At this juncture in life with two young children underfoot, my cooking philosophy is "Eat to Live." There's little art involved, just survival. What can I make that everyone will eat? Did I actually thaw the chicken? Allrecipes.com has been my savior, with their search for recipes by ingredients I actually have on hand feature.
It's a shame because when someone cooks with flair, it's beautiful.
I noticed this the other day when The Girl accidentally turned on the Food Network. She looked at me deeply as if we had been depriving her, as if she were thinking, Food Network, where have you been my whole life?
The chef was making lobster risotto. My daughter was enthralled and, to be honest, I was too. Everything about the way she worked was systematic, smooth, calm, and pleasant, and for a moment I felt desire rise up within me to cook. Not just to cook -- but to create something exceptional.
Then I snapped back into reality. Because what I'd actually like to see on the Food Network is a 'real' reality cooking show. It can be filmed at my house, and it would go something like this:
At the start of the show, I'd scramble to see what we have in the refrigerator and make a quick decision that we'd be having tacos. The Girl would declare that she doesn't like Mexican food. The Boy would be slowly emptying the ice dispenser into a pan.
As I browned the ground beef and spoke to the camera about the fine aroma, my kids would begin fighting in the background about a toy that previously had been untouched for seventeen days until one picked it up and the other decided that they, too, must play with it instantly. Cue commercial break.
Instead of having ingredients prepped and measured in adorably matching dishes at the onset, I would scramble to grate cheese, cut tomatoes, and shred lettuce, only to realize that we are nearly out of cheese and our lettuce is wilted. At the last minute, I'd decide that canned corn would be a nice addition. Isn't that color just beautiful, I'd comment, wiping my hands on my back pockets because my dish towel currently is serving as a blanket for The Girl's new doll.
Periodically as I worked, The Boy's hands would reach onto the kitchen island to steal food items. He would wrap himself around my leg, hindering my movement around the kitchen. The Girl would yell from the bathroom that she just went potty and needs help with a tricky button. Cue second commercial break.
Once I'm back, the camera would capture me delicately scooping meat and sprinkling a meager ration of cheese into each taco shell, confirming "You wanted to try a hard taco, right?" while making direct eye contact with The Girl. I would observe the unsure nod of affirmation in return. I'd carry plates to the table and we'd pray. Mere seconds after "amen" The Girl would look at her plate, shocked, and announce, "But I wanted cheesy noodles."
Three minutes into dinner, I'd remember to sit down at the kitchen table. Instead of leisurely sipping sangria from stemware, I'd be drinking water from a plastic cup with princesses even though I'm positive that it's not my glass. After wiping up one or seven spills, dinner would be finished in six minutes.
I'd wipe down the table and clean up the highchair. I'd sweep the remnants of cheese, ground beef, taco shell crumbs, and corn kernels from the floor, empty the trash, load the dishwasher, and finally sit down.
Two minutes would pass. Someone would ask for a snack.