For the love of all that is good and holy and remotely edible. I swear to you that I can’t get a break with my attempts at preparing decent food–ever.
A little back story: I am undergoing a grocery-related spending smackdown. During this period of self-induced suffering abstinence from overspending and over-indulgence, I try to buy only what I’ll specifically need to produce a family meal. For me, this means no side-aisle wandering in Costco, and certainly no “ooh–that looks yummy–I should get it and try it in…17 days.”
In an effort to look upon this smackdown favorably, we call it a “Pantry Challenge.” In theory, I purchase only fresh fruits and vegetables and carefully selected proteins; pre-planning our meals allows me to pair these items with the canned goods or frozen foods we already have on hand. Brilliant, right? This is what I should always do, right?
I guess it all depends on when dinner is and whether or not the meal needs to withstand a 2 HOUR waiting period.
Tonight is usually Awana for our children. While wonderful and profitable for their little hearts, leaving the house at the exact time we normally eat is a struggle. It requires speed eating, and this sadly involves things like chicken nuggets, sloppy joe’s, and hot dogs. I know. Delish.
To compound my struggles on this evening, our son’s football coach [that’d be my husband] moved practice to tonight [we usually don’t have practice–we have AWANA as previously stated]–at 5:30 [HELLO!] due to conflicts in the schedule and the impending doom of Daylight Savings. Seven year olds with five weeks of football experience + playing in darkness = tears, bloody noses, and angry dads-who-think-they-should-be-the-coach.
SO. Tonight was the perfect storm of kitchen woe, chef-angst, and general chaos. I didn’t know exactly when my husband would be coming home [that’s another issue] or exactly when he wanted to leave for football. Furthermore, I thought practice was at six, so I didn’t put the chicken in until almost 5 pm. It was at this precise moment in history that my husband called me to say, “I’m on my way home–I’ll be there in ten minutes and we’ll just have to have cereal or something fast because we’re running late.”
Do you see where this is headed?
In that instant, my Top Chef [*cough*] menu of breaded and baked chicken breasts, Parisian salad and french bread:
1. …was not going to happen unless I could unearth my blow torch to cook it in Jetson-like time
2. …was going to be upstaged by Post Raisin Bran in a vintage box
3. …might possibly end up inside “someone’s” pillowcase in a “goodhearted attempt” to convey that clear communication cannot be over-rated in marriage.
As was indicated in our phone conversation, my dear loving husband chose option #2 above while standing up next to the kitchen sink, eyes trained on the clock like Jack Bauer, commanding our son to find his cleats and get his water bottle. With all gentle loving-kindness, of course.
I stood in the midst of the frenzy, watching them suit up and leave the house just as the timer for my chicken rang.
Fast forward to their return home accompanied by ravenous hunger. Here we are, again, in the kitchen trying to resurrect the food that was meant to give us so much joy and nutrition at 5:15. The salad came together decently and the chicken re-heated in the microwave [you’re jealous, aren’t you.] However, the french bread was left standing for those 8 hours and was now the consistency of Dutch Clunt in a Minnesota ice storm. Rock. Hard.
I steadied the mass on a cutting board and watched in horror as the serrated knife skidded off the bony crust and onto my left index finger, breaking the skin but, thankfully, not drawing blood.
My husband and I sparred, in jest, over whose fault this was: his for rushing dinner and settling for cereal? or mine for not better protecting the bread during the 14 hour wait.
We finally resorted to digging the barely-edible insides out from the brick-like loaf and smearing them through butter. My son watched all this happening and asked if my husband would cut him a piece. His response?
I can’t. I don’t have a chainsaw.