Now We’re Cooking

Cooking’s never been my jam. (See what I did there?) I used to say that I’d rather do the dishes or clean toilets. And now? Now, I make a damned fine supervisor because I’m worn out and I don’t want to do dishes, clean toilets or cook. What I want to do is write. If only I could convince my family that this is where I should put all of my time and energy. They think I’m joking.

*sigh*

Decades ago when I cooked more-ish, I couldn’t really taste my own cooking. I mean I’ve always fed my family when there was time (and the time thing is for a different post), but I always used one or more of them as the guinea pig taste tester to help me determine whether the dish needed more of this or less of that. (Okay, clarification — once there’s too much of something, it’s kind of hard to go back and fix it. So usually, it’s about adding more and not the other way around.) By this method, I cooked decent meals, even if I couldn’t really taste my spaghetti sauce in the same way I could taste and appreciate someone else’s spaghetti sauce.

Even so, my family thinks I’m a fairly good cook. We won’t talk about the beer cheese soup fiasco of 2020, though. Nope. We will not revisit that.

I’m at peace that I’ll never reach the heights of cookery for which Grandma, Mom and Aunt Frankie are legend (at least they’re legend in our family.) There’s too much pressure to try and meet their high standards of deliciousness, even though none of them are around anymore. Still, I know Grandma and Mom are watching from up above — and judging cheering me on. Yep, always there. I haven’t a clue where Aunt Frankie is.

According to my therapist, apparently, I’m a highly anxious cook. Go figure.

On the bright side, the pandemic has actually helped me get over that not-being-able-to-taste-my-own-cooking thing. Let’s face it, no one else is going to feed me regularly if I don’t cook; and take-out from restaurants isn’t what it used to be before the pandemic. So somewhere along the line, maybe it was in April, I realized I could taste my own food. It hasn’t been an issue since. How about that!

By the way, I have a theory: When everything in our nation shut down, restaurants — in general — all of a sudden had more product (aka food) than demand, even factoring in curbside take-out. Because of this, I believe some of these restaurants are/were sending out to-go orders that crossed that fine line between barely-okay-to-eat and plain ol’ spoiled. Why? Because…money, duh…and because they could get away with it!

I’ve had conversations with friends who’ve also either had bad take-out or know people who’ve had bad take-out recently. It’s a real thing, y’all.

I mean who’s going to get all the way home, realize that their take-out is inedible and then hike all the way back to the restaurant and demand a refund or new food when there’s a pandemic raging? We were already taking our chances when everything was “normal.” We questioned — would the person cooking or serving our food retaliate if we complained that our food wasn’t prepared the way we ordered it or because we were served an unclean fork/glass/plate? But that was then.

It goes to a whole other level when you start complaining during a pandemic. You have to be stupid crazy to do that! The manager or whoever’s working the complaints at the restaurant in question, might as well be telling you with their grimacing smile as they listen patiently to your gripe, “Extra spit on the burger for this one!”

So, no — in our household, we don’t take spoiled food back and complain. Instead, I throw the gross food out and put that restaurant on my list of all the other restaurants that can kiss my future money goodbye when everything’s back to whatever the new normal becomes. David told me that my restaurant blacklist is becoming longer than the restaurants that are still in good standing.

“What’s your point, David?” I asked.

Apparently, that was his point.

Anyway, spoiled food happened three separate times at three separate restaurants when I finally said in disappointment, “Fine, mothers, keep your wonky food. I’ll just cook instead.”

So, while I’ve been eating my words since then, I’ve also been cooking my heart out and have discovered that most of it tastes pretty good. Some of what I make is even tastier than what we get at beloved restaurants. Okay, I don’t want to brag or anything, but I make a fabulous salad. How do I know this?

David asked, “Hey, will you make that salad from last night, again, today? I can’t stop thinking about it.” Well knock me over with a feather. These words were uttered by a man who doesn’t even like greens that much.

