Category Archives for "Food"

I would bathe in alfredo sauce if given the chance …

Remember way back when? When Valentine’s Day meant you got high from the pungent scent of roses delivered that afternoon? When you showered and shaved and waxed and plucked? And then troweled your face with makeup and used a curling iron and flat iron and hair spray, right before you shimmied into a brand new dress and admired your brand new high heeled pumps? All for a romantic evening at a fancy restaurant with cocktails and a steak dinner and a decadent chocolate dessert that the both of you shared?

Me neither.

And for the record, the day I share a decadent chocolate dessert will be the day I share my actual weight with a real, live, human being.

Nate and I did go to Toronto for Valentine’s Day once years ago. We saw Phantom of the Opera and Nate gave me a beautiful diamond necklace and it was very romantic.

Sigh.

That was before we had two kids and two mortgages. Before my waist relocated to another time zone.

Before I required nothing short of a court order to shave and wear heels.

Now, the only things that separate Valentine’s Day from every other day of the year are the cards we exchange after dinner. If we’re feeling really romantic, we might give each other a big smooch in front of the kids so they can screech UGH, GROSS! PUKE! I’M GONNA HURL right before they cover their eyes and run screaming from the room for fear of prolonged exposure to ushy, gushy, mushy toxins.

Then the moment passes and Nate and I logon to our respective computers and call it a night.

This Valentine’s Day, as I was scrubbing and scouring and mopping our entire downstairs and trying not to pass out from my own stench, Nate decided to shock me into a stupor by declaring that he intended to grocery shop and prepare dinner. And not just his infamous “hamburger and noodles” consisting of 80% lean hamburger, macaroni, a bucket of salt and a myocardial infarction.

No, he was going to make fettuccine alfredo with chicken. And garlic bread. And a salad.

I stood there, dripping grimy sweat from every single one of my pores and briefly wondered if Nate had hit his head that morning and if so, what exactly should I do to ensure I didn’t interfere with his concussion? Because quite honestly, if he had morphed into an Anderson Cooper sundae and I had morphed into a spoon, I couldn’t have been happier.

And yes, I’m aware of the AC rumors and no, I don’t care because I’m perfectly content to live in denial. It’s always sunny there with no humidity and my thighs don’t rub against each other EVER.

.

valentines-day-flowers

These are the flowers Nate bought me while grocery shopping. I think Helena picked them out.

Yes, he actually took Helena with him to a grocery store. Voluntarily.

I wish he’d hit his head more often.

In a good way, of course.

Who do I talk to about that?

Valentine's dinner_1

This is Nate before he started cooking. He looks so calm and relaxed.

That’s white paint on his shoulder because he had been priming our master bathroom that morning.

I bet that’s where he hit his head.

In the bathroom, not on his shoulder. You can’t smack your head against your shoulder hard enough to give you a concussion, can you?

.

.

.

For future reference, no … you cannot. You can, however, give yourself whiplash.

Motrin, anyone?

Anyone?

Valentine's dinner_1

He’s cute, isn’t he?

I just love him.

But I hate that he looks so much younger than me. It’s not fair.

IT’S NOT FAIR.

Maybe I should go hit my head. Then I wouldn’t care anymore.

Except that I’d have to hit it every day for the rest of my life and that would get old, just like me.

LIFE IS NOT FAIR.

nate-cooking-dinner_2

This is Nate twenty minutes later, after I asked him to smile for the 17th time because I could not figure out my manual settings on my camera.

He doesn’t look relaxed anymore.

He looks a little psychotic.

It also looks like he’s got a Gumby thing going on, with his head about ready to explode, presumably because it has sucked all of the muscle and fat from his thighs, causing his nether regions to move due south for the winter.

Gosh, I hope they come back soon.

And for crying out loud, somebody shut that water off behind him before I scratch my eyes out. For the love of God, I can’t stand to have water just run needlessly.

Can’t.stand.it.

Stop it.  Stop it.  Stop it. Stop it.  Stop it.  Stop it. Stop it.  Stop it.  Stop it.

