Monday, January 3, 2011

First Sunday of the New Year

I wanted MEAT.
I wanted Po-Tay-Toes
I even wanted vegetables. In fact, it would be fair to say that I wanted VEGETABLES! Lots of them.

In the two weeks leading up to New Years Day we'd had 3 "holiday" meals, numerous fastfood and restaurant visits, "foraging" nights and to cap it off, New Years Eve featured a dinner entirely comprised of finger foods and home-made Mac and Cheese. My youngest son picked Flavor Blasted Pizza Goldfish as his finger food. He ate the whole bag. Oh yeah, one night we had ice-cream for dinner.

Sunday, January 2nd, I woke up feeling Dinner was in order. Over the last two weeks I'd prepared sandwiches, canned soup, cookies, cookies, and more cookies, but (with the exception of the pan of Mac and Cheese) had not prepared a meal using ingredients. In fact, I don't think I'd actually made dinner in closer to a month.

So I sent Mark off to the store for a pot roast. It sounded like just the thing.

I started it at about 2. Seared it on both sides to get it nice and brown, seasoned the water with Worcestershire and other stuff and put it in the oven to cook til the giant runner of fat through the middle of the thing was nice and melty. Mmm, animal fat (I should point out here that I love meat and have no qualms about eating animals - however, I'm having serious issues with the grossness that is factory farming. Future bloggings will undoubtedly feature my adventures in either trying to get away from it - or sitting and bitching about it as the meal from the night before slowly digests in my stomach.)

Making pot roast doesn't require much of you. So while it was cooking I played some Sims on the XBox and then watched Mark run away from the bad boogies on Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.

The house started smelling good and MEATY, so I figured it was a good time to get some other things going. I peeled enough potatoes to feed 8 (there are 4 of us), got the green beans uncanned, and sliced up some carrots for glazing.

My Grandma Freda fed herself into being well over four hundred pounds. I'm not that big, but I'm far from dainty. You'd think I'd flat out RUN from her cooking methods, but no. I cooked two cans of green beans in about 1/3rd of a cup of bacon fat. I'm not proud.

I burned the carrots. I had some honey, a few crumbles of brown sugar, and some butter going on in the pan. It was taking FOREVER to reduce into a glaze. Then I got really involved in rooting Mark on. RUN MARK RUN!!!!
and then I noticed...*sniff*
Okay so they weren't blackened or anything, but burnt sugar isn't something I was wanting in my honey/ginger glazed carrots.

I made gravy. I love you gravy.

We called the boys to the table. Simon (aged 10: my oldest - and most peculiar- son) knew immediately that it was YAY DINNER! Max (aged 8: my youngest - and increasingly too cool for his family - son) groaned because it wasn't pizza or PB&J.

So we sit down and start to eat. Max groans at the idea of putting in any vegetation, and dumps twice as much ketchup as there was meat on his plate. Also he took a slice of buttered bread.

Immediately things got bad. Maybe not bad bad, but uncomfortable. It's not as if we'd never had a meal at the dinner table before. I don't know how it went downhill so fast.

Okay, that's not true. I do know - Max will take any excuse to be offended and run off to his room. Simon is socially retarded - seriously. I'm not using that word flippantly, it's just true. So Mark was trying to make a case for Max trying the carrots. I don't even remember what he said, but it was a little bit in the "don't be a weiner" category. Usually cajoling works on Max, but Simon let out a huge bray of laughter and Max shut-down. That’s how it went downhill so fast.

So dinner consisted of explaining the difference between idle dinner chit-chat and hee-hawing at someone else's expense, and telling Max that if he wasn't going to eat that was fine, but not to expect dessert (where do the kids get off expecting DESSERT all the time?)

Simon hated the green beans. We can usually get him to eat those but apparently slathering them in bacon grease is pretty disgusting.

Max came back around (I'm usually content to let him freeze us out, he usually comes back around, but his dad feels that it's his DUTY to make him eat something) and started scraping ketchup off of his meat. When his dad offered to cut it he got ketchup on Max's bread. OFFENDED!

Then Simon started telling him that it was that or nothing ("not your job, Simon!" we told him) and Max ran off and cried.

All and all it was a disaster. The taters and gravy were good though.

It was then that I decided that we sucked at family dinners. I also decided that we needed to do them more often. In fact - we'd do them every Sunday! That'd show us.

So now I've made it our personal challenge. It's a selfish thing really. I need something to look forward to in the week and something to ramble about. This serves both functions. Also - excuses for tableware!

I'm hoping to rope the rest of the crew into it - make it something we all look forward to.

My goals for beginning the challenge are simple:

-Eat a meal prepared in a home kitchen (meaning we can have Sunday dinner with friends/family)
-Eat the meal where we can see each other's faces (that means no more clearing off two tiny sections on the table for the boys, and eating the parental meal in the parental recliner.)

The End-of-Year goal is less defined. I don't have a solid idea of what I'm looking for. I'm hoping our family starts getting excited for dinners - I hope the kids WANT to get involved and have ideas and requests. I hope to stop doing crazy things like using bacon fat - seriously, what was that?

I hope next First Sunday of the New Year has a family excited to come to the table together, instead of just showing up to cram it in or pout. Yeah - that's what I want. That's a goal that sounds worthy - maybe even attainable.

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