No question, sometimes being “Mom” sucks! It pulls the life right out of me sometimes. I love my boys, but at least once a day, I hit that point that I CAN’T STAND. My kids are kids…they bicker, they complain, they break rules, they get upset. But all that is just part of the day and part of these little people I love so much. I have a confession to make though: I HATE cooking. The part of my day that I dread the (2nd) most (after homework) is cooking. I don’t think I’m a bad cook, my boys don’t think I’m a bad cook. I’ve had neighborhood kids come in and tell me how great my food is (if I put a sticker on the window for every time I’ve heard “I wish MY mom could cook like/make this”, my house would never see sunlight). I don’t make anything super fancy, but I use what I know to make meals.
Another confession: I LOVE cooking shows. I know, someone who hates cooking should hate the shows too…but what can I say? Nobody can really define “normal” when talking about people. I don’t mean those “how-to” shows…I mean restaurant cooking…multiple interesting dishes coming out of one kitchen in a fairly short period of time. Chef Gordon Ramsey is my hero.
I use the oven a lot, stove top not so much, and microwave (I know, I’m breaking Chef’s rules here) for frozen veggies. I do this to try to keep things as natural as possible and for simplicity when making dinner for 5+.
Cooking in the oven means rarely having to add anything more than seasonings to the meat. Chicken breasts and pork chops can be wrapped in tin foil to allow them to cook in their natural juices. Whole chickens, whole turkeys, hams, pork roasts, or beef roasts can be done in the roasting pan for the same reason. Potatoes are better for you (and take less work) baked. The kids don’t really like steak, so that doesn’t get made a whole lot.
That’s part of what makes my meats different I guess…a lot of moms in my area use electric grills, the frying pan or boiling. I also have eaten some of the things that have been prepared in other homes and it AMAZES me how so many people can cook their food to a point beyond where it is actual food anymore.
Some things I know:
1. COLOR in the pan/oven/on the grill tells you NOTHING about how well done the meat is.
2. If you think you may be killing your food again…do yourself and whoever you cook for a favor…buy a meat thermometer!
3. You want to be just above the “safe” temperature (within approximately 10F) to keep the meat’s flavor and moisture.
4. Let your meat “set” for 2-5 minutes (leave it whole, don’t cut it up yet!) before serving…it will finish cooking ITSELF in that time.
This stuff all seemed common sense to me when cooking. Guess what though? A LOT of people don’t know this. I remember learning to “cook” when I was about 8 or 9. All this stuff was covered. My 9 year old knows this stuff (mind you, he’s a special case—aspiring chef). I learned this stuff in my mom’s kitchen and my grandfather’s kitchen. I picked up some “family favorite” recipes too, but nothing fancy.
I have tried some recipes from books, the internet, some of those how-to shows, sent to me by email contacts or passed along from other families. I’ve had mostly successes. They turned out exactly the way they were supposed to. They tasted good. But, I had to ask, was it worth the time? (Some of them took 3-4 HOURS to prepare.) The answer is most definitely NO!
The kids wouldn’t eat these leftovers:
“You can’t cut up THAT kind of chicken (turkey, beef, pork) to make wraps or pita pizzas.”
“It doesn’t taste right reheated.”
“I liked it okay, but I’m full!”
“It tastes kinda funny, not bad, but funny.”
Sometimes there weren’t any leftovers, but once the kids were asked “would you eat it again” the answers weren’t very positive, or if they were, not enthusiastically so.
Cooking drains me…not that I DO a whole lot, but it is not how I like to spend my time. Why can’t I just go play instead? If someone asks me the worst part of being a parent, it’s not breaking up fights, hissy fits, time outs, trying to figure out what parenting style works best for me, or the disappearance of a social life…it’s the everyday question of “What’s for dinner?”
No matter how dark the day, the sun is always shining somewhere!