Have you ever just run out of ideas as to what to cook for dinner? I swear, I’ve hit the biggest wall in the cooking department that I’ve ever encountered in my life, and trying to push through it is driving me nuts. Every single day, it’s the same bloody thing, what the hell do I cook for dinner?
How bad is this? Well, I’ll gladly tell you how bad this is. It’s bad.
It’s so bad, that I’m ready to go pick up some dog shit and smother it in peanut butter and chocolate sauce, then roll it in some slivered, toasted almonds, and hit it with a burst of matcha powder and declare it a damn delicacy, that’s how bad it is. No one wants to eat what I cook, no one, not me and not even the dog. I’m so over and done with cooking and it’s too bad the same wasn’t true for eating…now where’s that Costco-sized bag of Hershey’s Eggies I was just plugging my food flap with….oh….here they are….mmmmm….all better.
I don’t even know how normal people eat any more
Needless to say, not having appealing, nutritious, and palatable meals as of late, has left a void that I seem to have filled with garbage. Yay, why do I bother exercising every day when I’m just filling the tank with crap? Yeah, productive, isn’t it?
When Clem and I were doing the keto thing, cooking was pretty straightforward, but because I was getting migraines (I won’t even comment about what I suspect was my thyroid shitting the bed) connected with this way of eating after more than a year or so, (hormones are also a factor…I know…guys don’t wanna hear it, but I’m just being honest), I had to change it up. I’d always added potatoes, rice, and noodles or whatever for the kids, and Clem and I just avoided eating those, but I’m finding that I cannot even remember what it was like to eat pre-keto without piling on the pounds while eating normal, tasty and enjoyable meals. Beyond all of this, I’m just tired of cooking and generating ideas period.
We are not huge consumers of takeout nor do we frequent restaurants often (my kids would love to do this every day, but realistically, we might do one of the two of these things once a month, maybe, although frozen food/meals or store prepared meals have gained traction within the last few months which also rarely to never occurred before), so as you can imagine, I’ve done a lot of cooking. I try and cook one night and have leftovers the following, but I certainly feel like I’m suffering from cooking burnout. Ha, cooking burnout, that’s funny.
The stress is real
Case in point, it’s just after 4 p.m. and I still haven’t have a clue as to what to cook, even though I spent at least an hour perusing recipes on the Google machine. Clem also cooks but I don’t want to keep dumping dinner preparations off on him at the last minute because that’s not fair. Besides that, Clem often cooks meat and forgets about the rest…I still appreciate him for cooking though. He just needs a little work in the sides department…constipation is well…hard.
I don’t understand why this is so bloody difficult. I’ve been trying to cater to the kids and now I’m beginning to wonder why I do. We eat too and have to suffer with shitty meals as well, what the hell makes them so damned special?
Caelan will usually try most things but I find that she won’t eat much if it doesn’t appeal to her (which is often) and Lola has been exceptionally picky as of late (she would live on Mickey D’s if she could). Maybe that’s why I have this conundrum, they’re just making it harder than it needs to be. My mother certainly never catered to my tastes and likings, so why should I?
Today’s menu: Eat it or starve
It’s left me wondering why I sort of walked away from making the meat and taters meals I grew up on as a kid every meal. Was it really that bad? Am I the only one who has ever contemplated this?
As it was at my parent’s and my grandparent’s house, eat it or starve, and I’m thinking of following suit. Honestly, I enjoy cooking the easier things that I grew up with because I usually have all of the ingredients on hand and it’s less time consuming to prepare which allows me to keep my precious time for other things. The other thing I like, these old reliables are easy enough for my kids to learn how to cook and help out with as well. Simple, I think, is better all around.
Many meals when I was growing up, were simple and I think that’s where I’m heading back to in regards to my cooking. For years, I spent too much time and wasted too much money trying different and exciting things (I think the term exotic could be used in regards to what I’ve attempted over the years) that were too complicated for me to just quickly put together on the daily, that none of us ended up enjoying. It’s great to try new things, but that can’t be every single day for me, no way.
Potatoes are evil? When did that happen? Oh, they’re not any more? When did that happen? Wait…what…evil…again…no?
