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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Becoming Little Miss Pot Roast

Most mamas who read blogs have heard of Glennon Melton's blog, Momastery.  I have referenced her here a number of times as her words are some of the most powerful I've ever read.  Many of her posts can make my heart burst with emotion and my eyes blur with tears.  I can relate to so much of what she writes, but one day I read the following on her blog and I'm pretty sure that this spoke to my soul more than any other of the profound statements she has made.

"I find it unfair and stressful that dinner time arrives every single day. I just think it's rude and presumptuous." - Glennon Melton, Momastery

"Amen, Sister." - Jennifer Skinner, in response to the above.

I believe I have hinted at my cooking issues here on the blog.  It's not a great situation, but I keep thinking I'll someday become someone I'm not.  I keep trying.  Last week, I gave it yet another shot by making chicken in the crockpot.  There is nothing like that Fix and Forget It cookbook and a crockpot to make a gal feel like she is the epitome of the Proverbs 31 woman.  Much to my great shock, Kyle, my pickiest eater, ate all of that chicken.  I was thrilled beyond measure.

Me:  "Kyle, oh my gosh!  You ate all of the chicken!  I can't believe it!"

Kyle:  "Oh, yea.  That chicken didn't have any taste, so it was pretty easy."

Oh, yes, he did.

That brings me to a piece I wrote at the beginning of the school year a few years ago.  The first day of school in September always finds me full of hope.  I look at it as my New Year's Day.  I'm full of plans for how I will become Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart.  Here's the story of one of those September days.  It's long and tedious and ridiculous, but then, so were the woes of my chicken and me.

I’m a fortyish year old stay at home mom of three boys who are in school all day.  I live in the suburbs on a street lined with trees and mini-vans, near a plethora of grocery stores.  I have a kitchen with two ovens and a shelf full of cookbooks. I’ve got measuring cups and a Cuisinart and a seriously sharp knife.  Do you see what I’m saying?  I’m all set up.  Due to the fact that all of my parents’ friends came through for me despite how ridiculously excessive that Crate and Barrel wedding registry was, one would think that I could get it together enough to have a home-cooked meal on the table a few times a week with each food group represented.  One would think and that’s the problem.  At the beginning of each school year, I think so, too and I decide that this will be the year that I will become Little Miss Pot Roast. 
I have a friend who other friends and I have I have lovingly named Little Miss Pot Roast.  It is not an insult. There is great admiration behind it.  This woman always has dinner on the table.  She doesn’t make five different meals for her family of five.  Her children eat salmon and vegetables.  Her house always smells amazing.  She makes zucchini muffins and her kids don't start screaming that there is grass in the cupcakes.

Every September, I decide that I will become Little Miss Pot Roast.  Crock pots, aprons, stars next to recipes in cookbooks, parsley chopped on the cutting board, garlic sautéing in olive oil.  I will be so very June Cleaveresque.  I’ll be Betty Draper minus the vodka gimlets and repressed anxiety.  I will be serving nutritious dinners every evening and will send off my strong, healthy boys to their sports practices with fuel that only a talented and dedicated American mom like me can.   

This is the story of (one of) the days I tried to be someone I am not.  This is the day I ignored that whole “Just be yourself and focus on your special gifts” theory.   This is the story of the disastrous mistake I made when I decided to become Little Miss Pot Roast.

It was September and we were two weeks into the school year.  We had baseball practice four days during the week and games all weekend.  The night before my kids had probably eaten those round frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that I hide under the whole wheat pasta in my shopping cart.   We were wide open on Thursday night.  Thursday would be the night we would sit together to eat something wonderful.  As we walked the kids to school that morning, The Little Miss Pot Roast told me about this recipe:  Beer Butt Chicken.  Well, we definitely had beer, so I paid attention. This is how the beginning of my road to failure started. 

Little Miss Pot Roast:  “I just made this fabulous dinner.  You can totally do it, I know it.  It’s so easy…takes like 10 minutes to get it ready and then you just stick it in the oven.   First, just get one of those Perdue Oven Roasters.” 
Me:  “Hold it.  I have to buy a whole new oven type thing?  Is that like a George Foreman?  Where do I get that?   Bed, Bath and Beyond?  Because I definitely have a coupon. “   
Little Miss Pot Roast:  “No, moron, that is just a whole chicken with the bones and all.”  (Ok, she didn’t say moron, but really she should have.)

