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Handling the dreaded question: ‘What’s for dinner?’


OK, I get it.

The disapproving faces grimacing back at me and the crock pot of burned indiscernible mush soaking in the sink is helping to get the point across.

Perhaps a slow cooker recipe featuring chicken, frozen corn, sweet potatoes, onion and an entire bottle of BBQ sauce covered with raw cornbread mix was not the best idea.

What caused me to take leave of my culinary senses? Some compassion, please, as I’m challenged by the same debilitating syndrome faced daily by millions of American women.

I suffer from “What’s-For-Dinner-Itis.”

It’s the daily question so many moms (and, OK, some dads) hear delivered with huge expectation, followed by groans of disappointment when the family hears the answer.

I do like the idea of my family sitting down together for dinner. And after decades as a single girl who couldn’t cook, there are fun moments of caring for my family.

It’s just that question that I dread. There are just so many challenges to overcome.

There’s my very health-conscious husband who looks askance at anything that resembles a carbohydrate. Bread, pasta, potatoes are big no no’s in his book. Seriously, if he’s on a business trip, my daughter and I go nuts and have, gasp, spaghetti.

Then, there is the darling child, herself, who as kids go, is a good eater, but she still is a kid.

And I might as well throw my own pickiness in the mix. I can’t stand cheese. Any kind, form, smell makes me gag. It’s not a dairy thing. Just cheese. Yuck.

Take that all into account and try to be creative. It’s not easy, is it? I imagine you have your own “What’s-For-Dinner-Itis” challenges at your own home. Or you’re single and get to open a can of soup for dinner, (I’m so jealous.) Or you’re family is up and grown, but you’re smiling remembering the days.

I do get the biggest kick when I do make something my family enjoys. So I scour blogs, cookbooks, talk to friends just to get ideas. I came across a recipe for white turkey chili that was a huge hit last week. “This is a keeper!” both husband and daughter declared.

And yes, that’s how I up with the crockpot BBQ Chicken Cornbread fiasco-surfing unsupervised on a crockpot blog.

The dish certainly looked good enough as it was cooking along. The cornbread actually turned a nice golden brown. But when I went to dish it up, that, as they like to say in local news, “Something went terribly wrong.” The cornbread had actually seeped down into the pot turning all the ingredients into a giant bowl of corn mush. The only distinctive ingredients were chicken chunks that had burned into charcoal briquettes.

The teasing was unmerciful. “What were you thinking?” my husband wanted to know staring at the cornbread.

“This looks like something from the Jurassic era we’re studying in science class,” my daughter said as she poked the charcoaled chicken with her fork.

“Maybe you should show us recipes before you make them,” my husband suggested thinking intervention.

“No, because you would’ve nixed White Turkey Chili thinking those ingredients wouldn’t work well together and you loved that,” I countered making a good point.

“Forget it. I’ll just make the same thing for dinner every other night,” I sulked. “Salmon followed by turkey burgers followed by salmon followed by turkey burgers,” citing two of our mainstays.

Between you and me — my pouting won’t last long. I know after years as a single dad, my husband especially appreciates a home-cooked meal he has had to put no effort into. I’ll be back on the blogs within a day or so.

What about you? How have you overcome your “What’s-For-Dinner-Itis?”

And by the way, what’s for dinner at your house?


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