, my rambunctious (and WAYYY too curious) kitten, Fritz Von Purrmonsta, decided to explore where all that heat was coming from.
Hooman… I want know what dis thing is called “OVEN”?
He tried to jump in, and I screamed to stop him, dropping the tray of green goo all over myself (and my new slinky white dress), Fritz and the floor. Fritz panics, I panic even more and snatch him up to run to the shower.
Holy S***! Is seaweed or pesto toxic to cats?
I step in the shower fully clothed, clinging desperately to my kitten, and blast us both with a cold stream of water. This being Fritz’s first experience with water (and you know how much cats LOVE water flying at their faces 100 miles an hour from a weird silver thing thing above their heads!) he fights for his ninth life.
Very long story short – he scratches me on my upper eyelid and gets the hell outta Dodge, my allergies kick in and my eye puffs up, swelling almost entirely shut.
Of course, this is the moment Jack conveniently decides to arrive home to find a perilously-close-to-burning-down kitchen, a kitten going bats*** crazy, AND a curly-headed cyclops who looks like she’d been chewed up and spat out by the Loch Ness Monster itself.
Sur-prise!! Ain’t I SEXY?
Needless to say, Jack and I didn’t eat my green concoction, and my surprise was ruined. But he was a sweetheart about it all, grabbing some ice and Benadryl from the medicine cabinet for my eye, and cleaning up any evidence of GREEN-SAGNA from the scene of the crime.
(Now that I think about it as I write this, Jack has never once complained about my cooking, but has since volunteered to cook every meal we’ve ever eaten LOL!!! Smart man. I guess his Darwinian survival instincts must’ve kicked in full force that evening).
Anyways. What is the point of this entire anecdote?
Sometimes it’s better to give up and chuck it in the F*** It Bucket, than to keep pushing for something that isn’t right. Some things are doomed for failure (like my GREEN-SAGNA), and it’s a really useful skill to learn to say f*** it and move on.
Chuck it in the F*** It Bucket.
In case you’re wondering, Jack and I did end up having the best Valentine’s dinner a girl could ever hope for: two stale sugar cookies, a few crackers and orange juice from Super America.
A healthy gourmet meal at home, with me appearing amazingly flawless and talented?
Chuck it in the F*** It Bucket.
Moral of the story: Jack and I sat in the parking lot that night, playing each other songs in our car, laughing and talking for hours. It was one of the most magical experiences of my life…once I learned to let go and laugh about it, that is.
Lesson learned. Thanks, F*** It Bucket and GREEN-SAGNA!
Is there a moment in your life where you wish you’d just “chucked it in the F*** It Bucket” instead of being stubborn?
Here’s to a Happy Valentine’s Day (and a full to the brim F*** It Bucket)!
XOXO, Kitty =^.^=