23 August 2009

simple masochism

I'm trying to quell my tendency to complicate everything. Since my many-years-ago resolve to cook dinner every night but Friday, things have been just a little tougher. Better, but tougher. As I emerge from my one-year teaching sabbatical, facing six classes this fall, something needs to fall off the handcart I'm hoisting uphill.

Will it be dinner?

Will we start going through the Wendy's drive-thru on a regular basis? This makes me shudder. Will I get hard-ass on my kids and start making them do more housework? Will I buy pre-made food at Costco?

The answers are hopefully not, no, maybe, no.

One idea: only one item for dinner every night, like a buttery sweet potato (Monday), a pot of beans (Tuesday), a big salad (Wednesday). And if I tell myself I can only have one item, that means I will allow myself two, since I have to break every rule that exists to make sure I'm really alive and that such a thing as cause and effect still exists in the universe (I have to check in with cause and effect every day).

So two items: a pot of beans and rice? Spaghetti and marinara? A salad and lamb chop?

See the inexorable move towards complication?

This week, other people have cooked or are cooking dinner for us thrice. Happy day! So here are some happy menus:

Menu One:
*Matt's BBQ Chicken
*Many Platters of Corn on the Cob
*Tomatoes and Basil
*Suzette's Big Salad
*Seared Garlic Green Beans
*Fresh Peaches with Ice Cream

Menu Two:
*Wine-braised pork-chops with a sour cream pan sauce
*Seared Garlic Green Beans

Menu Three:
*Seared Petite Sirloin
*Tomatoes and Onions

Menu Four:

*Zucchini/Chard Frittata
*Vegetable Curry Soup
*Andi's Artisan Bread
*Emily's Cinnamon Brownies with Ganache

Today friends are feeding us again and I'm making salad, need to do something with the beets I bought at the Farmer's market last week.

But friends don't always feed us. I still have the complication dilemma. People out there who don't have fuzzy, weird, non-logical brains out there, tell me what to do.


Jill said...

First of all . . .you a hard-ass? I don't see it. I have yet to see a daughter of Wendy's carry that title.

Number 2:
My suggestions for eating. Designate nights so it's preplanned. For example, Monday is Pasta, Tuesday is grill, Wednesday is Crock pot. Thursday is Chicken. Etc. Etc.

Then at least you have a basic idea. And use your crockpot more. Things don't look as appetizing, but they sure do taste good.

Back to basics. Good luck with that!

Randomly, my word verification is Thara--that rhymes with Lara.

That's funny to me.

Writermama said...

wait a minute--six classes in the fall?? where are you teaching???

i like jill's number 2 suggestion.

Alice Dubiel said...

So advice? I have two suggestions:

1) use your freezer and/or make mass quantities of soup and rice on weekend for the week. Forget about labor intensive stuff. Costco does have precut veggies; you don't have to eat premade food all the time. Is this a control issue? Reminder: if you're working, you're supposed to be able to afford more meat. And butter.

2) get serious about help from family and others. You do the menu, family members do the work. Also, don't you have potluck opportunities with your community? You may not have control over sugar content, but if it's once a week, it's a good reliable plan.

I think it a blessing your family isn't interested in pizza. That way you can have kids grate cheese and put stuff on bread under the broiler.

Jill's suggestion number 2 is what my mother the accountant did. We didn't have dessert every night. There are merits to this plan.

There's a pass/ag version of food strategies, but with small children, you don't want to go there.

I love you Lara; you will succeed.

Alice Dubiel said...

This is an entirely different, perhaps spiritual response: don't forget there's a difference between the quotidian and festival food, a distinction lost in contemporary society I think. But I think punctuating the term with a couple of food festivals, or maybe once a month allows your creativity for a bigger project. Your family might get more interested in helping then. At the same time, you're free to be very mundane. We are practicing quotidian here with no hot water (now scheduled for Sept 10), and we still remember the great festivals when you were here.
It does work. (We're cheating by going out more.)

emily said...

another consideration that goes in the pro-home-cooking column: you have to keep up your chops for the younger kids so they don't come out all soft and boring! lula is turning into the next eva anyway. she can cook up a storm. but try not to let family traditions go the way they sometimes do with youngest children, especially this one that is so definitive of your family.

emily said...

also, is there a way that you could turn making only one food item into breaking a rule?

i read something somewhere, maybe in mfk fischer, about how she was so relieved when she was alone at dinner time because then she didn't have to cook. she could eat something strange, a mess of condiments or a can of sardines, or just have a big cocktail. anyway i liked the idea of eating a strange meal.

lara said...

Jill--I'm working on learning the hard-a way.

Alice--quotidian is not bad. That's my new mantra.

Emily--Yes. I gotta keep the standard high. Lula made buttermilk cake on Friday AND Saturday (much to my chagrin, after I had just spent two hours scrubbing the kitchen and floor), but saturday's had a mock-fondant that she and Lola created. It's true she's a kitchen goddess.