I said, “Well, we’re out of blue cheese crumbles,” so he went to the store and got more crumbles just so he could have my salad twice! 🙂

There are a ton of reasons why my family and I got into the bad habit of mostly eating out before Covid-19 (again, fodder for another post); but what’s most important to know is that I’m sorely missing restaurants after months of hardcore cooking.

Let’s just say that we’re regulars at so many local eateries that we often don’t have to place our drink orders whenever we show up. Our foodservers aka waiters/waitresses aka Gary or Kim or Leia or Seth or Chico bring our drinks out with them when they initially come to greet us. They usually know what we want before we place our order, too. Of course, we’re fairly predictable. Gary’s the best at this, btw. He verbally runs by us what he thinks we want.

Gary bringing our club soda, Shiner Bock and iced tea to us as he approaches our table — “Hey guys! I’ve got the crab rolls going and they’ll be out in a sec. So let’s see, peel and eat shrimp for you?” he’ll ask pointing to Ry; and “Catfish filets for you?” he’ll say pointing to me; and “Are you wanting the catfish po’ boy or are you in the mood for crawfish today?” he’ll say to David. I don’t know if he’s got all of his regular customers’ orders downpat, but he knows what we like. I so appreciate Gary and all of the others who’ve waited on us. Also, if only we could apply the simplicity that Gary brings to other aspects of our lives.

But, alas, that’s in the past.

Do you know how much time and effort it takes to cook 21 meals a week?

Okay, in our house, maybe that’s closer to 7 meals a week because if you’re hungry for breakfast or lunch, you can make your own bowl of cereal or heat up a can of ravioli. We’re all adults here.

All I know is that my cooking muscles are getting back into shape. Chop, chop! I feel the burn every time I dice, saute, boil or roast.

I admit, at first, cooking was kind of fun. But fun time is over and now it’s stressful.

I’d much rather write and do other things than focus my time: watching The Food Network, researching recipes on the internet, coming up with an interesting menu for the week ahead, making grocery lists, buying groceries at 6:30 AM, unloading and putting groceries away, prepping veggies at the chopping board and cooking meals over a hot stove for sometimes two hours just so my family can scarf down whatever I made in fifteen minutes or less — unless, of course, someone doesn’t like whatever it was that I slaved over a hot stove to nourish them with and refuses to eat it.

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Did I mention that my son has autism, and he’s very opinionated and honest about what he likes and what he won’t eat? Like my restaurant blacklist, Ryan has his own list of “Mom’s Recipes that I Won’t Ever Eat Again.” *sigh*

Then the kitchen has to be scoured just so I can turn around and do it all over again the next day or —HEAVEN HELP ME — the next meal on the same day. Yep, I cooked two meals a day for a couple of weeks. That’s why I don’t do that anymore. Anyway, feeding family is a full-time job. And yes, I usually get someone to help with the shopping and prepping, (I abhor grating cheese) which helps tremendously…or better yet, someone else will cook (YAY!) — but still — my whole family, especially me, misses eating out.

We miss the atmosphere and the variety of food, drinks and desserts and seeing our waiter friends and well, just being out. I also miss listening in on other tables’ conversations for blog fodder. It’s a whole thing.

Ryan: I really miss restaurants. (If you know my son, restaurants are his JAM! Going to restaurants is one of his reasons for living. Thanks Covid-19. This has been a real struggle for Ry.)

Lauren: I know. I just miss going out. I miss seeing other people, being around other people, shopping, working at my office and I miss eating out too.

David: Mumble, mumble, grumbling growls. (Was he really part of this conversation? Not really. He’s in survival mode and he’s basically quit communicating unless it’s to let out an expletive about the state of life in general. His whole non verbal being demands — everyone leave me the f*ck alone during this — whatever the hell this is.)

Me: I miss not cooking. I mean, I don’t mind cooking once in a while, but I really miss not having to worry about dinner every. single. damned. day. I miss restaurants, too! What restaurant should we go to first when all of this nonsense is over?

Ryan: Babe’s.

Lauren: Babe’s.

Me: Babe’s.

David: Mumble, mumble.

