Dinner for Two by warrior4
Summary: Take one part Jim, add a dash of Pam, stir carefully, and hopefully create something magical in the run up to Booze Cruise.
Categories: Jim and Pam, Present, Alternate Universe Characters: Jim, Jim/Pam, Other, Pam, Pam/Roy
Genres: Drama
Warnings: Adult language
Challenges: None
Series: Cooking with JAM
Chapters: 2 Completed: No Word count: 5424 Read: 723 Published: October 28, 2022 Updated: November 03, 2022
Story Notes:
Standard Disclaimer applies as always. Welcome to another culinary based JAM story. I've had a lot of ideas spinning around about this one so I'm glad to be able to start bringing it to you. Bon appetit!

1. Step 1, Gather Ingredients by warrior4

2. Step 2, Mise en Place by warrior4

Step 1, Gather Ingredients by warrior4
Author's Notes:
Time to get everything set out.

Jim whistled to himself as he walked up the steps of the Scranton Business Park heading to Dunder Mifflin. The chill of late November doing nothing to quell his good spirits. His morning of sales calls had gone remarkably well. He’d landed new contracts or expanded old ones at each of the clients he’d visited. Knowing that the contracts in his messenger bag would be more than adequate to show he was hitting his monthly sales goals, he was keen to turn them in and have the lunch hour and afternoon to plot new pranks. With each step up the stairs he envisioned the scene in his mind. He’d walk through the door. Pam would look up and smile at him. He’d grab a few jellybeans on his way past her desk to accounting to drop off the contracts. Their eyes would meet once more as he returned to his desk. The IM program on his computer would light up with her asking what he was so happy about. He’d reply with something simple that would cause her to invite him back to her desk for further explanation. Without hesitation he would saunter over for a few more jellybeans and tell her of his morning until he realized it was time for lunch and suggest she join him in the breakroom for the full story. They’d chat easily while grabbing their food from the fridge and sit at their normal spots in the breakroom against the wall. Over lunch he’d tell her that morning he’d made a sale with the company that restocked their vending machine and their delivery guy seemed cool. It was a vision that came crashing down as soon as he opened the Dunder Mifflin door and saw another man standing in his spot at Pam’s desk.

“Really Pammy? A cooking class? Why would I want to do that?”

Schooling his expression, Jim walked past where Roy was standing at the reception desk looking at a pamphlet. He couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation.

“Because Roy when was the last time we went out and did something together that wasn’t just going to the bar with Kenny?” Pam replied. “They’ve got a whole bunch of classes where you learn how to put lots of different stuff. Classic comfort foods, one pot meals, even a couple of international nights. Just in time for the holidays too!”

Jim tried to catch Pam’s eye as he walked back to his desk, but her attention was solely focused on Roy. However, to his trained eye that had long cataloged the numerous expressions of one Pam Beesly, he easily saw the hints of frustration starting to cloud her eyes. The way she was starting to hunch in on herself. How her voice didn’t have the same light confidence he reveled in when they planned a prank together. No, she was in full on Roy-mode now. Smaller, guarded, and looking unsure of herself.

“Yeah, sorry babe, but it’s going to be a no for me,” Roy went on. “Looks like all these classes are on poker nights.”

“Roy, please,” Pam pleaded. “I’ve already paid for them.”

“Sorry Pammy, make sure you get the money back.” Roy told her without any hint of contriteness. “Besides why go through all the work of learning to cook? You can just get one of those freezer things that come pre-made and pop it in the microwave. I gotta get back downstairs. See ya later.”

“Bye,” Pam said softly as Roy clomped his way back down to the warehouse.

Jim kept his eyes glued to his vacant computer monitor until he heard the door close behind Roy. It was only then that he risked a glance to his right. He could only see the top of her head since it appeared she was looking down at something on her desk. It was only the phone ringing that caused her to look up.

“Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam,” she answered forlornly. “Please hold I’ll transfer you.”

Ignoring the phone now ringing at Stanley’s desk, Jim pulled up their ongoing IM conversation on his computer. He hesitated a moment while he tried to think of something to write.

