Friday, November 4, 2016

Confessions of a Roller Coaster Cook

Ask me what I have planned for dinner tomorrow night when PJ and his girlfriend are here. Go on!

OK I’ll tell you. Lamb chops with crushed pistachios and chaat masala, saffron couscous, cucumber raita and homemade peppermint patties for dessert. Ta-da!

My cooking game at home is at the highest level it’s been for a while. I swear, it’s like Top Chef around here, except that none of us have to pack our knives and leave! Sher and Yaj are kitchen wizards, and Evan is an extraordinary cook and bread maker. We love when Patrick comes over, because he is now cooking professionally. We take turns preparing meals, which is both fun and dangerously fattening.

Dinner prep with Chef Patrick

When Steve and I first married. I had (and used) a pasta maker. Every glass of orange juice was fresh-squeezed; coffee always freshly ground.  And it continued that way for seven years, until….

The children were born. As toddlers my kids were typical desultory, picky eaters. So for many years, this was my meal rotation:

Fish sticks and mac and cheese
The easiest ziti recipe I could find
Meatloaf (ditto)
Shake and Bake chicken
And my personal favorite: "pick your favorite cereal night" (a genius idea of my friend Nancy's…marketed correctly, my gang thought it a BIG treat to eat frosted flakes for dinner)

favorite cereal night!

I comforted myself by saying it was just a phase of life and it would pass. And I did fuss more for special occasions. But the basics were, well, pretty darned basic.

Years later, when the nest began emptying, I had more time to think about what we ate. Therefore, while we as a family had eaten supper together every night, the contents of that supper evolved dramatically between Sheridan’s heyday and Julie’s. For the first time in years, I blew the dust off my Cuisinart and my springform pan. Grocery shopping became much less painful than it had been back when I had one in a front carrier, one in the cart seat and one or two holding my hand as I navigated the aisles of Acme. At the height of it all, when my mom was living with us as well, I filled two shopping carts at a time. Now I am down to a much more manageable one cart, and I am even organized enough to bring my own shopping bags to the store!

We again have babies in the house, but I’m never going back to ho-hum edibles. Aiden at two has a sophisticated palate and enjoys even spicy foods. I have no reason to think Peter won’t follow suit. I am hoping that delicious and civilized meals will continue to be the norm around here. 

Parenthood is a roller coaster, with dips and soars and, always, times you feel like screaming. But it has been a joy to hang on for the wild ride. And while I may have bid farewell to Mrs. Paul’s forever, the secret ingredient of our dinners—love—remains the same.


  1. Dinner at your home, as well as all of the wonderful meals that you sent my way, was and continues to be, an experience! Love your meals and love the joy of sharing them! Sherri

  2. Thank you!!! Be glad you didn't know me in my cereal nights:-)