Culinary Complaints

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been terrible at time management. Last-minute projects are my specialty, and something inside of me truly believes that if I have an appointment from 9 to 10, I can easily take on something else from 10 to 12.
What I’m driving at is that I’m late. All of the time. To church to meetings to appointments.
It’s what I do.
Lateness sans fashion.

I guess this whole story started Monday when I had signed up to feed the sister missionaries with my grandmother. I cooked two roasts: one for eating and one for back-up in case we needed more or I ruined the first. Both roasts were large. I cut the first in half and put it in a crock pot. The second was placed in a 9×13 baking dish, and it covered the bottom and filled the entire space.
Three hours later, I shredded meat. The top half of the roast in the crock pot was tough, but I figured I’d chop it up later. I could hide it in a pot pie and no one would notice the almost jerky-like hunks of meat hidden in a thick layer of beef gravy.
The bottom half of the roast in the crock pot was soft, delicious, and wonderful.

And were we late feeding the sisters?  Yes.  Yes, we were.

We ate the oven roast with the sisters. Alice loves the sisters. She really bonded with one sister who recently left.
And by “bonded” I mean that she would quietly fill her dress pockets while the rest of ate.
“Where is the other sister?” Alice asked the companion who had stayed.
“Other sister?”
“Sister Log!” Alice said.
We were all lost.
“Who?” We asked, trying to make out what she meant.
“Sister LOG,” She repeated several times before the “sister that stayed” burst out laughing.
Her companion who had just left was named Sister Woods.
Log, woods. Potato, Puhtahto.

We only ate one roast.
When dawn broke on Tuesday morning, I had a plate full of tough roast and a plate full of perfectly tender roast, and I was so grateful because Tuesday was filled to the brim. I’d scheduled myself hour-to-hour.
My counselor put it thus, “Alicia, you don’t struggle with telling others no… so much as you struggle telling YOURSELF no.”
It’s true.
It is.
Because I look at an hour-to-hour schedule and go, “Heck yes, I can.”
But heck no.
I can’t.
When will I learn?

Just as dawn was breaking and roasts were waiting for me on the counter, I logged onto my online work meeting. Danny slipped out of the house to work out. I made sure breakfast was made and lunches were packed.
What could go wrong?

Stop laughing.
Stop it right now.

Because of course the kids needed to talk to me about their sock choice and needed me to tell them things like, “put the food in your mouth” and “brush your hair” and “all of your hair, not just the top.” They wanted some of Danny’s old uniforms to wear to school for “what I’m going to be when I grow up” day. I took my work meeting to the kitchen, to my bedroom. And right into hell with me.
I had to wake the youngest up and she had a grand meltdown in the middle of the living room floor.

Stop laughing.
Stop it right now.

The afternoon picked up where the morning left on. Wal-mart with 3 kids to pick up pinewood derby supplies, fits over hunger pangs. We went straight from Wal-mart to Lacy’s basketball game.
Trent had a full blown breakdown afterward… the kind that come when you don’t deal with little stuff that piles up over the weeks.
So many tears, hugs, talking, writing, teaching.

And of course Alice can’t handle this at all. If someone is crying, SHE MUST ALSO. By the time I made it to the perfectly tender roast, I was so tired.
I pulled it out of the crock pot where it had been hanging out all day.
“The first half of the roast didn’t turn out at all,” I lamented to Danny, “It’s tough but this half? So good. Would you mind taking that to the cats? They’ll love it.”
I tapped my hands on the crock in the crock pot.
“Sure,” he said and two minutes later came back with an empty plate.
My eyes boggled.
“What have you done?” I asked.
“What you asked!” He shot back.

My friends, he threw the first half of the roast to the CATS.
“I TOLD YOU TO THROW THE ROAST JUICE TO THE CATS!” I tapped the crock, frantically hoping some black magic would make a switch and bring my beef pot pie back home.

This is the part where all of the kids quit crying and started laughing because there’s nothing better than childish parents.

Keeping with the childish theme, I fell into bed at 8:30.
The next morning, I woke up to the sound of bacon frying. Danny came in and said, “I’ve made breakfast and packed their lunches. I took the dogs out. I’m going to work out now.”
It gave me enough free time to pray and read scriptures which I hadn’t done before my work meeting the day before.
It felt good.
For a few good minutes until Lacy crawled into bed next to me and cooed, “You should have seen it, Mom… we woke up and our lunches were set out all neatly, all packed… and Dad made us bacon and eggs. It. Was. Amazing.”

My voice launched into a shrill shell of what it once was, “I DO THAT EVERYDAY.”
“You’re amazing too?” She tried backing out, but the damage had been done.

To add insult to the whole dish, Dad had simply packed their lunches with the dinner I’d made the night before and the gummy snacks I’d bought to hold over the hunger pangs in Wal-mart the day before.
Not that I wasn’t grateful. I was.
But seriously, the kids lack of awareness for what I do every dang day really hit me on the wrong side of the bed.

I spent the rest of Wednesday cooking my buns off. I had two rotisserie chickens that needed picking clean. I needed to boil some eggs and bake some potatoes… all before they all went bad.
I froze chicken and the rest of the shredded beef (I will have my beef pot pie because I should at least eat as well as my barn cats). I popped the chicken bones in my now-clean crock pot and started broth. Alice helped me spear potatoes while we watched a murder mystery. She helped me boil eggs, and we ended our Day of Kitchen Prep by making a big batch of cookie dough. We baked half and put the rest in the fridge.
That night, we feasted on twice-baked potatoes filled with butter and sour cream and cheese and BACON.  I wonder they don’t ditch the name, “Twice-Baked Potatoes” and just call them what they are, “Indulgent Starch Packed with Dairy.”

Truth always wins.

Thursday morning, I had three hours free to clean. I figured it would give me enough time to get the kitchen done and the living room tidied, dusted and vacuumed.
I grossly underestimated the damage done to the kitchen.

Three hours later, my kitchen was NEARLY done. And the dust sat comfortably in the living room.

We went to my son’s basketball game (more tears afterward. growing up is hard), and came home exhausted. Danny kissed my dried hands and made a nice promise, “I’ll do dinner. Go take a load off.”
Two minutes in, he came asking if I could please mince four cloves of garlic and maybe chop an onion?
“And where is our dried basil? And oregano?”

I will say that he really did pull off an amazing spaghetti.
The kids ate it all and asked for more.
Which is more than I could say for the twice-baked potatoes that took me HOURS to make… and there’s a good chance I didn’t bake the monster potatoes all the way through, so cleaning them out was at times tiring and at times painful.

They all sang Dad’s praises, and I did too.
The fact that I do it every night with no accolades only hurt a lot, and that’s partly due to a hormonal discrepancy that creeps up every 28 days.
Give or take.
It’s the one glorious part of my life in which I am never, ever late.

Except those few times, I mean. But it’s okay. Because they’re turning out on the nice side of “a-okay.”

Even if they take Mom’s culinary efforts for granted, they’ll still pitch in to clean the cooking messes anyway. So we forgive.
20170302_205047(Lacy putting dishes away, Trent drying, me washing… and Alice clearing and washing the table.  Thanks to Danny for snapping this moment which I know will make me all nostalgic someday.)