Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Quad Cuisine - Fajitas!

Since Jeff and I have recently begun cooking together (you can read the back story on that, here), today's post is the first official segment of ...

... where my quadriplegic husband instructs me on how to make a meal.

A couple weeks ago, Jeff says to me, "I want to make fajitas for dinner this week."

I'd never made fajitas before. (No surprise there.) Neither had Jeff. So it seemed like the perfect meal to tackle together.

The night before the meal, we opened up the skirt steak we had in the fridge, and I cut it into strips. We realized there wouldn't be enough meat to feed everyone (we had Jeff's parents and my dad on the guest list), so we added a couple chicken breasts.

Evie had the job of pounding them with Jeff coaching her in the background.

She's really putting some muscle behind this whack.

Then it was time for me to cut up the fruit and veggies: red and green peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Jeff instructs me to cut the peppers into strips "pencil thin." After what seemed like two hours of cutting vegetables, my work clearly shows that the pencils I've been using are thicker than most. Haha.

Here are the veggies and meat as they prepare for a night of marinating in the refrigerator.

I didn't take any photos or videos of myself and my still-in-development knife skills, though I did snag this quick video from my computer while Evie and I were watching The Adventures of Puss in Boots on Netflix. Perhaps in time I can be this good.

So the next day was fajita day!

Jeff does a great job of giving me instructions when I cook. He knows I need both an overview of where this meal is going then a breakdown of each step (I used to be a procedure writer, so the more specific, the better).

First he tells me to get out the "limp wrist pan." This is what we'll be cooking the meat and veggies in. It's a goliath pan than weighs about a hundred pounds, and every time I lift it, my wrist goes all limp, hence the nickname.

I made Jeff take a picture of me holding it:

Now it was time to begin. Jeff informs me that we need to cook the meat first, then take it out while the veggies cook, then put the meat back in and stir the whole thing together. Why we're doing it this way is beyond me. I'm just following instructions.

So I heat up the limp wrist pan and in goes the meat.

By this time my in-laws have arrived - from three houses up the street - and we immediately put them to work (afterall, they're part of Team Quad Cuisine too!) My mother-in-law starts the rice, and I hand my father-in-law my phone and ask him to take photos.

Here we are as things begin to come together.

At this point Jeff asks me, "How's the meat looking?" His chair doesn't sit high enough for him to see into the pans, so he has to rely on my description.

I shrug and say, "It looks like it's sizzling."

He rolls his eyes and tells me to hold up a piece for him to see. He inspects and says it's time to take the meat out and put in the veggies.

I've failed to prepare a plate for the meat to hang out on while the veggies take a turn in the limp wrist pan, so I fumble around a bit until Jeff finally says, "Just grab any plate. A paper plate is fine."

So I get a paper plate and set it on the counter next to the pan.

That's on the stove.

Over an open flame.

(If you can see where this is going, you have more foresight that I did).

After a couple scoops of meat have been safely transferred from the pan to the paper plate, I begin to smell a hint of smoke.

Then I see orange flame.

"Ohmygod! The plate is on fire!" I scream. Thankfully I was able to big-bad-wolf it out before things really went south. Whew. Never a dull moment in this life.

Here's the evidence:

After all the excitement, a much needed wine break was in order.

So now we're in a bit of a holding pattern while everything cooks. I have a tendency to want to constantly stir, poke at, or otherwise prod the food while it's on the stove. I kept asking Jeff, "Should I stir it now?" And he would close his eyes and shake his head. 

After a few more times of asking the same question, he simply looked at me and said,  "Just. Let. It. Cook."

After some impatient toe tapping, I was finally given the go ahead on the stirring. I open the lid to the veggies (which the meat had rejoined by this point), and Jeff patiently and calmly tells me that my de-lidding technique could use some improvement. You see, whenever I take the lid off of a pan, I unceremoniously lift it and pull it away from the pan. Then depending which side of the stove the pan is on, I drip the condensation either all over the stove and countertop or all over the floor. Today it was the latter.

Jeff then explains to me that if I simply lift the lid straight up, then tilt the lid vertically over the pan, the liquid will magically fall back into the pan, and thus save some cleanup time later in the evening.

Gah ... all these little details! I'm realizing this cooking business takes practice and patience.

And that I've got a lot to learn.

But that's okay.

Because what I'm also realizing about cooking is that it can be fun, even exciting. (Did I really just write that? Anyone who knows me from our old life is likely gasping in shock at that statement.)

But it's true.

For me, learning something new and acquiring new skills is both fulfilling and rewarding.

For Jeff, finding a new way to do something - to be a part of something he loved doing in an old life - is restorative. It's a way for him to feel useful again.

And being able to make all this happen together, even if it isn't perfect, is a recipe for happiness.


So with the table set and the food hot and ready, we sat down (or as Evie points out, "Well, Daddy was already sitting down") and devoured our fajitas, rice, and beans.


Even Evie with her picky, seven-year-old palate gave the meal two thumbs up!

And do you know what one of the best parts about this meal was? ...

Leftovers the next day!

Here's a pic of my and Jeff's plates:

And in case you're wondering, Evie ate corndogs.

Just keepin it real.

Happy cooking everyone! Thanks for following along.

Team Quad Cuisine


  1. Your kitchen must have smelt interesting after all the cooking and burning paper plate e.t.c and I laughed at the 'limp wrist' pan name. It made me think of the animated movie "Tangled" when everyone got hit with that frying pan.