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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cooking vs. Making Dinner

I have always loved to cook.

And when I say always, I mean always.

My first recipe in our family cookbook is from when I was 7 years old.  For a lemon cheesecake.  It was a delicious recipe that I found on the back on the Jell-O box.

I learned the 2T meant tablespoons and not teaspoons.

I was the kid that when I came home from break at college my PARENTS were happy for the home cooking.

Best compliment I ever received was from my Italian grandmother "I really like your sauce.  It's better than mine.  You used oregano... I never put enough in."

I could win a Pulitzer and that would be second to my grandma's compliment.

When I was single I always cooked dinner.  I ate every meal- including breakfast- at the table.  I got my roommates Dan and Mike because I used to live below them in my old apartment building.  I was making banana bread and had the window open.  I kid you not-- they followed the smell and I heard them outside talking about how great it smelled.  So I invited them in and gave them the extra loaf I had made.  We ended up sharing a house (also known as my Fraternity Era-- not that I joined one, it just seemed like it).

The first time I cooked for my husband, I invited him over because I was grilling.  He was impressed that a girl grilled. Whatever.  He expected hamburgers.  What he got was turkey burgers stuff with brie, apple slices and topped with grilled onions.

So yes, I love to cook.

Cooking, however, I've learned over the years is very, very different from making dinner.

Making dinner SUCKS.

Every single day these little faces want fed.  Breakfast.  Lunch.  Dinner.

Does it ever stop?

Long gone are the days of gourmet pancakes.  My apple cinnamon pecan pancakes are replaced with cereal.  Or maybe a toaster waffle.

Because every day is a LOT.

I always feel better when I do cook.  We eat healthier, for certain.  And I have an arsenal of 20 minute dinners- grilled fish & bok choy is on the menu tomorrow.  Tonight was Taco Tuesday.  We (including the hubby) sautee some ground elk (he hunts) with spices, we chopped some toppings and voila-or ole I guess- Taco Bar.  Throwing in a roast chicken takes about 10 minutes to prep. 

It's not hard. 

But holy crap, it's a lot.

And I used to work in professional kitchens.

You run out of ideas.  You have an audience that critiques- although I will say, my family is pretty good about it.

My husband now knows that when I say "let's go out tonight" it means I'm too tired and I don't want to cook.  He once made the mistake of saying "But it's so much easier to eat in."  I'm sure you can imagine where THAT conversation ended-- I do 90% of the cooking.

Or worse, you plan dinners to make and then you find out there's a practice or a rehearsal or some meeting and the food you did buy rots slowly in the refrigerator.

And I can never figure out what my family will eat.  I just bought a huge bag of cherries and threw most out.  Because if I had purchased a small bag, it would have been the "Hunger Games" and they would have disappeared before I took them out of the grocery bag.

I always laugh at newlyweds or new parents who comment how much they love to cook and how much fun it is.

I can't even tell you when the last time I cooked was-- picked out something new from a cookbook, went to the store and bought exactly what I needed--

Nope.  It's improv and ease these days.

The 110 degree heat isn't helping, of course.

I'm hoping once I get my garden in, I'll be all excited about cooking again. 

But for now, I will simply drudge along and try to make something edible, healthy and fast. 

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