What’s for dinner? You would think that women, such as us, who like cooking, appreciate food and creativity and nurturing our loved ones, would not be so addled by this simple question. Ah, but is it a simple question? No, it is not. “What’s for dinner?” is the introduction to a litany of ideas countered by complaints, grievances and preferences, and ending in frustration, partial success or pizza delivery. We must satisfy finicky eaters, immature taste buds, vegans, vegetarians who sometimes eat chicken, vegetarians who won’t eat tofu, skeptics, doubters, super-tasters, and skinny people on diets. Then there are the scheduling conflicts, supply shortages, and general exhaustion.
Max once pronounced: “I don’t eat Mexican food.” Did I have news for him! I told him, “Mi’jo, everything I cook is Mexican, and you eat it.”
My dad thought long hours at the table facing a plate of something green or gelatinous would change my attitude towards that unappetizing serving. It never worked. To this day I will not force anyone to eat food they do not like. How many adults do you know that eat the foods they hate? I mean people that are not in a state of famine of course. I don’t think children will ever LOVE something because they were coerced in to choking it down. “Try it once,” is all ask, and sometimes I win a convert and sometimes we confirm what they already suspected… they hate it.
I am mostly a mood cooker, which is really a hindrance to planning a week ahead. I would really like to shop and prepare and be in a cooking routine. It seems like getting organized would make my life easier, the children brighter etc, etc. It hasn’t happened so far. Every now and then one of the boys suggests we have turkey burgers every Friday night. Geoff gets nostalgic and tells me in his childhood home every night of the week had its assigned meal. (Ruth and Corm, you did a good job, and we always look forward to our visits in your home, where delicious and regular meals are served.) Every few months I determine to plan a week of meals, but if it’s supposed to be pasta night and I still have leftover roast chicken and a passionate lust for hot corn tortillas, well, then chicken tacos will beat out pasta and the whole week’s menu will be thrown off course.
Last night I had to make chicken soup. Max has contracted a brand new virus. He slept most of yesterday, except when he was calling from my bed, saying, “Mom, I can’t sleep. I’m just miserable!” Soup. He could sip a clear broth saturated with vegetables and garlic, thyme and seasoned with chili, salt and pepper.
My chicken soup recipe evolved like so… I diced a small yellow onion and sautéed that in my pot with some olive oil, adding celery and carrots, then 4 or 5 cloves of minced garlic. I sprinkled salt over this, then added a carton of Pacific Natural Foods Organic Chicken Broth. Next I chopped 2 red potatoes and threw those in, along with three stems of fresh thyme. The aggravating time change plays a roll, since it was already 6:40 p.m.! I used kitchen shears to cut up the small package of organic, boneless, skinless chicken thighs to speed up the cooking time. A dash of pepper, more salt and two pinches of dried oregano crushed between my fingers, more water, some chili and three piece of bell pepper. I had hoped we had a can of black beans. Oh well. I found Trader Joe’s organic Basmati rice and tossed in two handfuls. I saved two handfuls of chopped cabbage for the last few minutes of cooking, so it wouldn’t lose too much body. I let everything cook and served the soup when the potatoes were soft and the rice had plumped and before it was later than bedtime.
Alex spooned up a grain of rice and eyed it suspiciously, but he ate it all. William and I had seconds. Maria cleaned out her bowl, adding a nice hunk of queso seco. I strained the soup and fed Max a dozen spoonfuls.
Today I turned soup in to burritos. William wasn’t sure how that could be possible, and I was happy to demonstrate. I put the leftover soup on the stove and added two more handfuls of the Basmati rice. I opened two cans of Trader Joe’s organic pinto beans and added them to the boiling pot. I kept the lid off, to reduce the liquid and the rice took care of the rest. I added a little more chili and pepper.
In little time we had a hot and delicious burrito filling. ¡Sabroso!
I have no idea what I will serve tonight.
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