Sunday, August 17, 2008

What's for dinner - the answer

I cooked and lived to tell about it. I am thoroughly impressed with all you folks who manage a gaggle of small children. I did it. Feeding a bunch of young adults is challenging. They are not captives. They can get in the car and drive to Chick-Fil-A.

This is not a recipe site. I don't take pretty step-by-step pictures or even give proportions. There are plenty of those sites, and I am sure you can find them. This is not pretty food. This is not organic food. This is survive-the-week food. I can't stand at the sink and fry up a steak while the minions are pacing and eating dry cereal out of the box. So, I cook for the week on Sunday. We start on Saturday, which I have already covered.

It is possible to shop and cook in one day. POSSIBLE not probable. I know it's possible because we used to do "Once a Month Cooking" and freeze enough meals for a month. The problem was that I forgot what was in the freezer, AND forgot to take it out ahead of time. Supper time came, and we had 27 frozen meals, all in the freezer. When we don't have food for dinner and to make lunches, we are all cranky....make that non-functional. Then we eat fast food every night until people are screaming at me.

This morning we had to finish a little bit of shopping. I had the ground beef from the butcher shop (known source being my criteria) and 2 chickens. The rest of my week's menu depends on 'whatever I see.' Yesterday, I saw Orange Crush - so, we were in need of some more protein. Plus, the new dish this week - Mexican Lasanga - I had forgotten a few ingredients. Like about half of them.

What I found when we stopped after church - and I was lucky on this - was reduced meat. What? Moi? Madame No-Mystery-About-the-Meat Lady? Reduced because of date, which is written on the package. Today, it was pork chops and chicken breast tenders, and they were marked down in price 32% - 50%, yet still 3 days from the expiration date. I'm good - it will all be cooked before the sun goes down.
Who does all this cooking? There are 4 adults (technically speaking) and 2 teenagers, everyone works and/or goes to school - and several of us do both. Everyone has to work together to get the meal thing done.

I run the show. You can stop there because it is the main thing anyone needs to know. I run the cooking show. I am happiest when I have 3 or 4 things going at once because it's all about speed for me. I'm spending an hour before lunch, and then maybe 2 after. No more.

BigD is the expediter. We already know he's a phenomenon in the store. In the kitchen, he keeps the pots and bowls and measuring cups moving - either washed in the sink to be re-used, or loaded in the dishwasher. He also does a good bit of the chopping, for which there is a french culinary term that I just spent a solid 20 minutes looking for, a poor use of my time. They say it on Top Chef. I guess I could watch all eps of all seasons and hear it. Good plan, though not for today.
PPP is an accomplished baker. She does not use mixes and does not much like my lovely Kitchen-Aid mixer. The Sophisticate technically does not live under this roof, and is student teaching, and gets a pass (ever heard of lesson plans?) Our two sons also get a version of a pass on cooking day, because there is only so much room in our kitchen. Traffic flow is better if they are doing something else. Like watching baseball on television, or even *gasp* homework.

Therefore yesterday, they trekked up and down our back stairs with the 147 little plastic bags of groceries, and help break things down. I want everything possible out of the box and into a home container - for space, and to keep the bugs that live in cardboard out of the kitchen. The sons also empty the garbage and that will be at least 3 trips in the cooking seige. This is better than chopping onions and celery and peppers.

I started the hard boiled eggs right off - before I even changed to cooking clothes from church clothes - I wanted that pan again soon. I am not an apronista, because I wipe my hands on my rear end, so I have cooking clothes. Like some people have painting clothes. You can definitely look at my behind and tell that I have been cooking today.

I began with Pork Chops (one of the bargain meats). I seasoned, seared and simmered them on the stove-top for a long time, until they were tender and falling off the bone. I started with them because they were going to cook for a while. It also made the house smell like cooking, which ups the confidence level in MOM.

Once the eggs were done and I got that pan back from BigD's washing frenzy, I chopped a couple of apples, and cooked some real oatmeal with apples. I adapted this from a crock pot recipe , because I don't manage crock pots well. It warms up easily in the microwave with some milk. That whole oats/cholesterol thing? Well, this is my attempt at some kind of noble nutritious cooking.

