Lately, the most difficult thing for my family to swallow seems to be my cooking. It has not always been this way. My wife and daughters used to be good hearty eaters – but times have changed.
For instance, my daughter Elaine now thinks she’s a vegetarian and as a result, has become a very picky eater. Emma, her sister and identical twin, just thinks that everything I cook “sucks.” As for my wife Marie, she’s become a health nut of the natural foods and holistic medicine variety.
If it were up to her, she’d have us eating hay three times a day.
So now, every day as I sit in front of my computer, my biggest problem is not thinking up what to write for my next column, rather, it’s thinking up what to cook for my next meal. I struggle daily for a meal plan that will be successfully received by one and all.
For now, my daughter the vegetarian will still eat some things that contain meat. She will still eat hamburgers and hot dogs – although lately she has been pressuring me into substituting them with their veggie versions.
Ever since Elaine bought herself this little stuffed toy cow, she’s been sympathetic towards all barnyard types – especially the ones that moo. So now, each night before we eat supper, she routinely asks me who died for her dinner tonight.
True. One night last week, with “Ivory” (her toy cow) on her lap, before even tasting my soup, she looked up from her bowl and asked, “Daddy, were any cows killed for this dinner?”
“Nope. Just vegetables and a really stupid chicken – who, I have on good authority, was practically on her death bed anyway. Nothing to feel guilty about here. It’s completely moo-less.”
“OK, I’ll eat, but I’m starting to feel sorry for the vegetables.”
Emma, on the other hand, would lead the cows to the sausage factory herself if she could eat pepperoni pizza seven days a week. She starts almost every meal with… “Yuk, this sucks. When are we going to have pizza?”
“Don’t say yuk.” I once scolded her. “Where are your manners? When I work all afternoon to prepare a nice meal for you, what should you say?”
“Cut my meat” she quipped.
Suffice it to say that Daddy is no longer safe around her increasingly sharp wit (and cows are not safe around her appetite).
Which reminds me of something I once heard about disciplining children. Never raise hands to your kids – it leaves your groin unprotected.
Sometimes, I long for the olden days of bachelorhood when all my cooking needs were met by a few local restaurants and vending machines. Then, I would only ever successfully cook breakfast – I had this great recipe for toast. (My secret ingredient was butter).
The truth is, back then, many people considered it a threat when I offered to cook for them. But all that has changed now. When you’re married with kids, either you learn how to cook or you face McDinner every night.
When I first began experimenting with food (no one could justify calling it cooking), my wife would try to encourage me by pretending to enjoy the meals I prepared for her.
She would even mutter the odd charitable “mmm… mmm… delicious” remark before questioning whether the charred substance I served her was brownies or meatloaf.
It has taken a few years, but I have finally developed some real talent in the kitchen. I’m starting to live up to a long standing family tradition of great cooks as both my grandmothers, my mother, my sister and all of my aunt Mary’s (I have three) are tremendously good cooks.
Ironically, I finally get to a point where I can cook up a chicken marsala that’s so good it could make a grown man cry “mommy” – and they tie my chubby little gourmet hands behind my back as they now want me to stop using the ingredients that taste best, such as real butter, real cream, white sugar and now, real cows.
It’s all for my own good health, Marie explains. She wants me to live a good long fulfilling life – although, apparently light on the fulfilling.
Marie has made it quite clear she doesn’t want to be married to Tim, the incredible expanding fat boy. My daughter Elaine has made it quite clear she wants to save the cows. And my daughter Emma, has made it quite clear that she’ll gladly sneak out with me for pepperoni pizza, any day, any time.