What the Heck am I Thinking, Here?

28 Aug

Thanks to the magic of Facebook, I’ve spent the past couple of years writing a little bit about life every day, in the form of self-centered status updates. Although I think of myself as a somewhat creative person, I’ve always been pretty terrible at the type of writing people usually consider creative.  Like short stories.  Poems.  Even my attempts at novels remain unfinished, mainly because I feel they can’t possibly be good.  In an arguably uncreative way, I seem to only like to write about things that have actually happened to me or to someone I know, so it’s not surprising I took to Facebook so easily.  Through speedily issued statuses, it is possible for me to painlessly share the trials and unexpected satisfactions of my daily life as a temporary at-home mom.  I’m actually embarrassed to admit this enjoyment of Facebook, and  I know some people think I spend way too much time there, but the social outlet it provides me has turned out to be a lifeline to me during this time of isolation at home.

If I were able to catalog my past statuses, I know what would come up.  Children.  Potty training (God help us all).  Guilt about parenting choices I can’t resist, but which seem egregious.  Wine.  Beer.  FOOD.  With all the moaning I do about my inability to clean my house or get my reading done for my graduate classes, I still spend hours each week cooking stuff that other people probably think is ridiculous. People who kindly claim to enjoy my status updates have told me I should start a blog, but I always felt (like I do with short stories or novels) that I am just not special enough to bother.  What do I have to say that nobody has said yet?  The answer is still probably nothing.  But I’d like to throw this out there as an experiment, because I do feel that many of my friends are interested in the meals I cook (albeit sometimes unsuccessfully) either because these friends are already foodies or because they wish that they were – even if it is because they don’t want their kids to live life in front of a Hungry Man dinner.

Careers.  Children.  Finances (cooking can be expensive!).  Health (and fattening).  The insurmountable prospect of going from Ramen to roasts in any kind of reasonable number of years.  All of these things seem to prevent my friends from diving in and giving a crap about cooking.  Instead, they are stuck with another takeout bill or box of Kraft or more parties catered by Wegmans (which, by the way, is something even I have enjoyed!). Well, I’m going to try this, because I can hardly even say how I learned (and am still learning) to cook, but I do know some things that I’m happy to share.  And I’m not afraid to tell you when I screw up, either, because it’s funny.  Like, what happens when you’re in too much of a rush and put 1/2 cup of sugar in the vodka sauce instead of 1/2 teaspoon? (Dan pointed out, by the way, that this is something like 2,000 times the correct amount).

I can’t remember exactly why I started trying to learn to cook in my early twenties, and I can’t point to any period along the way when I made some kind of significant shift.  But I do know that I am suddenly reaching a new level of ability, wherein I am able to actually simplify my life because my skills have grown.  There is less shopping and less wasted food and there are more good meals than there were ten or even five years ago.  As far as I can tell, that is something my friends would like to experience, as well.  Lest you think I am high and mighty, however, please know that there are also the soul-crushing days when I find myself giving my kids that most ridiculous convenience food, the Smucker’s Uncrustable for lunch.  I do this even though it goes against everything I would like to stand for, and I do it because William will eat it and it can get thrown onto the table before Cormac explodes into a hunger fit.  That type of compromise is our reality, too, as busy parents and professionals and, indeed, as modern people.  I’m not sure how to reconcile these Jekyll and Hyde moments in my life, but I’m working through it and I invite you to join in the sister-/brotherhood of the conflicted cook.

A word of warning – I don’t have the patience to make this a carefully crafted, oft-revised kind of blog.  Meticulousness be damned.  Please plan to take me as I am and feel free to comment, add your own tips and suggestions, and generally expand this conversation.  How do we manage it all and still live like humans who eat real food?  How can I buy produce and not let it go bad before it gets used?  Is it smart or shameful to use your mom’s goulash recipe from 1975?  Bring it here.  Suggestions are welcome.

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6 Responses to “What the Heck am I Thinking, Here?”

  1. thekforce August 28, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    I eagerly await forthcoming entries. Perhaps you can teach me how not to waste all the produce I buy and underuse. 🙂 xoox

  2. Fran August 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    I’d say it is smart to use your mom’s goulash recipe from 1975. I bet there are butter and bacon in it. Can’t go wrong with that. Better yet if you would share it!

    • frazzledfoodie August 29, 2010 at 8:07 am #

      Fran – there is no butter and there is no bacon, but it is actually an excellent recipe for two reasons. #1 – it is easy #2 – it is CHEAP. Oh – and a third reason. It tastes ridiculously good. I promise to post it here soon!

  3. mealsbysheri September 14, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    I’m offically hooked! Love reading your blog! You are a talented writer and definately have my attention! Childhood recipes I still use often and always lead to clean plates: Ma’s Meatloaf (I’ve varied it a bit to add more veggies), Goulash (of course!!) Scalloped potatoes with pork chops and I often make roast the same as she does in the crock pot. A single mom to 2 boys = can’t waste food and sometimes really need to have a cheap meal! Happy Cookin!

    • frazzledfoodie September 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

      Sheri – you are too kind! Is your scalloped potato recipe on your blog? My mom had an old one she used that was basically potatoes drowned in the evil mushroom soup ( I say evil somewhat facetiously, obviously) but I’m always looking for something that is still easy but maybe a little cheesier?

      • mealsbysheri September 16, 2010 at 8:09 am #

        I wouldn’t be surprised if your Mom’s scalloped potato and pork chop recipe and my Mom’s wern’t about the same….cream of mushroom soup is the star of her’s also. It works, no cheese, no cullinary pazzaz, just potatoes, browned pork chops, soup and a bit of milk…salt and pepper of course. Truth is, it’s cheap and the kids eat it up. If you find that cheesy recipe….Share!!! Happy Cookin!

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