Family dinner requires thinking ahead so that there are the proper ingredients to make a meal that your whole family will eat. A meal that your whole family will eat. I've already lost myself, and I'm guessing a lot of you.
In our house, we have me, who likes:
tacos, indian food, pizza, thai noodles sushi, cheese plates, pancakes, nuts in everything, and wine
Nipper Knapp who likes:
sushi, salmon, cheeseburgers, indian food, pizza, pancakes, is allergic to nuts, and IPA
Jack who likes:
quesadillas, toast, fruit, pizza, chicken nuggets, pancakes, and goldfish crackers
Charlie who likes:
Oatmeal, turkey meatballs, scrambled eggs, pancakes, pizza, and all fruit.
Please note neither of my children will eat pasta or soup or vegetables. LORD GIVE ME STRENGTH. If someone comments and tells me to melt cheese on broccoli, I can't promise I won't wreck the place.
The boys and I out for pancakes last week. Out for pancakes because our kitchen had no bacon.
Yesterday at Trader Joes, I found myself with a shopping cart filled with snacks and wine. No real ingredients for meals. $176 of NOT food. It's not all junk, I count fruit and yogurt, and the stuff for smoothies as a snack, but still, nothing to make a meal. A friend told me she grocery shops once a week. ONCE. Huh? One of us goes almost every day. I was freaking out about this the other day, and Nipper Knapp said "meh, it's very French to shop every day". Uhm, yeah, if I was riding my bicyclette to the boulangerie maybe. But I'm driving le prius to Trader Joes every day for stuff like apple crushers and ouefs. Merde.
I'm always envious of people who are amazing cooks. People who's kitchens are the true center of their homes, and whose kids bok choy. I have been thinking about having a breakfast nook built in our kitchen. Kitchen renovation will solve all my problems! (that was the sound of Nipper fainting) It would give us extra kitchen storage, and a cozy place to sit, do homework, nosh. I have this fantasy of my boys sitting there reading books and coloring while I make some Barefoot Contessa style feast that they both love. We sit and we eat, and the boys say the darndest things. We laugh and carefully note them, remembering to write them in their baby books, so we can all laugh about them later. When I confessed this daydream to another mom recently, she replied laughingly "oh I know, it's all so Leave it to Beaver!"
But is it? Is it an absurd and outdated notion that I want to enjoy food with my family, to teach them to enjoy each others company? Is it really all just going to be meals on the go, and faces in screens? I know, I'm starting to sound like such a MOM, and one of those whoowhoo people that want to touch your chakras, but dudes. My boys are still so little and it's only going to go faster. Soon they'll want to have dinner at a friends house, or in their room, or none at all because they have after-school activities, or are fasting for political prisoners somewhere (I have high hopes for their evolution). So I've got to get to it now.
one sausage, one veg, and one everything for us!
I must find a way to make our brains think 7 days out, and force myself to cook a meal, and have them help, when what we want to do is anything but, because we are exhausted. I have to force myself to not be paralyzed by lack of will, fear of ingredients (is this the thing that will be on the list of things that will kill us all this week, and if so should I just feed everyone more goldfish, which will obviously kill us all), and the inevitable bad dinner, where it doesn't go over, and everyone is cranky, and no one sits for more than a minute.
And I have to remember that there's nothing wrong with all of this failing from time to time. Because frankly sometimes Mama wants to eat a bag of goldfish with a glass of wine in front of the tv instead of the organic quinoa and brussels sprouts feast that I sprang on them last week.
Is anyone out there feeling my pain? Or do the rest of you have a live in chef? You do. I knew it.