Monday, August 09, 2010

Finally, the kitchen is again mine!

No matter how great a relationship you may have with your mother-in-law, admit it, you breathe a deep sigh of relief when she goes home.  Especially if she's been visiting for a week.

Now don't get me wrong, my mother-in-law is a lovely woman with a big heart.  She'd never knowingly cause grief or harm.  She's the kind of woman that would give you the shirt off her back if you are hungry, is always there with a shoulder to cry on when you are cold, and will throw open the curtains for you when you have a migraine.  And sometimes if you just have to go into another room and count to ten your blessings, well, I guess you just have to remember that she means well.  She really really means well.

This past week was not without it's amusements.

For instance, she arrived with a cooler FULL of fish.  Four different types of fish.  In large frozen blocks.

There were just two small, itsy, miniscule little problems with this.

1) My MIL forgets that I am not a big fan of fish.  We do this every time we meet.  The only thing I think we talk about is my so-called picky food habits. It's an unfortunate coincidence that I am not a fan of all of her favorite foods.  Alas, her favorite foods are bony fish, pickles, and cheese that smells of old socks.  Mine are cheese enchiladas, beef tacos, salsa and guacamole.  She likes red beets and oranges and I like broccoli and apples.  Anyway, I do eat some fish.  I'll eat pickled herring, salmon, tuna, sushi, anything deep fried (I do love me some fish and chips); generally anything that is bone free and marinated in something.  I, frankly think this is quite a lot of fish.  But seeing as how my MIL keep serving smoked mackerel and some flat bumpy bottom feeding fish (twenty minutes of de-skinning, de-boning, de-oh-my-god-the-bumps-are-also-bone, for three bites of the blandest white fish I've ever had to mush in my mouth), I can see why she thinks I'm picky as I turn down the opportunity for seconds and have more boiled potatoes.

By the way, I am TOTALLY potatoed out.

2) We have no freezer.  My MIL helped my husband move in and was aware of this, but seemingly forgot when faced with the multitude of fish available for purchase.

So suddenly we had gobs of fish that had to be eaten as soon as possible.

Oh, and a clogged drain.

Have I mentioned the clogged drain?

Yeah, so we discovered we had a partially clogged drain the evening she arrived with her mother (who I think really wins the award for picky-eater of the year).  We also discovered the sink leaks when it gets filled up with water.  Warnings were passed around.

The next day... well, alas, I cannot abide the smell of defrosting fish (I was effectively banned from my own kitchen by my gag reflex for a week, not to mention by a MIL who was insisting that she wanted to be helpful and would do all the cooking - which, while I don't want to sound ungrateful, is never happening again, I cannot survive for a week on new potatoes and butter) and so when my husband arrived home from work, he found his mother in the kitchen with a sink completely full of fish bits, potato skins, and water, which was leaking all over the floor.  She continued to bustle about cooking while my husband frantically cleaned up and I shouted helpful encouragement from two rooms away.

Thankfully, the landlord, who was around that week fixing the deck, stopped by to say hello and promised to send us a plumber the next day.  That plumber was right on time and had the right tools in hand.  I have never been so happy to see a fat Danish man in overalls in my life.  He was a vision of beauty!

The rest of the week passed as one might expect: misunderstandings, more fish, cleaning up the kitchen after my MIL, an increasingly frustrated husband (he has a hard time with people that won't realize that Americans have a whole separate culture that is very different from Danish culture), more fish, a discussion of why I put blue cheese in my salad (I wonder what would have happened if I'd gone the whole nine yards and put dried cranberries, walnuts, sliced apples and portobello mushrooms in as well), more fish, an exhausted husband (who couldn't sleep as he tried to figure out why his mother would try to convince me that taking a walk outside would improve my hay-fever [in full swing during harvest season] when she's supposed to be a certified nurse), and finally more discussions about Things That I Just Do Differently.

Things That I Just Do Differently
- eat avocados with olive oil, salt and pepper rather than with shrimp and lemon
- drink water with a slice of lemon (well, couldn't let the lemon that came with my avocado go to waste)
- drink coffee with milk and sugar instead of black
- I don't bike, I walk to get places or I drive BUT I DO KNOW HOW TO RIDE A BIKE, I'm just not a New York City messenger boy (ie how Danes ride bikes)
- I rinse my dishes before washing them in soapy water
- I do NOT put sugar in my garlic-herb vinaigrette dressing, I never have, I never will, and telling me that it makes it less sour is EXACTLY WHY I don't do it, but I accept that your palette is different from mine and I urge you to make your own dressing if you think it may be a little too strong
- I eat breakfast differently (and this was without her catching me making crepes, French toast, or a full English breakfast)
- I eat lunch differently (I rarely do a Danish lunch, I make sandwiches and eat apple slices with cheddar cheese)
- I don't drink coffee after noon
- there are only a few things on this planet I will not eat for politeness-sake, one of these is pickles (projectile vomit occurs within 30 minutes of ingestion) and the other is shrimp - I can eat around shrimp, but I can't eat around pickles
- when I'm having a bad allergy day, I take myself as far as I can from any source of allergen, lay down, stuff tissue up my nose and wait for the medication to kick in rather than go for a walk through the clouds of pollen

But it's all over now.  I have my kitchen back.  I can make Asian, Indian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern food.  I can make cake and cookies and hot chocolate.  Only first I have to be creative with pounds of boiled new potatoes...


  1. LOL
    Mother and mother-in-laws...they often require a Zen-approach. ;)

  2. One more thing you should do it differently:

    DRINK avocado instead of eating it.
    Put it in a blender with sugar + milk + ice (a little vodka won't hurt LOL) and decorate the glass with chocolate syrup before you pour the mixture in.


  3. Has she brought a cooler full of eel, potatoes and cream in order to make a dinner of fried eel and creamed potatoes? I usually have to a do a major spring cleaning (washing everything including drapes and walls) after one of these dinners.

  4. With all due respect, she sounds like the usual run of the mill psycho dan mother in law.

    Bringing a cooler full of fish is not 'forgetting' you don't like fish.

  5. I hope I haven't spoken out of turn.

    And that you know what I mean by 'usual run of the mill psycho dan mother in law.'

  6. Reading this makes me sooo thankful for my mother in law! I truly believe I got the best Danes of the bunch. They have never tried to change my American ways, they may laugh at them and not understand them, but they accept me for who I am.

    You have my sympathies with the seasonal allergies. During peak season I hate to even run outside long enough to get the mail.


Keep it clean, don't be mean....