JIM9334: Here   a prize for you!

He quickly hit the enter button and turned to pretend to look at his discount code binder. Out of the corner of his eye he saw her head move to her computer screen as his message popped up.

Receptionitis15: What prize? There’s just a blank spot.
JIM9334: Ah shoot! The emoji thing must not be working again. It was supposed to be a little trophy.
Receptionitis15: A trophy? For what?
JIM9334: For the quietest replacement of a phone handset onto its cradle. It’ll be the newest event for next year’s Office Olympics.

Glancing at the yogurt medal still hanging from his desk lamp, Jim took another glance towards Pam. The tension was starting to ease off her shoulders and a smile was beginning to curl up her cheeks.

Receptionitis15: Next year’s games? Guess I had better get to work on getting more medals ready. Interested in helping?
JIM9334: I wouldn’t be a very effective Olympic Co-Chair if I said no. Shall we say we start in ten minutes in the break room?
Receptionitis15: Sounds like a plan. Thanks Jim.
JIM9334: Anytime Beesly.

After exactly nine minutes of playing minesweeper, Jim closed the game and walked over to Pam’s desk. Reaching for a jellybean he mentally reclaimed his spot and smiled at her.

“Hey! Ready to get the pre-planning underway?”

The sparkle of mischief flared to life in Pam’s eyes when she looked up at him. “You bet! Let me just set the phone to voicemail quick.”

Pushing the one button on her phone that would mute the ring tone, she stood up. As she walked around her desk, Jim reached down and picked up a pamphlet with the words “Cooking for Two” emblazoned on it.

“What’s this?” he asked, though he knew exactly what it was from his previous eavesdropping.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” she tried to reach for it.

Jim though held it out of her reach and started walking towards the kitchen while reading snippets aloud. “Hmmm let’s see. ‘Learn to make delicious meals designed for the busy couple. No experience required. Aprons and utensils provided.’ Hey! That looks really good!”

“Can you give it back please?” Pam asked as she followed him through the doors into the kitchen. “It’s for a cooking class that I’ve already paid for, and I need their info to try and get my money back.”

“I don’t know why you’d want your money back,” Jim said as he opened the fridge and handed Pam her lunch. He reached for his and continued. “This picture of Dutch oven mac and cheese looks great! I call dibs when you bring in leftovers for lunch!”

“There’s not going to be any leftovers, because I’m not taking the class.” Pam told him while they walked through the Annex to their normal chairs in the breakroom. “It’s all set up for two people, but Roy doesn’t want to go. I’d be too embarrassed to go by myself, so I'll just cancel it.”

If Jim had been a cartoon character a lightbulb would have winked on above his head at that particular moment. As it was his eyebrows just shot up.

“I’ll go with you.”

Pam gave him a comforting smile. “Thanks, that’s sweet of you, but Roy will be expecting the money back in the bank.”

Jim looked at the pamphlet again. “How about I give you the cash you paid for it? That way you can still get the money back?”

She still seemed hesitant. “I don’t know.”

“C’mon Beesly,” Jim slightly pushed. “I’ll bet when you saw these classes you got all sorts of excited. You probably started thinking of kitchen gadgets you’d want to get and cookbooks to try out.”

A small grin peaked up the corner of Pam’s mouth. “Maybe.”

“So? What do you have to lose? The way I see it this works two ways. Call it an early Christmas gift and also a way for me to pay you back for those stick shift driving lessons.”

“You mean the lessons from like two years ago?” She looked at him in shock though he could tell she was thrilled he’d remembered.

“I told you then I’d pay you back for your help,” he grinned. “About time I make good on that promise.”

“Okay! Deal!” Pam grinned back at Jim. “Get ready for cooking lessons!”

Jim walked over to the soda machine and bought a grape soda for him and a Coke for Pam. Handing her the red and white can, he held up his own can for a toast.

“To new adventures in the culinary arts!”

“Cheers!” Pam smiled as she replied with the tip of her tongue peeking out between her teeth.

