Quite awhile back, a reader passed along a recipe he was particularly pleased with. One that he had created, in fact. Simple and straightforward, from a preparation standpoint, Bill McDonald's recipe exhibited some unique and delectable twists.
As he wrote: “Often menfolk have a surprise recipe we can put together as a treat or in order to take the strain off a busy or otherwise harried wife. This happened to me this morning.”
McDonald explained that he and his wife had been helping to set up for an event at their local Elks Lodge. Afterward, “my wife informed me that she had to do a little shopping so (she) would be a little longer getting home, and, ‘Oh, how good some of that chicken salad you make would be.'
“So home I went and found all of the ingredients in the refrigerator or on the shelf. In 40 minutes, the salad was finished, and Marion was eating it, still warm. She thought it was delicious. Hence, my letter,” he wrote.
That letter got me thinking about all the nice things guys do for their gals in the area of the culinary arts. At one extreme, of course, there are the men who do the lion's share of cooking for the household. In our evolved society, plenty of men are simply better cooks than their female partners, and the women are not at all threatened by that. Some men, although not the full-time executive chef, willingly step into the kitchen when work schedules dictate the need.
And then there are the Bill McDonalds of the world who produce a specialty when the moment is appropriate.
I remember how refreshed my fevered body and aching throat felt after my husband, Steve, brought a glass of hand-squeezed lemonade, glistening flecks of undissolved sugar still twirling in the juice, to my bed when I was sick.
I also recall how Steve and our son Ryan are the only ones who can make our favorite football fare, pickle dip, come out with just the right ratio of cream cheese to chopped-up dill pickles, and who know exactly when it should be served (right before kickoff so there's four quarters and two dozen commercials to work it all off). How my dad's egg-in-a-hole breakfast treat always tasted so good before school; my Uncle Reg singing opera while flipping pancakes on lazy Saturday mornings; my brother Don's Christmas Day waffles (“Who wants one more? C'mon, there's still batter, you wimps”).
In my greater circle of man-in-the-kitchen stories, there are cookies and burgers, salmon and cioppino. The list goes on.
If some of you women are thinking, “Oh sure, these guys get credit for one lousy dish, while I'm cranking out meals day in and day out,” then you've missed the point. These special offerings are gestures of love. Pretty grand gestures at that, and the equivalent of a five-course meal in my book. Without the mess.
So here, in Bill McDonald's own words, is his wonderful recipe for chicken salad, followed by a few other guy specialties that I've encountered through the years.