So we have a plan in place. We look forward to Babe’s whenever this is over. I hope Babe’s is still around by then.

So yippee ki yay, y’all! Guess what?

Our air conditioner’s gone out and it’s only in the mid 90’s outside and muggy as hell and this is how it’s expected to stay for the entire week ahead. Woo Hoo! So guess what? I’m not cooking this week. Matter of fact, I’m not cooking indoors at all until the AC unit gets fixed, even if it takes more than a week.

It was the condenser. I called it on the first day.

Unfortunately, the AC guy sold us $400 worth of freon and came up with a few other things that “it” was on the several different days he visited. He wasn’t convinced it was the condenser. He’d do something to our AC unit, tell us it was fixed and leave. Then immediately the unit would stop working and David would call back. The repair guy would come back out (usually we were his last call of the day), do something else to the unit, declare it was fixed and leave again. This went on the Friday before last week (we called this in on that Wednesday before that Friday), last Tuesday (because they didn’t come out on Monday), Wednesday and, finally, Thursday.

The AC company, apparently, quit dicking around and sent out their “most experienced tech” last Thursday. He told us it was the condenser. Yes, he made excuses for the other AC guy’s incompetency. Anyway, he was supposed to call this in to the insurance company and get back with us. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to hear anything. The AC company didn’t respond to David’s repeated calls to get a status update on Friday; and so, we’re now into another week without air conditioning.

Been here and done this before in 2016!

If you’re interested, you can read about Camp Roughing It here. Oh how little some things change!

I’m staying out of this. My husband, (bless you, David), is handling this mess while I recite The Serenity Prayer over and over so I don’t kill someone. FYI, did you know that when the temperature rises outside, tempers flare? They’ve done studies. It’s a thing. Even so, I’m going with the flow and making the best of the situation.

So, instead of cooking…now I’m grilling. In the evenings.

Well, I haven’t yet. But I’m going to start doing that. I’m going to cover myself head-to-toe with mosquito spray and brave the outdoors. Did I mention that I’ve never grilled anything in my entire life. I could use your help.

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions for grilling or whatever? The easier the better, please. 🙂

Maybe I’ll drink beer and blast out Mungo Jerry while I’m on the patio. Grilling. How charred is too charred, y’all? Fingers crossed that I don’t set anything on fire. Or I could just drink spiked lemonade and spritzers, say to hell with eating altogether, and my family and I could just diet our little hearts out until the air conditioner is running again. I hear that a protein shake equals one meal.

 

let’s not forget

or

or

Stay cool,

Mona

 

14 thoughts on “Now We’re Cooking”

  1. I have so many thoughts!
    1. I love that you’re back and writing regularly. I love love love it.
    2. Your air conditioner saga is like mine, except that instead of not cooling the house, it’s merely flooding the basis continuously and we have assigned Towel Duty and Shop-Vac Duty in this house. Supposedly they’re sending their “best technician” today. We’ll see what happens. I left the carpet extra squishy for him. Or her.
    3. Go easy on the restaurants, hon. Notice when you go buy produce at the grocery store, how it’s already half-rotten? It’s a supply chain issue for everyone. The restaurants can’t get the best stuff so they’re making do with what they can get. No one will spit in your food, I promise. If I were a waitperson, I’d just feel simmering anger that I had to put plates of sub-par food down in front of people I’ve known all along and want to please. I’d be afraid I’d lose them. Give it a few months and then shorten that list. It isn’t their fault – at least, not entirely.

    There, brain dump. LOL

    Reply
    • Lille,
      I always love your brain dumps! Oh, I hope you get your situation fixed sooner than later. You are an understanding woman, Lille Sparven. I wish I were. 🙂 Mona

      Reply
  2. I, too, love to not cook. And since I’m single, living alone (well, with dogs, not other humans), I don’t have to! Instead, I happily graze/snack, and I’m good with a microwave. Once a month or so I’ll cook some teriyaki chicken and rice (in the rice cooker), not because I want it, but because my dogs love both the chicken/rice the night it’s cooked (and I admit, I like it, too) as well as the leftover sauce the chicken is cooked in (now with chicken fat) drizzled over their kibble for dinner every night. So really, I’m cooking, occasionally, for my dogs.