Privately, Jim basked in the glow of his favorite of her many expressions, and one he was confident she had only directed at him in all the time he’d known her.

End Notes:
Can't wait to serve up more for everyone.
Step 2, Mise en Place by warrior4
Author's Notes:
Welcome to National Men Make Dinner Day! Don't worry I'll be cooking later tonight. Also, you can all thank Max A for letting me know about this auspicious occasion and thus also giving me a deadline for writing. With that, pull up a chair and enjoy.

“Pammy, I’m taking off.”

“Yup, have fun. Try not to lose too much money.”

Roy scoffed and threw his coat on by the doorway. “When was the last time I lost money at poker night with the guys?”

“Last week,” Pam replied without looking up from where she was looking through a magazine on their couch.

“That’s only because Lonny cheated,” Roy insisted.

“If you say so. When will you be back?”

“Ah, you know how poker night goes. Might be late. Don’t feel like you have to wait up. Bye.”

Pam looked up hoping for some other form of goodbye from her fiancé, but only heard the door to their apartment close as Roy departed. She glanced at her watch and noted the time. Pulling out her phone she scrolled to Jim’s number and sent off a quick text.

Still on for tonight?

Getting off the couch, she went to the bedroom to change out of her work clothes. She’d finished pulling a light sweater on over her jeans when her phone chirped at her.

Absolutely I am. I’ll be at your place in about five minutes.

A bubble of excitement started to build in her stomach while she typed out a reply.

Great! See you soon.

A quick trip to the bathroom to freshen up filled the time nicely. Knocking on the door made her look down at her watch. Jim was right on time. Crossing to the door she let him in.

“Hey you!” She beamed. “Come on in. I just need to grab my purse, shoes, and coat.”

“No problem,” Jim said as he walked through the doorway. “Nice place,” he commented.

Pam looked over at him while she slipped on a pair of shoes. It was the first time he’d ever set foot in her apartment despite having driven her home from work more than a few times.

“Thanks. I know it’s not a house like what you and Mark have, but it’s home.” She got up and walked to the front closet to grab her coat. Instantly she noticed Jim looking at a framed watercolor depicting a vase of roses on the wall.

“Is this one of yours?”

“Uh, yeah,” Even though she hadn’t put her coat on, Pam felt herself getting slightly warm under her collar. “I made that back during my brief time as an art student at Marywood.”

“I like it,” Jim started pointing at portions of the painting. “Everything being kind of light and pastel makes the bright red of the rose petals really stand out. Is that what you were going for?”

“Yeah actually,” Pam found herself impressed that Jim had so quickly zeroed in on the impact she’d wanted to achieve in the painting. “I think I was trying to show how when something is so bright it can cause you to miss all the background details. Look behind the vase.”

Jim leaned in closer and took note of what Pam was pointing at. A grin formed on his face when he saw the full impact. “They’re plastic flowers! The bag they came in is hiding behind the vase.”

“Exactly!” Pam grinned. “But because the petals are so bright and flashy it’s hard to realize there’s nothing of substance to them unless you really look close.”

“Well, you succeeded with me for sure. That’s exactly what happened when I looked at it.”

When Jim turned back to her, Pam saw pride for her glowing in his eyes. It made her feel like they’d just pulled off a complex prank. “Thank you.”

“Shall we get going?” Jim nodded to the door.

“Sounds good.”

Pam led the way out the door. She locked the door behind them and walked with Jim towards his car. He took a few quick steps to get in front of her and held the passenger door open for her. She smiled at the chivalrous gesture.

“Thank you again.”

“You’re welcome,” he said before closing the door once she was situated.

I can’t remember the last time Roy got the truck door for me like that, she thought to herself while Jim walked around to get in the driver’s seat. She gave him directions to what ended up being a storefront shop near Lackawana college. Jim found a parking spot nearby and they started the short walk to their destination. They kept up the conversation about cooking they’d started on the drive over.

“How do you burn pasta?” Jim laughed. “You cook it in water! You know the thing that puts out fires!”

“Well, it would help if one would put the water in the pan, not just the noodles,” Pam replied.