When I think about it, when did meal making become so scientific and measured? After all of these years of trying to make the most balanced and healthy meals whilst attempting to abide by the ‘these foods are good and these ones are bad’ revelations that change on the daily, I’ve finally realized the insanity tied to it all. The potato, evil? What the hell did a potato ever do to someone to make the bad list of foods (followed by oh, it’s what you put in it/on it, and then no, it’s got carbs and then it’s something else…is it good or isn’t it, I’m confused)? My in-laws especially waged a war against them, once they did the South Beach Diet how many millennia ago and it makes me wonder, are they really that bad?
Why is food so complicated? I know that my relationship (when the hell did eating become associated with a relationship by the way, are we now courting our food, do I need to buy it a ring or something to make it magical?) with food has been a battle since gaining weight after graduating high school, which has led to many years of yo-yo dieting, periods of intentional starvation under the guise of healthy dieting and over-exercise which has now trickled down into the very complex task of trying to cook these so-called balanced meals for the fam jam. It never used to be this complicated, and really, we never encountered the issues we’re facing today.
Splitting your plate up into sections, food pyramids, and these things called macronutrients were never considered when tossing a meal together back in the day. I miss those days! I didn’t know you had to have a Ph.D. in mathematics in order to prepare your family a meal! Wow, I’m really not qualified…does that mean I get a chef?
Back in the earlier years when my kids were little, I remember using some sophisticated and supposedly healthy cookbook for babies all the way up to teenaged kids and spending hours making shit my kids wouldn’t eat in my attempts to cleverly hide vegetables within a pile of exotic slop so that they wouldn’t notice (I’m sorry, but my lasagna recipe doesn’t taste right with blood oranges and prunes for some reason). Clem and I enjoyed some of the things I tried (they were a little different than what we were used to and sometimes perhaps a little bizarre), but for all that work, it wasn’t worth it. Half the stuff in the recipe we couldn’t pronounce or the recipes contained ingredients we couldn’t even find and the kids wouldn’t even allow us to place it on the table. I often wonder, what was so bad with the meals I grew up with, honestly?
In fact, I started out feeding my babies the same things Clem and I were eating when they got into solid food, which was apparently a no-no according to the experts, but I knew exactly what they were eating and how it was prepared. Mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, with mushed up or strained, cooked veggies with whatever meat we ran through a strainer, were the bulk of the things we fed our girls and without incident or harm. We ate these things, and when I actually purchased baby food, my first response was how repulsive the shit was (I wondered if it was made of baby shit processed by babies themselves actually).
If I wouldn’t eat it, so why would I subject my kids to it? My now ailing, ancient fur baby won’t even touch baby food and she used to eat cat shit. What does that say about it?
In regards to say my grandparents, what’s interesting is, I never ate a meal that I didn’t enjoy and find satisfying, all throughout the time I had with them. What’s also interesting, is that these meals weren’t the most exciting things ever prepared, far from it. These were simple, hardworking people’s meals.
It’s funny looking back on it. They were cattle farmers who had a huge…HUGE potato garden accompanied by another HUGE garden full of many other things, AND garden tomatoes growing all over, hundreds of tomato plants…no joke. Every single evening, their meal always, ALWAYS included my grandfather’s signature mashed potatoes. And hot damn they were good. No one makes a pot of mashed potatoes like my grandfather used to, no one.
And you wanna know why they were so damn good? He poured, POURED salt from the box of table salt into the pot before boiling the potatoes (I think he went through a box of salt a month if I remember correctly). My grandfather believed that the salt remained in the water and was dumped out when he drained the potatoes. I’m not entirely certain if potatoes do in fact absorb the salt or if it is poured out with the water or perhaps it’s both of these things, but I can attest that the salt is probably what made them so bloody good, that, and the whuppin’ he’d give them to get them to perfected mashed tater consistency.
My grandfather, the tater tamer
He was a damned fine tater whupper and if you ask any of us who witnessed his tater magic, it was all in the hips. If you can picture it, you’d often find him standing in the kitchen, dressed in his signature long-sleeved, button-up cowboy shirt, and a pair of blue jeans (all year round it was the same attire), beating his mashed taters with a wooden spoon (this was his contribution to supper many nights if he beat my grandmother to the kitchen). Most entertaining of all, his hips moved the most to beat them taters, and I swear, if Elvis had witnessed this, he would’ve been jealous. He wasn’t a big man, but he was one tough cowboy who had all the moves when it came to taming them taters.
