What’s for tea Mum?
What’s for lunch Mum?
What’s for supper Mum?
Oh Mum what time is it?
It’s dinner time!! Grrrrrrh
I am rubbish at cooking. Actually that is a gross understatement. I just can’t be bothered with it all. It involves pealing, chopping and invariably fondling raw breasts. Of course, I blame my mother for this who has been known to serve us waffles and chips as a complete meal growing up. It wasn’t her fault. I think with five wilful children, she just gave up and wanted a peaceful life – a genius move on her part.
I had worthy intentions when my oldest boy was born. I brought the Annabel Karmel weaning book and everything and spent the latter months of my maternity leave making up little ice cubes of organic beef stew and lentil and bean surprise. It would take hours and hours. The reward? A little baby boy spitting it out all over me (and the cream carpet).
Hundreds of tears (mine) and brown blobs later, I toughened up and thought bugger that. There must be another way. There was – it was called Ella’s Kitchen pouches. Just because it was in a posh packaging and not a jar it felt okay – as long as you didn’t tell anyone (the failed shame!!).
Seven years on, things haven’t improved. In fact they have got steadily worse. Gabriel aside, I have two of the fussiest eaters in the world who pride themselves on liking the opposite things. One detests pizza, the other Chinese. One detests beans, the other eggs. Both abhor “bits” of every description. Every meal time is littered with ” how many more mouthfuls mum” and “oops I’ve dropped half my dinner on the floor”. You would think I was poisoning them (well not intentionally).
So dinner time is frankly one large pain in the bum. And deciding what to feed people is the bane of my life. Despite this, I live in a house of optimists and one of the first things my children say on leaving school is “what’s for dinner Mum?” I always pretend I haven’t decided to save the wails of discontent until we are at least behind closed doors. Even the husband bounds home enthusiastically and asks what’s cooking good looking? (I added the last bit – in his head I think he’s saying what’s on the hob k***?)
Me: Fishy fingers and smiley faces?
Him: Okay… anything else?
Me: Jacket potato and omelette?
Him: Nah – anything that real people eat?
Me: Chicken and super noodles.
Him: Fishy fingers is it then.. again!
But then sometimes (not very often), the planets align and I cook something that no one moans about; everyone seems to enjoy and they all ask for more (well that bit is a fib). Tonight was one of those nights and dinner time was a huge success. I had spent some time thinking about what everyone liked, shopped in advance (instead of darting in five minutes before school pickup and flinging random items into the basket) and I had taken my time with it so it was nice (ish).
I was so proud of myself. I felt like a flipping rock star. Take that Beyoncé.
It was all very relaxed and we actually chatted about our days and had some giggles. We then cleared the table, made some crafts and played charades before the children retired to bed on time with no fuss (that bit is also a fib).
*Obviously that is not actually what I cooked; that would shattering the illusion somewhat. Let’s just say it was edible. Just. Thank god my family’s bar is set low.
*Copyright BBC Good Food.