“Ah,” Jim nodded sagely. “That would do it.”

“Yeah, so that was pretty much the end of National Men Make Dinner night around our place,” Pam said to conclude the story. “Roy also kinda griped that I basically bullied him into it in the first place. What about you? I know you make a killer grilled cheese. Any other culinary specialties?”

Jim once more held the door as they reached their destination. A sign proclaiming “Llyod’s Kitchen,” blazed over the door to a two-story brick faced store front that was connected to the stores on either side. Large picture windows showed two columns of cooking stations with five stations in each line. Each station had a large gas stove in the middle above an oven. Cutting boards built into the counters flanked the stoves. Two small sinks bracketed the workspace on either end. Space on either side of the stoves allowed for two groups at each station. Exhaust hoods hovered over each stove leading to ductwork that ran along the ceiling.  Pots, pans, and other cooking utensils lined one wall. Industrial size refrigerators and shelves of ingredients lined the other. In front of the room was the instructor's station. A camera overhead of the front cooking station displayed onto a large TV screen so the entire class could see how the instructor was preparing their dish.

“I’ve been known to dress up Hamberger Helper with some extra seasoning and a side dish of Stove Top stuffing,” Jim said with pride. He held out his hand for Pam’s coat to hang up on hooks by the door before adding his own coat on top of hers.

Pam felt herself grow intrigued. “What kind of extra seasonings?”

“Mrs. Dash goes with just about everything,” said Jim. “At least that’s what my mom always told me.”

Looking to her right and the shelves filled with ingredients, Pam soon found what she was looking for. She pointed out the bottle of Mrs. Dash seasoning resting on a shelf lined with other various spices. “Looks like you’ve got nothing to worry about here then.”

Jim answered with his usual glowing smile. “Come on let’s go find a spot.”

They picked a station in the second row that was on the inside aisle of the class layout. Two green aprons were laid over the cutting board at their chosen station. A small white area was located near the top and a marker rested between the aprons. To the left on the other side of the stove, Pam and Jim saw the other prep area of their cooking station was set out identically. Other students were walking through the doors and claiming spots like they were. Some of their fellow classmates were clearly there as part of larger groups of two or three couples. Other pairs were looking around trying to find a free spot. Jim and Pam saw another young couple head to the open prep area on the other side of their stove. To Pam’s eyes they looked slightly older than herself and Jim. Rings on their left hands showed they were married.

“Mind some neighbors?” the husband asked.

“Not at all,” Pam answered and pointed to the other pair of stools

“Thanks,” said the wife as she slid her stool away from the counter in front of her. She didn’t sit down though. Instead, she stepped closer and offered a hand in greeting. “Beth Carlson. This is my husband Sam.”

Sam stepped to the side of his wife to also shake hands. “Nice to meet you.”

“Pam Beesly,” Pam said in reply.

“Jim Halpert,” Jim said and shook hands with the other couple.

“So, what brings you two here?” Jill asked. “Learning how to cook together before the big day?”

Pam’s eyes grew huge when she saw Jill’s eyes flick to her ring. “Oh! Ummm....”

“Good evening, everyone!” Their instructor for the night was a man just past middle age with a friendly look to his face. He called out with an easy voice over the room to get the class started. “My name is Llyod Glenn. I’ll be your host for the next four weeks of “Dinner for Two.” Please find a seat and write your names on the aprons at your stations.”

Mentally Pam blew a sigh of relief. She picked up the marker and wrote her name on her apron before passing it to Jim so he could do the same.

“I’ll tie yours if you tie mine,” Jim pointed to Pam’s apron strings.


Llyod continued once everyone had found a place to sit. He was standing behind the instructor’s station and held a remote control in his hand. “Welcome to Llyod’s Kitchen and the “Dinner for Two” series.  Over the next four weeks we’ll have a lot of fun learning how to make some great meals that are perfect for two people. On the menu for tonight, Glorious One Pot Mac and Cheese!”

