Saturday, August 16, 2008

What's for dinner?

This week, since I am a teacher at an actual school, I went back for the part we treasure - inservice. Nothing is more compelling than sitting in meetings all day when children are coming in just a few days, and your room looks like this.
And the halls look like this. School crept up on me - In an alternate reality, I ignored it until the last possible minute. You choose.

I made a huge mistake this week. I didn't cook on the weekend, which is what I usually do during the school year. I cook on the weekend because of two things. I am non-functional when the school day is over and the minions arrive home hungry.These guys show up too - sometimes, when there's food. Especially Goldfish crackers.

After a day of school related minutiae I am barely able to speak. My children however can easily put three words together. Those three words are "What's for dinner?" and I ususally start getting text messages to that effect about 7:15 in the morning. This is an actual text transcript from my Blackberry.

7:15am From BigB: I'm eating at home, what's for dinner?

9:35 am From the Sophisticate: Do you have lima beans? I don't have any food. I'll see you after school.

12:30 pm from the Sophisticate: Will you make rice too? My stomach hurts.

12:45 from BigB: I'm not eating lunch today. What's for dinner?

1:10 pm from PPP: Hi, how's your day? What's for dinner?

1:15pm from PPP: How about enchiladas? What time will it be ready?

1:20 pm from the Young Son: I made a 91 on my Latin quiz, what's for dinner?

1:45 from Big B: What's for dinner?

3:21 from PPP: I have to go to work. What's for dinner?

5:15 from PPP: What's for dinner?

5:17: from BigB: What's for dinner?

5:18: from the Sophisticate: What are y'all having for dinner?

6:32 from Young Son: I'm finished, is dinner ready yet?

I answered none of those.
These people that live here don't all come home at the same time, have a nice little family devotion and Bible reading, and then cheerfully help me prepare a hearty and healthy meal, with placemats. I think we have established that I have lost all my placemats. No - the people that live here start rolling in about 3:30 and continue to stagger their arrival times until 9 or 9:30. P.M. At Night. Past my bedtime. When they walk in the door, regardless of the time, they are starving. That's the reason cereal was created. So, whatever else has to be ready about 5:30 . . . or 10 seconds after I walk in the door, whichever comes first. And it has to stay ready for each person when they get home and ready to eat. It goes on for roughly 6 .5 hours. I do not need any pointers about the value of sitting down at the table at the same time with my whole family. I know the statistics, and the whole spiritual religious thing. I'm on the simplified plan. I provide food. if we're lucky.

To that end, we shop and cook on the weekend, for the week that is coming. If we don't do this, it's bad. This is what happened THIS WEEK, the first week, the one that slipped up on me.

Monday - taco meat was my sole offering. Then I fell asleep at 7. I guess they ate tacos. Perhaps they stood at the stove and just ate hot taco meat right from the skillet. I'm all about the one-dish-meal, though I think others put a bunch of ingredients -specifically including vegetables.

Tuesday: I actually made a chicken casserole. It was 100% gone within 17 minutes. No accompaniments, no fruit, nothing else. The late arrivers got nothing.

Wednesday: I was not here, I was at an 'all-school-social' I have no idea what the people here ate. I ate some American cheese and crackers and a Toaster Strudel.
Thursday: Holy #$%* - I cannot think of what to cook after being in school meetings all day. Hooray! Beans and V-8 juice with leftover taco meat. I can and did make faux - Chili. However, we were phoned at the laundromat (ask no questions) because BigB cannot eat Chili without saltines. Period. I ate some more Toaster Strudel and read the vampiric love story.

Friday: I had a plan, though I don't remember what it was - everyone left to be social teenagers and young adults. BigD brought me a sinfully delicious hamburger from Checkers. I had already fallen asleep when he got home.

