Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Earning my keep.

Tonight, for maybe the first time ever, I felt like a real mom. Not like somebody's mother - I feel like that all the time - like a mom. You know, like in a Stove Top commercial?

Er...yeah, something like that.

Anyway, 5:30 rolled around and I was like, "Better head into the kitchen to figure out what to make for dinner." Not because I found a recipe I wanted to try or got a hankering for rice, but because it was almost dinnertime, dammit, and my family needed to eat!

I realize most mothers (especially of the stay-at-home variety...) do this sort of thing all the time. Like, I don't know, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. But until recently I was not one of them. (Don't ask me how I found that loop hole - or what the hell we were eating most nights - because I honestly don't know.)

It wasn't until right before the first of the year that I realized I needed to step up my game a little. I mean, what kind of an a-hole sends her husband off to work all day without thinking, "Gee, I wonder if he'll be hungry at the end of the day"? Not to mention the nights he came home from a full day of busting his hump at the office and cooked for us. (If I knew how to make an emoticon for a pathetic person who's embarrassed and really, really sorry, I would stick that in here.) But when we know better we do better, right? (Copyright Oprah quoting Maya Angelou.)

So I made a New Year's Resolution. I would try cooking one new meal each week (or at least one meal each week). You're laughing, right? Darnit! You're like, "You dumbass - there are SEVEN days in a week. Not one. Seven!" I have to admit that is kind of lame. But I didn't want to set myself up for failure. Plus, I was working with a couple of pretty major handicaps here - I didn't like to cook or totally know how to do it. Bill understood. When I told him about my resolution he was like, "Woah, woah, woah...you're sure you want to do this every week?"

Yes! Despite his reluctance to let me into the kitchen and give up cooking on a regular basis (he actually really likes it), I was resolved to my resolution and wasted no time getting started. I tore recipes out of magazines (like the Zucchini Souffle from The Week), tried dishes I found online (Veggie Stew and Irish Soda Bread on St. Patrick's Day), and recreated favorite meals from restaurants (a spot on version of the Vegetarian Shepherds Pie from Family Wash).

It only took a handful of successes to make me realize I actually like making dinner. Sitting down to a healthy meal shortly after Bill gets home puts the evening on a nice trajectory and it feels good to more fully hold up my end of the bargain. Bill's got enough on his plate with the whole financially responsible for a family of four thing (geez, no pressure). It's only fair for me to step up and take care of things on the home front. Not to mention, I think we've all been pleasantly surprised with my cooking. Turns out, I'm not too shabby in the kitchen!

But hot damn it's a lot of work! You folks out there who do this for your families night after night should give yourselves a serious pat on the back. And if you're bringing home the bacon before you cook it up for dinner, wow. I mean, really. WOW. Your families are lucky to have you.

But tonight, my family was lucky to have me. (At least I was pretty darn pleased with myself.) When I went into the kitchen at 5:30 and discovered that someone had forgotten to get groceries for dinner (the learning curve I am up against is just ridiculous), I had no choice but to step up my game. I had a ticking clock, a sleeping baby and a big boy and hungry husband who would be home from the swimming pool very soon. So I took whatever we had left in the kitchen and turned it into dinner. Just like a real mom! And you know what? The meal I came up with was really good. Like, really good. Maybe not good enough to make up for five years of shirking my responsibilities in the kitchen, but still, plenty satisfying for a weeknight dinner.

Potato Frittata

What I had left:
4 or 5 red potatoes
a bag of frozen spinach
some garlic
half a jar of roasted red peppers
5 eggs

What I did with it:
Cooked the cut up potatoes in a skillet on medium high heat with a little olive oil (uncovered at first, then covered for about 10 minutes until they were tender). Added the frozen spinach, sliced red peppers, and crushed garlic. Salted and peppered and cooked until everything was heated through. Whisked the eggs together in a bowl with a little milk and then poured them over the veggies in the skillet. Sprinked some feta on top, covered, turned the burner to low and cooked until the eggs were firm, the feta was bubbling and everything looked done.

Bonus points if you've got stuff for a salad or maybe some good bread to serve on the side.

Now the only question is, what the heck should I make tonight?


Anonymous said...

Love this- how the heck do we not know how to cook? I swear we sat down to dinner as a family every night. I totally agree that it is amazing that people cook dinner every night. I get excited when I have an unexpected meal because then I can just have a staple (pb&j or a protein shake) for dinner and not have to worry about anything (like my husband or my almost born son...). Maybe we are just a bit selfish in this category. You inspire me, maybe someday I too can cook a meal!

No Mommy Brain said...

I know, Moose - it's so confusing to me that neither of us knows how to cook. We had dinner nightly - what gives? You're lucky you know how to clean. I'm essentially useless. : )

Cora said...

It sure is. My husband did not help with it, so eating out was out fallback. No wonder we have no savings.
I plan an hour a day for meal prep and planning at least.