Pointing the remote at a projector, the white board behind him lit up with the picture of steaming mac and cheese with veggies on top being scooped out of a Dutch oven. An ingredients list and recipe were next to the image.

“Behind me you’ll see everything you’ll need. Before we start cooking though, we need our mise in place set up to make things easy.”

The French words sounded strange to Pam’s ears. Looking around she saw many of her fellow students with similar confused expressions. Llyod caught their unease quickly.

“Forgive me,” he chuckled. “Some of my old culinary school verbiage still tends to leak through from time to time. What I said was we’ll set up our meez en plahs,” Llyod over enunciated the words to help with his students' comprehension.

“In laymen’s terms, we’ll gather and set up everything we’ll need for this dish. I’ll do my best not to bore you with technical terms anymore if I can help it from here on out.
“Most of you have two couples at each station. I’d like two of you from each station to gather pots and utensils and the other two please gather the ingredients listed on the board behind me. Some things such as olive oil will be shared between the two couples at each station so, please read the list carefully.”

“I’ll get the food,” Pam said to Jim.

“No problem.”

Sam crossed over to walk with Pam as the couples in the room spread apart. “We’ve been looking forward to this class for a while. How about you and Jim?”

Pam had a sudden flashback to Jim’s party the previous week and the comment Phyillis had made to her about office romances. Shoot, someone else thinking Jim and I are a couple! Just forget about it for now and focus on getting what we need.

“Since last week when I saw the flyer,” she answered when they arrived at the shelves.

She and Sam grabbed baskets and double checked the list at the front of the room. Between them they loaded up their baskets with a small bottle of olive oil, a package of dried macaroni noodles, blocks of Chedder, mozzarella, and Monterey Jack cheese, a head of garlic, a bunch of oregano tied with a rubber band around the stems, sea salt and pepper grinders, a yellow bell pepper, a head of broccoli, a package of spinach leaves, and six Roma tomatoes. On their return to their cooking stations, they saw Jim and Beth had a set of measuring cups and spoons, four kitchen knives, and two enamel coated Dutch ovens. Between the four of them, they were able to separate what they could and laid the rest down on thick piece of plastic covering the stove burners.

Llyod pointed his remote again and the video feed from his camera pointing at his own prep station showed up on the monitor above his head. “Clearly there’s going to be some sharing of ovens and later the stoves. For now, though, go ahead and get your ovens preheated to four fifty. Next, we need to start prepping all our veggies. All of you should have kitchen knives. Take off the edge protectors and watch the screen.”

Suiting actions to words, Pam pulled the plastic cover off the edge of her knife and set it aside. Her station mates did the same. She watched closely as Llyod demonstrated how to properly hold the knife. He then led the class through the proper techniques for slicing the pepper, chopping the garlic and oregano, cutting the broccoli florets, and dicing the tomatoes. Each student was given the task of one veggie before they spread out the piles between the two couples. After the veggies were chopped, Jim and Sam made short work of shredding the three kinds of cheese into a large bowl. Llyod would frequently leave his station to wander the classroom and give pointers and praise.

“Time to put all this hard work to use,” Llyod said when he returned to his station. “Spread some olive oil on a paper towel and coat the inside and lid of your Dutch ovens with it. We want a thin but even coat. Next divide your macaroni in half between you and your cooking partners and pour them into the bottom of your pot. Pour a cup of water and a smidge more oil over top of the noodles. When I first started making this, I only used two thirds of a cup of water. Don’t do that. Half of your noodles won’t cook and will wind up dried up and stuck to the bottom of your Dutch oven.
“After that you’ll want to spread half of your cheese, half of your garlic, and half of your oregano on top of the noodles. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on there too. Next, we add the peppers and broccoli in a nice even layer and repeat the cheese and seasoning layer again. Go ahead and use everything you’ve got left. Toss the spinach leaves and tomatoes on top, pop on the lid and let’s get these bad boys in our ovens for thirty minutes.”

The combination of earlier prep work and Llyod’s easy to follow direction ensured the class had no trouble. The sounds of ovens closing filled the kitchen.

“Well, that wasn’t too hard,” Beth said easily after she closed their shared oven.

