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
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.|
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.|