Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Lost Art of Making Do......

One of the things I have always admired about my mother is her ability to make do. She had to make do in a number of ways, but I'm specifically talking about the ability to feed the multitudes with just 5 fishes and 2 loaves.

Forgive me, Lord.

We didn't have a lot when we were growing up. Mom was a single parent from the time I can remember, and she had to make ends meet with a meager salary and not much child support. (Six dollars per week per child. Yes, I'm serious. After I was grown, my father routinely sent me a check for $24 each month. That came to a screeching halt the minute I turned 18.)

Mom could always put a meal together, though, no matter how many people showed up. She could whip up a pan of biscuits (the best in the world, with all due respect to my mother-in-law, who runs a close second) on a moment's notice. When she was first married, she made biscuits THREE TIMES A DAY for my undeserving father. And she cooked on a wood-burning stove. I wasn't there, so I can't speak to the veracity of that statement, but she has no reason to make it up.

I've seen the time when unexpected guests would arrive, and Mom would have no trouble accumulating enough leftovers and pantry staples to throw together a delicious meal. I'm guessing that right this minute, if I showed up with all of my siblings at her retirement community, she would find a way to feed us all. And she doesn't even have a real kitchen or a stove. Sure the dining room is right down the hall, but she could manage to feed us even without it.

I'm an okay cook, although I don't particularly enjoy the art. I like EATING what I prepare, but it's a crap shoot as to how things are going to turn out.

I might be more adventurous in the culinary department if Hubby were more diverse in his food tastes. He doesn't eat any kind of pasta, no rice, no seafood. He doesn't particularly care for casseroles, and most vegetables are yucky to him.

That leaves us with: steak. And potatoes. And pinto beans. Occasionally green beans, though he swears the Army served them at every meal including breakfast, and he doesn't really care for them either. On the positive side, he's just as happy with a sandwich and some potato salad for dinner, just as long as he has something to fill his belly.

And although he's the picky one, anytime I ask him what he wants for dinner, the response is more often than not, "It don't matter. Whatever you want." Poor grammar aside, that answer drives me crazy. If it doesn't matter, then just pick something. If we don't have that, I'll tell you. On the occasions when I've made something that Hubby declares divorce-worthy (I was going to say on the "few" occasions, but it's really more than that), I have told him, "Okay, but I'm going to call this dish 'It Don't Matter.' The next time you give me that response to what you want for dinner, this is what you'll get." I never have had the nerve to follow through with it, though. Cooking is way too much trouble to make something yucky on purpose.

I shop for groceries once a week, and I generally try to plan meals for the coming week. We usually eat out on Fridays and Saturdays, so it's not like I have to cook every single day.

If unexpected guests show up at mealtime, however, I'm screwed. Or rather, they are screwed. I don't buy in quantities that would serve more than the two of us, at least not usually. I don't keep a ton of extras on hand, because unless they are canned goods, they will go bad.

So if you show up at my house for a meal, don't expect hot buttered biscuits, gravy, country fried steak, three or four vegetables, and sweet tea.

I'm more likely to call for a pizza to be delivered.


Maggie said...

With all Hubby doesn't eat, then he should be the one to try cooking! Holy cow- a man who doesn't eat rice, pasta, seafood, casseroles, or veggies? I think he'd go hungry in my house. Seriously, what do you fix? Various meats and potatoes cooked every whichway? I'm flummoxed.

I love to cook! I'm hoping I get a Julia Child cookbook for my birthday and if I do, I'm gonna make her beef bouguignon- how's that for ambitious? (or we could call it what it really is: stupid) I'll let you know how that turns out.

I'd love your mama's biscuit recipe if you're willing to share!

And i have a drawer full of take out menus- I consider that as necessary to my kitchen as I do a sink and a fridge.

Lakeland Jo said...

I admire those people who can magic up a feast with a few simple ingredients.

We live on rice pasta veg seafood and casseroles ( and curries). I would struggle if they were removed from my repetoire!

It is strange to see the word biscuit used to describe something we would know here as a scone. A biscuit to us is what you would know as a cookie. Funny isn't it?
First time I saw an advert for Chicken biscuits and gravy I couldn't believe me eyes.........