“Yeah,” Pam agreed. “But at the same time, I feel like I’ve gotten a new appreciation already for what it takes to really make a meal. Not just throw a Tombstone pizza in the oven or nuke something in the microwave.”

“Same here.” Beth then nodded in the direction of Jim who was waiting in line to deposit their food scraps in a large countertop composting machine. “How did you two meet?”

Pam spared a quick glance at Jim, who was chatting easily with Sam and some of their other classmates. “We work together. It’s been over three years now. I’m the receptionist for the local branch of the Dunder-Mifflin paper company. Jim is one of our salesmen. His desk is right near mine, so we get to see each other all day long. I still remember when he first started. He looked so lost, I just had to warn him about his crazy desk mate. Jim didn’t believe me at first, but he came around when Dwight, the crazy guy, kept just going on and on and on about his family beet farm and how it gave him superior dexterity to spin a pen around his fingers. The next day Jim replaced all of Dwight’s pens with crayons. It was really funny.”

“Oh, that’s sweet!” Beth gushed. She then pointed at Pam’s ring. “How did he propose?”

Instantly Pam felt a heat in her face that had nothing to do with the ovens in the room. “Oh, um, actually Jim isn’t my fiancé. We’re just really good work friends.”

“Oh,” Beth seemed slightly taken aback. “I’m sorry, I just assumed that you two were together.”

“No,” Pam ducked her head for a moment. “Don’t get me wrong, Jim’s great. We’re always figuring out ways to have fun at the office, but we’re not like together together.”

“May I ask why you’re here with Jim instead of your fiancé?” Beth pushed.

“Roy,” Pam answered. “That’s my fiancé, has a weekly poker night he’s been going to for forever that’s on the same day as these classes. Jim offered to go with me when he heard Roy bailed.”

Pam couldn’t help her voice from trailing off as she finished her sentence. A spike of guilt stabbed her heart at the thought that she was taking the cooking class after Roy had told her not only that he didn’t want to attend with her, but that she shouldn’t take the course either.

“Well, regardless,” Beth reached over and put a friendly hand on Pam’s forearm, “I’m glad you guys are here. It’s just so hard meeting new adult friends sometimes.”

“Yeah,” Pam brightened as Jim and Sam came back. “Same here.”

While the mac and cheese cooked, the students washed and dried the dishes they were done using. Jim and Pam offered to bring things back to the racks and pick up flatware for when their dinner would be ready to serve. Beth and Sam cleaned off their prep areas. By the time they were done the countdown time now displayed on Llyod’s screen reached its end.

“Now comes the best part,” Llyod said enthusiastically. “Go ahead and pull your Dutch ovens out and dig in!”

Jim used a pair of hot pads to bring the Dutch oven he and Pam had used out of the oven and onto the stove. A cloud of steam erupted when he took off the lid.

“Serving spoon and plate please Beesly.” Jim held out a hand.

Pam handed him a bamboo serving spoon and her plate. He loaded a generous portion onto her plate before serving himself. The garlic, cheese, and seasonings had combined to throw off wonderful smells. Next to them Beth and Sam were also dishing out their meal.

Sam held up his water glass. “To new friends and new foods!”

“Cheers!” Jim, Pam, and Beth said nearly together. They all clinked glasses and took a sip before settling on their stools and picking up the forks.

Pam blew over her plate before taking her first bit. Her eyes grew huge as the flavors combined in her mouth. “Oh my god Jim!” she said around her mouthful. “This is amazing!”

“Mmmmhmmm,” Jim agreed while savoring his own bite. He swallowed before talking though. “I didn’t know what to expect out of this class, but if this is the result, I can’t wait for next week! I am glad he gave us recipe cards for this. I’ll have to try and make it again sometime.”

Pam looked over at Sam. “I told Beth earlier that Jim and I work for Dunder-Mifflin paper. What do you two do for a living?”

“I’m a free-lance photographer,” he replied. “Beth is a dental hygienist. When we were engaged and getting ready to be married, we said at least one of us needed a steady job.”

