19 May 2009

Short order Cook

I thought it would be good to share some chit-chat about my cooking escapades at home with my children. Being a single (divorced) mother of two, head of household, wellness guru, avid fitness person, gardener, bill payer, photography hobbyist, baseball/softball/track mom, friend to some, writer, project manager (for my children), housekeeper.... etc... I can say I have many careers/positions/purposes in life!

On a daily basis in my house, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I am a short-order cook TOO! A short order cook does not need any formal training or degree, but must be able to prepare various types of dishes in a quick amount of time, pleasing the individuals who partake of it, almost always! I learned this over the past 10 yrs.

At first, when I was still married, I had a few different nannies who did not know how to cook. While being a full-time working mother, I used to prepare ALL the meals for the week (yes, all, B, L and D) on Sundays and divide them up into containers to freeze or refrigerate. This went on for about 4 solid years. I would prepare cereals, eggs, soups, sauces, casseroles, dishes of all sorts... you name it! It was extremely important to me that my children had healthy, well-prepared meals despite the fact that my nannies could not cook. You may ask why I would hire such people who were supposed to make my life easier? Well, they did, because they excelled in other areas, such as teaching, nurturing, organization, etc., and so I had to give a little to get a little!

At one point, I had the most wonderful nanny who became like a grandmother to my children. They adored her, and she adored them. In the gentlest way, she was able to get them to behave and show love ... in a way that I tried to master too! It was just something about her aura. So much so that, she managed to get me to cook for HER even though she did know how to cook!! How did she manage this? Just by her graceful way of indulging in my prepared foods, she would say, "Oh Miss Jacquie, this meal is so delicious!" I just felt inclined to feed her too.

Ever since I was about 18 years old, after much guidance from my parents, particularly my father, I embraced the desire to become a good cook. Later in life, I realized I loved the reaction I would get from people when they tasted my food. I loved the wonderful challenge of pleasing people's palates which lead to me loving to entertain. Whenever I wanted to be pleased, I would love to go out to be wined and dined.

Now, many years later, my children dash to the kitchen when I am cooking, any meal of the day, asking, "what are you making" when their noses are filled with the aromas that permeate the air in the entire house (I try to remember to shut the doors but sometimes forget!). Sometimes I shoo them away saying, "it's a surprise," and other times I let them "peak in the pot," which either brightens their faces, or makes them say, "oh brrrother!!" I especially love when my son Miles (or vice versa) yells down the hall to his sister, "Nia... she's not making your favorite dish, she is making soup again!"

Either way, I can say that most times, once their forks or spoons carry the goodness of my creation to their tongues.... there is much satisfaction on their faces. Their frowns turn upside down! This has become my burden now because they get up almost every morning making requests, "Mommy, can you make that delicious oatmeal again so that it tastes just like it did yesterday?" or "Mommy, I would like an omelette, AND some apple-pear pancakes!" Forget trying to explain time limits or lack of ingredients....

What!!?? Oh no. We can't have breakfasts like that everyday. But I come close to fulfilling some of their requests when I can. I actually try to plan ahead which is something you have to do when you have small children. Most mornings I explain that balance is the name of the game. They always start out with water or tea, cut up fresh fruit and I even explain what goodness is in the fruit that they are eating so they have a real appreciation for why they are eating it. From there, I prepare the rest of breakfast.....

I send them off to school every single morning knowing that I managed to address their nutritional needs with purposeful balance. I truly love that I have come to a point where I can feed my children loads of healthy foods/creations, and manage to delight them in the process.

In an effort to lighten my load with food worries, my son's school lunches are pre-ordered selections of hot food which are delivered straight to the school. I can not say that I am enamored with all of the selections of the lunches, and he is not either, but we acknowledge it and we make an effort to make sure he has healthy breakfasts and healthy dinners to balance it out.

My daughter on the other hand, refuses to eat any of those lunches, and so I have to prepare lunch for her EVERYDAY. Every morning I prepare something nutritious and delicious for her to take to school (or I drop it to the school). Her lunches always include some sort of healthy green or colorful vegetable, grain, protein, etc.

I actually enjoy my morning short-order cook position -- it goes fast, with fulfilling purpose, and my pay is the reward of my well nourished children!

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