OH MY GOD, WHERE’S MY HAPPY PLACE?

garlic-bread

There it is!

This is the garlic bread Nate made for me.

Wonder what everyone else is going to have?

nate-cooking-dinner_3

I don’t have any photos of the meal in process because my camera and I have a mutual I HATE YOUR STUPID GUTS relationship.

But this is the final result. Doesn’t look too appetizing but you know what? It tasted pretty damn good. I think it was all of that I DIDN’T HAVE TO COOK IT that made it taste so delicious.

I love that he made me dinner.

You know what would make it taste even better?

If he served it up unexpectedly on a boring old Monday night in the middle of July, far removed from any holiday, birthday, anniversary or apology.

With a big heaping of JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT mixed in.

Don’t you think?

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Remember the bane of my existence? I need to find a new one.

Remember my cast iron skillet? The one that beat me down and made my cry until I was just a shadow of my former self, the one that prevented me from making the best home fries on the face of this planet and thus having a truly fulfilled life?

I didn’t throw it out because I didn’t want my garbage man to get a hernia. I hear they hurt something awful.

I didn’t blow it up because while I found some dynamite at a local black market, they wouldn’t accept MasterCard and as usual, I didn’t have any cash on me.

I didn’t run over it with the Durango because Nate wouldn’t let me.

It’s alive and well and living in my oven. And if it had knees, I’d tell it to drop on them and worship the ground my mother-in-law walks on because if not for her, it would be dying a slow, agonizing,  corroded, rusty, miserable death at the center of the earth’s core, provided I didn’t get too tired digging. Otherwise, it would have been tossed out with last week’s trash, the hell with my garbage man’s groin.

My mother-in-law came over to show me how to whip that skillet’s ass. Figuratively, because much like the knees, I don’t think it has an ass.

Why can’t I be more like my skillet?

My mother-in-law whipped my skillet’s figurative ass because she is very laid back, relaxed, informal and easy going and her nature manifests itself in her seasoning method. She poured buckets of olive oil in my skillet, swished it around willy nilly and slopped it up with a bunch of napkins, all while chatting with Helena about school and gymnastics and cheering on her splits and cartwheels. Helena’s splits and cartwheels, that is. My mother-in-law doesn’t do splits and cartwheels, unless she’s holding out on me. What a sight that would be! I’ll have to ask her.

I’ve got a very laid back, relaxed, informal, easy going nature as well, except that it’s disguised as tense, rigid, anxious and anal-retentive. When I season, I pour a small, measured amount of oil into the skillet and carefully and methodically wipe it all around with a clean cloth, making certain to cover every last inch with a thin, even coverage of oil, lest my world come crashing down on me because there’s more oil on the left side than on the right, so FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, HELENA, KNOCK IT OFF WITH THE HANDSTANDS ALREADY BECAUSE I CAN’T DEAL WITH THEM WHEN I’VE GOT MY HANDS FULL TRYING TO KEEP THE UNIVERSE FROM IMPLODING DUE TO LOPSIDED COVERAGE.

OK?

I don’t think I have to tell you that my method wasn’t working, hence The Bane of My Existence moniker.

Thanks to my mother-in-law’s casual, laid back style, I now have a nicely seasoned skillet in which I made home fries the other night which, for the first time ever, did not morph into a brick of scorched, burnt-on ick commonly referred to in this house as YOU SERIOUSLY EXPECT ME TO EAT THAT? The power washer and sand blaster that I had on stand by were ultimately not needed which made me so happy, I didn’t even care that Nate forgot I had eyes in the back of my head and absconded with them into the garage. I made home fries that didn’t make anyone hurl so go forth and blast away, Nate! You’re welcome!

My cast iron skillet got itself whupped by a mild mannered grandmother of seven and now it falls to me to keep it in line by sloshing and slopping olive oil all over it in a haphazard, disorderly, messy manner and pretend that it doesn’t make my vascular system twist itself up into one gigantic knot and burrow through my ear. But under no circumstances will I let my skillet see me hesitate or flinch or shudder or have a seizure, no matter what’s oozing out of my ear, because it can smell fear. So I suck it up, grit my teeth, and slosh and slop away, all the while muttering YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME.

