The dinner that didn’t din

Making dinner is one of my favorite parts of being a housewife.

I love the whole process of meal planning, making a list, shopping, and being so economical that we actually use everything in the house in the course of a week. It’s a satisfying feeling when Friday night rolls around and if feels like you’re putting the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle.  “Hmm, what do we have left in the house for dinner? 3 cans of tuna, 2 carrots and a stalk of celery? Tuna salad it is.”

I like having dinner perfectly timed so we start eating 2.07 minutes after my husband walks in the door. (He probably gets annoyed at my constant phone calls when he is on the way for traffic updates and ETA modifications.)

Well, last night was such a disaster.

The concept was stuffed cabbage leaves. This is one of my favorite dishes and fairly easy to make. The problem is that it calls for meat, cabbage, sauce and rice. My husband doesn’t want to eat rice, and my kids don’t want to eat cabbage, but they all like the meat in the sauce. So I had a brilliant idea: I would cook the cabbage leaves separately and then make meat balls cooked in the traditional tomato-vinegar sauce instead of stuffing the cabbage. Then I could eat it together (kind of a roll your own deal) and the kids didn’t have to peel cabbage leaves off and throw them everywhere. Plus it would be a lot less work, and I would save a fortune in toothpicks! (OK I admit the last one didn’t occur to me.)

I added an egg to the meat mixture to help bind it together, and proceeded to ball and place meat in the hot skillet. To my chagrin it merely started to fall apart. I treated it as gently as possible hoping it would stay together in balls, but to little avail. So I decided to break another egg into the yet unrolled meat to see if I could salvage some of them. Oh no… there was not enough meat left in the bowl to absorb the egg! Now, I had a meaty eggy mixture that was very gloppy and I could not make a ball out of it to save my life! What if I spooned it into the pan? No. Now I had a mixture that looked vaguely like Alpo.

As if that weren’t enough. I went ahead and added the tomato sauce, thinking if I cooked it so it tasted right, we might still be able to eat it. It just got worse and worse looking, and when I tasted it, the egg had done something foreign and it didn’t taste like the inside of a stuffed cabbage leaf at all. I could not even picture how we would convey this concoction into our mouths, even if we wanted to. The cabbage leaves were only par boiled because I had intended to cook them alongside the meatballs in the sauce, which was now a mish mosh. We don’t keep bread in the house anymore (I just make some when we are going to need it for sandwiches etc) so we couldn’t even do it Sloppy Joe style.

I hung my head and went to ask Dave if I could order pizza, to which he didn’t even hesitate before saying yes (bless him). I was still vacillating over the meal I had invested so much thought into and brought him to see it. If I had any doubts about ordering out, they were dispelled when I saw the face Dave made after tasting it, immediately before he bravely said, “I’ll eat it.” No no my dear, I would not inflict that on you. Down the garbage disposal it went.

At least Papa John’s had a 2 for 1 special.

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