Thursday, June 17, 2010

What's For Dinner? No. Really. Tell Me. What On Earth Do You Want For Dinner?!?!

I hate to even write this post because I have a feeling it'll make me feel like a cow. But still, it's what's on my mind.


I've been doing this whole housekeeping for two/six thing for about 10 months now (holy crap! has it been that long?), and I think I'm doing a decent job. As of right now the dishes, if not clean, are neatly rinsed and stowed in the dishwasher, and the majority of our clothes and towels are washed, dried and more or less folded (put away? what? who does that?). Ok, so maybe the garbage cans are still at the bottom of the hill (garbage day was Tuesday), and maybe the bathroom sink really needs to be scrubbed (how toothpaste gets in the places it does, I have no idea), but it's not like we're living in filth!

But cooking...I can't seem to wrap my mind around that one.

I have grandios visions of gourmet meals that I will present to my loved ones--piping hot, healthy, and fresh from the oven. In my dreams I serve them fresh vegetables and healthfully prepared yet delicious entrees with just the right amount of presentative flair. Dinner is a festive occassion on which we only stop chewing long enough to share about our successful day and to exclaim over the genius of the chef (you!).

In my mind, our evening meal looks like this:


But in reality:

Don't judge. Paul loves this lump of mystery meat.

There are a few specific things that stand in the way of my dreams of becoming a culinary genius.

-Schedule With Paul's crazy work schedule and commute and my after work classes and homework, an evening that finds us both at home and hungry at dinner time is a rare thing. When it does happen, it's usually 9:00 pm, and we're both exhausted and starving. Who wants to cook? Enter corn dogs, tater tots, chicken nuggets and grilled cheese. That is, unless I give up entirely and announce that we will be eating Capt'n Crunch for dinner.

While searching for this photo, I came across a recipe for Cap'n Crunch-coated chicken. W.T.F.

Additionally, purchasing fresh ingredients is nearly impossible when you have no idea when you might be cooking next. Most of the produce I buy is sadly wilted by the time I get around to needing it. Mind, I usually find incredible inspiration in the grocery store and purchase it anyway, absolutely positive that we will be eating at home and together every night this week.

-Taste If I had my way, every meal would consist of mushrooms, asparagus, steamed baby carrots, spinach and avacado (ok, maybe not all together, but you get the idea). If Paul had his way, every meal would be wholly beige in color and preferably fried (maybe an exaggeration, but again, you get the idea. Vegetables are not welcome at our house unless they are canned and not green).

-Skill Bluntly put, I don't have it. Sp...eyyyye... Sp...eyyyyye....suh.... Spice? What is that? You do what with it? Where do you get it?

I try. I really do. And every time I try, I seem to fall just a tiny bit short. Most meals are followed up with, "This is really good baby! Maybe next time you should try..." (He tries, too. I have yet to serve something he won't eat. Even the chicken sausage given to us by Troy. "I'm not a fan," he said. But he ate it, and I didn't even tell him that the green stuff in there was spinach!)

So I spend my days googling recipes and reading cooking blogs. And my stream of thought usually goes something like this: "He won't eat it...he won't eat it...he won't eat many sticks of butter? He won't eat it...How long do they want that to roast? Yeah right, like I'm even home that many hours in a day. What the heck is cardamom? He won't eat it..."

I do have a crock pot (two, actually), and I realize that this should open up a whole new world of delicious recipes. Pulled pork and real pot roast, delicious stewed chicken over rice and beef stew (although he won't eat it). But let's remember that I leave the house at 5:40 a.m. and he usually gets home at 8:30 p.m. Dinner that's been in the crock pot for 15 hours probably doesn't taste that great any more.'s a girl supposed to win?

To Paul's credit, he's perfectly happy eating the same boring things night after night. When I ask for suggestions he is always encouraging. "Baby, what you make is fine! You're doing wonderfully." Right. So...burritos again?

I'm the one who needs new tastes on her palate. I'm the one who holds herself to high standards, and I'm the one who can't quite reach those standards. Also, I'm the one who gets lazy and picks up Quizno's on the way home.

So, I'll keep plodding away at my attempt to make good meals. And when I mess something up a little bit, I'll just try again with a few minor tweaks. That's how you learn, right? I may be a little old for a beginner, but I have a lifetime of cooking ahead of me. I'm bound to get something right over the years.

At least we're not eating Hamburger Helper every night...


Erica said...

You know me, I make meals, lol, you've tasted many! But you also know that I swear by my crockpot. Since you leave so early, you can very easily prepare your crockpot the night before and just put it in the fridge. Start it on low on your way out the door! Then, come dinner time, it's really yummy (average time for things on low is 8-10 hours anyway!). And you can put it on warm for when Paul gets home. There's nothing wrong with food that's been cooking in it all day long! I've done it many times! And there comes a point where Paul is just going to have to deal with the veggies. You love them and they are good for you, so you need to make them! I think you're doing fine for being thrown into such a big family!

Mom said...

Just how do you think we learned to cook? Yep, trial and error and error, and error. If I only had to cook for myself it would be so easy. Nope, he won't eat this. Nope, she won't eat that. It's the way it is in most homes. At least the ones where his and her tastes differ. Why do you think you don't like walnuts in your chocolate chip cookies? Because I never made them that way because my husband hates nuts in his cookies! That's why. Otherwise you kids would have a much more rounded taste. C'est la vie.