I simply ignore my family’s stares. They have no idea what I go through.

Once I finish the seasoning and my veins and arteries are friends again, I return the skillet to my oven, until next time.

I’m all for positive reinforcement so every so often, I will pass by the oven, open the door a smidge and remind it who’s boss by yelling WHO’S YOUR DADDY?

Just in case it forgets.

September 22, 2008

The bane of my existence (at the current moment)

I always wanted a cast iron skillet. I feel a kinship with them because they are so basic and necessary and heavy. I’m basic and necessary and heavy. Well, I’m basic and heavy, anyway. Necessary is debatable, depending on the mood of my immediate family. Don’t ask them today.

I’d watch cast iron skillets being used constantly on the Food Network by people who know what they’re doing and I’d think if only I had a cast iron skillet, I too could know what I’m doing and be a great cook. Or chef. Whatever. A cast iron skillet is the only thing keeping me from getting my own cooking show. That, and the fact that I rarely cook anything but pasta and chicken.

But you know what? When it comes right down to it, I don’t want my own cooking show. I don’t want to be on TV and have ten extra pounds added to my face. I do that just fine in the privacy of my own home. All I really want to do is make the perfect home fries. In my 41 years on this earth, I have yet to master that dish and I thought a cast iron skillet would be the answer to all my problems. Problems of a potato nature, to be specific. Because I don’t think cast iron will help my adult onset acne or hormonal surges or razor burn. But if I can make perfect home fries, I can deal with a hormonal wig out or two and some stubbly bumps and lead a relatively happy life.

There’s something to be said for setting the bar really low.

I’ve wanted a cast iron skillet forever and two months ago, I broke down and actually bought one. It’s made by Emeril Lagasse. Was that my first mistake? Should I have gotten another brand? I just thought that if Emeril had his face on it, it was bound to be good because he doesn’t strike me as the type that would sell out. Then again, I do periodically vacation at the Land of Denial where I am always a size six.

I did my research about how to cook in, and clean up, a cast iron skillet because I always do research before spending any money on anything. Why I always wind up with crap is beyond me but I think it has something to do with the universe hating me. Not that I’m paranoid. Because I’m not. But even if I was, it wouldn’t matter because being paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Keep that in mind that next time the universe decides to get a burr up its ass and smack you upside the head when no one is looking.

I dragged the skillet down the aisle to the register, happily paid for it and then dragged it to my car and heaved it into the trunk and drove straight home, excited to get to work on it. I wrenched my back wrestling it out of my trunk and lugged it into my kitchen and hoisted it onto my counter at which point I had to sit down and wait for the bright lights to stop blurring my vision and the sweat to evaporate off my body because I didn’t want to break my own rule of never doing anything when I am blind or sweaty.

Once I was dry and could see, I went about seasoning my skillet. I lighted rinsed it with water with no soap because all the websites declare that true aficionados of cast iron skillets do not use soap and I wanted to be an aficionado because I’d never been one before and it sounded important. But let me tell you, being an aficionado didn’t come easy to me because I really had to work quite hard to get over my mental thing about not using dish soap on stuff that not only touches my food but cooks it as well. I really don’t like to even think about not using dish soap unless I’m in my happy place because otherwise it makes me twitch and throw up a little in my mouth and unfortunately, my happy place is closed for repairs at the moment.

***shudder, heave, twitch, twitch, twitch, pass out***

Let’s move on.

Then I wiped it dry with a dish towel and stuck it in a 200° oven for thirty minutes to ensure it was completely dry. I broke my back after I bent over and lifted it out of my oven with huge awkward oven mitts in such a way so as not to burn myself. Did I mention that I have the arm strength of Gumby? It was all I could do not to drop it and crush my foot and thank God I didn’t because I had just had a pedicure and what a waste of money that would have been, to pay to have both my feet look pretty when only one would have been sufficient. I’m all about not wasting money. Well, I was. Before I went all Martha and bought a cast iron skillet.

