Monday, September 5, 2011

At Least I Like to Watch Cooking Shows . . .

This is it, folks.  The last day of summer.  Maybe not officially, but being tomorrow is the first day of school for most kids, it certainly feels like it.  Tonight we'll try to get the kids quiet earlier than we have been lately, showered and well fed, and asleep at a reasonable time.  And tomorrow we're back to normal, back to a comfortable routine.

After I get the kids on the bus, I'm going to run some errands.  Some peaceful errands.  I want to go to the stores and see if I can find some Honeycrisp apples.  I want to make meal plans and start getting more comfortable in the kitchen.  Cooking is something I've always wished I had a passion for.  I have so much admiration for people who are natural cooks, who put out good meals most nights for their families, and enjoy the whole process of it.  My brother is like that.  Around here it's a different story.  Most days it gets to be late afternoon and I start looking through my cupboards trying to figure out something to throw together for supper, and usually the hubby wants to run somewhere and eat out anyway.  When I do cook, it's hit or miss.  Usually A doesn't like something or it's hard to get him to try new foods, and what I end up making for dinner isn't all that great anyway.

I grew up in a house where we at dinner most nights at the same time, together, at the table, and the meals consisted of a protein, a vegetable, and a starch.  At least.  My parents were pretty good in the kitchen, and we had a lot of variety in our meals, and we bonded at the dinner table.  My brother inherited that skill and expanded on it.  My sister is also a good cook.  I don't know what the heck happened to me.  Not only did I not inherit any athletic ability from pretty sporty parents, but I didn't inherit any natural cooking skill.  I can bake.  I can bake well, and am very confident in my skills with cake and cookies.  Meat and potatoes are another thing altogether.  I'm sure if I practiced I'd get better and more confident, but the problem is I can't seem to get interested in practicing.  I have trouble remembering to take meat out of the freezer to thaw.  I can't stand the idea of marinating things for any period of time, that seems like way too long of a process to me.  Recipes that are more than a few paragraphs long intimidate me.  Words like "braising" and "blanching" are mysteries to me.  I can grill hamburgers.  I can brown ground beef and mix it with some Prego to put over spaghetti noodles.  I can put some garlic salt on steaks and put them in the broiler.  With a simple recipe, I can roast a chicken.  I can do hot dishes if I have a recipe.  And I love the Crock Pot.  That's about the extent of my culinary expertise.

So tomorrow I will sit down with some simple cookbooks and figure out a few meals for the family.  Then I'll go get the necessary ingredients.  Hopefully I will cook at least one of the planned meals this week.  I do this process every month or so, all good intentions, and then slipping off the wagon again when I forget to take something out of the freezer.  Or we decide we'll just run somewhere and grab something because it's easier.  Or I forgot to get sour cream.  Any little thing and I give up.  Nothing makes you feel more like a failure as a stay-at-home mom than when you can't seem to get your family around a table regularly for that all-important family meal.  The one or two times a week when I succeed at it sometimes feels like a huge accomplishment.  That's so sad.

When I put my best foot forward and really try to cook, I do all right:

That's a hot dish.  Casserole, to you non-Minnesotans.  I like to make hot dishes.  And they get eaten, which is an added bonus.  Here's my first Thanksgiving turkey:

Pretty, huh?  So it's not that I can't, I just don't, very often.  And I don't know why.  Laziness?  Intimidation?  Who knows.  And what kind of sad statement is it that when I do cook something it's enough of an event that I feel the need to take a picture . . .  But maybe I can make this a goal for this year.  I can cook more.  And sit with my family around the table (at home, not at Noodles) more often.  The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, after all.  And I live with three men who own my heart.  So I'm going to start cooking for them more.

Some easy recipe suggestions would be appreciated . . . . .

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