Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Dinner invitation

After a weekend that had enough ups and downs to it so as to resemble a bit of a roller coaster ride at times, Monday evening was a very pleasant change of venue.

Translated that really just means "I didn't have to cook supper today!"

Some days, I just don't want to have anything to do with the kitchen and especially nothing involving even something as simple as scrambling eggs. Some days, it's like my stomach and taste buds have both gone on vacation or just simply up and died.

Years back, when I would wander into the diet desert, I used to blame it on the fact that most of that time, since I was working in food service, it was caused because I was just plain tired of looking at food. Now, when I get in that rut and especially when it lingers for days, even weeks, I blame it on depression and just not having any desire for much of anything, much less cooking.

I think it's a combination now of run-ins with depression and a sense of having a lack of interest and no sense of creativity - just me being my normal bland, boring self.

This apathy streak that hits from time to time extends back to when I was married too and I would get totally bored with the idea of cooking some days. But I blamed that then on the fact that my ex-husband was the cause since all he ever wanted to have for a meal was "Meat, potatoes and either corn or green beans." But at least he wasn't quite as difficult to cook for than a friend of mine at that time's husband was. That guy wanted pork chops, mashed potatoes, gravy and corn EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for supper. Now fixing that same thing every day would have driven me to the looney bin long before I actually made the entrance requirements for admittance there. Really! That would have made me stark, raving mad, yes, MAD I tell you.

But now, when I ask the family for suggestions what they'd like to have for supper, I'm beginning to think they have formed a conspiracy against me now too. My son-in-law, if asked what he thinks would make for a good meal almost invariably will think and think - chin in his had, looking very much like that famous statue ("The THinker") and invariably his response will be "Meatloaf!"

Ask the 15-year-old what she thinks would be a good meal and the kid seems to think the only thing ever to be fixed is "Fish."

My daughter's job generally means she will be at work from 5 p.m. until about 9:30 and so she will not be here for supper. That, plus the fact that she has no particular love for doing anything in the kitchen to begin with means her answer will most likely be "I don't have a clue!" When on those rare occasions when she does decide to get reacquainted somewhat with the stove or griddle or crockpot, most of the time the food option she comes up with will be Tacos.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing at all against tacos but to my train of thought, they are more of a lunch-type entre and don't or shouldn't qualify as a dinner menu item. Supper or dinner - whichever you opt to call your main, big meal of the day, in my opinion should be something a bit bigger in which you present some type of meat, poultry or fish dish, along with a carbohydrate type item such as potatoes or a pasta or rice with a salad or vegetable dish to go with that -and sometimes, it requires BOTH a vegetable dish and a salad type dish to be a complete meal in my book. (My book on cooking sometimes doesn't require both a salad and vegetable and sometimes it does, although nutritionists generally will tell you that you should have both in some form or fashion.)

Friday, as I was leaving to make a quick trip to town for a few things I needed, I asked the son-in-law for a meal suggestion and to my surprise, he came up with an idea besides having meatloaf. And, I really liked his suggestion too because it was something that really struck a chord with me. Pizza! From the deli at the local grocery store. YES! I can handle that, for sure. So I stopped on my way home and ordered one with mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni, hot pickled pepper rings and pineapple on it! Ah, such a feast! And, no dishes to wash afterwards either because no pots and pans needed to fix it. Just slap a slab on a paper plate and munch away.

Saturday was a fairly easy kitchen duty day too with rib-eye steak sandwiches and leftover pasta salad that Mandy had made a batch of the day before because she wanted to take a container of "mealtime fare" and a dessert item over to the home of a good friend of ours whose companion of the past 22 years had just passed away.

Sunday was looking like it might require some hard thinking of what to cook because the son-in-law's two middle children (who live with their maternal grandmother) were going to be here for supper and lord knows, those two kids can drive me to drink with their snooty attitudes about food. I never know what vegetable to fix because their taste buds seem to fluxuate daily on what they consider an acceptable vegetable. One time they might eat carrots - profess to love them and another time when they are here if I put carrots on the table, they will stick their noses up in the air and grump, growl around stating "I HATE Carrots!" The same thing will happen with green beans, corn, peas, broccoli - you name it! It's a darned good thing these kids didn't ever sit up to the table for a meal alongside my kids when they were growing up because the house rules were regardless of what was on the table, "Sit up, shut up and eat!" My youngest was the only one who ever got away with any picky business at meals and that only applied to onions!

