Kommunication In The Kitchen - Swampy's Kitchen Blog at Allrecipes.com - 275717

Swampy's Kitchen

Kommunication in the Kitchen 
May 21, 2012 11:44 am 
Updated: Jun. 5, 2012 11:14 am
They say that communication is the key to any healthy relationship. I have been married to my beautiful wife for almost 18 years and I would tend to agree with that statement. Miscommunication in a relationship can be tragic. I have been married to my beautiful wife for almost 18 years and I would tend to agree with that statement too. Of course when it comes to my family, miscommunication in the kitchen usually results in something comic. This past Mother’s Day, we had a convergence of the good, the bad & the comic and somehow, I lived to tell about it.
On Mother’s Day, I always give my wife the choice of where she wants to go and what she wants to eat. If she wants to get into some fancy clothes, drive some place far away and eat small food with funny names like quiche, which is really egg pie (Thank you Kingsford Charcoal), then we do it. If she wants us to find her the last lobster in Morris County, then we do it. It’s her day and no matter what she says, it’s right. This year when I asked a few days ahead of time what she wanted to do for Mother’s Day, she said she would think about it and let me know. When I asked again a day later I was told that she would think about it and let me know. When I asked the day before Mother’s Day with the added aside, “So I don’t have to go searching for lobsters at the last minute”, I was told that she would think about it and let me know. When I asked on Mother’s Day itself, now knowing that a restaurant was clearly out of the question, I was told that she wanted a clambake and that we would all go to the store together to get the ingredients. I’m not a big fan of clambakes myself but if that was what my wife wanted for Mother’s Day, then that is what I was going to do. If she wanted to come to the store & pick out the clams, I was fine with it. She was certainly going to make my life easier. Of course, paying a little closer attention to what my beautiful wife of almost 18 years was saying and not to what I was hearing, might have made my life a little easier too.
Once we got to the store, we all started to collect ingredients. My beautiful wife of almost 18 years grabbed some ears of corn. I knew we had a bag of potatoes at home so I didn’t mention these. My beautiful wife of almost 18 years made a comment about using the tube of either tomato paste or sun dried tomato paste in the broth but I was distracted by a new type of hot sauce I hadn’t seen before and Clue #1 went in one ear and out the other. She also said that we had plenty of onions at home so we wouldn’t need those. Onions in a clambake ? Didn’t sound right to me but then again, I had never done a clambake before and if my beautiful wife of almost 18 years wanted onions, then I was going to put onions in it. She also said she wanted a nice angel hair pasta primavera to go with the clams & the broth as she grabbed a bunch of baby asparagus. Clue #2 rattled around in my brain and should have set off an alarm but it didn’t. I just figured it was some crazy Italian way she did her clambakes and that I would leave out the potatoes if she was going to use pasta. Then we moved over to the seafood counter where she ordered not only the clams but also shrimp (my son isn’t clam eater either so I figured the shrimp was for us), some halibut and some mahi mahi. Now I was clearly stumped but rather than question her, I loaded all of the seafood in the basket and paid at the checkout. I knew I was going to be in for a cooking adventure.
During the rest of the day, we all worked in the garden and generally fooled around until it was time to begin cooking. My beautiful wife of almost 18 years had previously washed all the clams for me since clams are her specialty. I grabbed my brand new super sharp golden chef’s knife, it has fancy designs on the handle & blade & its own special wooden holder, and began chopping up the veggies for the pasta primavera. I also got the steamer pot out as I figured this would be the easiest way to lift the clams out of the pot of boiling water that my beautiful wife of almost 18 years was now referring to as “broth”. Yes, I know, Clue #3. As I set aside the sautéed veggies for the pasta primavera, my beautiful wife of almost 18 years came into the kitchen and asked me why I was using the steamer pot for the clams. I told her why and she said that could work but she didn’t think there would be enough “broth” (I heard water) to cook the seafood if I did it that way. She told me I just really needed to sauté some onions & garlic in a big pot, add some white cooking wine and vegetable or fish stock with the seasonings and then put all the seafood into the broth. Now I was perplexed. I know I said I hadn’t ever done a clambake before but even in my beautiful wife of almost 18 years somewhat twisted Italian way of doing things (and there have been some in almost 18 years of marriage) this made next to no sense to me. I diced an onion in no time flat and grabbed 2 huge cloves of garlic. I smashed them with the flat side of my super sharp chef’s knife and then started chopping them into small bits. I was just starting to question what I was doing when it happened. I sliced right through the tip of my finger. The knife was so sharp that I had already cut myself and covered up the wound with a little dish towel before I even felt the pain. A quick run to the bathroom for a plethora of bandages and despite the pain, I was back to the “clambake”.