While it was still hot, I took a paper towel and wiped the inside with vegetable oil because that’s what all the websites told me to do. Then I shouted every epitaph known to man when I realized those stupid websites were screwing with me because the paper towel snagged on the cast iron and left paper residue all over it.

See what I mean? Universe? Hating me? Paranoid? I don’t think so.

I cleaned out the skillet again, let it dry in the oven again, then used a washcloth to wipe it down with vegetable oil again and stuck it back in the oven again. Then Nate asked if I was aware that I kept forgetting to put dinner in the skillet before baking it. Then I asked Nate if he was aware that he kept forgetting to put thought into his words before speaking them. And if he continued to do so, I would not be held responsible for any cast iron skillet that found itself flung across the room. As far as a 200 pound skillet can be flung. So don’t go blaming me if you’re standing two inches in front of me and you get a mouth full of skillet.

Then I heated up the skillet and threw a couple of hundred water droplets on it, peering at them intently to ensure they were sizzling and dancing because to sizzle without dancing, or dance without sizzling, was UNACCEPTABLE according to the websites. So I stared at those droplets forever, trying to determine if they were actually sizzling or just bubbling without purpose. Were they actually dancing or just moving back and forth because they had no rhythm?

Hello, trees? Which way to the forest? Thank you.

When I determined that the droplets were doing a pretty good foxtrot, I added my butter, potatoes, onions and spices and shouted to Nate that he was going to eat his words right before eating the most mouth watering home fries on the entire east coast. Then I stood back to watch the magic.

And I watched that magic as it came swooping into my kitchen, laughed in my face, kicked me in the shins and drifted out the window on its way to Martha’s, leaving me scraping an inch of burnt potatoes, onions and hopes and dreams from the bottom of the skillet while my family ate cereal and toast in silence. Stupid ass magic.

This scenario repeated itself more times than I have space to blog about it, so you can breathe a sigh of relief.

After each time, I scraped the skillet of all the burnt food and my right arm now resembles that of Michael Phelps which makes me walk lopsided.

Lots of times I have to heat some water in the bottom of the skillet to make the burned crap scrape off easier. Then I sometimes have to use one of those Dobie pads to scrub the skillet but I only do it lightly because God forbid I do something to hurt the surface because then maybe my food wouldn’t burn and stick as nicely and evenly anymore and if there’s anything worse than burnt and stuck food, it’s uneven burnt and stuck food. From an obsessive compulsive point of view, anyway.

And I admit it … I resorted to using a tiny little bit of dish soap because I just couldn’t take the taste of my own vomit any longer. Don’t tell the other aficionados, okay?

I have seasoned that thing more times than I can remember because I have mentally blocked it out. I even followed Alli’s advice. Hi Alli! ((waving)) She suggested I heat a bunch of table salt in the bottom of my skillet for about twenty minutes. She warned me it would get a bit smokey so I warned Nate not to panic if the fire alarm went off and that a little oxygen deprivation was a small price to pay for a well seasoned cast iron skillet. And he asked if a well seasoned cast iron skillet was worth a $2500 deductible on our fire insurance policy, not to mention a two week stay in a mental health facility before the month was up. I ignored him.

Despite all of my best efforts, I can’t cook anything in this skillet without burning the sheer hell out of it. Exhibit 1: a simple dish of scrambled eggs and cheese:

burnt food on cast iron skillet

I’ve had it.

UNCLE. UNCLE. UNCLE.

I have no more fight in me. My right arm is now hanging down to my foot and it’s kind of floppy.

I want to run over it with the Durango. The skillet, not my arm. I still like my arm but I hate that skillet and I want to destroy it. I’m just a little concerned that it’s possessed and would blow out a tire or two out of spite and I’m not sure how I’d explain that one to Nate since he doesn’t place any stock in my belief that inanimate objects have personal agendas.

Maybe I’ll just blow it up. Does Home Depot sell C-4? If not, who’s got directions to the nearest black market?

