Evolution of a househusband

Some women are lucky enough to have their very own househusband. The rest of us can only dream of coming home to a clean house, the kids taken care of, dinner being cooked...ahhh....of course, the notion of having a househusband is, I’m sure, not the same as the reality, but perhaps you can still get the picture?

Working seven days a week this fall at the winery meant that I had very little time in between my two jobs to catch up on things, eat, cook or do housework. Consequently, as you might imagine, the household duties needed a bit of a makeover. LB, the only one home after our lab jobs ended for the day at 5 PM, realized that he suddenly had to take over my duties in addition to his own. Thus, all at once he became title-holder of that most wondrous and underappreciated occupation: the house-spouse, or in this case, my househusband. I’ve documented his evolution from *mere* husband to super househusband here, dear readers, for your enjoyment and contemplation...

As I have always been the one to cook dinner and shop for groceries, my absence from home on both evenings and weekends meant that it was now necessary for him to do most, if not all, of the cooking. Not only that, but we actually had to plan out our meals for the week ahead of time because there was only a 15 minute period of time where I was home in the evenings, in order to change clothes before going from one job to the next. So, not only was he doing the cooking, but he had to cook the food the night before we were going to eat it...

At first, he complained.

He hates grocery shopping (can you even imagine?!), and in the beginning, I would spend the Saturday mornings I did have planning out menus for the week while he would whip up pancakes or some other weekend breakfast, and I would do the grocery shopping before I headed off to work. I didn’t mind this so much as I love grocery shopping – which is why it was always my duty to begin with. But, as Crush progressed, I didn’t always have time to make it to the grocery store before work, and that became his job too. LB has always liked to cook, but he complained that he didn’t know what to cook (especially if I required it was...gasp...healthy!), and was daunted by the prospect of planning out so many meals, so he would ask me to leave him recipes.

At first.

And so, suddenly having the responsibility of making dinner, night after night, day after day, even when he was tired and had his own work stuff to do, poor LB was utterly exhausted. So much so that I would find him asleep on the couch when I got home. So much so that he failed to notice the state of the house in between. While he has always been the vacuum cleaner guy (two enormously hairy, hundred pound mutts requires frequent vacuuming), many of the rest of the house cleaning duties were ones I took care of most of the time. Like sweeping up the dog bunnies (like dust bunnies, but made of dog hair – ew, gross), cleaning the bathroom, wiping off the kitchen counters and keeping the stove clean of all the burned-on goo under the burners, doing the laundry...etc. etc. etc. Most of it had sat for weeks waiting for me to do it. But of course, I was too busy. So it piled up.

And up.

And up.

Then, one day as he puttered around the house on the weekend, he noticed all the dog hair in the corners of the rooms, that there were coffee grinds all over the counter near the coffee maker, and that he had been missing many of his favorite pairs of boxers... and somehow it all sunk in... he realized that he not only had cooking responsibilities, but household cleaning responsibilities too.

One day, not long after that, I came home from work and the laundry had been done (well, the stuff in the hamper anyhow, but I’m not complaining). The kitchen was cleaned up (aside from that one thing always left on the counter or the stove, and well, the burner goo will just have to live there under the burners until it grows legs and walks away, but again, I'm not complaining) and there was even a meal made for the next night already in the refrigerator.

I just about died of shock right there. In fact, maybe I did and this is Heaven? LB transformed into a househusband in what seemed like an overnight dream come true, and he is still going strong – making me delicious meals while I am away at night, cleaning up after himself and even keeping the house looking reasonably clean. I’m so proud. And you know what, he even stopped requesting recipes and has started branching out to make up his own. Wow...my only concern now is that he may not let me back into the kitchen when all this is over...

This is a “guest recipe,” created by LB and written down, by him, for you.

Farro and Vegetable Salad, serves 4
as devised by Househusband LB

1.5 cups farro
1 zucchini, halved and sliced
1/2 to ¾ onion, sliced
¼ cup pine nuts
1 red pepper, sliced
½ ball of fresh mozzarella
oregano to taste
basil to taste
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil (see recipe)

1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan, then add farro. Simmer until the farro is tender, but still chewy.

2. Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a dry skillet on the stove.

