Growing up, especially during my high school years, the question, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” was usually answered with “chicken, broccoli, and insert-starch-here.” If we didn’t hear that answer, it was, “Whatever you’re making, I guess.”
My mother was the queen of the out-of-a-box dinner. We had frozen chicken breasts, grilled to perfection, frozen broccoli, steamed to perfection, and something dehydrated and then rehydrated, to perfection, of course. I can remember meals from my childhood- chili and chicken-n-dumplings and lots of Hamburger Helper (oops, that’s from a box). By the time I reached middle school, however, we were surviving on the chicken/broccoli/boxed starch diet. And pizza, usually on Friday or Saturday nights. My sister was a picky eater so that may have stopped my mom from being more creative in the kitchen. She was also doing the 9-5 thing, with an hour commute each way so I can understand why she didn’t rush home and prepare gourmet meals each night.
My least favorite dinner nights were the ones where Mom declared that corn was a starch and not a vegetable. I’m not sure of the actual classification of corn, and I do like corn, but when you pit against mashed potatoes or say macaroni and cheese (Kraft dinner to any Canadians reading this), it pales in comparison. Dish it out with grilled chicken and broccoli and it didn’t stand at chance at being loved or revered. That bright yellow food was met with sigh’s and glares of hatred for not being orange or white.
There are so many reasons that my job is awesome. Yes, of course, long summer and Christmas breaks top the list. But another really great perk of being a teacher is getting done each day at 3pm (or so). Right now, living in Guate, I am home by 3:15pm and if I am tired, I can sit down and veg for a little while in front of the TV. Or I can do my workout with my honey if we didn’t get a chance at school. Or I can just spend some time with my baby girl. And by 5pm, I’m bored of sitting and I’m ready for dinner. I don’t have to rush home after a long day and jump right into the kitchen and try to whip up something that no one will complain about. I’m lucky to be married to someone who also likes cooking (as long as there is meat involved) so some nights, he cooks. Some nights I cook. And some nights we cook together. I have tried so many things since being with him- for example, he eats his chili over rice. That is so weird! But yummy! And he can make a killer curry, which I never knew I liked. I’ve also learned how to cook too- I know what spices and herbs I like. I’m not afraid to try new things and I find myself watching cooking shows and wishing I could get all those ingredients here.
My daughter will grow up eating interesting dishes. Maybe not every night, and we will definitely have a few things that we eat regularly (make-your-own-pizza and bbq pasta are two big favorites right now). I hope that I am able to teach my daughter how to cook and to not be afraid to eat something new or different. I hope that she doesn’t grow up harboring a secret hatred of corn.