• Stacey Mollus

Cooking is Not for Sissies!

I am the head chef in my house, which means the responsibility for my family’s nutritional intake, lays squarely on my shoulders. On grocery shopping day, I sit down and put on my “Martha Stewart-scientist-art designer-Dr. Oz-nutritionist” hat, and come up a plan to make meals that are healthy, looks good, low in fat, high in protein, organic, choosing foods from the colors of the rainbow, taking into consideration the four food groups, within my budget, purchased with coupons and delicious. No problem, right?

When I was young, cooking was simple for my mother. She just fried everything. The smell of hot lard would waft through the neighborhood at suppertime, alerting me that dinner was ready. After supper, I would go back out to play, the smell of grease still lingering in my hair and clothes and apparently, my arteries also.

The comforting smell of pig fat in our homes has been replaced with the smell of tofu burgers and whole wheat pasta with vegetarian meatballs, thanks to the brilliant minds of health experts and the shame they have inflicted.

Our grandmothers did not have the same dietary restrictions placed on them that we do. Grandma wasn’t worried about cholesterol. Her problem as more like “Bessy the cow, didn’t produce enough milk so there won’t be any gravy with the fried chicken and biscuits”. Never once, did she have to read a “nutritional label” before making a purchase to check the number of carbs the item had!

Sometimes, the pressure of making the perfect meal is so overwhelming, I have to get in my car and drive to a “happy place”. When I arrive there, I see other moms just like me, sitting in their cars, the same look of relief on their faces as we wait for our turn to have our “meal-preparation burdens”, lifted.

At this magical place, all you have to do is talk into a little, metal speaker and a sweet-voiced stranger says, “May I help you? At our special place, we do it “your way”. Make a request from the illuminated list you see beside you, and we promise, you can take the credit for a hot meal being served to your family. Oh, and we will do all of the cooking AND the cleaning!”

Just when you think it is too good to be true, you drive around to the window, where a smiling teenager hands you a sack full of food, cooked to perfection.

(A brief note to all of my healthy eating friends who are freaking out right now- I know I need to make healthy choices and add more vegetables. I also, really appreciate your enthusiasm for tofu but I don’t care how it is prepared, it still looks like the paste I had in my kindergarten class and having tried them both, the paste has more flavor!)

Now cooking can be fun and I try hard to keep it exciting by trying new recipes. I turn to cookbooks for inspiration, having more success with some, than others. One of my “not so successful” books, was a little paperback titled, “Casseroles, Only”. I thought it was a great idea to get my family to eat more vegetables because with casseroles, you basically pour everything you have in the fridge, into one dish and stir.

After making these “one pot meals” for 5 days straight, my family began to complain about what my husband fondly referred to as “gruel”. I replied, “Fine, if you don’t like it, you can always eat out.” After a collective, “Yippee!” from the crew, we all stood up from the table and went out for pizza, the cookbook being thrown into the trash on our way out the door.

It is tough being the one who has to look into the hungry faces of the family every day, knowing you are the one that has to perform a miracle, to fill their belly’s. Most days, you just hope, no one throws up, afterward.

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