Saturday, October 22, 2005


What's for dinner? We've all heard it or said it a million trillion times. I happen to have a co-worker who has the most organized working wife in the world. Not only is she mom to two little boys and works her tail off as a nurse, she gives her husband menu options for the entire week and lets him decide what he wants each day - as long as he tells her that morning before he goes to work, he can be assured it will be prepared that night. I tell ya, she gives the rest of us a bad name!

When I was growing up I was raised on leftovers. I was an only child, but my mother came from a family of five where she was expected to prepare or help prepare most of the meals. They were poor, so food was of the cheap and plentiful variety. Potatoes, home-made egg noodles, soups and stews and everything was saved and eated for leftovers. When my mother cooked, she always made enough that we usually had a whole other meal left, if not more.

This came in handy when I had four children of my own. Except when we started having the finicky eaters. You know who you are! They would suddenly - as in mid-bite - decide they didn't like something and that was it. They would never touch it again. We had some tremendous fights over this issue. I realize that's the BAD MOM way now, but at the time it was the way you did it. I, too, remember being five and having the worlds' worst abhorrance of all things pop-corn and hot dog. Yep, weird kid, I know. Give me beef heart or spinach or liver and onions and I was happy as a clam, but get near me with a hot dog and you'd find me getting creative. I could never get my puppy to eat it, either, but I'd try and sneak it into my napkin and throw it away. Um...yeah... like she wouldn't see that one coming! I ate more hot dogs that had been in the garbage can than the neighborhood dogs. Ick. I didn't start eating either of those things again until I was in my late 20's or 30's.

In our house, it then became "if you don't like what's on the menu, you can make yourself a peanut butter sandwich". We went through a lot of peanut butter.

In my husband's house, it was another story. I'm not sure what it was the first time around, but by the time my husband would find it in the refrigerator while looking for something to eat, it would be a science experiment. To this day, he has a fear of all things leftover. If I give him something we just had a couple of days before, I'll get The Quiz: What is this? How long ago did you make it? Are you sure it's okay? Doesn't it taste funny to you?

In order to trick mislead pacify my husband, I will take leftovers that are freezer-friendly and deep-six them until a week or month has gone by when I can safely take it out and reheat and serve without The Quiz.

In our current home, now that there are just the two of us, mealtime has become a different animal alltogether. Yes, I'm still cooking for six. Can't help it. Most of the time I freeze the leftovers or take them to work for lunches. It used to be my oldest son would make a lap through occasionally and clean me out, but he's been too busy and has moved just far enough away to make it inconvenient. (Besides, knowing how he likes to cook, he probably has a frig full of leftovers of his own.)

Sometimes when I'm very tired, or sick, or sick and tired (shaddup - I hear you sayin' "lazy"), we have code words. Fend For Yourself means just what you think it does. It's every man/woman for themselves. For me, that can mean something leftover, or a turkey pot pie with cottage cheese. Maybe even a simple bowl of instant mashed potatoes with butter or cooked, buttered and salted macaroni - plain. See? I have simple tastes. Hubby won't see these things. He won't even try. I can offer suggestions of what's in the freezer or cupboard, but nine times out of ten, he heads for the frozen pizzas.

Our other "I'm tired" code is It's Your Night to Cook. This, of course, is uttered by me to my spouse. He takes it well. He runs with it. He has a small repetoire of items he will cook including bacon and eggs, the aforementioned frozen pizza, and restaurant take-out. Yes, that qualifies as him cooking. He does grill, too, but if I've got to make all the stuff to go with it, then that's not him cooking.

Last night I went to the grocery store after work and I was so tired that food didn't look good. Anyone who knows me will tell you that's very tired. I don't pass on food very often and most everything looks good to me all the time. (My scale will testify to this. )I got home and ate a banana for supper. Yep. That was it. Hubby made himself a frozen pizza.

Tonight after working all day again, I called him on the way home and we were discussing what I could make with the hamberger I'd gotten out of the freezer. I told him I felt badly for not cooking last night and would make it up to him tonight. You know what he said? He's cooking. Yep. He volunteered to go into town and pick up some food (we live in the country, remember? No deliveries.). Wasn't that the sweetest thing you ever heard? I don't care what they say about the way to a man's heart being through his stomach... it works for me! Thanks, hon!