By now, I really wasn’t sure what I was making. I threw the garlic, less the piece of my finger I didn’t know I had lost at that point, into the pot with the onions, seasoning, sun dried tomato paste and olive oil. Per my wife’s instructions, I added the stock and white cooking wine to the mix and let it all simmer down. It still didn’t sound like a clambake to me but it was what my beautiful wife of almost 18 years wanted and now that I had actually spilled some blood making this Mother’s Day Meal, I wasn’t going to quit. I probably should have as the problems continued for me. While the broth was simmering, I cleaned the shrimp and cubed the halibut & mahi mahi. As I dumped in all of the clams & seafood, I seemed to remember somewhere in the back of my mind that my beautiful wife of almost 18 years had told me to put the clams in first and then put the rest of the seafood in once the clams had opened.  Rather than fish out the cubes of broth, I let it all go. How much damage could be done ?
I then turned my attention to the pot of boiling water I had set up on the corner burner for the angel hair pasta. Now I was planning on using half the box since we already had a ton of seafood and veggies but with my finger throbbing and generally getting in the way, I tried to pour the pasta into the pot directly from the box. Did I mention that I have a gas stove and that the burner was turned up to high ?  Do you know what happens to angel hair pasta when you miss the pot and the burners on the stove are turned up to high ? It catches on fire. It catches on fire quickly. It burns quickly too. The burned pasta also looks like hell in a pot full of otherwise normal pasta. I got the tiny fuse like fires put out and turned my attention back to the clams & seafood. At that point half of the clams had opened and despite the earlier setbacks, I was still feeling good about dinner. Then I noticed that almost all of the halibut & mahi mahi I had cubed had flaked into fish bits. There wasn’t a single cube left, just clams, shrimp & fish bits. I had no idea what I had just made other than a mistake & a mess. I layered the angel hair pasta, sautéed veggies and all the seafood with a couple of spoonfuls of broth poured over the top. It didn’t look like any clambake I had ever heard of or seen but if it was what my beautiful wife of almost 18 years wanted, then it was what she got.
And you know what ? It was actually pretty good. The kids liked it. My wife had a second helping and then I caught her after dinner with the serving spoon as she was digging into the larger decorative serving bowl. Once we got the kids to bed, I finally went to the emergency room and discovered that stitches weren’t needed for my cut because you can’t stitch something that isn’t there but that is another blog for another time and definitely not a time in which we are talking about food. I stayed home from work the next morning and once the kids had all gone to school my beautiful wife of almost 18 years and I rehashed the events of the previous day and discovered where we went wrong. My wife said “Clambake” when she meant to say “Cioppino”. I heard “Clambake” and never thought “Cioppino” despite the many clues. The fact that I had never made Cioppino before probably helped to make things worse since I didn’t recognize the ingredients from a completely separate dish. We both thought that what the other person was doing & saying made no sense but I thought it was an “Italian” thing and my wife figured I would just look up the recipe online or in a cookbook.
My beautiful wife of almost 18 years and I always try to communicate to the best of our abilities. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I just know that I put a little bit more of myself into my cooking on Mother’s Day this year and I’m glad that my beautiful wife of almost 18 years appreciated it.
My finger or what's left of it
Photo Detail
May 21, 2012 12:16 pm
I know there's not really anything laughable about losing a portion of one's index finger, but I have to say I was giggling all the way through this blog, Doug! I have never made (or eaten) Cioppini myself, but I recognized the ingredients and kept trying to figure out how your beautiful wife of almost 18 years had mispronounced it such that you heard "Clambake". Thank goodness the end result was something tasty and I'm sure it was very much appreciated :)
May 21, 2012 12:23 pm
when I was a Kid About 50 years ago, I was watching my mom chop off the ends of plastic flowers, she missed and hit her finger, that was now dangling from her hand. a long night at the hospital got her finger back on her hand, and it looks good now days (she is like 82 now) but has never had any feeling in that finger ever since.
May 21, 2012 12:23 pm
I love this story! While I'm sorry you were injured, this is one of those family tales you kids will be talking about for years. I'm sure your wife appreciates the effort ; )
May 21, 2012 12:28 pm
Hi Keri - she defintely said "Clambake" but was thinking "Cioppino" when she said it. She had Cioppino at a restaurant a week earlier. I thought Clambake because my wife & kids did that last summer. Cioppino never crossed my mind and based on what you see under the bandage, it's not that bad but will make for an even better embellished story down the line. Thanks
May 21, 2012 12:29 pm
