Putting a toe ever so gingerly into the Alpha/Beta mom thing

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....For the time being only regarding the issue of cooking.

I cook for my family.

There. I said it. And you know? I'm happy about that.

I am not a gourmet cook. But I can put a nice balanced meal on the table, night in and night out.

I'm also not a "from scratch" purist, either. I've never been known to turn up my nose at help from any quarter! I don't care if a recipe starts out with 7 different cans of stuff (like my taco soup recipe). If it's good and we like it, its worth doing.

I'm not a talented cook--like Erik K--who can just wander through the supermarket and decide what to do with all that lovely stuff. But give me a recipe that uses that lovely stuff, and I'm a whiz. In general, if I can read it, I can make it.

When PapaC finished school for the second time around (at age 40!), we decided to see if I couldn't find a way to stay home with our kiddo. (Homeschooling was only a thought at that point!) It was obvious, since we were dropping my VERY good paying job (I'm an ex-accountant by trade) that economizing was going to be not just a theoretical "good idea", but a practical necessity. What that meant, for us, was a commitment to eating at home.

Even eating cheaply, a dinner for the three of us at your local fast food joint (and who wants to eat that all the time? Not me, and I love it.) costs between $10 and $12. I can put a screaming meal on the table for that amount of money. For the money it costs the three of us to go to Chili's or somewhere on a level up from McD's, I can feed us all steak. I mean, really, the costs are not even close.

When I started cooking at home, I hated it. I didn't know what I was doing. We'd always eaten out a lot. I wasn't used to the very daily-ness of it.

I was also trying to do too much.

I had to learn that a yummy casserole or hearty soup, paired with a salad, is dinner enough. If you add a cornbread muffin or a crescent roll? Well, that's high cotton! Good food doesn't have to be hard. It doesn't have to be 15 different things at once. Sunday (or Saturday or whenever) you can break out and do something fancy. The rest of the time? Think SIMPLE.

I started keeping a recipe book--our family cookbook, if you will. Things we tried, liked, and have eaten time and again all go into the book. Back in our homeschooling days, it was a lot of soups and casseroles, with a lot of cookie recipes (my favorite!) thrown in for good measure. Now that I'm not running a Cub Scout den, or schooling a kid, I have more time, so there are a few more recipes for grilling or for stir-frying, etc. Your mileage may vary. But if you can find 15 recipes that are easy enough to make and that your family loves, you are on your way to cooking Alpha-momdom.

I can hear Smock now--"but we're all picky eaters, and picky in different ways!" That, I can't help you with. We all eat what's on the table around here. The things I am pickiest about (hello, asparagus!), I just don't buy at the grocery. That's the benefit of being chief cook and shopper. The other things that aren't my favorites, but the boys like? I just schedule them on a night when I'm going to book club or Women at the Well meetings. The rest of the time? Eat it, it's good for you.

In the interest of boosting all your Alpha-mom chops, I'll give you a few recipes over the next few days that are yummy, easy, and fast.

Uber easy, and uber delicious, this one may have come from Weight Watchers, since it specifically calls for skinless breasts. I will say, you can really use any pieces that you like. They all work.

Peerless Poultry

1 6-oz can orange juice concentrate, thawed (NOT MIXED WITH WATER!!!)
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Mix the thawed OJ concentrate with the dry soup mix.
Pour half of that mixture into a baking pan large enough to accomodate your chicken pieces.
Place chicken pieces on top of sauce and pour the rest of the sauce on top.
Cover and bake at 400 degrees for one hour.

This is delicious served over rice. It comes with highest recommendations from Zman, who used to think this was the "best dinner ever, Mom!"


Yummy! I always have dry onion soup mix for that potato recipe on the back? Mmmm!

Forgot to sign in ; )

the big D got sick after i cooked something with onion soup mix once and now he REFUSES to eat anything with it.

if i had to cook more often, mamaT, we'd hafta eat sketti or mac'n cheese every night. barf.

smocklins do not partake of soups, casseroles, hamburgers, hot dogs or any kind of "finger food" staples, so what the heck am i supposed to do?

we have the picky eater thing here too, but there are some meals that you can get around that with. some we do - chicken, beans and rice (protien for my non chicken eater), a couple veggies (i like different ones than my kids do), bread. spagetti either with meatballs or meat sauce (i prefer the meatsauce) - someone doesnt like cheese, someone else doesn't like the sauce but puts cheese on his pasta. Whatever. And we do mexican night - taco stuff, burrito stuff, make your own-ish. Hmm i can't think of anythng else right now those are our 'staple' dinners on cooking nights - grilling is fun too. Sometimes I get bored with same old and feel like we're in a rut and cook a few different things, no one eats em but me, and i get discouraged and back to the rut. sigh.

Smock, I don't understand what you *do* feed them, with those restrictions.

smocklins do not partake of soups, casseroles, hamburgers, hot dogs or any kind of "finger food" staples, so what the heck am i supposed to do?

Beat them?

Or give them options: eat what I serve, or go hungry.

Now, I am a reasonable maniac, so I don't foist my favorite things on the girls and insist that they eat them. I understand that a taste for sweetbreads and pigs' feet might be asking a bit much, but if Amalia turns up her nose at perfectly normal food, she can eat or skip it.

I have not gotten to the point where I will let the food sit at the table until it is cold and foul, insisting that it be eaten before anything else is served, ever, but I have certainly thought about it.

Since Amalia is in the 99th percentile in height and has a good, solid Portuguese build to go with it, I am not worried that she is starving any.

The smocklins may have to learn to give a little bit for the good of the whole family. Simple food that's prepared at home is going to be more nutritious and less expensive than a constant diet of take-out -- it's an excellent investment of your time. You have the tastes of all the members of the smockfamily to take into account, plus a finite amount of grocery money, time, and skill.

A good friend who is the mom of four children has been cracking down on the "pickies". Her rule is that they have to have a single bite of everything on their plates in order to get seconds. She now has a six-year-old boy who cheerfully eats salmon and asparagus. I'm not there yet with picky Hambet, but he's getting used to the idea that his choices are "take it" or "leave it" -- and that if he chooses "leave it", he'll survive until morning.

Pansy has a recipe call up at our place; I'll put up another one.



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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on August 13, 2007 2:04 PM.

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