Jaunty Post

I’m not going to lie. I’m a foodie.

I’m not obnoxious about it. (At least, I don’t think I am.) But I like to cook and I like to eat good food. I love baking to the point that it’s almost a psychologically diagnosable disorder. I get Cook’s Illustrated magazine (which, The Geek likes to point out, never has any illustrations of actual cooks) and I have a collection of cookbooks that’s almost embarrassing.

Despite my love of cooking, I still struggle with meal planning. I do almost all the cooking in my family. Between family dinners, weekend breakfasts and kid lunches and snacks, I’m responsible for seventeen to twenty meals a week. Sometimes I just want to yell, “Why can’t you people eat less often???”

Plus, planning’s not my strong suit. But I’m trying to get better. I’ve been doing the weekly meal planning thing for a couple of years now. I try to keep it (sort of) simple on week nights. Only cooking things I’ve already made before or using recipes that look easy. But sometimes, I miss the mark.

Last night, for example, I’d picked out a recipe from one of  Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute cook books. Something vegetarian with spinach and mushrooms and pasta. Looked easy enough. Ninety minutes later, my kids are crazy and starving, the kitchen is trashed. My husband looked at me hungrily. “Is there anything I can do to help?” I glared at the pile of mushrooms I’d spent a full thirty minutes scrubbing. “That Rachel Ray is a lying b**ch.”

Worse still was the fact that the meal was only so so. I mean, it was fine. It just wasn’t 90 minutes good.

I honestly don’t mind spending ninety minutes cooking. Some people scrapbook or craft. I cook. It’s all good. I just like knowing what I’m getting into. I’ll gladly invest ninety minutes in a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, because their recipes are also amazing. Or something from the Smitten Kitchen blog, because again, her recipes totally rock it! (If you aren’t familiar with the Smitten Kitchen, here’s my favorite recipe of hers: Pancetta White Bean Pot Pies. Yes, they take a while, but holy crap they are so good you’ll want to climb in the bowl and roll around.

So tell me, do you love to cook? If so what’s your favorite cookbook/cooking blog? If you don’t like to cook, what is your hobby? I’ll send a copy of one of my books to one person who comments.

33 thoughts on “The Dinner Dilemma

  1. Liz V. says:

    Least amount of cooking is best. Reading is my alternative. 😉

    1. EmilyMcKay says:

      Liz, I hear ya! Reading … ah, that sounds great. I have this weird writer thing … I can’t read novels when I’m under the wire on deadline. Which means there are huge portions of the year that I just can’t read. It makes me so sad! I wonder if I cook to make up for that lack?

  2. Shana Shana says:

    I have started cooking a little, but I hate it. I kind of like the vegetarian recipes on this blog.


    1. EmilyMcKay says:

      Thanks Shana! I love vegetarian recipes, so I’ll definitely have to check it out. I try to cook vegetarian at least a couple of times a week.

  3. Lorelei says:

    I used to cook 2-3 meals a day and was creative when I would get bored. I used to like cooking. Now, I kind of don’t, because my kids have grown, everyone has a different schedule and we RARELY have lunch or dinner together, and when we do, I want to get a camera, take a pic and give a group hug! Really, ask my kids! They just roll their eyes.
    I like to make healthy easy meals now, to watch my cholesterol, so I like Lisa Lillien, The Hungry Girl and tried some great recipes there. http://www.hungry-girl.com I also used to watch the food network and like Sandra Lee’s semi homemade cooking.
    Thanks for the chance of winning! Oh, my hobby is reading 😉 I rarely watch TV…

    1. EmilyMcKay says:

      Lorelei, I love that you take a picture of the whole family every time you’re all at the table together! That’s awesome!
      I’ve heard a lot about hungry girl. I’ll have to check it out.

      1. Lorelei says:

        Lol! No…. I meant that I “want” as in I feel like taking pictures, but then my girl complains she doesn’t have makeup on, or the guys have ragged old shirts, not shaved, bed hair, etc, etc, etc. But we do stand and give each other bear hugs, they do it to please me :razz:, still rolling their eyes though. When we are all together it is quite a happy moment for me, it’s more about quality time now. It’s been about 7 yrs I miss our family dinners. But that’s part of life. In 4 years or so, I’ll be joining the empty nesters club.

        1. Emily McKay says:

          Oh … I guess I mis-read … but I do love the idea of taking pictures every time everyone is together.
          But to be honest, I’d probably be the one hiding from the camera. I suspect I look pretty bedraggled by the time I put a meal on the table. June Cleaver I am not.

  4. Kathleen OD says:

    I would not say I Love to Cook, but I do like to cook. But, there is only me to cook for and I tend to make quick one item meals rather than cook a whole meal, your know the Meat and Veggie deal. Being a type 2 Diabetic I have to eat a few small meals a day.. But once a week, I will make a good meal.

    1. EmilyMcKay says:

      Katheleen, yes the diabetes thing is really a game changer when it comes to cooking. My f-i-l is diabetic and I cook for him when we go out there to visit. We try to eat really health anyway, but there are some things I just don’t cook for him.

  5. Mia Marlowe says:

    Alas, my DH says the best thing I make is reservations!

    However, he does admire my homemade noodles, which I trot out two times a year (Thanksgiving & Christmas). That’s enough culinary excess for anyone. 😉

    1. EmilyMcKay says:

      Oooo, homemade noodles? Sounds divine!