Wow KingSparta - that would definitely stick with me. I'm lucky in that it was part of the nail and top of the finger and not much else. I still have feeling in it every time my 6 year old son hits it.
May 21, 2012 12:30 pm
lol, Doug, that was the best thing I'v read in a long time! Sorry you lost your fingertip, but you kept your sense of humor and made Mother's Day absolutely unforgettable for your beautiful wife of almost 18 yrs...God bless ya!!
May 21, 2012 12:30 pm
Thanks jrbaker - I like it too or I wouldn't have told it. It gets better with time. In another year or two I am sure a machete will be involved....
May 21, 2012 12:32 pm
thanks neeniejan - it looks worse than it looks though I was kind of bleeding like a Monty Python movie at one point.
May 21, 2012 12:47 pm
oh Pooooor pooor Doug! I feel your pain. When I was a teen, I worked in a Pizza Place. And ended up having a Nulner(sp?~sorry)Nerve Neuropathy. And my right hand would go numb and any given whime. I ended up slicing right through my pinky at work and not know it...5 stitches later and ordered to physicial therapy. Good blog Doug. Hope the finger is better.
May 21, 2012 12:55 pm
Oh Doug, I hope that you are feeling better. Your wife is a very lucky lady. You sound like such a wonderful husband. Do you teach classes for other husbands to learn how to be sweet like you? ;-p
May 21, 2012 1:08 pm
Hi mis7up - I think my pride was hurt more than my finger. I am sure it will be fine. Your cut sounds much worse.
May 21, 2012 1:10 pm
Hi & Thanks Cheoah - I printing out your comment so I can frame it and give it to my beautiful wife of almost 18 years. B-)
May 21, 2012 1:26 pm
Communication is key alright. I have my last Interpersonal Communications college class this Thursday and I was hanging on to every word of your story. I'm glad your meal turned out a success, except for your finger. I wish you a speedy recovery!
May 21, 2012 1:30 pm
Thanks Lissa - I hope you do well on your interpersonal communications final.
May 21, 2012 1:56 pm
Many great stories are born from unfortunate circumstances....hope your finger heals quickly...my relatable story is one of a stubborn turnip and a very sharp chef's knife.....and a trip to the emergency room on Christmas day.....the result was one shorter thumb than the other for me and never being in charge of the turnips again.
May 21, 2012 2:02 pm
Ouch Ellie - I don't like being in charge of the turnips either for that exact reason. The fact that I am laughing about this now is good. The story will only get better with age. Have a great rest of the day.
May 21, 2012 2:42 pm
Good blog, Doug, altho I am sorry about your mishap. My finance and I have been (mostly) together since 1996. We live in different cities now. When I was visiting him over the Christmas/New Year's holiday, I asked him to get some frozen ravioli. I was planning to make Ratatouille Bake; had the veggies all ready. So, he comes home with Stouffer's frozen veggie lasagna. At first, I was greatly insulted, thinking that he would rather have that than what I was making. But it didn't take me long to realize that he DIDN'T realize that he got the wrong thing. So we had a chuckle over that, finally. And next time we went to the store, he asked me to show him the frozen ravioli.
May 21, 2012 2:52 pm
Nicely told, Doug. Sorry to hear about that mishap, though!
May 21, 2012 3:07 pm
Thanks Thisni Caza - I love your story. We are a family full of malaprops and that helps keep things interesting. Have a great night.
May 21, 2012 3:09 pm
Thanks Marianne - it's a minor setback that will get better with age. Have a great night.
May 21, 2012 3:37 pm
The problem started with where you live.....closer to the shore and you would have known a clambake requires a fire in a sand pit, seaweed and some lobsters too. I'm sorry you were hurt and you really do get kudos for trying to please your lady.
May 21, 2012 4:30 pm
So true BigShotsMom So true. We do try to improvise as best we can but this time I overimprovised. My wife hid my knife too.
May 21, 2012 5:14 pm
So sorry about your mishap, Doug, but it will take your mind off your teeth ;) Hope you heal soon!
May 21, 2012 5:56 pm
Great blog, Doug, but sorry for the reason you got hurt! Gotta watch those new knives, nothing else like them for sharpness. So happy you STILL think she's beautiful!
May 21, 2012 7:26 pm
I feel for ya but at least it wasn't your green thumb.
May 21, 2012 10:58 pm
Ouch...umm why am I thinking Aflac accident insurance?
May 22, 2012 4:41 am
Thanks Sugarnsoice - at least we know I can't gnaw at my bandage like a dog. Have a great day
May 22, 2012 4:43 am
Good morning Bibi - I may think my wife is beautiful but she is also a little bit of weasel. While I was at the ER, she hid the knife until I take a knife skills course. Have a great day.
May 22, 2012 4:48 am
Thanks bd - I can't wait until the bandage is small enough again to get my hand back inside my work gloves.
May 22, 2012 4:49 am
Good morning Blondeprincess - I wish I had been cooking duck. I like it a lot better than clams. In fact, I think I just added something to my memorial day bbq menu. Thanks and have a great day.
May 22, 2012 5:43 am
Tell ya what, Doug; you and your beautiful wife of 18 years did not have a communication breakdown. No, sir! It is just one of those things that occurs with lengthy relationships where each knows what the other has said- not what they meant. It's perfection at it's best! You should frame that fingertip as a testament for others to learn from and you will have done your part to reduce the number of failed relationships. (BS-ing done, now.)
