Not One, Not Two, But Three Irons in the Fire

It’s my birthday today and I’m feeling spunky. Perhaps that’s why I’ve got not one, not two, but three projects in the works.

Knowing me, it will shake out soon and I’ll focus on one of them pretty much exclusively until the project is complete. That said, I’m having fun right now.

I’ve got:

  • The Chronicles of Liv Rowan – Book 1 – About 1/3 done
  • Start Your Own Houscleaning Biz – About 1/5 of the way done (I’ll have a jazzier title than that soon)
  • It’s That Easy – Cooking for the Kitchen-Challenged – Just started

I’m having fun with this last one, having settled (at least for now) on that working title and written my first chapter, Booty Calls and Pasta.

And because it is my birthday and I’m feeling quite chipper (despite my dad chipping in his “the sky is falling and we are all going to die” two cents for the day) and so here is the first chapter, unrefined, for your reading pleasure.


©Christine D. Shuck

Booty Calls and Pasta

Let me tell you how I learned to cook. And no, it wasn’t at my mother’s knee. I love my mother, but you know that saying “she could burn water?” Really, I count myself lucky that I survived childhood.

I learned how to cook much later.

It all started with a booty call.

Christine, you can’t say that.

I’m pretty sure I can. It’s my book and I’ll say what I want!

Yeah but…

Zip it!

There are two me’s that you will hear throughout the book. Feel free to ignore the one in italics, heaven knows I do. That one in italics is a boring old rule follower. Me? I break rules. I run with scissors. I swim upstream. I eat at Red Lobster and I do what I want!

Yeah, yeah, you are a rule breaker. Got it.

In any case, as I was saying, it all started with a booty call, albeit a long-distance one.

[long-suffering sigh]

Fine. I grew up the child of divorce.

Really? We are going there?

Shut up, you! I’m trying to set the stage here and explain that really, it’s all about love and how cooking is love, but you…

Aw, that’s sweet! By all means, continue.

So it all started with a booty call and I’m a child of divorce.

[shakes head]

My parents separated when I was six and by the time I was seven, my dad had moved to San Francisco. I lived there with him, visiting my mom often in Flagstaff, Arizona, but growing up for a good part of my childhood and adolescence in San Francisco. I mention this because it is where I met my future husband. Well, my future third husband.

Yeah, this is sounding better and better.

My husband, having heard this, has added a request. “Can you please refer to me as your last husband? Because calling me your third husband implies there will be a fourth or that you are just waiting for Nathan Fillion to come swooping in and run away with you.”

My dear last husband has a point. So we will now revise that paragraph. Notice I have switched from “I” to an imperial “we?” In any case, in 1984, I met my future last husband, Dave.

This is completely relevant to this book, by the way, because nineteen years after not dating me in high school, in late January 2003, Dave flew 1,806 miles (I totally Googled that)  to Kansas City for a booty call. And the booty call is relevant because, as I said earlier, that is when I finally learned to cook.

Put another way, boxed dinners and broiled red snapper (which I haven’t had in nearly 20 years thanks to the distinct lack of oceans in the Midwest) does not count as cooking, people, that’s a basic “heat and eat” kind of scenario.

There, in my kitchen, confronted by the boy of my dreams (I had been ridiculously smitten with him since the age of fifteen) I was determined to make him fall in love with me. And so I decided the best way to a man’s heart was through his esophagus. I had read this quote once on a bus and never forgotten it. “I must cook for him,” I thought to myself.

The closest I came to cooking at that time was spaghetti, so I put on a large pot of water to heat and pulled out a jar of sauce and some hamburger meat and got to work. Dave watched me for a moment and then asked, “Can I help?”

“Um, sure.” A man who knew his way around the kitchen? I figured I had scored big time. Not only had he flown out to see me, but he was handy in the kitchen. I began to estimate the length of chain I would need to ensure he could be tethered in the basement, but still be able to make it around the kitchen to cook all of my meals.

Think Misery by Stephen King, only with a kind, caring psycho fan.

You can NOT say this. Everyone will stop reading!

Fine, I take it back. Sort of. I would have made sure the chain had padding and was all soft and fluffy. While I was visualizing that (not really, I totally didn’t think of chaining him up until later) Dave asked, “So, do you have any olive oil?”

“Sure.” I handed it to him and he poured it into the pasta water.

“Do you have any fresh garlic?” he asked.

“Um, yes I think so.” I located it and handed it to him, watching as he pulled off a couple of cloves, smashed them with the flat of a blade and tossed them into the water as well.

What sorcery was this?

Twenty minutes later we were devouring the best spaghetti I had ever eaten. He hadn’t stopped at garlic and olive oil. He had also found fresh mushrooms, white wine, and black olives to add to the sauce.

And that’s when I realized a serious truth. Cooking isn’t just about making a man fall in love with you. It goes the same in the other direction. Cooking is love. My belly, empty and plagued with nervous flutters for hours, was now warm and full. And all I could think of was how do I make this one stay?

And honestly, the last thirteen years has all been about that. Because ladies (and gents), I had found the man of my dreams, and he was a damned fine cook.


©Christine D. Shuck