And my grandmother, GG as we came to call her after my girls were born, was quite the creative chef. I can’t imagine how she ever made it that many years making that many meals every single night without missing a beat, although I’m certain she did hit a wall from time to time too. They rarely ever ate out because there wasn’t anywhere to eat out at or from because they lived in a village with barely a place to shop, so home cooking was a necessity.
My grandparents were pretty healthy folks until they got much older, and I think that’s in part, a testament to what they ate. Most of what they ate in the summer was what they had grown themselves and they had enough homegrown taters to take them all throughout the winter and just into spring usually. It’s really quite impressive when you think about it.
Gardening is a hobby but it wasn’t always that way
I think we’ve completely lost touch with gardening in that aspect too. The tiny little yards that come with new homes these days, wouldn’t be big enough to grow gardens to sustain a family of 4 with the barest of root vegetables to last a week. Can you imagine if we had to go back to providing these things for ourselves? When people see my garden, they think it’s big, but I can tell you that it wouldn’t go very far and in regards to what I am accustomed to, it’s tiny in comparison.
Anyway, most meals at the farm (and at my mom and dad’s) were accompanied by the most delectable desserts. Did you just read that, dessert was served nearly every night, isn’t that insane? Wow, and we all survived, imagine that! Those are the things I really enjoy making, desserts, and I am much better at baking than I am at cooking (pandemic baking allowed me to discover some new recipes and I’d love to use them in my new repertoire…now’s the time!). I try, but I’ve definitely made some doozies.
Sigh…I’m remembering my grandmother’s homemade bread, her thrown together concoctions with boxed cake mixes covered in pudding that people just started to stumble upon, and my all-time favorite, her fruit snot. Fruit snot? Yeah, fruit snot.
Ingenuity in the kitchen
GG’s fruit snot (she didn’t know what to call it) was basically a mixture of all of her overripe and nearly rotten fruit (wasting wasn’t an option), thrown into a pan with a little water and some sugar to taste, boiled down into a compote of sorts that we’d consume on pancakes, cake or just with cream poured on top by itself. The bulk of this recipe was from my grandfather’s rhubarb plant and let me tell ya, that fruit snot is the cat’s ass (that’s what GG would say). Talk about ingenuity in a pinch.
After all these years, I’m beginning to wonder how or why I began to think of the potato as the villain and desserts as the biggest faux pas following a regular meal and reserved only for special occasions. I didn’t grow up this way and honestly, it never caused me any harm. What the hell did the potato do to us to make it so bad? Seriously?
Agreed, people were more active back then and they burned off more of those calories, but it still makes me wonder about the things I prepare today. Cooking meals has become as complex as nuclear physics, trying to follow some sort of regimen in regards to healthy eating and I’ve come to realize that perhaps this isn’t the way we should be. I love potatoes, they’re full of the nutrients we need to survive, and they’re not difficult to prepare. Really, they aren’t.
Falling back on my roots
I think it’s time to bring the mashed taters back and enjoy the comforts of home-cooked meals that aren’t having to be weighed, measured, and constructed with microscopic accuracy. At least they were filling, nutritious, and not as time-consuming to prepare because life is precious. Hell, I’m even going to start throwing in dessert more often…no kids, there ain’t no company visiting tonight, it’s all ours.
Perhaps boredom may also be the key to not overeating as well. If it isn’t always as exciting, maybe that’s a part of the cues we need to realize when we’ve consumed enough. Just sitting here and thinking about all of these things, makes me realize just how damn complicated we’ve made things in this day and age. Crazy.
Time to kick it old school again and see how it goes for a while. I think I’ll prepare some of my grandfather’s signature mashed potatoes and combine it with whatever I have leftover in the fridge tonight…I just have to find a box of salt first. With the extra time I’m saving on not cooking a full-blown, glorified meal, I might make a small, simple vanilla cake (from scratch) with the beautiful strawberries Clem picked up yesterday and top it with some freshly whipped cream…sounds lovely, simple, and down-home, doesn’t it? Now I just need to find the triangle dinner bell.