What’s for Dinner?



Have you ever found yourself spinning the lazy susan full of spices around and around dreaming up new savory combinations to set your family’s taste buds ablaze with delight? Well, I sure haven’t. I loathe cooking and all things culinary related. Probably because it serves to remind me of just how lacking I actually am in this particular arena, but mostly because I am the complete opposite of my mother , who cooked three meals a day every day for her whole life. Chicken nuggets, french fries, rice & beans and the all too easy cous cous. These are the four super groups I adhere to when whipping up kids fare. I do toss in washed fruit (I will slice and peel) and the occasional grilled vegetable but that is as far as I’m able to stretch. I heard the groans of my children  today as I managed to scald yet another tray of heavily processed chicken strips. Watching them snarl and gnash at the black shrunken rocks with their tiny teeth made me feel so very small and without the basic ability to feed my offspring ( or at least feed them anything GOOD). I sigh with envy when I see the talented cooks sashay across their newly installed travertine tile floors, effortlessly tossing together healthy ingredients on the shiny granite countertops. I so want to enjoy what looks like a great time, but when I step up to the plate , I just disappoint. All earlier efforts in this area have fallen flat so to suppose that all future endeavors would end in the same (literal) cloud of smoky failure is not such a stretch.  When they were tiny and couldn’t complain due to lack of language skills and an immature pallet I was golden.  The cold light of reality eventually shone bright on my shortcomings as even my children spat out my offerings deflating my sails in seconds flat. At any rate, this kind of undertaking is clearly beyond me. The skill set required includes, thinking and planning ahead, shopping for food, following basic directions and paying attention. No go.

Most nights the mess is salvageable, other evening it results in take out. The silent majority here lights up upon hearing  the news that Dad is in the kitchen taking over duties and the house comes alive with the enticing aroma of properly mixed spices and marinades, grilling and frying. Suddenly, all seems right in the world as he chops, dices and juliennes his way to the perfect meal usually accompanied by the right wine. The man can cook.

Still, I do occasionally attempt lasagna and home-made meatballs which have a pre determined outcome due to a lingering fear of what may happen if a thousand angry Sicilian ancestors roll collectively in their graves. I don’t need some sort of crazy disgruntled spirit dogging me night and day hissing italian curse words in my ear while screaming that my gravy is not from scratch.



Filed under bad parenting, being lazy, cooking, kids, kids and parenting

6 responses to “What’s for Dinner?

  1. littlejohn

    Hey, blow your old man away with this recipe, it is easy peasy! Don’t know if you will find all the ingredients in your supermarket though, mostly cheese and junk on the shelves in the US.
    I am Australian, and if I may, I will put my 2 bobs worth in about the American food…it does look yuk…gross as a matter of fact. All those breadcrumbs and oil and largish serves.
    In Australia, we like our hamburgers with beetroot, tomato, lettuce, grilled onion, grated carrot, egg and pineapple on a toasted sesame seed bun with sauce.
    Just one and that is all I need all day.
    I had a breakfast in Port Townsend at a diner, and for me it was three meals on one plate.
    Australians are going for lots of Asian and Moroccan flavours now.
    Try Turkish Apricot Chicken, much better than that deep-fried mush!


    Turkish apricot chicken

    2 tsp sea salt
    2 tsp ground cumin
    1 tsp dried chilli flakes
    2 tsp ground cinnamon
    2 tsp ground coriander seeds
    1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    2 tsp ground turmeric
    1.6kg free-range chicken, cut into 8 pieces
    100ml olive oil
    1 brown onion, finely diced
    100g fresh ginger, peeled, cut into matchsticks
    5 garlic cloves, bruised
    2 green chillies, split lengthways
    2 tbsp tomato paste
    2 pinch saffron threads
    5 thyme sprigs
    finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
    2 tbsp honey
    250g dried apricots, diced
    200ml white wine
    2 chicken stock cubes
    shelled pistachio nuts
    fresh mint, to garnish
    couscous, to serve
    natural yoghurt, to serve

    Put sea salt, cumin, chilli flakes, cinnamon, coriander, pepper and turmeric in a large plastic bag; add chicken and shake to coat.