A mom’s night out

Last week, my neighbor Sue and I went out for dinner without the kids. We had been planning it for about a year and every time we nailed down a date, inevitably someone would have a concert or a sleepover or diarrhea or a golf game that was never noted on the all-mighty calendar which drove his wife utterly insane and our dinner would never come to fruition.

So when Sue called me at 4:00 pm and said her husband was actually going to be home to watch the kids and no one was throwing up there and I said Zoe was actually going to be home to watch Helena and no one was throwing up here, we were silent for a moment, totally unprepared for this turn of events and trying to process what it all meant. Not wanting to jinx myself, I whispered “are you sure?” and she whispered back “yes” and then we both screamed and danced around and yelled “see you later!” and hung up. I ran upstairs to get dressed in decent clothes. And by decent, I mean clothes that had no paint, food or chemical stains on them and actually fit without the use of safety pins or duct tape.

After writing down all emergency numbers for her husband, as well as explicit instructions as to how to feed, bathe, entertain and otherwise keep alive their two young children, Sue ran from her house and drove up my driveway at 5:00.

Judging by the reactions of my children, you would have thought that I was abandoning them for a night out of clubbing and wild drinking and whooping it up. I haven’t whooped since … I don’t remember the last time I whooped. It was at least two kids and 821 stretch marks ago. I don’t know how to whoop anymore.

Me: OK – I love you guys! OK! I’m leaving! Love you! Please stop blocking the doorway. Love you! You need to move now. Get up, please. Love you! If you continue to barricade the door, I will simply jump out the window.

Zoe: This is so unfair. You go out all the time.

Me (looking behind me): Who are you talking to?

Zoe: You do!

Me: Have we met? You must be talking about your other mother because I do not go out.

Helena: You just went out yesterday!

Me: Grocery shopping does not qualify as “going out.” Neither does taking you to the doctor for your shot or returning movies to Blockbuster.

Helena: What about all those times you went to Bunco?

Me: Honey, that was one night a month for two hours. And if you recall, I quit Bunco over a year ago so that I could take you to swimming. You have playdates all the time. Mommy needs a playdate sometimes too.

Zoe: What are we supposed to eat? There’s nothing to eat in this house.

Me: I have a receipt for $249.61 somewhere in the bottom of my purse that would beg to differ with you.

Zoe: Where are you going?

Me: I’ve already told you, we are going to Cracker Barrel.

Helena: Why can’t we come?

Me: Because Mommy needs some grown up conversation. That makes Mommy happy and when Mommy is happy, we’re all happy. Anyone remember what happens when Mommy is sad?

Helena: You can talk to Daddy! Daddy’s a grown up!

Me: Let me rephrase. Mommy needs to talk to an adult who enthusiastically participates in stimulating conversation with no coercion.

Helena: What does that mean? Stop using big words.

Zoe: Will you bring us back something? Can you bring us back dinner? Can you bring us a pizza on your way home?

Me: We have a ton of food here! That doesn’t happen very often so take advantage of it. Go introduce yourself to the pantry. Now if you don’t move, I will step right over you and you know how iffy my balance is when I haven’t eaten. Don’t come crying to me if I accidentally crush your spleen.

Zoe: What time will you be home?

Me: In a couple of hours. My phone will be on, in case of an emergency. Now, who remembers the rule?

Zoe and Helena in unison: Don’t call unless we’re bleeding or throwing up or dead.

Me: That’s my girls! I love you both! Now, roll out of the way, please.

After several more kisses and “I love you’s” I managed to extricate myself from my house and jumped into Sue’s car and off we went to Cracker Barrel for our first real, live, grown-up dinner together.

As soon as we were seated, we busied ourselves inspecting the silverware, pushing the sugar packet bowl all the way back to the wall and collecting all the knives into one pile out of harm’s way.

Waitress: What can I get you ladies tonight?

I had to smile. The last time I was called a lady was … I don’t remember.

Sue: I’ll have the chicken and dumplings with a side of mashed potatoes, please. Sit up straight and keep your elbows off the table. Oh, and a coke, please.

