The Evolving Culinary Stages of my Life – this far

Our lives evolve – we grow, we learn, we move on through the stages of life from being a child, teen, learning to “Adult”, relationships, parenthood, being an Empty Nester and then hopefully – being a Senior.  I may have missed a couple of stages in there, but generally speaking a lot of us experience these life phases.

I had this realization the other day that my world in my kitchen has also “evolved” over the times.  Let me explain…….

As a child – my main recollection about food is having to eat boiled eggs with “marmite soldiers” every-single-day for breakfast.   This may contribute to my huge dislike for the taste of eggs  (well this is what I attribute it to anyway).  However, as a child I didn’t have to plan meal choices, I just had to eat what was served up.  Looking back, maybe that was easiest stage of all, but of course I didn’t realize that at the time.

As a teenager/young adult at College it was all about trying to stretch my measly-pittance-of-a-grant money out for as long as I could.  What was the cheapest option that would make my stomach feel the fullest for the longest? This was the question I asked myself daily as I’m sure still happens for many teens and young adults now.  A Cornish Pasty was only 75 pence (yes this was a while ago), and if I got a Coke I could sit at the local pub and socialize with my peers for an hour or more for £1 – bargain!

Then I entered the food stage of my life that I enjoyed the most which was during the “relationship” phase.  Let’s hear it for Dinner Parties!  Spending my entire day off prepping food for the evenings extravaganza – mutual friends coming over, enjoying a few bevies and a yummy two or three course meal prepared by my good self.  I had no other responsibilities at the time so spending the day cooking was easily achieved.  There were catastrophe’s for sure – like the time I grabbed a packet of chocolate powder mix instead of tomato seasoning mix for Spaghetti Bolognese – not one of my masterpieces for sure.  But mostly, using the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbooks as my guide, we would thoroughly enjoy great food gatherings with good friends.  The added beauty of this wonderful stage was that my guy (now hubby) always cleaned up after me – I have always, and still do strongly dislike the cleaning-up part.

That fun and social stage was closely followed by entering into the world of Parenthood and feeding my girls whilst trying to appease their food choices, and also prepare a balanced diet to care for their growing little bodies.  As the kids got older it became increasingly more difficult getting them to eat what I’d taken my time to prepare.  The constant rejection and dislike of my cuisine led me to come to hate planning and preparing meals.

Picture this – I’d be preparing the dinner and one of our girls would say “What’s for Dinner Mom?” to which I would answer with excitement “Thai Chicken” or whatever I was preparing at the time.  This was promptly met with groans or sulks.  At dinner, everyone sat down, and then came the long faces and scowls and crossed arms as if to say “I’m not eating this”.  This was closely followed by the stand-off between Dad and one of two said kids of – “you will sit at the table until you’ve eaten at least 1/2 of it”.  My youngest would hold out endlessly and quite happily entertain herself playing “horses” with her fingers or whatever todays game choice was.

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At 16 years old, my eldest daughter was making lots of junk food choices now she had some spare work dollars and figured that this was way better than Mom’s food.  One day whilst at Costco I came upon what I perceived to be a great book called “Skinny Bitch” that talked about making smart and healthy food choices and was aimed at the young ladies of the world.  I quickly bought it after reading the back cover blurb, and rushed it home to Morgan with the thought that the days of her believing Twizzlers were a food group were over.  In hindsight,  if I had only read the Chapter on ‘how poorly we treated the animals of the world’ I may have saved myself the last couple of years of living with an avid Vegetarian – or should I say, Pescatarian – she ate fish.  To make my life as the home cook even more complicated, Laura was a full-on carnivore that hated fish and loved spicy food.  Needless to say her sister hated anything spicy.  The last 2 years of them both living at home was shall I say “complicated” in the cooking department.  This consequently lead to an even stronger dislike for cooking on my part.

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Now in the Empty Nester stage I find life in the kitchen a little easier, and when Mike is away with his work, it is definitely the utmost easiest.  I am a super lazy cook now, and if I can make a meal that will feed us for a week, I’m happy.  The criteria being that it must have only one or two “stages” to the preparation and cooking of the meal – no more, keep it simple.  Fortunately  I also work in a fantastic restaurant where I get a discount on their meals.  Perfect, I don’t need to cook or clean up – life is good!

However, I would rather my hubby is home and with this I need to start working getting back into the “relationship” stage of my culinary career.  He is after all 99% of the time hugely appreciative of my efforts.  So I should move back into loving to hang out in the kitchen right?  Anyone got any ideas how to ease me back into this phase and out of my “lazy cooking” stage?  Help please?