May 22, 2012 5:56 am
Good morning & thanks Mike - I would have saved the chunk that got sliced but my daughter thought it was a piece of bloody garlic and she threw it away. Despite the cut, we are all laughing about it and loving the comments that are coming our way. Good luck at that MW Roundup.
May 22, 2012 2:28 pm
Wow! That is dedication! :) Sounds like you did a good job inspite of the issues!
May 22, 2012 4:19 pm
Well that lovely bride of yours has a valiant knight who sacrificed a finger to make his beloved cioppino :) That's what I call love. BTW as I read your blog, I was thinking he's making cioppino......my signature dish for seafood lovers. I started to think I was wrong and then duh duh duh!!!! Cioppino! YUM!
May 22, 2012 5:12 pm
Hi cicischwartz - I don't know if I would have done any better if I actually knew what I was making. Have a great night.
May 22, 2012 6:07 pm
yikes dude, quit that.
May 23, 2012 5:15 am
Morning Julie - you would think with all the cooking shows I watch (and the fact that my wife had just had it at a restaurant the week before) that I would recognize cioppino. At least it was good. So October 2013 in Maui....hmmmm....my wife may want to fill in for me on that trip.
May 23, 2012 5:16 am
I know Randy ! I know ! It's definitely not on my to do again list.
May 23, 2012 12:22 pm
Not funny on the finger but very funny story! I hope your finger is better soon, Doug, and I'm glad it all turned out well in the end. My husband doesn't cook and would have looked at me like I sprouted another head if I mentioned either a clambake or cioppino. : ) But he would definitely have been distracted by a new hot sauce. I have 22 top of the scoville scale hot peppers plants happily growing in my greenhouse this year for making lots of hot sauce and dried and smoked peppers this year.
May 23, 2012 9:20 pm
Great blog Doug- love the story! It reminds me of the time my boyfriend asked what he was doing wrong with his homemade mac and cheese, and I told him he needed to make a roux, which would become the cheese sauce, and hurriedly explained how to do that as I walked out the door. I did not realize I needed to tell him that the roux was supposed to made on the stove...over heat...you know, cooked! He just mixed butter, flour and milk in a mixing bowl and stirred, and then dumped it in a dish with noodles and cheese. Oy Vey!!! Funny stuff now! Anyways, thanks for sharing your story, and I am glad your finger is on the mend and wasn't too seriously damaged. And also, tough loss for your Rangers tonight. They really looked alive in the 2nd and a good part of the 3rd...I thought they were going to win it.
May 24, 2012 4:05 am
I had to return and read this again because I appreciate the mundane becoming not-so-mundane. I am at the dinette and glancing at the countertop I see a knife block with a couple chef knives and a cleaver. In pure respect for you, I'll place them someplace else- should you ever stop by.
May 24, 2012 8:05 pm
Ouch!!! You are certainly dedicated to your wife's dinner. I would be passed out on the floor. Take care and keep those digits out of the way!
May 25, 2012 5:00 am
Good morning wisweetp - thanks and the finger is getting better. I was actually chopping onions last night without my chainmail gloves on. Now tell me more about these peppers of yours. I have all mine listed in my last blog. Have a great weekend.
May 25, 2012 5:02 am
Good morning Puck - food stories always seem to be more fun when there is an unexpected element thrown in. As for hockey, Game 6 can't get here fast enough tonight. I need a repeat from 18 years ago.
May 25, 2012 5:03 am
Keep the knives out Mike - I promise to bring my chainmail kitchen gloves when I come over.
May 25, 2012 5:07 am
Good morning Magnolia Blossom - it didn't really start bleeding until I decided to go to the ER. It sounds worse than it actually was though I do still have the bandage on my finger. Have a great weekend.
May 25, 2012 1:32 pm
I checked out your gardening blog. Wow! That's some garden. Not sure if I can remember all the names, but I actually order them from your neck of the woods...chileplants.com, and they are in NJ...somewhere in NJ. I have Bhut Jolokia (red and yellow), Naga Morich, Devil's Tongue, Red Savina, Scorpion something or another, red and yellow 7-Pot peppers (supposedly one pepper for 7 pots of stew hence the name), and something chocolate colored--can't remember the name of it. I am not even sure I've named them all. Pretty much I went through the list and ordered everything that was extremely hot. And all this planted and tended to by me who doesn't eat extremely hot peppers! My hubby is a confirmed chile head and loves them, so here I am. : )
May 25, 2012 1:53 pm
Wow wisweetp - Bhut Jolokia is one mean pepper. I have a bottle of "Holy Jolokia" on my spice rack. I think I may have just found a new blog topic....have a great weekend
May 25, 2012 9:27 pm
Well, they didn't channel 1994 Doug! Sorry your Rangers are out. I completely understand how you feel. The agony of defeat, especially being that close, is a tough pill to swallow :(
May 29, 2012 12:39 am
I hope it's getting better, Sweetpea! :-D
Jun. 5, 2012 11:14 am
Way to add another layer of flavor to your dish. Let this be a lesson in the longevity of marriage. When two people are so connected, even when wires get crossed, they always come together and make something beautiful.
Click to Change your Profile Picture
Doug Matthews

