Thursday, May 7, 2009

What's Cookin'?

“What’s for dinner?” I hate that question. I even hate it when I know the answer. There’s something about the time of day when it’s being asked, too. My kids are not at their best in the late afternoon. To say the least.

I sit down to plan meals and my brain sort of blanks out. I guess I just take no joy in the kind of food my youngest kids prefer and as I won’t cook separate meals for detractors, I try to keep their tastes in mind. I love my Cook’s Illustrated and Gourmet magazines and would happily cook from those every day. When you figure in all the things a family of seven can get up to on a school night, there just isn’t time for that kind of cooking. In the winter months I let myself do more of that but right now, easy and quick is what works.

A few months back Diane Jacks came to our MOPs group and talked to us about cooking once a month. The idea was appealing and reminded me a little of how my parents do it. They would cook in large batches and freeze meal sizes for later use. Mom worked full-time at Dad’s office as long as I can remember but we always sat down to a good meal every night. I can still hear her heels click on the linoleum as she hurried to get things going once she got home. There was almost always something defrosting in the sink and that was how it worked. I don’t think she planned meals more than a day or so out; she just pulled things out of the freezer in the morning and shopped at lunch for what we might need to round out the meal. I’d have to draw the line there—I couldn’t handle the grocery store on a daily basis.

Recently some friends planned a few meals together. They started early, shopping together then cooking. They had a great time and say the meals were pretty tasty. Maybe I should get some friends together for a day of work; it sounds fun and the payoff is big.

I do love my crock pot though. It’s great to have several good crock pot recipes on hand, especially for those days when you know the siren song of McDonald’s will call. I found this easy recipe the other day for pulled pork sandwiches:

3 lb. pork shoulder roast
the juice of one orange
1 bottle of BBQ sauce

Mix the juice and sauce and pour over the roast in the crock pot. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. Shred meat and return to pot. Serve on buns.

That was so easy I let Sam do it and, miracle of miracles, all 5 kids enjoyed it! I need more recipes like that. Better yet, I need to get the kids to do the cooking way more often!

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