I am a 38 year old man who as an adult has lived, for the most part, either by himself or with women who didn’t put a lot of points into cooking at character creation. I enjoy preparing food. I like taking the disparate elements and then changing them and combining them to get a desired outcome. I like to eat and I understood early that if I wanted to eat well I had to learn how to do it. My signature dishes are my lamb chops and my baked trout stuffed with mushrooms. I don’t do cakes or pies but I can make a mean bouillabaisse. I never would plan ahead. I would go to the store and see what looked good. I’d grab it and try and figure out how to make it taste good.
C is a good cook. She has decreed herself Master of the Grill, which is totally fair because the woman can grill the shit out of just about anything. She’s way better than I am with an open flame. We had people over the other day for Cinco De Mayo and she made carne asada that, if it were possible, I would eat every single day until I died of heart failure.
“What are you doing?” I asked the next day as she was preparing a lunch made of leftover carne asada for the boys. “Don’t give them that. It’s amazing and totally wasted on them. I want that. Make them something else!”
C is adorable because, I guess since she was raised in California, she pronounces the names of Mexican foods…well…correctly. Like as if she was speaking Spanish. Even though she is right and we are wrong, T1 and I still delight in teasing her about it.
“Can we have some tor-teeee-yas?” we will say, pronouncing the words as if we are Beavis in Cornhollio mode. “Or maybe some carrrrrneyy a-sa-da?”
T1 and I are gigantic assholes.
I still cook all the time, but the nature of the meals I am preparing has changed significantly. We eat early. Not quite senior living facility early, but still closer to six o’clock than to eight. We do this out of necessity. The boys have homework and showers and basically have to be in bed around nine, so eating at 8:30 doesn’t make a lot of sense. Also, we don’t, as C has told me on several occasions, have all day. We have to cook stuff that can be prepared either quickly or easily. Both is better. We eat well, and we eat healthy (mostly), but I haven’t had a chance to make a lot of elaborate meals lately. The boys, T1 especially, are eating machines and while they are usually game to try just about anything, there isn’t a whole lot of call for haute cuisine. That said, I try to be creative.
A few nights ago I made macaroni and cheese and hotdogs wrapped in tortillas, which T1 immediately dubbed “Burrito Dogs™.” It was good and it was fast. I had one for breakfast today.
Last night I made pan roasted cod with a simple butter sauce. On the side we had steamed artichokes and couscous. This is a little bit more in keeping with my general cooking style. I didn’t think the boys were going to go for it, but they loved it.
T1 went back for seconds. In transferring the fish from the pan to his plate, he dropped a bit on the floor. He looked down it and then up at me, a sad look on his face.
“If you eat it,” I said, “I won’t judge you.”
“Please look away,” he said to his mother. Then he picked it up and popped it in his mouth.
“Five second rule,” I said.
“I subscribe to the ten second rule,” he replied.
It’s fortunate that our floors are relatively clean.
There are a handful of food items, largely microwavable, that I ate as a kid or in college that once I got to the point where I could order a drink in a restaurant, I avoided. Then I moved in with C and the boys and have been rediscovering some of them.
Ramen noodles, for example. A staple of college life, I had pretty much not had them since. T1 loves them and, as it turns out, ramen noodles are fantastic. It helps that we by the slightly more exotic ones from the Asian market, but still…damned tasty.
Toaster Strudels are great. They avoid the cardboard issue that I will address shortly and there is a fun element of creativity involved as you get to put the icing on yourself.
Corndogs…I’d eat corndogs all the time as a kid but almost not at all as an adult. They are delicious. I’m not sure how I forgot how awesome corndogs are. Honest to god, if Foster Farms needs someone to be a spokesperson for their Honey Crunch Corn Dogs, I am that person. They can sponsor the blog, if they’d like.
Not everything is great though. A lot of this crap needs to be left in childhood.
Pop Tarts taste a lot like cardboard stuffed with jam. Hot Pockets taste like cardboard stuffed with cheese. A lot of foods aimed primarily towards children and the homebound taste like cardboard filled with various and sundry food-like items.
Capri Sun was a big disappointment. I remember when Capri Sun debuted. It was all the rage in elementary school. There was the cool foil packet, which seemed sort of space aged at the time. There was the degree of difficulty involved in stabbing the aforementioned packet with the straw provided. The straw seemed to bend in half about 50% of the time. If you managed to penetrate that outer foil shield wall you were rewarded with the sweet, sweet nectar inside.
Which, as an adult, you realize is low grade sugar water. Not particularly refreshing or delicious.
The boys eat some stuff that is just flat out disgusting.
For example, and I know this is a snack old as the concept of snacking, they love celery with the bend in the celery filled with peanut butter and then raisins stuck on the top. Ants on a Log, I believe it is called.
I like all of those elements individually, but put together it is totally gross. I’m big on texture and Ants on a Log has the texture of eating a cockroach. At least, I’d imagine as much. You crunch through the outer shell only to be met with a mushy inside filled with chewy bits. Yuck.
T2 loves something called Daminals. These are yogurt smoothies. He would drink/eat (because it’s not really one or the other) nothing but Danimals if he could get away with it. Well, that’s not entirely true. He also loves bread in any form and Nutella, a hazelnut spread which he eats, when we allow it, spooned straight from the container. But a Nutella sandwich with a Danimals on the side is pretty much his perfect meal.
Anyway, he goes through these things like crazy. The other day he asked if he could have one. I told him yes and told him to bring me one. We sat next to each other on the couch, popped open the foil covers on our yogurt smoothies, clinked the plastic bottles together, and drank deeply.
“Ughh,” I sputtered. “Ack.”
He downed his completely and looked at me, a Daminals mustache on his upper lip.
“T2,” I said, “there are terrible.”
“Yeah,” he replied, “terribly awesome.”
Maybe his palate is more sophisticated than mine.