Cooking with Meagan in 10 Easy Steps

Brief interlude here between the pictures to discuss the Amazing Ramen Salad I made for a family get together yesterday, how it came into being, and how to cook like Meg.

The first crucial piece of information involved in this story is that I don’t cook. Josh cooks. Josh makes wonderful, delicious food on a daily basis, for multiple meals in the day, which to me is indistinguishable from sorcery. What’s even harder to understand is the fact that he enjoys doing this, because I can’t stand cooking. People never seem to understand the depths to which I don’t like cooking. It’s a depth something like the Mariana Trench of dislike, and part of the problem is that the results are never worth the effort when I cook. I don’t understand the wonderful intersection between food and chemistry that is cooking, and I am totally disinterested in food unless it is:

  1. Free
  2. Made by someone else
  3. Consumed in a social setting
  4. Able to be consumed with absolutely no effort on my part.

Josh cooks, I do the dishes, it works out. So we had this family gathering to go to yesterday. Ahead of time, I warned Josh about it.

“Hey, Josh, so you need to come to a potluck-barbecue of like thirty people I’m not always clear on how I’m related to and it takes three hours to drive there and you need to bring your kids and this is all after you worked a half day,” I said.

Josh is a good guy. “Okay!”

“And can you make food for it, because we have to bring something and nobody wants to eat food I make, especially me?”

“Sure.” Josh is a good guy.

What we failed to take into account is that Josh is doing some pet sitting this weekend and therefore was gone all day Friday, Friday night, and Saturday morning. These being the prime days to make potluck food for a Saturday event and not give everyone food poisoning, the dawning horror began to break over me that I, Meg, would have to prepare food to be consumed by my hordes of extended relations.

I complained about it at work. “Sara,” I said, “What am I going to do? I can’t make anything!”

“You can make ramen,” said Sara, because she remembers my college days, when she both mailed me ramen and feared for my bone density in the not-entirely-mistaken belief that it might be all I eat.

“Waily waily!” I replied, like anybody would.

“Ramen can be a salad!” Sara said, and she linked me the recipe you saw above. Amazing Ramen Salad! Not even just amazing, Ridiculously Amazing! How could this possibly go wrong? Perceiving that it had ingredients I mostly already had, and a list of directions shorter than some haiku, I decided to make the Ridiculously Amazing Ramen Salad, henceforth RARS.

So that’s the first step of how to cook like Meg:

Step One: Don’t even find your own recipe.

Depend on friends and loved ones to provide recipes sufficiently basic for your feeble skills.

Step Two: Clean all the parts of your house which have nothing to do with your kitchen.

The floor has nothing to do with the making of the RARS, but it’s dirty, so you should be super anal about getting every square inch of it because you have plenty of time.

Step Three: Run out of time.

Panic! Where is the grocery store!

Step Four: Go to the grocery store.

Wander around helplessly while you search the salad mixes for coleslaw mix, certain that it must be there somewhere, but unable to find it. Repeat for the sliced nuts, which are hiding in the baking aisle just to spite you, while the sunflower seeds hide themselves elsewhere.

Step Five: Text your boyfriend in a panic because you don’t know whether green onions are the same thing as scallions.

He doesn’t answer because he’s at work. Try to consult google and fret when you can’t get any reception in the produce section of Vons. Make your best guess, and congratulate yourself later for not buying chives or shallots.

Step Six: Encounter sexist comments from the grocery checkout clerk.

I encounter sexist comments from cashiers more often than I’d like, which is to say it happens ever. But it seems to be on an upswing lately. I bought a rolling pin at Vons for the smashing of ramen blocks and the cashier said, “Is this for baking, or chasing around the Mister when he’s bad? Ha ha!”

I stared at him in disbelief. “My man cooks for me,” I replied. “I would never mistreat him.”

“Oh,” said the grocery store clerk, “I was just thinking of those old movies, where the woman is chasing around her husband, you know? Ha ha!”

I gripped my wallet, white knuckled, eyes bulging with the stress that I had to be in the grocery store at all, bloodshot and red-faced and clearly on the verge of psychological break. “HE COOKS FOR ME!”

Step Seven: Go home. Turn on This American Life, because Ira Glass is necessary for all household chores.

Cry into your Ridiculously Amazing Ramen Salad when the radio show turns out to be a sad one about hospice care.

Step Eight: Follow the recipe directions.

Feel amazed when it doesn’t go badly.

Step Nine: Add some extra touches.

Feel like a badass for tasting it and adjusting accordingly, as you imagine real chefs to do. Pepper? Yeah, needs pepper! YEAHHHHH LOOK AT ME SEASONING THIS SON OF A BITCH

Step Ten: Bask in the glow of having prepared food which appears to be edible.

And vow never to do it again.

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