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Just Like Mom Used To (Try To) Make

The girls and I are doing our weekly shopping at the local grocery store. All of the food looks so...pretty. I wonder what it would be like to know what to do with all that pretty shiny produce, all those perfect fillets of fish, all those grains. I wonder what it would be like to be a natural at this cooking stuff.

We head to the deli section, where we wait in line for American cheese, Ms. Finicky's favorite.

"Look really cute," says Ms. Finicky to her older sister. "That way they might give us a slice before they wrap it up."

They beam in unison at the person behind the counter, who smiles back. Success. Free cheese.

Older Daughter notices something. "Mom. Look at all the signs by the salads."

She means the chicken salad and the tuna salad and the egg salad and the potato salad. All of them are labeled: "JUST LIKE MOM'S!"

"Huh," I say. "That's new."

"Yeah. And what if you have a mom--" I can see she is choosing her words carefully.


"What if you have a mom, who, you know, maybe wasn't the best chef? That would be terrible advertising."

"How's it working on you? The advertising." I ask.

She smiles slyly. "You're not THAT bad."

Ms. Finicky, looking like a mouse, peers over the top of her free cheese slice. "Well, SOMETIMES you are. But you're trying. And trying is important."

It's true on both counts. Sometimes I am a terrible chef, but I really am trying. Family dinnertime has surely improved at Chez Jenny, as we've gotten more and more used to being a family of three instead of four. Sure, there've been a few recent muck-ups, but my report card is better this semester. Recently, I've busted out some excellent dinners, including a pan-seared salmon ("I WILL ONLY EAT THE PINK FISH," declared Ms. Finicky. "I LIKE PINK.") that I managed to cook skin-side down, just like Gordon Ramsay taught me. (I also managed to get the thing out of the pan in one piece, which was a major personal culinary victory.)

This fall, I pulled off really good homemade mashed potatoes, mac-and-cheese NOT out of a box, sauteed spinach, lentil soup, chickpea salad, and chicken burritos. Part of the fun watching them grow up is seeing which genes are kicking in when it comes to food preferences. My older daughter is a hot sauce and vinegar junkie like me, and we do it up right when we make burritos, tacos or salads. Zing!

I'm inconsistent as far as cooking goes, but I get a solid B+ for effort. The one thing that is consistent at dinnertime, though? Laughter. Lots and lots of it. And that, my friends, is impossible to screw up. Happy dinners, all!

What do you love most about dinnertime with your family?

by on Oct. 26, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Replies (41-50):
by Member on Oct. 28, 2011 at 8:57 PM

The time we get to spend together.

by Member on Oct. 28, 2011 at 8:57 PM

Great story!

by Bronze Member on Oct. 28, 2011 at 9:14 PM

 You're right, it can be a challenge and it's worth indulging yourself & your family every once in a while.  But, learning to cook with new foods or recipes can be fun too.

Quoting Bmat:

I also agree.  Now that I am trying to use more recommended foods and cooking methods, it isn't as much fun, and the family is complaining more.

Quoting Wish2Be:


Quoting elasmimi:

I used to love to cook for my family, not as thrilled since we are trying to eat healthier. It's a challenge for sure.

 I agree. I am trying to do the same....and whats happening is I find a couple good things to make...and make them over and over until I am sick of eating it all the time :(


by Bronze Member on Oct. 28, 2011 at 10:31 PM

LOL, keep trying mom!

by on Oct. 28, 2011 at 10:55 PM

I just love sharing a meal together and talking to each other. Thanks for sharing.

by on Oct. 28, 2011 at 11:42 PM

 My boys are not too keen on trying new recipes, but my husband and I love to try new foods.

by Kristin on Oct. 28, 2011 at 11:48 PM

 I love listening to what my kids have to say. Some of the funnest conversations come out during dinner time.

by Kristin on Oct. 28, 2011 at 11:48 PM

 I also love making food that they LOVE. Its so rewarding for them to eat healthy things that they love.

by Member on Oct. 29, 2011 at 8:40 AM

Oh my gosh.  I cannot stop laughing.  Kids are so funny and yours appear to be pretty clever.  But I think what I love most about dinner time is getting to sit down with my family and just talk.  No cell phones are allowed to come into the dining room and I love this rule.  However, I also enjoy setting the table with my 4 year old daughter.  She pretends we are chefs and getting ready for customers EVERY night.

by on Oct. 29, 2011 at 10:50 AM

I just love when we can all sit down and relax together.

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