3. Sauté onion over medium heat in a skillet in 1 tbsp. olive oil. Be sure to use a little extra olive oil because we are going to add more vegetables to the mix and we are going to dump all of this in with the farro later on.

4. Depending on how soft you like your zucchini and peppers, add them to the onion sauté so that all of your vegetables will be at your desired texture at the same time (in our house, Michelle thinks the onions have to be well cooked, so we usually start with them). Here, I added the peppers next and tried to cook them down to so that they just become soft, but are not yet mushy. Then, I added the zucchini so as to cook it through, but that it still had a bit of crispness and firmness left (I think this helps give the dish a bit more texture).

5. Add seasonings to the veggies. I used oregano and basil because I wanted this dish to have a bit of an Italian feel. I guess my Italian grandmother used to use a lot of basil and oregano, because my dad put it in everything, and I’ve followed suite. So, whether it is true Italian or not, it is to me.

6. Oops, you didn’t burn the pine nuts did you?

7. Drain the farro well so that there is not residual water.

8. Add the drained farro and toasted pine nuts to the veggies and toss. If there is not enough olive oil, you may want to add a splash more. The idea is to provide a nice coating to the salad without having it drenched in oil.

9. Mix in the mozzarella chunks briefly and remove from heat. The residual heat will melt them slightly but leave the nice big chunks of cheese so that there are some special surprise bites!

9 comments from you:

Julie said...

That sounds like an incredibly delicious salad. And healthy! Two cooks in the family is obviously a very good thing. -Julie

Mrs. W said...

Great post! Though in my book a "househusband" is the man that does not work outside of the home...

The salad sounds delicious. Sounds like you have a great man... no, a superman! When my husband decides to help out and cook it's "Mr.W's Surprise," which is boxed mac n' cheese with added hamburger, garlic and an extra stick of butter. *gag*

By the way, in my house they're called "dog hair tumbleweeds."

michelle said...

Hi Julie! We'll see, I might have to fight him for the kitchen now that he loves cooking so much!! But yes, it was delcious and healthy and I am very appreciative of everything he's been doing for us.

Mrs. W, Thanks for coming by! Yeah - I agree with you...since we both have day jobs and I'm the only one with a night job (and no kids, just dogs) he's really my nighttime househusband :) Your Mr. W's Surprise sounds like what my dad would make every time my mom went out of town - "Taters 'N Onions!" I also love the tumbleweed reference - having grown up in the desert, it's a perfect description - and they just get bigger and bigger the more they roll!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Stunning and beautiful. I'd have to think there was a little more trauma than this indicates. I would wish for you what happened for my friend. She got busy at work about 2 years and when she returned to the kitchen & home, her husband could do it all. Now they are a perfect "team" in the kitchen! I'd say it's the best of all worlds when roles can shift.
Tell LB the salad looks grand!

Dianne said...

Awwwww! Your LB is doing really well and now being so creative too! The salad looks lovely! Though experience tells me that you have both been on a fairly emotional journey to this eventual acceptance of your current roles!

katiez said...

Let's see, we also have 2 long-haired hundred pound doggies, Mon mari also is in charge of the Hoover... we'll work on rest.
I have to warn you though, I started leaving him in charge while I was still working in the U.S.; then when I came home and tried to get back in the kitchen he was, um, correcting my cooking.
I learned the most valuable lesson of all: keep my mouth shut and remember to say thank you!
As long as he doesn't turn over firewood chopping to me.
Great recipe,. BTW

michelle said...

Tanna and Diane: you are both wise, wise women...I can't hide behind all the LB flattery, eh? It was truly an "interesting" journey towards the acceptance of our *new* roles, but now that we're there, it's a great place to be (for now!). I've passed along the sentiments about his farro recipe to LB.

Katiez, I know! I've already experienced this recently - for now, the kitchen is still my realm, but he is far more likely to come in and offer to cook up something or take over the kitchen these days - scary, but I'm trying ot be accepting and appreciative too! And I tried the firewood chopping and nearly cut my foot off, so that will ALWAYS be his job!!!

Anonymous said...

This looks wonderful! I've got some farro in my cupboard waiting for me to remember to cook something healthy. Thanks for the reminder!


michelle said...

Hi Ann! I can't wait to see what you do with your farro...