It doesn’t count as making dinner if all you make is a phone call
Dinners in our house fall into two three categories:
1. Real meals using recipes I’ve marked in cookbooks/torn out of magazines/found on food porn websites and involve complicated grocery lists, several pots and pans, and careful measuring.
2. Stuff with ground beef.
3. Fast food.
I’ve never considered myself much of a cook, even when it comes to casual family type meals. I’m intimidated by all aspects of cooking, from chopping vegetables to knowing if the meat is done, to adding a “pinch” of anything. Cooking is art – the balance, the nuance, the improvisation – and art has never been my strong suit. Baking, however, is science, and baking is my friend. It’s exact, it’s chemistry, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 40 minutes at 350 degrees. I can bake anything you can write a recipe for, even if I end up using a wine bottle as a rolling pin and a light bulb powered oven.
So my anxiety levels always get very high right around 4 pm when it’s time to start thinking about what’s for dinner. I’ve tried making meal plans, with one epic trip to the grocery store for a week’s worth of ingredients, but invariably something isn’t in stock or the potatoes start molding before I get to them or no one really FEELS like having chicken again so why don’t we just order a pizza…and the whole thing falls apart. I’ve tried deciding what’s for dinner at 3 pm and making the Stop & Shop run once E gets home and I can pop in and out without the baby, but I always come home with a cart full of avocados, Pad Thai in a box, brownie mix, and oranges. Which, surprisingly, are NOT the ingredients for tacos. Or anything else. So one of us runs out and grabs burgers and fries and I sit on the couch hating myself for eating that junk again.
My other obstacle to cooking is my super picky husband. If you’ve ever tried to eat a meal with him, you probably already know how he feels about mushrooms (FUNGUS ISN’T FOOD), which rules out about half the recipes in both of my trusty, easy to follow Rachel Ray cookbooks. He also hates olives (no Mediterranean food), curry (no Indian food), pretty much anything green (no vegetables) and soup. Yes, soup. And chili. Seriously, if you ever consider marrying someone, FIND OUT IF THEY EAT SOUP before accepting a proposal. I’ve done a pretty good job expanding E’s previously even more ridiculously limited diet – for example, he now eats fish – but nothing is more frustrating than making a nice dinner and discovering he hates it after two bites. A few times I’ve just made whatever I felt like making and told E “if you don’t like it, don’t eat it” and left him to forage for himself…but I always feel guilty because dinner falls under my tasks per our very delicately negotiated household responsibility list and feeding both of us shouldn’t be that hard. But my cookbooks have all been read and bookmarked and my list of family approved recipes is still woefully short.
It’s times like this that I really admire my mother and her ability to get a home cooked meal on the table every single night, without a single frozen lasagna in my memories. The only chance of that happening in my house is if I win the lottery and hire a personal chef. Or if I legally adopt the pizza delivery guy.