By Contributing Mama Karen Palmer Bland
I have some very kind friends who always say to me, “You are super woman! You had 3 kids in less than 3 years, you have a t-shirt business, you do ad agency recruiting, you work on fundraising for your school and you find time to write.”
My stomach turns when I hear this. Sort of like when someone comments on your awesome (and fake) Prada purse – you can’t let them go on thinking it’s the real deal. Right? So when my friends compliment my go-getter-ness, I usually try to smile and say thank you, but more often than not, I tell them my dirty little secret: I DON’T COOK REAL MEALS FOR MY FAMILY.
Dinner at our house consists of store-bought rotisserie chicken, grilled cheeses, noodles with Prego or what I call Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (CBT). CBT consists of lime yogurt, bananas, pickles, grapes, cheese and crackers.
And on special occasions, I order out (or defrost) the all-foodgroups-in-one-course-dinner….PIZZA! My kids love pizza. In the last few years, I have found myself defending pizza – actually promoting the health value. Some people look down at pizza. They consider it “junk food.” I know that my inlaws “don’t do pizza” yet they are quick to eat a buttery grilled cheese. And let’s face it, pizza is grilled cheese with a VEGETABLE people – it’s called a tomato. Or maybe it’s a fruit. But either way, why does pizza get the bad rap?
I feel sorry for my husband, Jeffrey. He grew up in a very traditional family with weekly trips to the grocery store, meal planning and square meals. Jeffrey’s mother still prepares 3-4 course meals for herself and her husband every night. Lamb, veal, brisket, ribs – with a starch and a vegetable and a bundt cake to top it off. And let’s not forget the all-too-often cheese course that usually makes its way to their dinner table each week.
Yes, it’s intimidating. (Although we did have cream cheese on crackers here tonight so perhaps that was a watered down cheese course.) By now, my husband knows to just eat a big (and late) lunch, to tide him over during the yogurt and pita chip dinner at home. Fortunately, as Jeffrey always says, his favorite food is quantity.
I have friends who tell me that their husband would NEVER stand for this – that they HAVE to have their protein and their vegetable and a dessert. But I use the kids as my excuse (and we have three little excuses). They are finicky. They don’t eat many things and they don’t eat the same things. However, we have found common ground with lime yogurt, pizza and waffles. And I force a piece of fruit down their throats every day.
So is it so terrible that I don’t marinate or stew or braise or scallop? (I’m not even sure what “braise” means but I think the chicken salad that I picked up from Whole Foods might include this, so maybe I DO braise!)
I feel a bit guilty. I have a Wolf range, All Clad pots and pans and all the other wedding gift stuff from Williams-Sonoma. (I love that store – very inspiring. Although I didn’t have the heart to keep the crème brulee torcher. That got returned.) But, as I tell everyone, I just don’t have the time or the meal-planning gene. Luckily for now, my kids aren’t old enough to notice that there often is no real difference between breakfast and dinner at our house. And dinner here sort of resembles what they will eat as college students in another 15 years – so perhaps they’re just getting a headstart.