Thursday, January 24, 2008

Another entertaining meal with the inlaws

It was another fun time with the inlaws last night. MIL always has tasks that require Handyman's skills and sometimes she wanders into complaint territory, that he's not getting things done often/quickly enough to suit her. (She obviously has never lived in a fixer-upper like someone else we know.) Anyway, I encouraged her to sweeten the deal for him a little by offering him free supper with dessert. He always mentions her meatloaf, mostly because it is something he likes but also it can be relied upon to turn out pretty consistently, whereas many other meals there have more wildly divergent results.

So she had offered to make meatloaf and pecan pie if he would come do a few things for her. In the morning she said she had a very hectic day coming up and did not know if she could get it all done in time for us to eat before Awana. She said she would call us back and let us know whether to plan on it. I never heard back from her, so Handyman made a pot of chili for our supper.

At ten til five, she called to say it was all ready! So, we needed to drop everything and get down there so the girls could eat and get to Awana on time. Handyman gets a little brusque getting people out the door and I remind him that I was supposed to have more than 10 minutes notice (including travel time) and we still have lots of animals that have to be fed, etc. So he headed out the door with children and I soldiered on with livestock duties.

When I got down there to eat (quickly) and take the girls on to Awana, they were already eating and as is her habit, MIL opened the conversation with tonight's version of why the meal was a flop. Now you have to understand that I have been eating with MIL, fairly frequently for about 17 years and I have never been to a meal at her house without her beginning with something along these lines: "Well, I'm not sure it's fit to eat." That's actually the exact quote from about 82% of those meals. Every now and then there's a variation--like last night: "Well, this pie may be a complete failure..." Then she branches off into the pie crust issue. The pie crust issue is another ongoing disappointment.

MIL's mother was a farm wife, revered by all who knew her. Handyman and his brother loved her and so did FIL. I never got to meet her and I've always been sad about that. Anyway, apparently between all her farm chores and responsibilities, she never took any time to teach MIL how to cook. MIL laments, a lot, about how she cannot make a crust like her mother's, NO MATTER WHAT! She's tried lard and shortening and butter and cold water, warm water and pre-made. They are all disasters. She has called me and told me that she's made three complete batches of crust in one day and THROWN them all OUT, because they didn't please her. (How bad can pie crust be--it comes in a box for goodness sakes--I'll eat it.)

Well, last night's pie crust was another dismal debacle, in her opinion. Meanwhile I noticed my family shoving it down by the large forkfuls. No disappointment noted. Then she went on to explain that the pie had boiled over and the drippings had caught fire in the oven! There's a little excitement for your dining pleasure. She had thrown some baking soda on it--but missed the burning stuff and Handyman had thrown the entire boxful into the oven, saving the day and the new house. (Of course.)

So, flames are not something I have ever experienced while dining with the inlaws and I'm a little sad I can't add it to my repertoire. Handyman told me later that the reason the pie boiled over and then caught fire was because the baked potatoes weren't done. ?? He told her to put them in the microwave to finish them up, but she thought she'd just turn up the oven (to 500), thus causing the pie to boil over and the drippings to combust. Yee ha!

Another actual quote from MIL at another meal: "This meat smelled awful the whole time it was cooking." Then there was the fish-meatball episode, and the unidentifiable meat from the freezer and the whole price per pound issue. Fodder for another day...

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