    I blame my aversion to cooking on my mother, who thought raising her only daughter in the 60s meant requiring her to fix the salad for the family dinner every night, and sometimes the main course as well, and do all the dishes. My brothers never had such chores. As soon as I left home, I pretty much quit cooking and I NEVER make salads.

    Hope your AC gets fixed pronto.

    Reply
  3. Rebecca,
    You make cooking dog food sound delicious! It also sounds like you developed an allergy to making salads back in the day. It’s a good thing you don’t have to make them now. I love the way you roll. Have a great rest of your week! Mona

    Reply
  4. I live in South Florida and our A/C went out in early August last year and wasn’t replaced by the landlord until 15 days later. We’re “old” and everyone involved thought this was elder abuse. (It was about 85 degrees inside all the time and couldn’t open the windows as it was in the 90’s outside with 80%+ humidity). We have a dick for a landlord. This place (lived in it for just over a year) is as small as a 1 bedroom apartment/condo can pass as, so there’s no room in the kitchen for me to do anything except heat up T.V. Dinners. Screw health. I do buy fruit, so there’s that amount of nutrition. I used to love the salad in a bag and just added cucumbers and tomatoes, but my husband wants other stuff so now it’s his job to make the salad if he wants one, and he uses head lettuce which I don’t want to bother with. So I’ve pretty much given up on food. Can’t really afford to eat out (fixed income) but boy do I miss the choice to do so!

    Reply
  5. Barbara,
    Oh my gosh! South Florida sounds great until you get the real low down. Humidity! I don’t know how you can handle that kind of torture! Where I live the humidity isn’t always a factor, but when it is, ugh! Right now it’s ugh! It sounds like your landlord is a real sonofabitch. With that kind of heat, it zaps your appetite. So glad to hear from you, my friend! Stay cool! Mona

    Reply
  6. I cook all our meals and what makes it doable is I make simple things. If you can find simple recipes online, think five ingredients, it may be doable? For grilling, add oil to your food, not on the grill, and remember that different parts of your grill have different temperatures, so feel it. You can move your meat if it is cooking too fast or not fast enough. All the best!

    Reply
  7. Thanks for the great grilling tips, Micah! I’m grilling chicken and veggie kabobs this evening with couscous salad and brussel sprouts. I’m hungry already! I just checked out your blog and love it! All my best to you and Markus. It sounds like everyday is a wonderful adventure for you! Mona

    Reply
  8. While I actually love cooking, I wouldn’t enjoy it if I had to make several meals for several people a day! And I would give you grilling tips but I like everything really charred, and will often say to Ken “Can you burn the outside of that sausage a little more for me?” It’s weird, I know, but if there’s a flare-up and something gets really dark, he knows I’ll eat it even if he won’t:-)

    Reply
    • Suzanne,
      I like my meat more on the well done side, too! My mom was the one who liked her meat tough and/or charred! I do like my marshmallows blackened a bit, though. Oh, and burnt ends when we get brisket at the bbq place. Oooh, that sounds really good right now. Yum! So, I tried my hand at foil packets with beef and veggies on the grill last night. The good news is that the meat and veggies were cooked through and nothing was overdone. However, it turns out I’m not so great at picking out cuts of beef at the grocery store. Buddy and Iggy enjoyed my portion of meat though. 🙂 Mona

      Reply
  9. “a highly anxious cook” – OMG I felt that! That’s why I don’t cook. Thank GOODNESS for the hubs, although my waistline may not agree 🙂

    Reply
  10. Eek! Cooking… yeah, that’s never been my jam either. And like your son, my boys make sure to vocalize their dissatisfaction with some of the offerings they’d like to never have to eat ever again. Which, at this point, seems to be anything that doesn’t come from someplace other than our own kitchen… 😛

    Reply

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