Jun 10, 2013

Food Woes

6/10/2013 — cori
Confession:  I HATE meal planning.

However, I really enjoy cooking.  I derive great pleasure from serving the meals I prepare for the people I love.  It makes me happy.  I don't care how long it takes to cook a meal, just someone please tell me what to cook!

But planning those meals.  That does not make me happy.  I simply become brain dead when it comes time to plan what we're going to eat for the week.  My mind is blank.  A void nothingness in the hollow of my head.  Food?  What's food?  I kid you not when I say, "nothing comes to mind".  It is literal.  I have a problem.

The Mom is typically the one in charge of this aspect of the household.  I loathe this particular responsibility.  Almost as much as I loathe cleaning my bathroom (however, I clean my tub each day...what does that say about me?)  But I digress....ahh  yes, the meal planning.

When we first got married, we were ignorant enough to think all you needed to do what get 2 boxes of Hamburger Helper, 2 boxes of Tuna Helper and 2 jars of Ragu and we were home free for 6 out of the 7 meals that week.  If we were lucky we might could even spring for Taco Bell on that last night with what we saved on our grocery bill.   Ahhhh, those were were the days.  Ignorance is bliss.

Then we found out what was in our food; how our meat was processed and what all those chemicals are that they put in all those boxes of food that last on the shelves for months and years on end.  Then we had to say goodbye to our old faithful friend, Hamburger Helper.

Thus began my journey into looking through hundreds of cookbooks.  Watching hours of Food Network TV.  Perusing the internet for how to cook the perfect pot roast.  I needed meal ideas people and I needed them fast.  What better place to go than to the horse's mouth?  In my case, that would be my children.

I don't know why I even ask them anymore.  It's always the same suggestion week in and week out: pizza and tacos.   Since our palate needs a little more variety than that, I am left sitting at the table with all my cookbooks open and my list empty.  The problem is I have to 'be in the mood' to cook in order to be creative enough to come up with some meal ideas.

Each week, miraculously, a meal plan evolves.  It's hard.  The process adds at least 5 new gray hairs to my head on a weekly basis.  I moan.  I give huffy breaths.  I pout.  Nothing makes this job go away or get easier.  I have fantasies about having my own private chef one day.

This story actually does have a point.  And it is, with all my 'creative menu planning' sometimes I forget where I got my recipe from.  Ooops.  That could be problematic.  Take today for instance.  I knew we were having some sort of salmon and pasta dish, but I had no clue where in the world I saw that recipe. Which cookbook did I 'borrow' it from?  Did I see it on a Food Network show?  Is it a recipe I own or just heard about?  Oh no.  I need to make dinner now and I have no clue what to do.   I panic.  I start looking through all 10 cookbooks I own.  I look through my recipe card box.  No luck.  I text Chuck who's in a meeting and has no clue what I'm talking about.  No help there.  Man....now I'm going to have to improvise.  I'm all for improvising....but not on food.  I'm not that confident.  I need a recipe and I need it now!

For the life of me I can't picture the cookbook I looked at on Friday when I wrote down the ingredients I would need to buy at the store.  Why didn't I just jot down the name of the cookbook next to the meal when I wrote it down?  And by the way, that's another thing I suck at.  I almost NEVER cook the meal that is written down to have on a particular day on that day.  Just doesn't happen.  Remember, I have to 'be in the mood'.  Many a day I'm not 'in the mood' to cook this or that, so I just end up shifting my whole meal plan around.  It's just a suggestion anyways...at least that's what I always tell the kids.

Okay, so back to my story.  I decide to peruse through my cookbooks yet a second time.  And as luck would have it, I found the meal!  My previous error was that I looked in the index under "salmon" when it was not allocated as a "salmon" dish, rather a "pasta" dish with salmon.

Surprise, surprise, my daughter wants to go to culinary school so she can be a chef when she grows up.  Wonder why she decided that?  Maybe seeing her mother in the throes of panic and mayhem when meal planning is brought up may have secretly urged her on to find professional answers to life's toughest questions:  "What's for dinner mom?" and "When are we gonna eat?"

Maybe I just might get my private chef afterall.....

What Haiti Taught Me

6/10/2013 — cori
When I think back to my trip, several things stand out that I don't want to forget.  These are my biggest take aways from the wonderful gift that was my trip to Haiti:

The People.  They are amazing.  The joy they have defies their circumstance.  That is their gift and the lesson they passed on to me.

Children are children wherever  you go.  They crave affection, play, fun and laughter.  The kids were the most accepting and welcoming.  They would take your hand and walk along with you or want you to carry them, no matter where you were going.

We visited a deaf community in the village of Leveque.  These people were so kind and just thrilled that someone would take the time to come visit them.  They kept signing "God Bless You" and "I love you" over and over again.  They warmed my heart the most and I feel I gave them nothing but a smile in return.  I was so humbled.

Meeting strangers was so much fun for me.  I met so many people on this journey from Americans to Haitians.  I absolutely love hearing people's stories.  I learned that I'm a good listener and that I can make friends just for being me, not just because I'm the kids' mom or Chuck's wife, or my parent's daughter.  No one knew me for the roles I play in my daily life, but for who I was at the core and chose to befriend me anyways.  That was huge for me.

I learned that I'm a very deep, intense, quiet person by nature.  I've tried to not be this person for so long since I perceived that it wasn't a desirable quality.  Everyone likes an out-going, extroverted person so much more it seems.  And it's not that I don't love to talk, I do, but I learned I'm not good at initiating conversations, especially shallow small-talk (but I'm learning and slowly improving).  If someone were to come up and start talking with me, I could talk their ear off.  But I'm equally comfortable not talking to anyone for hours and just basking in the beauty of nature and communing with God in my soul.  I came to accept this about myself.  It is freeing to be true to who you are and not try to be what you think others want.  Crazy that I'm 40 and just now learning this lesson...better late than never, I guess.

Love costs pain sometimes.  Giving and serving can be painful.  It was painful and hard to spend hours in the overbearing heat painting, digging and walking from house to house.  It was painful to my heart to see the living conditions of so many and so many orphaned children. You leave a part of your heart with each child you play with or hold and with each person you connect with.

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