  6. Connie Fischer says:

    I’ve always loved to cook. When I was first married and staying home for a few years with little ones, I would scour cookbooks and made a full dinner every night for including dessert. Sometimes, I would start in the morning right after hubby left for work by putting a pork roast in the oven to cook on low. By noon it was done and after it cooled, I would pull all the pieces off discarding every bit of fat and then made a BBQ sauce to serve with it. I love to bake pies and have always had homemade cookies for the children to snack on after school. Now that we are retired, my husband enjoys helping me with dinner. I do the sides and he prepares whatever meat or fish we’re having. I love fresh vegetables and we rarely eat anything frozen. When I worked, I always kept notes in the back of my mind as to what we were having for dinners during the week and planned it all out to ensure quick preparation when we got home from work so there was no waiting to feed a hungry family. With a bit of planning, any busy family can do the same thing. Write it down, purchase ingredients for the week and find a few minutes to prep in the morning for what you’re having that evening. It CAN be done!

    1. EmilyMcKay says:

      Connie, sounds like you’re a real pro at the dinner thing! I can tell you really love to cook too. I knew we were soul sisters!

  7. bn100 says:

    Don’t really cook, like to eat

    1. EmilyMcKay says:

      bn100, so much of my love of cooking stems from my love of food. I just like to eat. Maybe I’m just too cheap to eat out all the time.

  8. catslady says:

    Yes and no lol. I’ve been doing it for over 43 years so there are times when it gets old. I now do the sunday dinners for my grown kids too and their signifcant others. Trying to come up with new ideas is the hardest. And then you have to worry about this one not eating mushrooms and this one doesn’t like most fish etc. etc. So the actual cooking I enjoy (not so much the cleanup lol) My husband’s only contribution is when he brings home takeout!

  9. CateS says:

    If you don’t already have enough cookbooks… get some of the Moosewood ones.. or check them out at the library! WOnderful vegaterian stuff… that and cook double & freeze half for later.. or get down & dirty and check out the freezer/crockpot sites.. where you do have to plan and then prep, but it all goes in the freezer & you just pull out what you want for dinner..
    You have to remember… Rachael Ray does have prep kitchen help!!

    1. EmilyMcKay says:

      Oh, I have three Moosewood cookbooks. I love them! We aren’t vegetarians, but I like to do vegetarian at least a couple of times a week. And then go light on meat for at least a couple more. I love the Moosewood cookbooks for that in particular. I love to make some great vegetarian thing from there … and then sprinkle a chopped piece of bacon on top.

      1. CateS says:

        BACON!!! I’ve heard tell of people who don’t eat bacon, but I’ve never met one.

        1. Emily McKay says:

          I have a friend whose hubby is muslim, so they don’t to bacon at all. (Or a ton of other stuff you wouldn’t think about like marshmallows. Which means no Peeps!) Don’t get me wrong, I admire anyone who has that kind of will power, but giving up bacon? That’s a whole lot of love.

  10. Quilt Lady says:

    I cook meals about every night and I know what you mean on the mill planning. I live with a picky bunch and they don’t like to try anything new. So I cook the same thing all the time. I don’t usually use a cookbook unless I am baking something. I don’t bake to often because I will eat it and I don’t need it.

    1. EmilyMcKay says:

      Quilt Lady, my kids are pretty good about trying new things, but there are definitely things they just don’t like and I can’t win them over. They don’t like spicy foods at all. Which kills me! We’re Texans. We love spicy stuff!

  11. Sandi in OH says:

    After 44 years of cooking, I’m not crazy about it anymore. I love to watch the Barefoot Contessa. I cook simple easy food that doesn’t require a lot of prep time.

    1. EmilyMcKay says:

      Sandi, I hear ya. And as much as i enjoy cooking, I can totally see that. I hope I can retain my enjoyment through the tough years.

  12. Marcy Shuler says:

    I like to cook but am physically unable to do as much as I used to. That doesn’t stop me from buying cookbooks to read though. LOL And I’ve been able to convince my teen sons to cook a recipe that sounds tempting a time or two.

    I like this site: http://southernfood.about.com/

    It has a great crockpot and slow cooker section, too.

    1. EmilyMcKay says:

      Marcy, I hear ya. My mom just can’t cook as much as she used to. And I love crockpot cooking! I’ll have to check it out!

  13. Linda says:

    I can eat the same thing everyday & not be worried about it at all. Plus I’m a vegetarian; I’m happy with a big plate of stir fried broccoli. Yes, I love broccoli!

    1. Emily McKay says:

      Linda, I love broccoli too! And it’s so good for you. I love it in scrambled eggs with a little cheese and salsa. Yum!

  14. Jo's Daughter says:

    I rather like cooking. When my mom got poorly I took over in the kitchen & now I make a homecooked vegetarian meal every day. I don’t do the really elaborate stuff that would take 90 minutes to prepare… But hey simple cooking does not mean that it can’t taste fabulous.

    I have also taken up baking bread. This isn’t at all as difficult as I first thought. But yes all the rising does seem to take forever. I like to bake Nigel Slater’s Soda Bread, quick and a good result. He does a lot of simple things in his show & I’ve often thought what a great idea for a meal.


    1. Emily McKay says:

      I was thinking of making bread today! I mean, I never bake bread, but need something fun to do with my little boy while my daughter and The Geek go to the Father/daughter dance.

  15. Laurie G says:

    I would recommend:
    pioneerwoman.com, tasteofhome.com and thecookingmom.com

    I receive Food Network Magazine and Taste of Home.

    I’ve tried to make my MIL’s strudel dough. Every time my husband and I go through a 5 lb bag of flour and end up arguing because it never gets like my MIL’s strudel dough, so thin you can see through it with no rips.

    1. Emily McKay says:

      That trying to recreate a food your hubby loved is hard! I tried to make stuff cabbage the other day. I thought it turned out really well and The Geek loved it … but it was nothing like his mothers. Oh well…

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