The other day, amidst the chaos that was my house, I took a moment and looked at the clock. I’m not quite sure what time it was exactly, but it was late enough for me to think, “Holy, whoa. Rob is going to be home soon, and I haven’t thought of/thawed/prepared ANYTHING for dinner.” Mind you, Rob is not a tyrannt about wanting dinner ready at a certain time. But I try to be proficient and have everything ready earlier rather than later. This way, we can all eat together, get cleaned up and get the kids ready for bed on time. And hopefully, after Jerry’s bed time comes mommy and daddy time. It must have been one of those off weeks or the end of the week where I didn’t have very much in the way of groceries in my house. I went down the laundry lists of things in my head that could be quickly made – it didn’t look promising. Spaghetti? Nope, I didn’t have the sauce. Meatloaf? Nah, not enough meat on hand for that.
What was I do to?
Then I remembered that I had rotini pasta in the cabinet and a block of sharp cheese and some milk left in the fridge. We were a go for Mac-n-cheese. “Great!” I thought. What could I make to go with it? I pulled open the freezer door. No frozen pizza in there to save my skin, so I still need something to go with the mac in cheese. Then I saw “it”. Amidst all of the mist emanating off of the ice. I pull my find out while shoving the other things stacked meticulously on top out it of the way. The green box was a tad smooshed, but it was no matter. What was inside was perfectly safe and for that I thanked God. I had pulled out a box of fish sticks. Success, fish sticks and mac and cheese.That was a complete meal – never mind the lack of veggies, no one will miss them. “I’ll these babies swimming in tartar sauce so quick that Rob and Jerry aren’t gonna miss any green beans,” I thought. You may be thinking,”she sure is excited about a box of fish sticks.” And maybe I was, but they were my saving grace that evening. Simple, quick and filling – and my two year old was sure to eat every bit which would mean no warring over making him clear his plate before he left the table. WINNING.
While I was growing up, I remember those frantic evenings at my house. Where my mother was getting home from one job, only to be heading back out the door to the next in a matter of just two hours. All while she had three children to cook for. Thats when the fish sticks came out. Or the meatloaf. Or *shudder* the hamburger helper. Sometimes, those evenings occurred more often than not. Hence, more make shift (in my opinion) meals that I would sometimes loathe. I would sometimes pout and wonder why we couldn’t eat something better or different. And overtime, I grew tired of eating those things.
When Rob and I were first married, I was limited on what I could cook but I enjoyed and always tried to cook a nice dinner for us on the nights we ate in. And then after we became parents and Jerry began to share food with us, I still tried to put effort into what I cooked for us, as well as expand my repertoire of meals. And in many ways I have been successful. But sometimes, it was at the cost of time and to MUCH effort. Part of me felt as though she should cook large, elaborate meals. I want to have the meat, the starch and the veggies. I marinade whenever possible. I try to make things from scratch as much as I can. All while usually making a mess in my kitchen from one end to the other and usually taking up way to much of my time. This isn’t to say that a meal that doesn’t include any of these things isn’t a good meal, mind you, so please don’t read me as saying that. But I felt the need to spend a ton of time in the kitchen, rushing around making meals that were time and ingredient consuming. I didn’t use cream of anything soups, fish sticks, hot dogs, instant mac and cheese or already prepared biscuits. I didn’t “need them,” I thought. Until recently, that is. Finally, with two children, I’m realizing…”OK…you need to think of things to make that are more hands off, make less of a mess and don’t take as much time.”
Hence, where the title of this blog came from. The second I sat down and watched my family eat those fish sticks and mac and cheese…I understood. I’m surprising myself lately as I discover some of the ridiculous standards that I have set for myself in my home building efforts. The perfect, elaborate dinner does not always a happy family at the dinner table make. My husband is amazing in that he has always been grateful – and eaten- anything I put in front of him. I guess a few years eating in the Marine Corps chow hall will do that. But what he is most tickled with, me thinks, is that he has a loving (obnoxious) wife at home that takes the time to make his meals and, usually, clean up from them afterwards. A wife to pack his lunch full of left overs the next day. And time to sit with his son and hear about his day. And for me, I should take the time to relish in a few minutes to sit down, enjoy listening to Rob talk about his day and be thankful that I have a husband who provides for these meals. And of course, to enjoy Jerry all the more. That is the true nature of what a meal time should be about. To watch your family grow day by day. To see your family become a fruitful vine around your table. A time to be grateful for one another, and for the time and days that we are given. The chance to thank the Lord for His bounty and blessings given to us. And the chance to see Jerry put mac and cheese in his hair. Thanksgiving should be a spirit of which we are filled up with, not a day out of the year.
So from here on out, I’m trying to cut myself some more slack. Sure, I’ll try to think ahead. And sure, sometimes I’m going to go for it and buy salmon on a whim. Or a roast I need to constantly baste. And I’m still going to make biscuits and mashed potatoes from scratch whenever I get a chance. But will I probably abuse my crock pot more from now on? Yep. Will I use campbell’s cream of chicken or celery where necessary to add flavor quickly? Yea. And will I let the dirty dishes sit in my sink until tomorrow without worry over them keeping me up at night? I’m gonna try. I’m hoping and praying to be over this hump of beating myself up over the things that don’t quite matter as much. Here is to frozen pizzas, fish sticks and boxed Home Banquets and Velveeta meals.
That said, I’m going to put a recipe on here (when time allows) for something simple, quick and delicious. Maybe it will bless you and you can find the time to use it in your kitchen. It certainly has been helpful for me to have it – and Rob loves it.
Psalms 128: 2-4:
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.