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Storytime: Love in a casserole dish |

Storytime: Love in a casserole dish

When I married my husband, I moved from my parents’ house into a rented old farmhouse down a dusty gravel road. I’d never lived on my own. I didn’t have my own furniture, my own vehicle and most certainly didn’t own anything to fix a meal. No saucepans, no skillets and no skills to go with them.

Growing up, one of my responsibilities was to start supper so, when my mother walked in from work, we could eat sooner rather than later. It was never anything fancy — fried pork chops, hamburgers or something in a casserole dish. I cooked without caring what the end result would be because I knew my mother would be home in time to save the day. Or rather, save the meal.


The first day home from our honeymoon was spent unpacking wedding gifts. Shiny pots and pans and cooking utensils quickly filled the one lone kitchen cabinet in our new old farmhouse. There were fancy tools and clever gadgets I had no clue what to do with. Still, I somewhat knew my way around a kitchen and somehow managed to convince my husband I could cook, even though I’d never had my own kitchen to prove it. Until now.

I chose to make a meatloaf for our first dinner, simply because I had a new casserole dish and could probably, maybe, surely make a meatloaf without a written recipe. How hard could it be?

I’d made meatloaf before following my mother’s instructions, so this wouldn’t be my first try. I threw together everything I thought was needed, squished it together with my hands, patted it evenly into my new dish and set the temperature of the ancient oven. The house promptly filled with smoke.

After assuring my new husband I wasn’t burning down our old house, I cleared the smoke and slipped that casserole dish into the wonky oven. After 30 minutes, the meatloaf was just sitting there looking bored and uninterested.

An hour later, I pulled it out and decided that nothing baking in that dish resembled meatloaf and that started me worrying. What would happen when Randy realized the woman he married had no cooking skills? Something had to be done.

I dumped some flour into the soupy mix hoping to thicken it up, but that turned the whole thing into pasty goo. Finally I did what I saw my mother do countless times before — I stirred in ketchup and layered cheese over the top to camouflage what was underneath. Finally, the cheese melted and I called that meatloaf done, uncertain whether it really was. The whole thing stilled wiggled when I shook the casserole dish so I let it sit awhile before I announced that supper was ready.

When Randy asked what we were having, I told him meatloaf, in a voice that said much more than that. He pulled the cheesy casserole dish to his plate and blinked when he saw the meatloaf shift and move like it was alive. He never said a thing, just reached for a spoon, scooped some out and dumped it on his plate. Underneath the melted cheese, the meatloaf spread across his plate looking pink and pasty.

I clutched the table and held my breath, expecting Randy to choke on that first bite, certain he would suddenly realize there was a big mistake and it had nothing to do with meatloaf. In that defining moment, I was ready to promise Randy I would get better at cooking and his whole married life would not be spent in smoky houses with casseroles covered in cheese and ketchup. I was on the verge of pledging I would get better, and promising that someday I would be a great cook!

At that moment, my new husband looked up at me and winked, saying, “Mrs. Myers, you sure have a way with meatloaf.”

And that is what Randy said again this week, when the house filled with smoke and his supper was once again covered in cheese.

Good thing he loves my meatloaf.

You can reach Lorry at lorrysstorys@gmail.com.

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