Sunday, June 23, 2013

On the Menu

A few weeks ago, my friends (the mothers of Youngest Daughter’s friends) and I sat around after a delightful picnic dinner, talking about some of the issues we face.  I thought that I was the only one who despaired over figuring out what to make for dinner, but found that my friends shared this same angst.  “I’m going to make a list of menus and just recycle them every two weeks.  I want to see if anyone in my family will notice,” my friend threatened.

I think that is a great idea, and it might even be the ways things went in the last half of the 20th century. 
            Monday = meatloaf
Tuesday = fish
Wednesday = spaghetti 
There is even a song about it.

This summer, I can’t implement this idea, because the dinner clientele in the Common Household is constantly shifting.  Will my Husband be here, or one state away moving his mother?  Will Oldest Daughter be here, or at work?  Will Youngest Daughter be here, or at band practice?  The menu shifts based on who will be here, because their food likes and dislikes need to be graphed out in a Venn diagram (diagram not provided due to author’s insufficient technical savvy).

My unemployed son seems to always be here for dinner. In an attempt to save my time and teach my Son some useful tasks, I asked him to make the entire dinner last Thursday.  I did the hard work of thinking up the menu: 

Salmon, baked or broiled
Corn bread or pasta
Salad or some other veg
Fruit (optional)
Dessert (optional)

This menu is basically the one meal that sits in the intersection of the Venn diagram: everybody likes all these things, except that Son won’t eat salad even if threatened with 6 weeks of extra chores. 

I also gave him these further instructions:
Make corn bread in afternoon.  Use the recipe on the container.
Start to cook salmon no later than 6 p.m.
Other than that, I thought he could figure out what to do.

At about 3 in the afternoon, he came in the office and said, “This has a recipe for ‘Easy Corn Bread.’  Where’s the recipe for ‘Extreme Corn Bread’?” 

I said, “Well, you could add cheese.”  Then thinking it would be best not to add extra calories, I said, “But just make regular corn bread.”

He pressed further. “Or how about ‘Nightmare Corn Bread’!?”

I said, “Please just make the recipe on the container.  I don’t want to have nightmares from the corn bread.”

About 15 minutes later, unable to concentrate, I came out of my office into the kitchen, and found this tower of ingredients.  He said, “See how boring it would be if I had a job?”

He has moved beyond Legos, but still likes to build things.
As an aside, note the calendar on the wall, chock-full of stuff to drive to, confirming Suburban Correspondent's cry of despair about June.

Untossed Salad

I forced him to make the salad, even though he won’t eat it, because I figured making salad is a good skill for making friends with girls.  But I had to instruct him every step of the way.  It’s like teaching a kid to tie shoes – at first it takes more parental time and effort to teach the skill than it would to just do it yourself, but in about a year that effort pays off, and the kid is tying his own shoes or making his own salads for girls.

Salmon, drizzled with maple syrup
For the salmon, I told him the correct temperature for baking.  Near the end of the cooking, I said, “And now you can put on it any sauce you want,” and pointed to some jarred sauces we have in the fridge.  “What do you want to use?”  He gave me his usual response:  “I dunno.”   Thinking fast, I suggested something I had not tried before.  “How about if you drizzle maple syrup on top?  And then a little salt and pepper.”  He did that, stuck it back in the oven for 5 more minutes.  It was delicious.

I can’t say that I really got any extra work done, but now Son knows how to make an acceptable dinner.  At least I’ve been able to teach him one thing in life.  Everything else he learned from Scouts.  I am hoping to be able to tell you the story of their canoe trip.  Just as soon as I figure out what’s for dinner tomorrow.
Pale but tasty corn bread.  Regular, not Nightmare.


Cassi Renee said...

I am always so impressed when I read blogs with teens making dinners. Every time mine suggests making her favorite meal (an easy casserole), something comes up, and she can't make it. But it needs to be made so the ingredients are used. This just happened today --she got a head cold. So I made it, of course.

Just one of my failures as a mom --I still haven't really taught her to cook anything beyond boxed mac & cheese, and a can of soup :-)

Angie said...

Eric is living in an on-campus apartment at LSU this summer, and he's getting lots of experience cooking. Andrew . . . he knows how to heat frozen burritos in the microwave.

Suburban Correspondent said...

I have those same Tupperware containers, but in blue. Bought them way back in 1989 or 1990, I believe. And I'm loving the box of matzo in the back there - was it abandoned on the counter and forgotten, or is it a part of the recipe?

The Crislers said...

I still don't know how to make salmon, so way to go you (and your son). And teaching him to make salad in order to pick up chicks? Hilarious at first glance, brilliant at second.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

My mom had those same Tupperware containers for flour and sugar.

I'm the salmon cook at my house (my husband overcooks it every time) and the only things my kids know how to make are frozen pizza, cheater's tuna noodle casserole (4 ingredients), and "grub" (Ramen with canned baked beans). Luckily, salad at my house consists of washed, torn up lettuce. I might be worried for my boys' abilities to make salad for girls...

Common Household Mom said...

@SubCor - there is always a box of matzo on our table. It's a staple in our house. But no, we don't put matzo in the corn bread.

Those tupperware containers are old and need to be replaced, but I have NEVER anywhere found an adequate replacement.

@Kristy - Shh! I didn't TELL him that's why he needs to know how to make a salad.