Recipe Dilemmas by Sharon O’Donnell
I’m so tired of trying to figure out new ways to fix chicken. Shoot me now. Some days, I don’t even have time to think about what’s for dinner until it’s already past dinner time. Chicken is about the only thing everybody in our family likes that also doesn’t make me feel guilty about giving them. I try to shy away from too much red meat or pasta (though spaghetti is always a winner with everyone), and it seems like every time I turn on the news there are more bad things that we get from our diet. My attempts at keeping fresh fruit and salad around the house are not as successful as I’d like them to be. Can someone please come up a way to keep bananas from going bad before you eat them??? There’s that small window of opportunity where they’re in between being too ripe and rotten. And if you’ve got SATs, baseball games, school projects, fundraisers, etc. sometimes bananas go bad before you even notice.
Our weekdays are so busy that it’s rare we are at home during the meal time, which means stopping by for fast food is way too easy. I try to plan ahead and buy groceries that I intend to make into delicious meals. The key word here is ‘intend’, of course. That pot roast that I wanted to cook with potatoes and carrots ends up being thrown in the freezer to wait for another day instead because there is no time to cook it before the expiration date.
On a recent rare weekend get-away with my husband, I took along 3 “Quick Casserole” paperback recipe books that I bought in the check-out line of the grocery store. I didn’t mean to accumulate 3 of them – although they were all different — but I guess in desperation while buying groceries, I’d decided to buy a casserole book — only to completely forget about it once I got home and put it up. Then I did it again. And again. And then there were 3. Knowing I’d be on an airplane with a few hours to myself with no distractions from my kids, I took all three recipe books with me in hopes that I’d find some cooking inspiration in them and come back with lots of new, tantalizing, quick casserole recipes. Some of them did look good, but most of them were not something my boys would like. They are pretty much meat, potatoes, and green beans kind of guys (plus pizza and anything Mexican). But meat, potatoes, and green beans kind of meals can get really boring fast.
I love seeing movies where the characters go out shopping in the afternoon for fresh vegetable and meat/fish to cook for dinner that night. They buy ONLY what they need for that night and don’t look beyond that meal. Must be nice. Usually, these characters are a couple without kids, though. They don’t have to worry about stocking up on everything from bread to toilet paper; the just grab some asparagus, some salmon, some spices, and voila: dinner. A lot of the time I notice in this movies that the man also does most of the cooking. Again, must be nice.
It’s hard to retain the dinner time routine we used to have when our boys were younger because we all have to be in so many places now or do so many things. I remember once a neighbor of mine with younger kids saying that Wednesday was spaghetti night at their house, and I thought, “Wow, I’d love to have that kind of routine where I know what I’m expected to cook every night.” Maybe boring sometimes, but it was a routine.
Still, a man might not mind Hamburger Helper or chicken a’ la whatever for every meal, but a woman does. When we go out to eat, I love to read the menu — the detailed descriptions of each entree and select what appeals to me most — while my husband opens the menu, peruses it for about 15 seconds, and closes the menu. That’s it. His decision is made that quickly, while I savor the entire process of ordering food because I DON’T HAVE TO COOK IT.
And if anybody has a really delicious, quick recipe for chicken, please pass it on.