Sunday, December 28, 2008

The problem with dinner?

(Warning -- this is a free-form stream of consciousness post, and since it's from my point of view, may not be very fair to everyone involved. But it's what's going on for me...)

The ultimate problem may be that I'm asking for too much. What I want is for everyone to like and eat what I cook. I'll even settle for 3 out of 4. But it rarely goes that way.

Tonight I tried a new recipe: Curried Chicken Flatbread with Chutney and Yogurt Drizzle. Sounds good, right? I also made some roasted brussels sprouts with apples and walnuts (another new recipe). So I started on the veggies, mixing up the dressing (olive oil, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt), trimming the brussels sprouts, prepping the apples (thick slices) and chopping the walnuts. Mixed all and put into the oven.

Now onto the flatbread. There was an option to make your own dough, but I opted for a thin-crust Boboli. Started cooking the chicken (seasoned with garlic and pepper). Made the sauce (chutney, rice vinegar, curry powder). Chopped the veggies (scallions and jalapenos) for garnish. Once that was in the oven, started cleaning the kitchen.

Tucker comes downstairs with his hand covering his nose. The smell is making him nauseated. This irritates Tim (who knows how frustrating dinners are for me), but I don't take it personally. I start scrambling some eggs. Then grab the veggies out of the oven. We sit and eat.

Tim and Austin LOVE the flatbread. Apparently the flavor is wonderful, and the yogurt, scallions, and jalapenos that top it perfectly offset the rest of the dish. Veggies are another story. Recipe called for putting whole brussels sprouts into 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. I should have known that wasn't long enough, but it was written down so it has to be right, right? So brussels sprouts were undercooked. Apples and walnuts tasted good, and I'll try that recipe again, halving the sprouts and cooking a little longer.

The big problem here is the takeaway. I feel discouraged after yet another failed dinner. And I'm hungry, as I didn't even cook something I could really eat. And I'm lonely because I was all by myself during dinner prep. (Tim offered to help, but I just couldn't bring myself to ask him. In retrospect, it would have been a nice way for us to spend time together.)

I feel like no matter what I try, I can't get it right. If I cook anything with beef, Tim doesn't like it, as he's kind of done with beef. When I do "normal" foods -- straightforward basic flavors -- the kids don't really care for them. Actually, it feels like Tucker doesn't care for much of anything these days, and maybe that's something I need to remember, as the truth is that 66% of the people who COULD eat the dinner LOVED the dinner. And the loneliness is my own fault. So maybe I've come to my own answer here. The good news is that as discouraging as this whole dinnertime thing is, and as much as I'm tempted to just grab a box of cereal and some soy milk, and say "So what are y'all havin' tonight?", I'm still in there trying. And that has to count for something, right?


Tim said...

I loved the dinner.

Colette said...

Well, good for you trying new things to make. Maybe only stick to one new recipe at a time? Also, curry is such a strong flavor/smell that not everyone likes (I know I don't), so a negative response wouldn't surprise me from kids ;)

When I do brussle sprouts, I will slightly boil the sprouts first, then cut them in half and saute them in a pan with garlic, olive oil, salt, and a tad of butter. The kids love them and they are tender and have that roasted flavor.

If it makes you feel any better, I'm always alone cooking and when I try a new recipe, I let everyone know and I only cross my fingers that it is a hit...most times it is, then others just suck!

Hope this helps ;)

Irene said...

Might I suggest cooking classes for Tucker?

Sometimes it's hard to please everyone, but if they know what it takes to make a meal it might change things a bit.

Irene said...
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Jennifer said...

You did reach the right conclusion eventually. I feel like I'm doing well if I prepare a plain-ole bland meal (of course, that's all the hubby will eat). I'm also glad someone else is insane enough to cook two completely different meals. :)

Julianne said...

Oh Leslie... You know what I said on Twitter earlier? 140 characters weren't enough to express my feelings. What you said reminded me of times when I complained about dinners to my mom! I was pretty ungrateful back then and took things (esp my mom's cooking) for granted!! You reminded me of those moments today. And tonight, when Duane and I went over to my parents' for dinner, I made sure I thanked her. For tonight's dinner and for all the meals in the past. One day, your kids will realize all this, too. Hang in there. Also, I WOULD LOVE to eat one of those dinners at your house one day! You are such an amazing mom, your kids are so damn lucky. :-)

Anne said...

I've never met a kid (or husband) who liked brussel sprouts. I served them roasted for Christmas dinner and they were delicious, but just telling them they were sprouts was enough to turn them away. Next time, just say you made "veggies" and it might go down easier.

P.S. Maybe your boys are old enough to help out by making dinner once a week. I made my daughters do that when they were around your sons' ages and it's amazing how quickly they appreciated whatever we were serving thereafter.

Anonymous said...

I don't have kids to cook for, so it's hard for me to relate.

Maybe you could have everyone write down two favorite meals. That would give you six dinners total. Then, introduce one new meal a week and hopefully add that into your repretoire depending on how they like it.

Just a thought. One thing is for sure - you can't please everyone. Go for the majority!

Eileen said...

My first thought is that you're making this way too complicated. Remember your goal, which is to feed your family...not necessarily IMPRESS your family. I like what Jacey said...ask everyone what they DO like and work from that list. Find a way to fit your own likes into the mix and it will be a whole lot easier. Gourmet meals might be best reserved for you and Tim (who seems like he appreciates the effort and likes to try new dishes), whereas the kids...they just want to EAT and move on.

AKA Alice said...

I can soooooo relate. I like cooking and I like being creative when I cook. My husband will eat pretty much anything I put in front of him (smart man!) kids? A whole different story (although I am impressed that you even considered brussel sprouts. Nobody in my house would even touch them besides me) .... GAH!

Lots of good suggestions here though. I'm glad you ranted.