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.
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.
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?