I Love Food. I Just Wish it Would Prepare Itself.

IMG_0705I have a confession. Last week, I cooked dinner five nights in a row, and I’m pretty sure it was the first time that’s happened since – um, I have no idea when.

On the nights I don’t plan, for one reason or another, we alternate between take-out, prepared stuff from the grocery store and something from the pantry in a box or a can. Sometimes out of boredom and desperation to keep from having the “I-don’t-know, what-do-you-want-to-do, you-know-what-the-options-are” conversation AGAIN, my husband will whip something up when he gets home from work. (Insert shame.)

We’ve been going through this cycle since our twin daughters were born, when we lived mostly on pizza and salad from a restaurant down the street. (That’s around the time when I started accumulating laundry four basketfuls at a time, too.)

It’s not that I can’t cook. (It’d be a crime: I’m Italian.) Most of the dishes I can do well involve pasta or wine. Chicken marsala over rigatoni. Broccolini, tomatoes and sausage in a white wine sauce over-well, you get the idea. (At least penne with vodka sauce and meatballs is a slight variation.) I can whip up pineapple-mango salsa or guacamole; I can even make shrimp and lobster ceviche (one of S’s favorites)! I love making side dishes and appetizers. Baking is one of my guilty pleasures: from pine nut cookies to creme brulee to cake pops decorated for every occasion. But while I manage to multitask everywhere else, when it comes to the kitchen, most days I can’t seem to find the time, patience or motivation to put an entire meal together.

In fact, most days pass by before I can wonder what to do first. I’m occupied with my daughters and behind on work and cleaning, and the thought of tackling one more thing with enthusiasm is just laughable. Between preparing breakfast and lunch and snacks in between, wiping, vacuuming and all of that, the thought of going back in the kitchen makes me want to take a nap.

Oh. Right. We still kind of have to eat. So, I rack my brain.

I’m bored with soup. I love salad, but it takes too long to wash and dry lettuce and all the other stuff. I’m fairly certain the lettuce spinner is just a joke. It spins and spins and – what the hell, the stupid lettuce is still wet! (Yes, I dump out the water.)  And OH

MY

GOD!

All that cleaning… Cutting boards, knives, prep bowls, serving bowls, whisks, tongs, baking sheets, pots and pans! Yes, I have a dishwasher. I’d pretend not to notice that half of it shouldn’t go in and take my chances, but my husband would kill me.

He’s the Master Chef in our house, cooking up perfectly marinated/seasoned/cooked meat, seafood and vegetables – on the grill, in the oven or on the stove. He makes a rib roast with wine sauce or linguini and clams (which also happens to have wine in it) look effortless. Flawless. It tastes amazing, too, and he doesn’t even follow recipes. He can throw together a restaurant-quality meal after working a ten-hour day faster than I can gather the necessities to boil water.

Darn right, I’m jealous!

I decided not to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. But in my general quest for balance, better time management and good health, trying to be a little more domestic seemed like a good idea for all of us. I’m no goddess, but I’m learning that I really don’t need to be. With a full life outside of the kitchen, this may never be my favorite way to spend time. Still, planning and preparing meals does establish a much-needed weeknight routine around here. I figure as long as I keep things relatively simple, I’ll spend less time cooking than dreading the Dinner Conversation.

And best of all, I made a meal on Tuesday that the Master Chef asked for again – get this – on Friday. That was kind of cool.

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