Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's For Dinner?

I'm thinking of writing a cookbook called I Have No Food and I Have No Time, What's For Dinner? because really, that's the story of my life. I usually work later than Big V and, while he's a great help at picking up the kids and carting their butts home, he tends to just sit there and wait until dinner magically appears in front of him. The older kids have picked up on this habit. I'll walk in two to three hours after they all got home and be ambushed by three starving, foaming at the mouths wild monsters, and one super cute toddler who's seemingly only word is a high pitched HI! (which he rapidly repeats 672 times before tiring). (Yes, 672 times. Believe this to be true.)

I haven't yet removed my shoes, I'm hopping up and down because my bladder can no longer take the ten minute commute down bumpy, country roads and I really have to pee, the baby is pulling on the purse hanging from my arm (another fun game we like to play, Let's Rip Mommy's Purse Out of Her Arms and Watch Her Horrified Reaction While She Tries to Gather Everything with Lightning Speed. This is especially fun to play in large crowds when we're in a hurry. Who says you can't have fun with your toddler for free?) and "What's for dinner?" is being hurled in my general direction from two rooms over where the television set is located. It's my favorite part of the day. Really. The only thing that could possibly beat it is the midnight wake-ups from the teen who just needs to remind me of something important. (Important in her mind; not mine.)

But I digress. "What's for dinner?" Since I assume nothing has magically appeared inside the pantry, my options are usually pretty limited. I've become great at cobbling things together that are actually edible. I always Once in a while I make Food Dump which is when I basically dump whatever food I can find in a pot and heat it up. I did this the other night and Big V loved it so much he declared it his absolute most favorite meal ever and forced me to write down the ingredients so I could replicate it. (Trouble with that was I hadn't really been paying attention when I was throwing things in the pot.) He also made me solemnly swear to make this at least twice a month. I swore, but I told him I couldn't guarantee an exact match.

Anyway. In honor of my new cookbook I Have No Food and I Have No Time, What's For Dinner? I shall share the blessed Food Dump: Version #47 recipe with you:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • butter (real butter; not that fake stuff)
  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 1can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • The rest of the jar of leftover chunky salsa that's been sitting in the fridge for the past three months (approx 1/4 cup)
  • chicken stock (anywhere from half a cup to a gallon. Truth be told, I have no idea how much.)
  • The rest of the egg noodles in the bag that's crinkled in the back of the pantry hiding behind the stale cereal
  • Half a box of whole wheat spaghetti noodles (ignore the expiration date; three years is not that long.)
  • The remaining bag of frozen vegetables for stew which amounts to about a handful.

Take a crapload of butter and melt it in your pan. (A crapload is approximately 2-4 tablespoons, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle.) Throw your diced onion in. All of it. There is no such thing as too many onions. Unless you are a dental hygienist and then you should just stay away from onions altogether. In fact, it's probably a condition of your employment contract.

Add some more butter. It makes you feel better. Trust me. Brown the stew meat for just a bit. (You want to retain the red in the middle.) Remove the stew meat. Empty the enchilada sauce, diced tomatoes and chunky salsa into the pan with the onions and butter. Stir it up. You want that butter to be everywhere. Turn it down and let it simmer while you go cut the stew meat into bite sized pieces. No one wants to have to gnaw on a huge hunk of meat. Throw your bite sized meat pieces in the pot. Throw the vegetables in there, too. Hell, might as well dump the noodles in now. When everything cooks in one pot you have less dishes. Notice that there isn't a lot of "sauce" so start emptying your chicken stock into the pot until it looks like "enough." Put the lid on and walk away.

Go hide out in the bathroom for the next ten to fifteen minutes. It's the only room with a door that locks and you deserve it.

Now, dinner is done, but the probability of anyone actually walking into the kitchen to serve themselves is slim to none. You have two choices here: enable their laziness by serving them, or fill your bowl and eat it in front of them and trust that eventually they will embrace the resources God gave them and find the kitchen on their own. I personally suggest Option 2. (Enabling is so tacky.)

Ignore the ugly bowl. They're splotchy green with a moose on them.
If anyone wants this ugly set, consider it yours.

Note how I did not once say, "Dude, you have been home for TWO HOURS! How about YOU start dinner?" This is probably because I am way more mature than that.


Brenna said...

So, does the salsa need to be at the point where the lid is fighting under pressure to stay on, and where it has that suspicious tangy, tongue-burning flavor?

Suzanne said...

Haha, food dump. Yeah, I've done that. It is a GREAT way to use up odds and ends though, so I salute your thriftiness.