But yesterday, when I asked my daughter what she thought would make for a good meal, her response (she didn't have work yesterday by the way, so she was going to be here to partake of supper with all of us) was "Spaghetti." Yeah - that would work for me plus the fact that the little granddaughter, my princess Maya, generally loves most any type of pasta so Mandy and I both figured it was a meal the two middle yahoos would eat and Maya would enjoy it too.

However, by the time I put supper on the table last night - a nice big bowl of spaghetti, a tossed salad that I got Mandy to fix plus garlic bread sticks - the only one who wouldn't eat last night was Maya! She ate the bread sticks and maybe managed two or three bites of the spaghetti - which normally she would have been shoveling in before she announced when we tried to get her to eat some more, "All done, all done!" And with her, when she utters those words with a plate full of food in front of her, you don't give argument to her unless you want to risk her going into a meltdown which could mean the plate being pushed very quickly - like at the speed of light - off the table and the contents being on the floor!

But Saturday night, my son's roommate had announced to Mandy that since he had today off, he planned to cook and we were to be guests up at my son's house then for supper to taste Dan's dietary delights. And, I was ecstatic because it meant I wouldn't have to wrack my pea brain for an idea of something to fix that was "interesting" to me to fix and of course, it meant no slaving in a hot kitchen too on an already hot and muggy day as well. (And yes, no dishes to be dealt with after the fact either - that's always an important item in the whole configuration too, ya know.)

So tonight, we went up to the son's house in shifts because little Kurtis had fallen asleep and we didn't want to wake him up just to take him out someplace where there was no place to put him (like a high chair or playpen) to keep him confined while we tried to eat. Mandy and Maya went up first, ate and came home about an hour or a little better later and then it was my turn. And boy, did I have a feast!

Dan had cooked his brand of oven-browned potatoes, baked beans and had purchased a small container of coleslaw to accompany the three meat entrees he'd fixed. He had a crockpot of barbequed pork, had fixed spareribs with a rub that was really good - spicy but not overly so but a great flavor to it along with a boneless pork roast that he had marinated in some kind of Irish whiskey with a couple other additives and then cooked it in his smoker along with the ribs. Very tasty - VERY tasty, I must say!

After finishing my meal, my son had to show me the work he and roommate Dan had done in his side area of the house. They had been working the bulk of the day (while Dan was cooking too) and built themselves a bar in this side room!

Now, you really have to see the interior of my son's house to appreciate some of the things he's done there since he purchased this old place three years ago.

The exterior of the house isn't really in too bad condition - the roof is only about 4-5 years old; siding isn't in dire need of being replaced but the windows and the front porch are definitely in dire need there! Old windows that over the years apparently ended up getting painted shut and with only the old single pane glass in them and the front porch has a lot of weak or bad spots where if you step on it the wrong way, the boards are liable to split and crumble. In due time, he'll get to that but you know, to a couple of bachelors, a "man's room" is a top priority item in any home isn't it?

This room used to be two rooms - the front part was the dining room and we're really not sure what the smaller room behind it was intended to be. The family who had owned this house before my son were an elderly lady and her brother - neither who saw any point to remodeling the interior of the homestead so the dining room - with the old rough plank walls, had wallpaper on it -a few layers thick but which hadn't been replaced by the time my son bought the place in many, many years. It also has a very old three light type chandelier which needs to be changed to a shorter style type light fixture so my son can walk through the middle of the room without banging his head every time he moves around there. Another item that is on my son's replacement list but that he doesn't have the funds to get all of these things done as yet.

About two weeks ago, Clate had taken out the wall along the stairs - the house has stairs in the center of the house - and he figured out that on the side of the old dining room, that wasn't a "load-bearing" wall so he had opened the stairway and also, taken out the wall under the stairs facing into the dining room too. At the same time, he had completely ripped out the wall between the dining room and the smaller room at the rear of that area.

