I don’t often toot my own horn, mostly because I misplaced it years ago, right about the same time my Weight Watchers paraphernalia went AWOL, but I’m going to take this opportunity to quietly toot for a minute and if you bear with me, you’ll understand why. Here we go:
When it comes to a holiday, birthday or any special occasion that warrants a big meal, I’m your man. Or woman. “It”. Whatever.
I can rock those things out like no one’s business, but I especially like Christmas Eve dinner. It’s my favorite because I just love everything to do with that season and regardless of the stress involved, I really do enjoy preparing that particular meal. Except for that one year when I prepared Christmas Eve dinner for about 15 people and then Christmas brunch the next morning and then Christmas dinner for about 18 people and by night’s end, I was an incoherent, exhausted, stressed-out blubbering puddle of nervous breakdown. But we don’t talk about Mommy’s sad time anymore.
I usually start weeks ahead of time, figuring out a menu, budget, grocery list, seating chart, table settings, keynote speaker, etc. I am a whiz at multi-tasking for this event, not to mention responsible, dependable, and reliable. I’m a Goodyear tire, just a bit rounder with a little more wear on my tread.
I have plenty of appetizers that are cold when they’re supposed to be cold and hot when they’re supposed to be hot. And because it’s an unwritten law somewhere, at least one appetizer has enough garlic in it to peel the paint off the walls. Feel free to breathe around me because I’ll be eating it too.
Our main course consisted of chicken cordon bleu for several years but as our extended family kept getting larger and larger, I couldn’t make chicken cordon bleu and keep my sanity all at the same time so last year, I switched to a roast and that was pretty well received, I believe. Unless everyone was lying to me in which case, thank you.
The main course and all the side dishes are all served hot and at the same time and they consist of healthy items as well as indulgent items, including my once-a-year macaroni and cheese that has ten pounds of gourmet cheese, 7,921 calories a serving and costs upwards of a car payment to make. The desserts are all made by me and there’s a lot of them because I am a firm believer in throwing caution to the wind for the holidays and gorging myself until I burst. Too bad it’s not Christmas all year round.
Our table is set with red tablecloths, pretty gold chargers, ivory plates that match, silverware wrapped in pretty ribbon, name cards decorated by the kids and small glass votives running down the length of our table.
By the way, did I ever tell you the story of how our nephew bumped into a votive and spilled a whole bunch of hot wax onto our brand new 42″ ultra-modern, flat screen, behemoth of high definition, otherwise known as Nate’s TV? Surprisingly enough, Nate remained calm, did not lapse into a coma and ultimately saved his beloved from the next day’s garbage heap using a hair dryer and a damp cloth. And other than a tiny facial tick any time the incident is mentioned, you’d never know he even went through that ordeal. Good thing our nephew is cute. And yeah, yeah, yeah, I shouldn’t have had the votives there in the first place but they were pretty and I’m all about pretty at the holidays.
So yes, I am bragging about a stellar meal I make once a year and that is only because the other 1,092 meals I make for remainder of the year can best be described as BLECH. And if anyone can come up with a better way to describe visually unappealing, physically unhealthy food that is dumped onto chipped and scratched Pflaltzgraff and thrown onto a table laden with crumbs and crumpled napkins, spotted glasses, yesterday’s homework, that morning’s breakfast bowl and an occasional dirty sock, and is then consumed in thirty seconds or less, knock yourself out.
I am just not one of those women who can dive into my pantry at any given moment and whip up a healthy, hearty, low fat, protein enriched, fiber rich, guaranteed-to-keep-you-regular meal in thirty minutes. First of all, there is no such thing as a thirty minute meal in my house unless you count the time it takes to drive to Mark’s Pizzeria and back and second of all, the only staples in my house are in my actual stapler, the very same stapler that is not allowed under any circumstances to leave the confines of my office but was found by me under my daughter’s bed. Unless you count a package of three month old bologna, a box of Cheerios, a can of tuna fish and a bottle of corn syrup as staples. If so, then I’m good to go.
I don’t know how other moms do it. I can’t seem to get my act together and serve a substantial, healthy dinner on a daily basis. It seems like I go grocery shopping around the clock and yet everyone yells THERE’S NOTHING TO EAT IN THIS HOUSE immediately upon opening either the fridge or the pantry, including me. That means I’m yelling at myself, which is another issue entirely. It doesn’t help that our schedules are bipolar and I’m too busy figuring out how to be in two different places simultaneously to worry about whether we’re properly consuming from the food pyramid, unless the pyramid is shaped like an octagon and contains categories like grease, fat, carbs and the all important ready-in-two-minutes-or-less-in-the-microwave.
And nothing ticks me off more than when I actually do manage to make a somewhat healthy meal and one or both of my kids won’t eat it because it either doesn’t look right or it’s touching something else on their plate or the sky is blue that day. I’ve learned that just because my kids eat something today does not guarantee that they will eat it tomorrow or ever again, unless I don’t have any ingredients on hand to make it and then it is the only thing they want to eat. And don’t even get me started on my husband who knows full well I’m making a meal and calls me five minutes before we’re supposed to sit down to tell me he won’t be home in time and to save him a plate. This is the same man who will get home an hour later and then proceed to eat a frozen pizza instead of the plate I prepared because he doesn’t do leftovers.
Insanity – party of one? Your table is ready.
I try to make sure I’ve got spaghetti, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, Tony’s pizza, boxed mac’n cheese and peanut butter on hand at all times because they’re quick and easy and 99% of the time, quick and easy is our only option when we’ve got approximately 5 minutes to inhale dinner before jumping in the car to wherever we need to get to that night. That’s only if Helena doesn’t need to wear cleats that night because if she does, we’ll only have 3½ minutes so as to allow enough time to find the cleats, pick the knot out of the laces, tie them up and shout HURRY UP AND GET A MOVE ON OR WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE at least three times. I don’t remember the last meal I actually chewed. And I’d be lying if I said we’ve never had cereal for dinner even though cereal rarely requires a lot of chewing. Nope. Never happened in this house.
I also try to keep apples or bananas or strawberries or carrots or salad or something green on hand, so that there is a healthy snack available or a potential side dish ready and waiting. But I ask you, what good are apples when unbeknownst to me they are transformed into an apple crisp by a fourteen year old sous chef whilst I am otherwise occupied in my office?
Am I the only one that finds herself in this predicament?
Someone throw me a low calorie, low fat, bran muffin and give me a hug.