 

 

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Saying the right thing

 

I wonder sometimes if it’s just me that worries about these things – what I’m trying to say is that I’m constantly worrying about saying the right thing, especially to those I love hugely.

Here is a brief glimpse into how my life has unfolded as a parent whilst trying to communicate with my kids through the different stages of their lives: –

Baby talk  It began from birth – without even a moments thought put into it – we find ourselves immediately trying to say the right thing to our newborns in the right way, with the right tone. Your baby responds to your voice and your mood, so we say things in a soft lulling timbre to keep our newborns calm and content. ahhhh…… a peaceful happy baby = blissful times.  “Aahh, Mama loves you, goo goo, ga ga” (said in gentle lilting tone)

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Having said this, one cold night whilst living in the North of Vancouver Island, my hubby was away with work and I was trying to emanate calmness through my voice to my way-over-tired-5-month-old-seemingly-unconsolable-baby.   On the outside I was trying to rock her gently and say sweet and loving words to calm her while on the inside I was yelling “go to sleep Morgan – arghhh I’m so tired!!!”  Two hours of unsuccessful appeasing efforts later,  I called my neighbour who came to my rescue by singing and rocking my baby to sleep in all of 2 minutes!  Morale of the story – you can’t fake it with your babies – they know what’s going on inside you!

Toddler talk  The word “no” can lead to an all out full on out-of-body experience for the toddler in your life. Therefore we find different ways to wrap that word “no” using distraction, bargaining, and also offering options. But we change what we really want to say “no, of course you can’t jump off that 30 foot bridge to see if you can fly” to something that will lead to the type of behaviour we would like to see from our kids – for example, by instead saying “here’s a super-cool-Superman-rock-wall you can jump off!.

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I certainly remember an all-out-throw yourself on the floor-melt-down in the grocery store by one of my girls where I was heard uttering “just you wait until I see your Mother and tell her about your behaviour!”  This I believe was said more for the benefit of the judgemental shoppers watching than my child!

Teenage talk  The teenage years turns into the walking-on-egg-shells at times. Some parents might define it as working your way through a verbal “minefield”.  The majority of parents I talk to say their kid can be in their bedroom by themselves for hours and then come out and just grunt – this making trying to have a conversation to get a peek into your child’s life akin to stepping into a full-on battlefield.  Some parents try to talk in what they think is their teenagers’  language saying things like “s’up bro“.   This just leads to the rolling of the eyes depicting acute embarrassment of your son/daughter.  It’s a tricky stage for sure.

A troubled teen peers through his hair.

There was a period of several days in a row in my then 14 year old daughters’ life where she was super sarcastic and snarky with any interactions with me the week preceding Halloween.  It was so random and strange as normally she was pretty easy to get along.  So bizarre?  However, on the night of October 31st that year,  I received a frantic call from one of her friends asking me to come and help out as the police were trying to haul her off to the Drunk Tank (police confinement for those being severely intoxicated in public)  with a shot-glass-on-a-chain-necklace decorating her massively inebriated personage.

After many days and weeks of replaying the whole incident over and over in my head, I concluded that huge acting out and being basically a “nasty piece of work” attitude from my teenager,  was a prelude to doing something she knew she shouldn’t be doing.  All part of learning the life lessons of communicating with your teenager right?

I now find myself in the “Empty Nest” stage.  The afore-mentioned eldest daughter is in Toronto and I probably see her 2-3 times a year and I miss her terribly.  (We laugh about the teenage incident now).  My youngest daughter is 45 minutes away and we cross paths at least once a week and we have many texts between.  I am very cognizant of the fact that I have two very smart and independent daughters, who are now out in the big wide world living their own lives.  Therefore I am now trying diligently to not ask a million questions of them and let go of those proverbial “apron strings” whilst also trying to figure out how to end any telephone conversation so they don’t get fed up with me calling!  The fact is, that they says they love chatting to me and texting with me so I should just go with that right?  But then my brain gets going “am I overdoing it and annoying her?” and second guessing my every word with them.  I wish I could stop this inner-voice-chatter going on in my crazy head, and just listen to them when they say they love spending time and chatting with me.  Maybe in time, whilst evolving into my new stage in life I will.

For now – my girls are always on my mind and in my heart as I’m sure is the same for a lot of you out there in the “Empty Nester World”.  Maybe it’s just who I am – a worrier of “saying the right thing”. Maybe nothing will change…….. stay tuned.