I used to like to cook.
When I was a girl I'd take over the kitchen at lunch time, set it up nice, make elaborate menus for my brothers, and serve up the most beautifully presented plates of alphagetti or grilled cheese you could imagine. It was fun and it gave me pleasure to see my brothers enjoying it and getting into character.
When I was a single gal with roommates, cooking was a release from studying and a joy, even a creative outlet. I could let my mind drift as I chopped and stirred, or re-direct it as I taught myself something new. And when you make a nice meal for your roommates, the reaction is always outrageously fun: "WOW! Thanks! You shouldn't have!". Or even just "I'm so glad you cooked tonight. I'm swamped.", as they gulp and go. I loved the process, and the serving. And the knowledge that some other night when I was busy, someone else would decide to head to the kitchen. We watched each other's backs.
Then I got married. To a guy who'll eat just about anything. He does say thanks, but I get the same thanks for a sandwich as I get for a 5 course feast. And I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone that I'm lazy, and figure if he's good with the sandwich, why exert myself? So cooking became more about me and less about the service. And he rarely cooks--part of our pre-marriage agreement when we decided I'd be the SAHM and he'd be the earner. Makes more sense for me to be the one to worry about the meals, right? (Plus I might have gone on and on about how I LOOOOOOVE to cook! Someone slap that silly girl.) Couple that with 4 different bouts of "morning sickness" where I'd spend meal times heaving while begging him not to make anything too aromatic--the man doesn't volunteer for kitchen duty.
The kicker was having kids though. Suddenly a pleasant activity that could be done at my leisure became a chore with a deadline. Kids (my kids, anyway) are like ticking time bombs, and if you don't feed them regularly, they go off with a boom. To add to the pleasure, the days of thanks were LOOOOOOOOOONG gone. Now the response is "EWWWWW!!! What is that? Do we have to eat it? Not ________ again!". Coming up with nutritious, well-balanced meals? Argh! Not getting bored with my own stand-bys? Ug! Introducing something new to this group that suspects I'm trying to poison them? Blerg!
(To give Hubby his due, he still says thanks. And sometimes he throws in a little shoulder rub to show he means it. I've got a great guy.)
So, cooking. Not so fun anymore.
To compensate, I have a few helpers in my google reader. There's Pioneer Woman, of course, who's meals always taste divine, but always take a bunch of work. There's Laura, the Organizing Junkie, who's Menu-Plan Mondays have given me many an inspiration and the boost of knowing I'm not the only one who plans her menus out week by week. There's the Tasty Kitchen and allrecipes.com for tips and recipes when I need something new or forget something old. And for fun, there's Half Assed Kitchen, which is my kind of cooking, with as many kitchen hacks and shortcuts as can be managed.
So in the spirit of half-assed cooking, I need to tell you about supper last night.
I baked a ham.
Ha ha! Just kidding. Sort of. When I was growing up, half the plate was meat. The entree was meat, and the rest of the meal was planned around it. Meat, a starch (usually potatoes--my dad IS from Ireland), and a vegetable. So my default meal planning setting? What's my meat? And I go from there.
So! (I say that a lot!)
Baked ham! What to have with it? Scalloped potatoes? Too much work. Mashed potatoes? Too much work. Rice? Had it last night. Pasta? On the menu for tomorrow. Skip the starch?
Who am I kidding?
I found some lovely new potatoes in the bottom of the crisper, bought during last week's heat wave with the plan of making potato salad. Which got scrapped because, hello? HEAT WAVE. Thew them in the pan with the ham. Roast potatoes.
But then my inner child started whining. It didn't want roast potatoes. It was sick of roast potatoes. Roasted potatoes and a Roasted ham? BORING.
When the ham was ready I put it on the platter to be carved. I scooped out the potatoes and then I grabbed the masher and squished them. I didn't mash them properly, just broke them up, little skins and all. Then I generously grated cheese over top, put spoonfuls of what was left of our sour cream, a little salt and pepper, and some Ready Bacon Bits that were forgotten in the back of the cupboard.
It was SOOOOOO good. So good. Like the best baked potatoes, but I didn't have to figure out how long to bake them for. They were perfect. And they took me about 5 minutes, total. 10 if you include the 5 minutes it took me to turn on the oven, put the ham in the roasting pan, open the bag of potatoes and dump it around the ham, and stick the whole shebang in the oven.
(And we had corn and carrots as well, nutrition police. I, in fact, mixed my corn in with my potatoes and had a merry old time.)
Anyone who's not dieting or lactose intolerant, feel free to steal my "recipe".
And if you have any quick meal ideas or kitchen hacks, please, PLEASE share them in the comments.
Free me from my kitchen.
I just realized it's Wednesday. And this post is the complete opposite of wordless. I'm so sorry. Maybe I'll get some pretty pictures up later to make it up to you. Right now I have to take a pretty Princess to the orthodontist.