So - it's been established that I cannot teach school all day, do whatever it is else I have to do after school - and then cook. It has to be cooked ahead of time. Then I always have an answer to the big text question. But I don't answer them. That's ridiculous. I'm spending some quality teaching time.'s the plan, it works every year. We shop on Saturday and cook on Sunday, and then re-heat during the week, also BigD takes some to his place of employ, which is in a whole different city.

The grocery shop is awful, but BigD is a beast when it comes to shopping. One distraction is that the minions call or text with 'food orders'

From PPP: Molasses and oatmeal.

From BigB: Get cereal and there is a crazy woman in the driveway, yelling at La Petite Jockette, Young Son's GF.

We will get two rotisserie chickens. 5 pounds of hamburger, and two other things that I will think of when I see ithem. I am not sure about the crazy woman. I think PPP is making cookies.

To Wal-Mart for the frozen stuff and the stuff that is always sold in boxes (thus we aren't worried about where it comes from and how long it's been there, because it's all on the label).
We'll go to a little produce store for the Amish cheese, the milk and the vegetables, that we hope have not been in the Wal Mart distribution system for 4 months. Then, somewhere with known meat sources for the meat. I have gotten really skittish about meat and the recalls when the meat packers aren't sure where the tainted meat is - and then guess that it's probably all been eaten, probably 6 months ago. Seriously, you killed thousands of cows or chickens, and packed up the meat and you don't know who you sold it to? I just didn't want to know that. And I don't want to eat that stuff.
Man, BigD is awesome slinging those groceries around. I'm not sure how he felt about me standing in the parking lot taking pictures while he loaded the 127 bags, each with a single item. Miserable-o-meter was way high, and it wasn't just the temperature.

Then we will cook 4 meals and the 'things for the fridge' which serve late arrivers or those who don't like whatever I fix. This week, I am thinking about some things; we'll have to see how it all turns out. It will be really amazing if I can cook and also write about it.

NEW RECIPE ALERT! Because it's Saturday and I am already thinking about it, I am going to try Mexican lasagna that I saw at PW this week. Because it's the first week of school, and I am still standing.

Smash potatoes are possible too - if the little red potatoes are tiny enough. These things reheat into even more delightful crispiness. Post shopping report - there were some tiny Yukon Golds, I will definitely hot smash those. With cheese. This is one of the 'other things' I saw at Wal Mart. It may not be a main dish protein, but it's always a hero's welcome when we bring home Orange Crush. 6 hours later, there are two left in the fridge. Two are hidden. For me, after I cook all that stuff.


Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Loved this post, don't have the big family desperately texting dinner orders, but I hear you! It's hard to work, and then come home and cook. I am so looking forward to making the mexican lasag. when the heat goes away! Best of luck in your new school year.

Mike and Katie said...

Hi Ann,

I just wanted to respond to your comment on Mckmama's blog. I have often felt a similar sentiment when reading her blog. She is alot like I was until my boys started becoming men. It is a good thing that life in our house now longer revolves around me.


Mike and Katie said...

Hi Ann,

I just wanted to respond to your comment on Mckmama's blog. I have often felt a similar sentiment when reading her blog. She is alot like I was until my boys started becoming men. It is a good thing that life in our house now longer revolves around me.


kikibibi said...

Breathe deeply Ann - you will get through this. I'm currently in the throes of preparing for a massive session of "Kiki's Kitchen." Six friends come over, we drink wine and prepare meals for the freezer. I'll post updates on my blog. Just knowing you have six ready to go meals in the freezer is a huge relief.

A friend with three teenage boys once described them as "giant, hulking, silent food vaccuums." Does that apply in your house?

Good luck with back to school!

p.s. Those crash hot potatoes are great, just make sure you use very small potatoes. I used larger ones and they didn't get very crispy. They did disappear, however!

Anonymous said...

Loved this post! I went back to "school" this week too...tomorrow is the children's first day but it has been postponed because of Tropical Storm Fay...maybe I'll try to cook then if the power doesn't go out!