Me: Scratch that coke and give her a milk. Don’t you want strong and healthy bones? I feel like doing something special tonight so I’m going to have breakfast for dinner! Won’t that be fun? I’ll have the french toast with a side of hash brown casserole, please. And an ice water, no lemon.

We smiled brightly at the waitress as she left to place our order.

Me: Can you believe it? I’m actually out at a restaurant and didn’t have to order chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese. I feel like a real, live grown up! Put your napkin on your lap, sweetie. How about you?

Sue: Oh my God, I can so relate! No sippy cups, no children’s menu, no hot dogs. Elbows, honey. I don’t want to remind you again. So, what have you been up to?

Me: I went school supply shopping today. Managed to buy all 739 items on the list! Stop biting your lip, do you want it to bleed? How about you?

Sue: I went through all my kids’ clothes, got them sorted out into piles labeled Keep, Donate and Burn. Stop fidgeting and face front, please. I can’t believe how fast they’re growing!

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Sue: Hello? … no, do not stick your hands in there … just flush it and we’ll get you another one … do not do that … put Daddy on the phone … yes, it’s OK to wake him up.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Me: Hello? No, you may not go swimming … because I am not there …  Zoe is not me … because you could drown …  what do you mean, so what? … because I said so … put Zoe on the phone … yes, she has to speak to me … because I said so.

Despite a few interruptions, we continued chatting until our waitress arrived with our dinners. As I leaned over to cut Sue’s chicken, we tossed around various ideas for upcoming birthday parties. As she leaned over to wipe the crumbs off my chin, we discussed the improvement we’d seen recently in back-to-school fashion.

We celebrated the fact that she had finally eaten an entire dinner in one sitting while it was hot without having to share it with anyone under three feet tall and that I had finally gone through an entire dinner without having to hear the telephone ring incessantly for everyone other than me.

We absolutely reveled in being kidless grownups for a few short hours.

We finished our meals and when the waitress arrived, we contemplated dessert.

Sue: We shouldn’t. You didn’t finish your dinner and you know the rule. Dessert is the absolute last thing I need.

Me: I know. I think my eyes are bigger than my stomach.

Sue: I’ll have the cheesecake.

Me: And I’ll have the chocolate brownie sundae pie.

When the check arrived, we dove into our purses and pulled out fives and tens along with tissues, antibacterial wipes, Chapstick, Nintendo DS games, library overdue notices, Littlest Pet Shop figures, DVDs, extra socks, CD’s, matchbox cars, a mitten from last winter, and sunblock. We proceeded to the lobby and paid our bill.

Sue: I need to go potty before we get going. You should try going potty too, just in case.

Me: Good idea. Remember, do not touch anything in there! Do you remember how to hover?

Sue: I’m good. Let me know if you can’t reach the lever with your foot – sometimes they’re pretty high.

As we finished up in the rest rooms, we mulled over the possibility of going to a movie.

Me: Use enough soap. Remember to rinse it all off or it will irritate your skin. I don’t think I’ll have enough time for a movie. I need to get home and make sure Zoe and Helena haven’t killed each other yet.

Sue (sighing): Yeah, you’re right. I suppose I should make sure my kids aren’t playing “hold our breath until we’re blue” while their father isn’t looking. Make sure that water is hot. Here, use a paper towel to turn it off. It’s getting late, anyway – it’s almost 7:00! I’m exhausted.

We left the restaurant and after we ensured we were both properly buckled in our seats and I had a magazine to keep me occupied, we made our way back to my house. Once we arrived, Zoe and Helena whipped open the front door and looked at me accusingly when I emerged from the car with no styrofoam containers.

Sue: Watch your fingers, you don’t want them slammed in the door. We really need to do this more often!

Me: Definitely. It’s so refreshing to have some “me” time and not focus all my energy on the kids. Make sure you brush your teeth before you go to bed and rinse it out really well.

Sue: I’ll call you. Night night!

Me: Looking forward to it! Sleep tight!

We made plans to do it again the next time we had a free night or after our kids’ high school graduations, whichever came first.

Dinner

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.