Reservations at Chez Moi

I know this is going to be a Hard Sell to those of you who know me well, but get this:  I’M BECOMING A PRETTY GOOD COOK!

It’s a strange thing, really.  I’ve been motivated to learn this new skill by two seemingly unassociated factors:  for one, I need a hobby that actually BENEFITS my family DIRECTLY instead of one that basically steals my time and attention away from them (even though *I* may love it).  Also, as I’ve pondered on ways to bring my family closer to EACH OTHER and to THE LORD, I remembered this comment from my church’s Worldwide Leadership Training:  Building Up a Righteous Posterity:

A scriptural example that is one of my favorites, is in the last chapter of the Gospel of John, where the Savior at the Sea of Galilee gathered His disciples. He had a fire there and coals and fish, and He said, “Come and dine.” Now, that describes quite a bit of preparation. A meal had been prepared—a family meal, you could say—and He invited them to come and dine, not just run in and eat, but come and dine. And then the scripture says, “When they had dined,”  He then began to teach them that wonderful teaching about feeding His sheep (see John 21:9–15). There is something about eating together and mellowing out and having that feeling there. What would His teaching have looked like if He hadn’t prepared the place to teach it?

He created the setting for that marvelous teaching, and it was a mealtime. And I think that wasn’t accidental.

While we have been very good at eating together as a family, I would *never* characterize my attitude as being one of “Come and Dine.”  It’s been more like “Eat This Junk and Don’t Complain.”  And usually there has been a high percentage of processed food associated with it!  I’ve had an absolute change of heart, though.  And some really great cookbooks to help me*.

Recently I’ve made Chicken Parmesan, Tandoori Chicken with Coconut Rice, and Pan-Seared Pork Chops with an Apple-Cranberry Compote and Parmesan Tomato Rigatone.  Yes, yes, I’ve tossed in a frozen pizza and some chicken patties in between big meals, but I’m really on a roll y’all!  On a whim the other morning I even made some popovers (my husband says they’re dutch babies).  The point is…everything has been so good!  I’m really learning a lot!

My first shopping trip for special ingredients took me forever, mostly because I didn’t know what ANYTHING was, but now I have a respectable stash of “good stuff.”  So much so that when I went shopping today for the next 5 meals, I didn’t have to get so much or work so hard.  Coming up in the next week:  Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce, Buttermilk Baked Chicken, Beef and Orange Stir Fry, Almond-Apricot Chicken, and Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple.  I must confess, most of the sides are still courtesy of Uncle Ben and Bird’s Eye, because I have a hard time doing a main and a side at the same time!  Maybe my abilities will increase with time and practice?

My family has responded with so much encouragement and enthusiasm.  They’ve been incredibly patient over the years with my unimaginative rotation of tacos, spaghetti, and a variety of heat-and-serve or just-add-xyz dinners.  They’re trying the “new stuff” and expressing pleasure – or at least interest – in their newfound Cooking Mother.  I feel like I’m finally earning the apron my sister gave me years ago (it says “Kitchen Chick”).  🙂

*two VERY helpful cookbooks I’ve been using:  Everyday Food:  Great Food Fast (from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living) and The Family Kitchen by Debra Ponzek