Tuesday, February 05, 2008
gender again, and dinner
Does this child look like a girl to you? Yes? No? Can't tell? It seems that when we are out and about, most people interpret Big One's long hair as a feminine feature. And by most, I mean 99% of the people we encounter who don't already know us think he is a girl. They're not even unsure of themselves. They freely, openly, and mistakenly refer to this child as a she, as her, as my daughter. Never mind the completely boyish clothes, never mind the absence of feminine embellishment, all they see is the hair. (As if I would allow my daughter to go around with such raggedy hair. The very idea.) His hair has caused some awkward moments in and around men's rooms, where he is often mistaken for a girl who has taken a wrong turn.
Big One is completely aware of this (it would be quite difficult to hide it from him, even if I wanted to) but it doesn't bother him a bit. He has been growing it out for the last several years, with a few minor detours when I prevailed on him to get it cut, but I must confess that these haircuts really only served to strengthen his resolve. He doesn't have a goal, he doesn't want it to get to his shoulders or his elbow (as a girl would) he just wants his hair to keep growing.
So be it. I can't stop him. I know, because I've tried. Anything I might possibly say about cultural norms and hair would ring false, because his father and I both have hair well past our shoulders. The only requirement I have is that he wash it once a week, and that he brush it every day.
I need some help.
I have mentioned that I used to have a job, and that Joe used to do the cooking. When I say Joe did the cooking, I mean he did all the cooking. The last time I cooked for myself on a regular basis was circa 1990, which was the last time I was single. This is a little ironic, because Joe and I met working in restaurant kitchens, and between us we've done just about every job there is to do in a restaurant, back of the house. Line cook, prep cook, dish, you name it. I even did a stint in a natural foods grocery where my back-of-the-house jobs were baking bread, granola, and pastries. But for the last 18 years, pretty much since we've been together, I didn't cook in my house at all.
Fast forward to last fall. Suddenly Joe gets a full time job, suddenly I have no job, I decide to stay home with the kids, and now I am responsible for making dinner. Joe's hours are long, his commute makes them longer, and it would be pretty lame if I couldn't manage to make food. For the first few weeks, my attempts were pretty lame. I have burned frozen squash, I have served cheese and crackers for dinner, I have told the kids to look through the fridge and see what they can find. In the beginning, it was a challenge for me to get spaghetti on the table at a reasonable time.
But then, things started to get in to a sort of groove. I'm no savant, but I can sort of do it now. I've learned that it helps to plan ahead, I've learned that it's smart to shop for the kinds of foods you like to cook and eat (this eluded me in the beginning), and I've learned that there are a few meals I can make with very little planning and still work out okay.
So far my super-easy meals are:
beans and rice
(make brown rice in the pressure cooker, open a can of refried beans, warm some tortillas if I'm feeling really ambitious.)
(saute some onions with some dried herbs, add this to some beans cooking in vegetable stock, throw in some celery, carrots, potatoes, whatever I have around) This is not quick, because it requires that I be around to monitor the soup, add water, adjust the flame, etc., but it is very easy, because once it's cooking, it just cooks, and I can go back to whatever it was I was doing before the necessity of dinner came along and bonked me on the head.
But I really want some more of these sorts of meals, and that's where you come in. Some of you make dinner all the time. I want to know what your super-easy, no planning required meals are. Please put them in the comments if you want to share, or else email them to me (new email address in my profile!) if you don't. No recipes required (I have lots of cookbooks and can figure things out) I'm really just looking for menu ideas here.
Thanks! And thanks for reading my blog.