True confession: I’m somewhat competitive. If I’m playing? I like to win. I’m not a sore loser (truth number 2: that’s taken some time!), but I prefer to win rather than lose.
And as life has changed, my competitive nature has changed. Not gone away, mind you—but changed. Now, I compete at dinner. My family is none the wiser, but they are the adversaries I’m trying to best every day I bring myself to the kitchen to whip something up.
I have a house filled with foodies. We love good food, enjoy going to restaurants and watch a lot of food-related television shows. My kids have grown up learning about food. We talk about great meals and hunt down recipes and restaurants when we travel.
So, my challenge, my self-imposed competition is to find that Holy Grail of a meal that just results in a “thank you for dinner, mommy,” without prompting and no “you know, the next time you make this, you should …” (which is like culinary nails on a chalkboard for me).
But the harder I try to find this magical meal, the more out of my grasp it seems to be. Vexing, that.
I introduce them to new foods to tease their taste buds into submission, trick the kids into trying things they swear they hate (“it’s not gravy; it’s sauce!”) and they’re surprised when they find out their distaste was just a matter of semantics. The other night at dinner, my daughter even willingly tried a mushroom, all on her own, after swearing for years that she just hated mushrooms (though she’d often eaten them and not known it). Win 1 for mommy!
Last week, I actually hit on a major score at dinner, when I was just throwing something together when I had about a million things to do and hadn’t thought ahead. I had a small beef roast that had been languishing in the freezer. I started defrosting it when I took the kids to school.
At lunch, I threw it in a crockpot on high with onion, garlic and a made-up sauce with balsamic vinegar, honey and red pepper. Fluffed up some leftover rice and roasted leftover cauliflower and broccoli tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
And they loved it. And lucky me, I wrote it down.
Score one for mom.