Under the stairs, he had done some wiring work, fixed it up with some shelving and such and put his stereo setup in there. When Dan arrived here a week ago, he had brought with him many items that really are intended for a recreation room - or in this case - their party room. He had a refrigerator already set up to handle two kegs - yes two - not a single keg would do but gotta be able to offer your friends a choice of brews! He had three electronic type bar game machines too along with enough sound equipment to outfit at least one, maybe two bands as well!

So today, the boys built themselves a bar! Most of the wood they used to build this bar came from an old house a little ways down the stree from my son's place and which my son-in-law had torn down last year for the guy who owned the place but had built a new home adjacent to the old kind of ramshackle house there. The bar is a very nice height - looks nice too in the L-shape they made it with the behind-the-bar area being in front of the stairway where my son had put in his stereo setup. The bar refrigerator with the two-keg capacity is at the end of the bar where the opening is to enter and go behind the bar - nice and convenient and fits there very nicely. The tv set is on top of the beer fridge and Dan's bookcase unit fits perfectly in the remaining space under the stairs to hold bottles of liquors!

The lumber used in building the bar is the rough lumber from the old house so right now, you really don't want to sit there and slide your arm across it or you could end up with a forearm full of splinters. But the guys don't want to lose that rustic look it has right now so they are going to get some type of coating to put over the wood that will seal it and make it feel smooth while still preserving the rustic wood look to it at the same time.

As I sat on one of the bar stools there, gazing at the neon sign they even have hanging behind the bar, looking around the room, I had to admire the ingenuity the guys had in their design and for the finishing ideas they have for the bar itself as well as for the room. It will be an interesting place for sure when they get it all done.

But tonight, the only thing I thought it lacked was a cold keg in the beer refrigerator.

Ah yes, maybe that will be in place by the next time Dan decides to go all out cooking a big meal and invites me to dinner!

But this gives me plenty of time to start planning what he and I can fix and serve for a big superbowl party I can see happening up there come the end of next January.

I forgot to add -something else Dan brought with him when he moved in - one of those large - and I do mean really LARGE screen tv sets that I can just envision sitting there, munching all kinds of great food while watching the superbowl and feeling like I am right there, in the stands. And I won't even give a hoot then who the players might be in that game as I'll just be enjoying the day for a change!


Unknown said...

It's often quite a challenge to get meal ideas here too. Especially with working different shifts. Most often, the kids get to cook. Which is guess is good for them to know how.

Later Y'all.

lattégirl said...

A man who can cook like Dan sounds like marriage material. Please introduce us.

Saturday -- hot and muggy, I remember it well, because I was, foolishly, cooking. I thought I would die, or melt into a steaming puddle on the kitchen floor. Since that night, the weather has cooled down but I have kept the meals simple with as little use of the stove as possible. Fortunately, my son doesn't care what he eats. I have fed him some pretty odd combinations of foods over the years and he always says it's good.

You have a harder time because you're cooking for more people with varying tastes.

I suggest you declare a one-day strike, however, with advance notice, and let everyone fend for themselves. Then put your feet up, read a book, take a nap, go for a walk, and do whatever you please. With a homecooked meal awaiting you at the end of the day.

Shelby said...

yes - it is hard to cook for different people with different tastes - and YES - consider going on strike for a day (or longer)..


take care - sending hugs :)

Linda said...

The bar the guys built sounds quite nice and I can definitely see why you are already envisaging a Superbowl party!

I've got to agree with the others above, you need a day off to just let people fend for themselves. That's not asking that much and saves you the dilemma of "what to cook?"

Speaking of which, it's off to the kitchen for me!

Smalltown RN said...

Wow dinner sounds srcumptious....and as the for bar....that sounds like my brothers garage...there he has his drums...walls plastered with old posters...and yes the beer fridge....an old lounging chair....very interesting....the guys garage...and now your son has his bar....how nice...and yes won't it be nice for super bowl....

Anonymous said...

The son-in-law’s idea of having pizza for dinner by was fine and you’re right coz you don’t have to bother washing dishes afterwards… But wouldn’t it be nice if you’ve made a home-made pizza rather than buying it out on the counter?