From dinner drudgery to culinary creative: this is the meal that never ends but now I'm ok with that
"Who knew the hardest part of being an adult is figuring out what to cook for dinner every single night for the rest of your life until you die."
I have been a wife for 17 years to date. A mother for 15. I've cooked thousands of dinners. For many years I resented having to come up with something every single night. It felt like prison. The monotony was crushing. I even made a Facebook group called "What's for Dinner?!" Yes, with the exclamation point too. I discovered through that group I wasn't the only one struggling to figure out what to prepare night after night. If the clock dipped past 4pm and I hadn't started my prep or at least have a direction, I could feel the cold sweat coming on, the rise in heart rate. Just gimme something easy and quick so I could move on with my life. Until the next day. You know how it goes. I'd purse my lips and squint my eyes glaringly at those bloggers who would fawn over their housewife role as meal maker. How they loved it. How they saw it as their God given privilege to feed their family, complete with pictures of smiling children and candle lit table settings and matching plates. Liars, I thought.
A large part of my conversion to happier homemaker (I say happier, cause let's face it, some days it's still a slog to get that dinner on the plate), has been using ingredients that I know where they came from. I can picture the person who grew that produce. I revisit the memory of picking up the meat right from that farmer. I've walked the lands and shaken the hands of the folks connected to the the food I am preparing right this moment. It makes me appreciate it so much more. It's personal now. I know in part, of the work that has gone into growing this food and I want to honor it and thereby honor them.
When you pick up food from the grocery store, it's like inviting a stranger for dinner. You don't know where they came from, how they were raised, how far they've traveled, what they've been sprayed with or when they were harvested. They are unknown, a mystery.
I have discovered when I cook or bake with food I know personally I am much more creative with it. It has sparked something within me and brought joy into my kitchen. My family can also taste the difference. My Pinterest searches have broadened from the 30-Minute meal to how to make gnocchi with parsnips or how to cook with lemon leaves. The food has become a canvas. I am an artist and creating has brought me great satisfaction. Knowing I am actually nourishing my family because I know my farmers has grounded me and given me confidence as a mother and wife.
Of course I don't often cook with 100% known food. That's a real winner meal when that does happen. I shop at the store and pick up my mystery guests and bring them home to introduce them to my known food. Y'all play nice now and be delicious m'kay?