“I don’t mind,” Beth put in. “Sam gets to do what he loves and the dentists and other people in my clinic are easy to work with. During peak wedding, bar and bat mitzvah, or prom seasons Sam can be super busy. He'll get another rush now around the holidays with families wanting to get the perfect Christmas card picture. Other times it’s kind of slow but we make it work.”

“That was smart to get that figured out before you got married,” said Pam as she took another bite.

“That’s what the engagement period is for,” said Sam. “Figuring out how one goes from wanting to be married, to actually being married. At least that’s what we told each other.”

Another pang hit Pam’s heart as she mentally reviewed the years her engagement ring had been on her finger with little progress made in a wedding ring joining it. Fortunately for her, Jim took up the thread of the conversation.

“Got any crazy stories from a bar mitzvah or prom shoot?”

Delight registered in Sam’s eyes. “So, last spring I got a gig for a pre-prom photo shoot. It was at a girl’s house, and they said to show up around six because they were going to have dinner there. There were four couples all together. I show up and only one of the couples is in tux and dress. I had to wait for another half hour for the rest of them to change out of regular street clothes and into their fancy duds. The one couple that was already dressed just seemed ticked off about the whole thing. I swear I heard the guy mutter something about, ‘thousands of years of tradition ruined because you can’t eat spaghetti without a bib.’”

“What happened?” Pam asked.

“He stayed outside stewing until they were all ready. But then a crow or magpie or something started diving at them. The kid who was upset was so shocked he stumbled backwards into the small koi pond the family had in their backyard!”

Pam’s eyes grew wide again, and she heard Jim chuckling behind her. “Oh no!”

“Yeah. So, after all the stink he raised about dinner, it was him that had to wear street clothes to the actual dance.” Sam had a grin on his face as he finished the story.

“What goes around comes around,” Beth chimed in.

Jim and Pam took turns telling Sam and Beth about Office Olympics while they finished their meal. They scooped the leftovers into travel boxes before washing the remaining dishes and putting them away.

“See you guys' next week,” Beth waved as they stepped out onto the sidewalk.

“Looking forward to it,” Jim called back. He then looked back at Pam. “That was a lot of fun.”

Pushing aside some of her lingering feelings, Pam looked up at Jim. His easy smile had one form on her face too. “Yeah, it was.”

“Come on, let’s get you home.” Jim nodded towards his car.

Soon he was pulling into a parking spot outside of Pam and Roy’s apartment. Roy’s truck was still nowhere to be seen. Jim offered to walk Pam back to her door which she politely declined. The fact he didn’t start to back out of the spot until she had the apartment door open kept the smile on her face as she waved goodbye. She put her share of the leftovers in the fridge before getting ready for bed. A feeling of contentment filled her as she drifted to sleep.

End Notes:

Fun fact, "mise en place," is one of the only culinary terms I know off hand, and you can thank an old season of "Worst Cooks in America," for that one. Want to make your own Glorious One Pot Mac and Cheese? Here's the real recipe.

You'll need medium size cast iron Dutch oven. It can be enamel coated or not.

Olive oil spray
2 cups macaroni
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
8-12 ounces grated cheese such as Chedder, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack
3-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into thin strips
1/2 head broccoli, cut into florets (about 2 cups)
2 handfuls fresh spinach
2 or 3 plum tomatoes chopped

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 C for the non-American's in the crowd)

Coat the inside and lid of the Dutch oven with olive oil taking care to fully coat all interior surfaces

Pour pasta into the pot and add one cup of water and the 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil, mix gently to coat evenly and spread across the bottom of the pot

Layer half the cheese onto the pasta. Sprinkle with half the garlic and half the oregano, lightly season with salt and pepper

Add the pepper and broccoli in an even layer. Add the rest of the cheese, garlic, and oregano. Season with more salt and pepper.

Top with spinach and tomatoes

Cover and bake for 30 minutes, serve immediately.

This recipe comes from the cookbook "Glorious One Pot Meals," which has become a favorite around our house.

Hope you liked it all. 


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