Why I Don’t Cook: A Soup Story

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The hardship of having to feed our children three meals a day, EVERYDAY – unless we’re lucky enough to be able to send them to a birthday party where they’ll be fed the nutritious party staple of pizza and cake – seems to be a common complaint among my mom friends.

Here is why it’s hard for me:

  • I’m not a good cook (perhaps a bit understated)
  • I don’t enjoy the process of cooking
  • My kids do not eat a lot of foods
  • One kid does not eat different foods than the other kids do not eat (that actually  makes sense… read it again)
  • My kids eat dinner at 5:30 and KJ and I would prefer to eat at a more adult hour (read: Anytime the kids are asleep so they can’t bother us) so there is the dilemma of “Do I cook a real meal that the kids won’t eat and give KJ the leftovers?” or “Do I feed the kids the usual crap and then cook the real meal LATER?” (HELL no, once those kids are asleep, my day is done.)
  • Meal planning and preparation take a lot of time and there are 3,962 things I’d rather be doing than meal planning and prep
  • I am very easily distracted from the task of meal-planning
  • Chopping is tedious. (And before you say it, I already have fancy tools like that Mandoline slicer thing and a food processor. I have no idea how to use them and there are 3,963 things I would rather be doing than learning how to use those gadgets.)
  • CLEAN UP

Given all of this, on the rare occasion I decide to make a REAL meal, it goes something like this:

“Hey, I notice that I have some “free time” this afternoon (i.e. no appointments, no scheduling conflicts, kids don’t have to be in ten places at the same time, etc.) and since it’s been three days weeks months since my last real, home-cooked meal, I’ll cook dinner!

“Let me pull out the stacks of recipes and cookbooks that I’ve collected through the years. (Yes, despite the fact that I don’t enjoy cooking, every issue of Real Simple convinces me that THIS is the month I will change. So I rip out the recipes that look delicious, kid-friendly and uncomplicated and keep them on my desk for a few days. Then they move next to the grocery list, so I’ll be reminded of them before I go shopping. Then, eventually, they get filed in the overstuffed recipe folder… which is located directly UNDERNEATH the overstuffed take-out menu folder. )

“Hmmm… what should I make? These 20 versions of chicken parmesan look good and I bet Happy Dude would eat that. The Loud One won’t like the sauce, but I can leave it off of a section. Maybe some type of casserole? Those tend to be crowd-pleasers… especially if I cover it with Ritz crackers or potato chips. Or how about I use the slow-cooker! Yes, the slow-cooker… those recipes always look pretty easy. I remember seeing that whole collection of slow-cooker recipes on that cooking blog I read (shut up); let me just check the Internet.

Side note: We all know THIS IS A BIG MISTAKE. Anytime I have to “check the Internet” for ANY reason, you can bet I’m getting sidetracked for at least 55 minutes. I open Safari and my Yahoo page tells me that Hilary Clinton got emotional during the Benghazi hearing, Natalie Portman’s cranky-looking dancer husband was just hired to run the Paris National Ballet and Justin Timberlake’s new video was released (these were all actual headlines for today). Of course it’s imperative that I investigate all of these headlines further. And while I’m here, I should check my Google Reader. And I should buy the boys new sneakers. And we could use another Thermos. Well.

115 minutes later, I’m back to meal-planning, but I realize that by the time I go to grocery store to buy all the stuff, pick-up someone from school, bring the other one for their check-up and get the birthday present for the friend whose party is tonight, I won’t have time to run the slow-cooker.

Back to square one.

You can start to see the problem, right? I am … let’s just say… unfocused.

Once I’ve decided on a dish and begin to move forward, a whole new set of issues arises.

At this point, I’d like to share with you a story about how the process usually goes once I’ve made my mind about what to make.

A Soup Story

Last week, to celebrate Paula’s (aka Grammy) birthday, a good friend of hers (who happens to be an amazing chef) invited a bunch of us over for a cooking lesson and lunch.

(My first thought was of course, “What time will the cooking part be over and the lunch part start, because that’s when I can make it.” I’M KIDDING. Sort of. Not really.)

But we went. And it was REALLY, REALLY fun. We learned how to use a knife like they do on Top Chef (and no one went to the ER… WIN). We learned that you don’t need potato to make homemade gnocchi. (I’m fairly certain I will never make homemade gnocchi again, but at least I know how!) I learned that I like pesto sauce when it doesn’t have pine nuts in (so it’s more of a not-really-pesto-sauce sauce but whatev). And get this, I learned that FRESH garlic is better than the stuff you can squeeze from the bottle. HUH. Who woulda guessed?

One of the things we made was this INCREDIBLE vegetable and bean soup. It was seriously delicious and not THAT hard to make (so she says). So, a few days later, I decided I was going to make it again. On my own. Without our chef-friend there to help me make it for me.

Hilarity ensued.

After it was all over on Friday afternoon, I sent the following email to my family members and fellow chefs:

So, I was feeling really motivated yesterday and with a free afternoon, I decided to make the soup that we made at on Tuesday.

There is a VERY GOOD REASON why I don’t make soup on a regular basis. EVEN though we just learned how to make this soup on Tuesday.

This is why:

I decided I would do it on a whim and stopped by Fresh Market. I thought for sure I remembered all the ingredients and bought: leeks, butternut squash, zucchini, yellow squash, garlic (FRESH, that is… no squeeze jar for me!) and carrots.

I remembered to put the chicken broth on my list but then simply forgot to buy it.