The meat had already been pulled from the bone of the rotisserie chickens. We did that as part of the putting up of the groceries. It falls off when it's warm, and takes up way less room in the fridge. Also, it did not heat up the kitchen and the house while cooking, because Wal-Mart cooked it. And it's delicious. Half of that went to chicken salad, which BigD made first thing this morning.

I cooked the meat for the Mexican lasagna yesterday afternoon. When we got home this morning with the forgotten ingredients, I put it together. That took the most time, because I was using a new recipe. There is some meat leftover, which is my emergency meal - which will be tacos, again. But I was still done by noon, and one hour is over.

PPP made her oatmeal cookie dough right after church and fridged it so it would be easier to manage when it came time to actually MAKE the cookies.

By now, noon, we went to Mimi's for lunch, because it is Sunday. I admit to feeling disheartened when her kitchen looked like this.

When we got home, PPP's cookie batter was chilled, the pork chops were almost done and we turned on the oven. And there were a few pans and bowls and general mess. Compare that to Mimi's. Where did I come from?
The second half of the rotisserie chicken was mixed with seasoned cream cheese. Refrigerator crescent rolls make a rich crust for this mixture, like little packets. Though it's not particularly healthy, my children love them. It takes assembly - so it won't be football night.

I had used the leftover baked potatoes and made potato salad yesterday.
BIg D made the tuna salad, using the last of the hard-boiled eggs. (Yes, we had a nice day with The Duke.)PPP had plopped out the cookies, and they were baking I was pretty much done, which left PPP plenty of room to make the blueberry muffins. She isn't that good at sharing cooking space yet.

This week, she wanted to take some baked goods to school, so it was oatmeal cookies for EA's birthday, and the blueberry muffins because they are awesome.

So...we ended up with this, done by about 4pm.

  • Pork chops

  • Mexican lasagna

  • Chicken packets almost

  • Chicken tenders oven fried (already mostly gone)

  • Potato Salad, Chicken Salad, and Tuna Salad

  • Oatmeal (healthy me - tomorrow)

  • Blueberry muffins (my dessert tonight)

  • Oatmeal cookies (I ate these for dinner)

  • Lima beans and black-eyed peas (we've survived a week on just these)

  • Fruit and salad
So, I think we can make it through the week, though I did not get the last Crush.


Anonymous said...

Hah, hah! Snort, snort. Your blog is really great! How fun to read.

This is the first time I've been over here. Believe this or not, I NEVER knew until tonight that your comments had a profile behind them. I always thought it just "ann" and no way to get ahold of you! (I read my comments mostly in my email, not at my blog, and I could have sworn that "ann" was not linked.) But tonight I saw differently and I just HAD to come over and tell you thank you for all of your wonderful comments, willingness to pray (for my husband!), and great thoughts. I so enjoy hearing from you and am thrilled I can at last return the favor.

You are a whole heap funnier than I picked up on with your comments. I like your blog:)

Also, your recent comment to me about control being an illusion at best struck a cord with me. I give up a lot of control to God in plenty of areas, but I DO still love control in lots of others and hearing your words has gotten me thinking along a challenging new line of thought. Thank you!!!


christie said...

So fun! Wow, that was a lot of cooking!
I have to say...I love orange crush! It's my favorite!

Anonymous said...

MMMM..I want an orange crush now! Pretty impressive cooking list! Do you want to come and cook for me???

Liz said...

Good night. I'm beyond impressed. You are the woman. :)

I'd have slapped a frozen lasagna in the oven and called it a day. :)

Carin said...

Oh man, I am worn out thinking about all that cooking. I don't think I could accomplish that, though it would make the rest of the week easy - I mean easier. Yeah, I'm with Liz, I'd stick a frozen lasagna in and call it good =) Good for you!

Dawn@Embracing the Ordinary Life said...

LOL...I wanted to come over and thank you for the insights to the happenings of a 6th grader...

As for cooking I love it too...have tried the "prep and freez" thing...but only once. I would be a great cook if someone else would just do the shopping and the cleaning...then we would eat like kings...only then.

Rhea said...

Holy smokes. You cook for the entire week in one day? I'm impressed.

At least you have lots of help.

Thanks for visiting me yesterday!

Mike and Katie said...

That's the way to do it! The older my kids get the more I have to cook real meals. Arranging snack foods just doesn't cut it. I remember when a few cheese slices and one apple between the three of us was a meal.