Home Town
Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Living In
Mendham, New Jersey, USA

Member Since
Mar. 2000

Cooking Level

Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Stir Frying, Slow Cooking, Asian, Mexican, Southern, Healthy, Kids, Quick & Easy

Gardening, Reading Books, Music, Charity Work

Subscribe Today!

In Season

Cool As A Cucumber Salad
Cool As A Cucumber Salad

We have over 100 cucumber salads to help you keep your cool.

Classic Meatloaf
Classic Meatloaf

Meatloaf is the hearty, family-pleasing meal that makes the greatest leftovers ever.

Subscribe Today! Only $7.99
Subscribe Today! Only $7.99

Delicious recipes, party ideas, and cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for $7.99!

About Me
My mother decided early on that her sons would never have to rely on someone to feed them so we all learned to cook at an early age. I really started to branch out when I moved out west to Denver, SF & Dallas. Combine that with extended business travel to Louisiana & my growing love of spices and you get a real mix of flavors.
My favorite things to cook
Love to make cajun food with my favorites being crawfish pie, alligator stew & alligator chili - I go nuts on Super Bowl Sunday
My favorite family cooking traditions
We didn't have a lot of traditions per se but you could count on pancakes or waffles on sundays - dad making scrambled eggs twice a year on christmas morning & mother's day - veal parmagiana on christmas eve, Thanksgiving with Grandma Matthews and any menu of your choice on your birthday. We weren't a spicy family so I learned a lot of good strong basics in the kitchen from Mom that I have carried over into my cooking today.
My cooking triumphs
I love to experiment with variations of dishes I try around the country. My biggest success is here on allrecipes where I had 2 recipes published in the same cookbook - Southwestern Turkey Soup & Curried Carrot Soup. I think my corn muffins are a great starting point and my alligator chili has become a much requested Super Bowl favorite.
My cooking tragedies
There have been a few times in the past where I tossed everything and took everyone to a restaurant instead. I'm not too proud to say my cooking is awful when it really is.
Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States