    Heat oil in large heavy-based pan over a high heat. Add chicken and brown all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onion, ginger, garlic and chilli and cook 3 mins. Add tomato paste, saffron, thyme, lemon zest and juice, honey, apricots and wine. Stir, bring to a simmer, then return chicken to pan.

    Add stock cubes and just enough water to cover chicken. Cover and simmer over a medium heat for 10 mins. Uncover, simmer for a further 25-30 mins or until chicken is tender and cooked through and sauce is slightly reduced. Stir in pistachio nuts, reserving a few. Garnish with mint and reserved nuts. Serve with couscous and yoghurt.


  2. littlejohn

    Kids, and big kids love this pie. Use 1 tablespoon of tarragon though, and make one large pie. Use puff pastry for best results.
    Also, add one cup of peas, frozen is ok.

    individual chicken & leek pies

    Preparation Time: 15 mins
    Cooking Time: 45 mins

    Serves: 4


    60g plain flour
    ½ tsp cayenne pepper
    ½ tsp white pepper
    1 tsp salt
    500g chicken breast fillets, cut into 2cm dice
    2 tbsp olive oil
    25g butter
    2 leeks, sliced
    2 cloves garlic, crushed
    80ml water or white wine
    250ml chicken stock
    125ml cream
    1 tsp tarragon
    chopped parsley and chives
    300g puff or short crust pastry
    2 egg yolks, beaten


    1. Place flour, peppers and salt in a bowl and stir. Add chicken and toss well. Shake off excess flour. Heat oil and butter in a pan over a high heat and stir fry chicken pieces until lightly browned and sealed. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

    2. Place leeks and garlic in the pan and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until soft or wilted. Add wine and boil for 1 minute. Add stock and cream and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add chicken and herbs, cook for a minute longer then remove from heat and cool.

    3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Roll out pastry to 4mm thick. Cut pastry to line bases, sides and tops of 4, 9½ cm pie tins. Spoon filling in pastry cases and brush edges with egg yolks. Place tops on pies and seal with a fork.

    4. Brush tops with egg yolks and make three piercings with a sharp knife in the top of each pie. Bake on the bottom oven shelf for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

    Alternatively you can place the chicken mix into the bottom of a casserole dish and top with mashed potatoes and bake in the oven.

    Recipe recommended by Andy Johnson, taken from Bill Granger’s Sydney Food

  3. dufmanno

    Cool! Can you come to my house to cook it?

  4. Ha! I’m so not a cook either. I discovered when I was living in Sydney where there’s no one to cook for me and eating out every night was burning a hole in my bank account that I actually was a decent cook, but I didn’t like the cooking part – not to mention, the cleaning and washing part afterward. Now I just eat whatever my mom cooked for me – despite being a grown woman and all. 🙂

  5. Tom G.

    You are not alone. Somehow, our generation became convinced that all women should be able to cook like Julia Child, paint like Georgia O’Keefe, write like Jane Austen, run the business like Anna Wintour, all while looking like Jennifer Austen, and performing like Marilyn Monroe in the bedroom. This is why over 25% of all the people I know are on antidepressants.

    I think back to growing up, no one seemed to have the same expectations of our Mother’s. Hell, we usually filthy dirty from playing in the nearby woods, wearing Sears Tuffskins with patches on the knees, and eating hotdogs for dinner 5 nights a week as we listened to Mom tell us what we needed to do to stop being such disappointing children, and why we were all going to hell.

    And yet we survived. Hell, we have even occasionally THRIVED. We are funny, caring, interesting adults that are not incarcerated, or living in vans down by the river.

    That my dear is a freakin’ achievement! Give yourself a big pat on the back. Your children are gonna turn out just fine.

    Your kids are gonna be just fine.

  6. Dufmanno

    Hopefully all you say is true but sadly it’s too late to prevent the part about living in a van down by the river. Even with Chris Farley’s prophetic skit on SNL it happened to some of us.
    Sniff, sniff.

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