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Dinner for Two

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"Beet ravioli with poppy seed butter?" Katie peers over Michael's shoulder at the recipe pulled up on his laptop and frowns.

"Doesn't that sound wonderful?" Michael replies enthusiastically.

"Wonderful? I was thinking more along the lines of 'insanely complicated'," Katie retorts. "You're supposed to make the pasta as dough, and make the filling, and then roll it out and assemble it into little raviolis?"

"Ravioli," Michael corrects absentmindedly. "Italian doesn't pluralize like that."

"Whatever," Katie brushes off the correction.

"What's wrong with that? Making the pasta fresh makes it so much better."

"What's wrong? Michael, I hate to burst your bubble, but I'm not sure we could even do this in our kitchen."

"Why not?"

"To start with, do we even have a food processor? Or a pastry brush? Or a 3-inch-round biscuit cutter?"

"We have a pastry brush," Michael objects. "And the others are fixable things."

"Wait, why do we have a pastry brush?" Katie is momentarily sidetracked.

"Sweet potato ginger crescents!" he replies, as if that explains everything.

"Huh?"

"Those sweet potato rolls you like so much, and which you have declared it would not be Thanksgiving without."

"Oh, okay. But we make those at my parents' place for a reason, and that brings me to my next, and more important point: we just don't have room. We have like two feet of countertop, even when it's not covered in groceries or dishes. Where exactly are you planning to put 56 ravioli rounds?"

"We could buy a table," Michael suggests weakly.

She gives him a nonplussed look.

"No, seriously, we could buy a table," he repeats more confidently, warming to the idea. "It's not just about the ravioli, I promise. But you're absolutely right, the amount of counter space is pathetic, and it's been driving me crazy how limiting it is. Do you realize how much more we could cook with that kind of extension of prep space? It would pay for itself just with not eating out so much. And we'd have an option of a place to eat that isn't the couch, and we could use it to put food out when we have people over..."

"And where do you propose we get such a table?" Katie asks, knowing even as she does so that by moving on to such considerations, she's as good as approved of the scheme already.

"There could be something good on Crai-" Michael ventures.

"NO. You tried to get us a pee couch. You're not allowed back on that site."

"Then IKEA is all I've got."

Katie shudders.

"Oh, come on, it's not that bad."

"It's like super-suburbia! The showrooms are supposed to look like homes, but they're way too clean and perfect! It's like, let us show you all the nice things you could have, if you weren't a complete failure at adulting!" Katie bursts out, her voice rising with each phrase.

"Hey," Michael says calmly but firmly, putting his hands on her shoulders. "Look at me. We are not failures at adulting. And we're not going to let Stepford Scandanavia get to us. We managed okay last time, and you have to admit, the new couch is nice."

"I suppose it is," Katie allows. She can't quite bring herself to disagree when the cushions are swallowing her so luxuriously. "Though I still can't believe you made me get rid of the futon. That futon had sentimental value. It had history."

"It was where we first got together, I know, I know. It also had more lumps than ... not-lumps, and squeaked if you so much as looked at it funny. The futon served admirably in it's time, Katie, but it lived a long full life and it's time had come. Now come on, let's do this." Michael suits actions to words by standing up and shrugging on a sweater.

"But, moving..." Katie protests when he looks at her expectantly. He reaches out his hands to her, and with a sigh she allows herself to be pulled to her feet. "This ravioli had better be worth it," she grumbled.

"Oh, it will be," Michael assures.

"That's what you said about the squash and beans, too."

"The roasted delicata with red chili and lime butter and green beans with blackened sage and hazelnuts were exquisite," Michael protests.

"Yes, but after everything they were less than half a meal's worth of food."

"That wouldn't have been an issue if I hadn't been limited to looking at recipes I could make in one pan or the rice cooker."

"Fine, to IKEA it is."

"Oh, and we should stop at Sur la Table on the way there, we still need to get a food processor and biscuit cutter," he reminds her.

"Okay, but we're just getting those two things and making it quick. I don't trust you not to try to leave with half the store."

***

Four hours and three IKEA-related meltdowns later find them back on the couch, the new table standing proud in the corner of the living room adjacent to the kitchen doorway.

"We should get to Whole Foods," Michael says without making any move to get up. "Still need ingredients."

"Have fun," Katie says in a similarly unenthusiastic manner, laying sprawled across the space with her head on his lap. "Go on without me, I'm just going to die here."

"I suppose I can't really move, then. I can always shop and make the ravioli tomorrow. Takeout sound good to you?"

"The best," Katie agrees.

Katie can't help but imagine the table is glowering defiantly at them as they eat.

Michael is oblivious; he's opened up his laptop and is lost in browsing recipes again. "Ooh, next time we do the roasted delicata squash and green beans I should make wild rice-crusted halibut to go with, that would round out the meal nicely. ...Or grilled halibut with basil-shallot butter. ...Or oven-braised halibut Provençal. Can I just quit my job and become a chef?"

"If it means you have a real kitchen to work in, and other people to clean up after you, then please do."