Peanut went to a birthday party this weekend while I stayed at home and cooked through Butter’s nap. Increasingly, I don’t have time to prep and cook meals so I do it all on the weekend to eat throughout the week.
Though I do this to save time and money, I also do it because I don’t trust most of the prepared foods at the store and in restaurants. Since the 1990s I’ve tried to be more and more aware of how food is made (and of which ingredients). I don’t like chemical tasting food and I tend to buy and prepare foods in their natural states. We try to eat whole, natural, organic foods grown by local, sustainable farms and businesses.
And since I had kids I’ve gotten much more annoying about how careful I am.
So I cook as much as I can. Local, fresh, organic, whole. And I fake it when I need to (we have almond butter sandwiches for dinner at least once a week, not because I’m an About Last Night fan but because we run out of leftovers and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna take my hour of free time during Butter’s nap every day to cook something that might or might not be eaten later.)
On the weekend I try to blend homemade sauces like tahini and hummus, slow cook some vegetarian chili, make lentils and couscous with veggies, pre-layer black bean quesadillas, overcook and mash white bean and sweet potatoes for homemade burgers, prep berry almond smoothies, slice goat cheese and polenta to grill later with marinara, and bake a homemade pizza. The boys will generally eat these things, I have two hands to prepare on the weekend, these dishes don’t take careful spicing or attentive cooking, and most of the items last well through the week. So I sacrifice an afternoon or two to the home cooking gods.
[A friend once joked that a real Top Chef quick fire challenge would be to create something edible in 45 minutes…when you have to leave the prep area every 5 minutes to break up a fight, and leave the cooking area every 3 minutes to remind people about the rules, and leave the food unattended for at least 10 minutes while you run after someone making very poor choices. I would watch that episode a dozen times, were they ever to get that real with their reality programming.]
But making good food for four people is increasingly wearing on me. I’m tired of the work, I’m tired of checking labels, I’m tired of the exorbitant cost, and I’m tired of being such an annoying stickler.
Plus, it’s a pain that my day generally falls into the pattern:
wake to crying…clean a bottom…prepare food…serve food…attend to crying…
clean a bottom…shuffle people into car…serve food…shuffle people into car…
clean up food…prepare food…serve food…attend to crying…clean a bottom…
clean up after food…serve food….clean up after food…attend to crying…
shuffle people into car…prepare food…serve food…clean a bottom…clean up after food…prepare food…fall asleep
I’m getting tired of cooking my own beans to avoid BPA and making my own marinara to avoid BPA and putting everything in washable bags to avoid phthalates and refusing to do disposable to avoid adding to the landfill and buying local and organic at three times the price to avoid pesticides and herbicides and petroleum and child labor.
Then Eric Schlosser goes and writes something new that reminds me why we do this. Pseudofood is killing the planet, killing people, and killing farmers. I want to rip out the backyard, plant a bigger edible garden, write letters to local and national government, run for political office, take on the restaurant and agriculture lobbies, and rebuild the FDA and USDA to serve consumers.
Because what we’re eating now is not food. And the more people who know that, the better the food we get will become. And the less often I will have my kid come home from a birthday party full of modern marvels labeled as food.
[Of this I’m enormously jealous, by the way. I want to go back to a time when a blue tongue was fun rather than a source of stress, and when sugar was fun not toxic. But that ship has sailed.]