Normally, when I read the NY Times on parenting, I don't recognize myself, and when I read the NY Times on food, I think "yes, in a perfect world... i.e., not my world." But today, I came across an awesome column from the NY Times on cooking, via @cydharrell's twitter feed. (If you aren't following her, you should. The haiku's alone are worth it!) The column is apparently the last in a series that I missed because I have decided that the NY Times adds more stress to my life than joy. The column was called "Cooking with Dexter", by Pete Wells, and was presumably about cooking with kids (Dexter is his son). The last column is about how hard it is to get home-cooked meals on the table during the week. To which I can only say "AMEN".
Between my sporadic Dinner during Dora series and my occasional rants on food- specifically how just the fact that I use food someone else made (i.e., "processed food") should not mean that I am feeding my kids (and myself) unhealthily. I love this quote from the article:
"Instead of cajoling people to get “back” into the kitchen and shaming them into avoiding processed foods, it might be more helpful to work on turning out processed foods and fast foods that taste like more than just salt and grease and that don’t make kids fat and sick."
YES. EXACTLY THAT. Let's stop trying to force our lives back to a time when we could devote a lot of time to cooking and start trying to make the way we live now healthy. Are you listening food companies? There is a market here!
We have decided to prioritize family dinners, and since so much of the processed foods that are currently available are unhealthy, we do try to eat more home cooked meals than not. (I also like the idea of my girls seeing that cooking is a normal thing to do- and, since Hubby does most of the weekend cooking- that it is a thing men and women both do.) However, this only works because things in our life are aligned perfectly to allow it. We've split our work shifts slightly, so that I get to work between 8 and 8:30 and leave at 4:30 (I don't take a lunch break- I eat at my desk). We live relatively close to work, and day care is also close to work, so by leaving at 4:30, I can usually count on being home by 5:30 (if I didn't have to do the day care pick up, I'd be home before 5). That gives me roughly 30 minutes from when I walk in the door to dinner time, so I generally have time to nurse Petunia, throw on a show of some sort, and make a quick recipe in the kitchen. But if anything goes wrong- I have a late meeting, Pumpkin insists on finishing a game at day care, traffic is worse than usual.... well, it all falls apart.
Even when it works, it is stressful. More days than not, at least one of the girls spends some time crying or whining while I cook and can't give her the attention she wants. And then there's the end result- I have my go to recipes from my go to cookbooks, but I get bored with them, and miss the wider range of recipes we ate before we had kids. So I'm constantly looking for new recipes, a search complicated by the fact that Pumpkin is an extremely picky eater. And, because I don't really like most vegetables but feel that I should be eating them as a model to my girls, I am constantly searching for quick recipes that will make vegetables palatable to me. I've got a couple of cookbooks home from the library that I think might help with those things. But it is late, and I'm tired, so I'm going to go to bed. But if you have the same problems I do, stay tuned- I think I'll have a post on cookbooks coming up soon!