Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Project:Dinner


My husband's new job is going along rather well; he likes it and he's making some money, which seems very positive. I think it's about as good as it can get when you have only one car and are doing a twice-daily shuttle service, but as it turns out, we have all enjoyed those times in the car. Wimzie comes with me in the mornings and Meelyn and Aisling come with me in the evenings, and it's actually very pleasant.
The only fly in the ointment is the fact that his hours are just really kind of bad. I thought he was working all the hours God sent in his old job, but the new job has proved that false. He works three days a week from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., which makes for a really long day, for him and for us. The part that's been so difficult has been how to have a family dinner.

Since we go to pick him up, the four of us generally aren't sitting down at the dining room table until 8:45 p.m., which is too darned late if you're a glass-half-empty sort of person, or intriguingly European, if you're the other kind. I think I'm somewhere in the middle.
Finding good dinners that can be served as soon as we walk in the door has been a challenge. I definitely overworked the Mexican chili and the tacos: I will vomit everything I have eaten since birth if I have to eat another bowlful of Mexican chili anytime soon. Ditto tacos. I have a homemade chicken pot pie that can be baked in the oven for the hour that it takes to go get my husband and drive back home, but the one time I had that baking in the oven, I was a bucketful of nerves, wondering if he was going to get stuck dealing with a late-arriving customer while our house filled with smoke, courtesy of the chicken pot pie.

As recourse, I have turned to my slow-cooker. Meelyn, Aisling and I browsed through some cooking magazines I've saved over the past six years or so for Crock-Pot recipes that sounded good -- Quick Cooking magazine, to be exact. I know that the idea of this magazine, which is based on the premise that you can use convenience foods like frozen tater tots and canned cream of mushroom soup is one that makes Kayte and Susie want to fall prostrate on the floor, but all I can say is that I haven't had a copy since my subscription ran out about four years ago. Mea culpa.
My criteria for slow-cooker recipes was that they needed to be prepared with as many inexpensive ingredients (read: "available at ALDI") as possible; hopefully including some fresh vegetables; and something that the whole family would eat without balking. Luckily, none of us are picky eaters, so that last item didn't seem like it would be too difficult to accomplish, until last night's dinner was served, that is.
Here are the recipes we picked out, which, strangely enough, came from only three issues of Quick Cooking:

1. Savory Cheese Soup - June 2000 (Meelyn)
2. Pork Chops and Baked Beans - June 2000 (me)
3. Turkey with Mushroom Sauce - March/April 2000 (Aisling) [we're substituting chicken]
4. Tender Barbecued Chicken - March/April 2000 (me)
5. Meal-in-One Casserole - March/April 2000 (me)
6. Creamy Chicken Fettucine - January/February 2001 (Meelyn)
7. Casserole in the Cooker - January/February 2001 (me)

I thought I might post each recipe here at InsomniMom with a review of how well it cooked, how it tasted, etc.
One nice thing that's come of these later hours is that we're not copping out and eating dinner on trays in front of the television much at all anymore. I know, I know. We're barbarians. Picts, Angles, Saxons, Visigoths, even. We're sitting at the table with my lovely, rugged patchouli candle -- lighted -- in a bed of potpourri in my great-grandmother's burl bowl as a centerpiece, classical music playing gently in the background.

Because we've lost so many spoons in the garbage disposal (the little buggers are short and once they slip down in there, it is all over in the hideous, grinding shriek of metal on metal), we're always a spoon or two too few, so my husband suggested that we get out the silver flatware my grandparents gave us as a wedding gift and use it. Initially, I was unsure about this. It can't be washed in the dishwasher, which makes it a bit of a pain, and I'm concerned about losing a silver spoon down in the depths of the disposal. Somehow, that isn't as alarming when you're talking about a piece of stainless steel Oneida purchased at Target. But he and the girls won out, and I have to say that it is a great pleasure to use that flatware. It makes me think of my grandmother, who passed away when I was expecting Aisling, and I have such happy memories of her.

1 comment:

Kbg said...

Wow...what a plan of menus! I hope you will post the results.

I know what you mean...I have my grandmother's and great-grandmother's kitchen things and I love using them just because they used them and I remember using them with them. Good times. Sad that they are now gone.