Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Box, Packet and Beef

pre-packaged, quicky meals are not necessarily horrific if you find yourself needing a magic wand at a time of night when you could make a misstep that could lead to late night eating which, in our house, just won't do. oh, no. i made a commitment to myself on new year's eve that i would not, no matter what, have my sons eat past 7:30 in the evening. of course, if we're in europe enjoying a siesta, well, i could make a concession to that. i mean, i'm not COMPLETELY heartless. hell, if we were in europe, i would let them eat in their sleep, for godsakes. but, at the moment, we are in kansas and it is my goal in life to teach my children good eating habits -- along with excellent DINING habits. you would think that by the ages of 11 and 12, i would have done my job, right? don't count on it. i'm not the "faboo mom" poster mother on any level, but i get by and my children seem to love and even like me, so i must be doing something right. whether it's the right kind of right, who knows? but i'm doing, well, something. and one of my somethings is this...
tonight was one of those rush home, pick up some groceries, cook up some pre-packaged taco whatever adding beef, tortillas of my own and whatever condiments will work. as i cringed inside and dished this out to smiling boy faces, let me explain:


and i do mean anything.
i don't like pre-made pasta sauce, but i use it.
i don't like pre-made pasta in cute, fridge case packages -- so i NEVER use them.
i don't like pre-packaged pizza dough, because it's SOOOOO easy to make, freeze and hold onto (really).
i don't like pre-packaged pie crust, although i have discovered rather yummy and serviceable pie dough from the freezer that i would use in a pinch.
i don't like, as you know, pre-made fondant (and to all of my friends who rescued me that day, one dinner at McCormick and Schmick's is NO WAY the big enough thank you all of you deserve... don't think i've forgotten you).
i like getting my hands in it, being all about it, creating from scratch anything. bread to baked goods to entrees and beyond. there's a certain sort of comfort in knowing all of the yums that went into the big picture were by your hand, at least for me. it warms my heart and brings a smile to my soul.
but, tonight?
i succumbed.
i'll forgive myself.
i already have.
my kids didn't care.
oh, i know.
you think since they eat these home cooked meals of substance that a hot dog and cheeseburger would be, well, just below them.
this is what my son, brandon, told me on the phone tonight as he was out with his "big brother":
"hey, guess what, mom. guess what cool thing i had that you guys didn't."
(we had leftovers tonight, nicholas and i)
i said to him, "what?"
and with a huge, salacious smile in his voice, a delight that was beyond compare and a smugness that only he (and my brother, who shares the same ability to completely epitomize joy like no other human being i know just in their essence -- so cool), he said, "a CHEEEEEESE-burger... yep."
he's eleven. he's an actual eleven year-old who, yes, also loves ratatouille, indian food, couscous with currants, a good spinach salad, homemade bread and handcrafted desserts piped with handmade roses. he's still eleven and nicholas is still twelve and they're american and we live just 4 minutes from a McDonald's.
yeah, don't think that isn't quite the discussion on weekends (although, when i pull into Panera to get them their Chicken Pomodoro sandwiches with Iced Green tea instead of a Quarter Pounder with Cheese or a Big Mac they smile bigger).
the box
and beef...
it's amazing the magic they create.
julia would forgive me, i think.
i hope.

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