I was driving home when I remembered the chicken broth and thought, “Well, I’m going back out in an hour so I’ll just grab the chicken broth and make the soup after my appointment.” I also thought it might be smart to check the recipe to see if I was forgetting anything else.

I forgot to check the recipe to see if I was forgetting anything else.

But I DID think to call Lori on my way to the store to ask her and she reminded me about the white beans and all ingredients for the not-really-pesto sauce. RIGHT.

So I went to Stew’s. Got the chicken broth. Got ice cream and coffee and pumpkin muffins. Did not get white beans. (I didn’t forget; they just didn’t have them.)

Thursday Soup = FAIL.

Me, yesterday –> “I will go to Stop and Shop right after spinning tomorrow morning and get the white beans and make it tomorrow.”

Me, this morning –> Drove home immediately after spinning. Forgot to go to Stop and Shop.

At 2:30 pm today, I said, “Damn the beans. I’m going to make the soup without the beans.” GREAT IDEA!

So, I take out all the stuff I bought yesterday and immediately start to use my incredible new knife skills to chop up those leeks. I chopped the heck out of all those leeks. In fact, I chopped up the entire DARK GREEN, TOP PART, putting the white bottom part aside. I chopped the garlic and dropped all of it into the olive oil and turned the heat down to medium-low. Stirred for a few minutes and added carrots.

I started looking at it and thinking this is NOT what our soup looked like the other day. So I finally dug up the recipe and see that it says, “Only use the bottom half, white parts of the leek.”

DOH.

So I scooped the whole mess up and decide to start over. That looked like this:

So, using my incredible new knife skills, I chop the BOTTOM half of the leeks and all new garlic. Heat new olive oil and dump everything in. I do NOT turn the heat down to medium-low.

I turn around to chop carrots and two minutes later, smell burning leeks and garlic.

SHIT.

I take stock in my situation (no pun intended) and decide that I can’t start over so I’m just going to go with it and see what happens. I pour the chicken broth in and this is what it looks like:

YUM, RIGHT????

So, I decided to proceed and at this point, thought, “Well, I can always strain it and just have a very flavorful broth” so what do I do? ADD THE DARK GREEN PARTS OF THE LEEKS BACK IN. Genius, right? Just for flavor?

It now looks like this:

IMG_1546

But wait, get this… I was brave enough to actually taste it and it’s NOT AWFUL! (Meaning, KJ will love it!)

I think with enough parmesan cheese, it might even taste… like mostly bad soup with delicious parmesan cheese on top!

So in sum, this soup is JUST like the soup we made the other day except that I used the wrong part of the leek and burned the hell out of the right part of the leek and there are no beans.

OH and there won’t be any of that delicious not-really-pesto sauce because I forgot to buy basil.

VICTORY!!

PS. I was just about to add the zucchini, but it turns out I didn’t buy a zucchini… I bought a cucumber.

——————————-

So, THIS my friends is why I don’t cook that often. It’s never easy. It’s rarely delicious. And there is ALWAYS a huge, huge mess. Yet, I will continue to tear recipes out of Real Simple and buy cookbooks that look pretty on my shelf. Because I am DREAMER, people. A big, delusional DREAMER.

 

9 responses »

  1. HA! I laughed out loud about buying the cucumber! So hilarious. Cooking is WAY overrated with three little kids around! One won’t eat pasta, one won’t eat sauce, one won’t eat meatballs…. Infuriating! We have the same conversation every night,”When we were little, we had to eat everything that we were given…” Are we sooo much nicer than our parents, or just more ridiculous? I’m not sure which…

  2. I’m happy to come up and try to cook the soup for you – it sounds yummy! Can you send me the recipe Mac? The funny thing is right before I got this email I was on the phone with Crockpot customer support b/c we just got one and I don’t think it works – well it didn’t work when Jeff tried to make something with it last weekend. Anyway, sadly I feel the same way. It is still on my list to make a weekly planner of meals…one of these days.

  3. You lost me at Cook.

    From: Who Needs a Nap? <comment-reply@wordpress.com> Reply-To: Who Needs a Nap? <comment+pf00t3x8sz_yk-hy7o_hrz0@comment.wordpress.com> Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2013 11:14:16 -0500 To: The CDM Group <crosenthal@cdmny.com> Subject: [New post] Why I Dont Cook: A Soup Story

    Krissy Mac posted: “The hardship of having to feed our children three meals a day, EVERYDAY unless were lucky enough to be able to send them to a birthday party where theyll be fed the nutritious party staple of pizza and cake seems to be a common complaint among my mo”

  4. Sounds so familiar. Especially when I was first married. They told me to press the eggplant to get the water out. So I did, I put some heavy books on top of the whole eggplant, but no water came out. No one told me to cut it first! The best thing we can make is “RESERVATIONS”!!

  5. I knew there was more to us than our DNA.. Cooking dinner is not in my vocabulary. Mom did it all and I didn’t have to, so now I don’t know how!!

  6. I never cooked soup until another mom mentioned pre-cut veggies at Trader Joe’s. Who has the time? I think that soup looks delicious. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Here is what I learned about cooking vs. baking: cooking-you can totally wing it. Add whatever crap you have in the house, if you miss ingredients, you will remember next time you make it. If you like mushrooms, put it on top of everything and stick in the oven. Makes eveything taste better. Baking: You have to be exact. That is why I don’t bake much. Wait, aren’t you making brownies with my kids right now? You rock!

    Oh, the eggplant comment! Hilarious! I would have totally done the same thing!

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