You just buy said chicken at the regular old grocery store.  And guess what?  Little Miss Pot Roast said that it is so much cheaper to get a whole chicken as opposed to buying the breasts or legs or thighs or what-not separately.  She explained the whole process to me and I was pumped.  I was going to be such a good housewife:   saving money, making dinner, being perfect.   I was thinking I might just go out and buy myself an apron.   

That afternoon, I sat my five year old in front of Sponge Bob which caused him great alarm since I despise that show with my entire being.  I did the rinsing, the salting and the peppering.   I reached in and took that bag of God-knows-what out of the chicken cavity.  I opened the beer can and shoved it up there.  I cut potatoes and sprayed them with olive oil.  Oh my goodness, I was on a roll!  I stuck it in the oven and when my chicken came out, it was breathtaking.  It was brown and crispy and had potatoes all around it and darn it, if it didn’t look like it should be on the front of the Thanksgiving edition of Better Homes and Gardens!  Or better yet, I thought, “I should be on the cover of a Better Homes and Gardens, in one of those perfectly pressed 1950s dresses with the full skirt, heels and pearls, posing next to an avocado green oven with dark red lipstick and perfectly coiffed hair!” 

I gleefully set that gorgeous chicken on the table.  It was somethin’ else.  My children stared at it and I just knew that they were going to fight over who got to say grace because each of them was desperate to thank God for the blessing of their mother.  And then…then, it came to me.  Then I realized. 

I had to cut that thing. 

It was terrifying.  There were bones and tendons and fat and skin flying every which way.  I was covered in so much grease that I looked like I had dumped a bottle of Hawaiian Tropic all over myself.  It was a good thing I wasn’t wearing that Betty Draper dress.  Actually, I was wearing running shorts, a “Texas Longhorns” tank top and sunglasses on my head, not because it was sunny, but because I was using them as a headband to keep my hair out of my eyes while I performed this disturbing operation.  I had to forgo the knife and just rip parts off with both hands.  I was going to be lucky if the boys didn’t have nightmares of being dismembered by some crazed jogger that night.  One thing was certain.  After watching that horror show, my children were so disturbed that no one was touching that chicken.

I was depressed and exhausted.  I cried.  I cried over a chicken.  Why was this so hard for me?  I had a Master’s Degree for goodness sake.  Every housewife in America makes a turkey every single November, right?  Well, not everyone. 

I remembered the year I thought that I would cook the Thanksgiving turkey.   One year, when I was hugely pregnant with my second son, my parents came to visit for Thanksgiving.  I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to cook a turkey myself and still have my mom to back me up, thus preventing holiday disaster and tragic divorce which would leave me pregnant and alone with a two year old.  What happened instead was a horrific flare up of pregnancy-fat person-induced hemorrhoids and after visiting a general surgeon the day before, I spent Thanksgiving Day with my rock star husband holding an ice pack on my bum.  No cooking lesson for me.  My mom did everything and I learned nothing . . . about cooking.  I did learn, however, that a husband who would hold an ice pack on his wife’s bottom would likely not leave her over the lack of a Thanksgiving turkey. 

So on that day in September, I sat there among my chicken parts and remembered those hemorrhoids and that ice-pack-holding husband and those babies. I remembered that I was fairly organized and kind of fun and that I was good at board games.  I remembered that we were never late for practice and that most of the time I knew the score of the boys’ baseball games.  I remembered that I never complained about reading the same book over and over in funny voices and that I sang Bon Jovi at the top of my lungs with them in the car.   I remembered that I was loved for who I was and it was probably okay that I was never going to be Little Miss Pot Roast.   

Sometimes I still forget.   Like a few months ago when I saw that Giada gal on Today and I bought her cookbook.  It has really pretty pictures in it, but the only thing I’ve rushed out to the store to buy after perusing it is a box of Crest Whitestrips.  Because her teeth?  My word, they are stunning.  Then I usually remember what I learned from the day I tried to be Little Miss Pot Roast.

Number 1:  I cannot be perfect, I can just be me. 
Number 2:  I can keep trying. 
And Number 3:  Baja Fresh has an excellent carry-out menu.

1 comment:

Jill D. said...

Love it! Hilarious. And I can't believe you just told the world about your hemorrhoids...awesome.