I am not a cook.
By this, I mean I rarely cook and, when I do cook, it rarely tastes good. This reality, combined with the ever-changing picky eating habits of my young children and the fact that my husband also hates to cook, has turned our family into a frozen-foods family. I may not be able to cook, but I can thaw. And thanks to my good friend Marie Callender, this is all I typically do.
In a week, my family will be taking off in our RV for an undetermined amount of time. Preparing our home for the renters has been, for the most part, a boring and exhausting project, complete with finding missing socks, naughty children's hidden candy wrappers, and the occasional $10 bill in the unlikeliest of places. Moving is a joyless process.
Moving out of our kitchen, however, has been, well, interesting.
It turns out that even those of us who live solely on frozen meals can fill a cupboard with food that I'm not even sure qualifies as food. Who uses this stuff? Chickpeas? Lentils? Sardines? What in the world is tomato paste? Was that purchased for a child's art project?
Our having a jampacked cupboard raises the question, Who bought this stuff? There are four cans of diced carrots, and I hate carrots. Did I suffer from acute hunger pangs one time and simply empty an entire aisle into my cart? Was I ill? Did I experience temporary memory loss and forget who I was during a shopping spree? Most certainly, the items filling my cupboard are known and used by most people. Surely, nearly everyone reading this would tell me that the proper use of tomato paste has more to do with cuisine than gluing Popsicle sticks together (though, in my defense, Popsicles are food), but I am not that person. Why did I purchase these items?
In an effort to get ready for our move and in an attempt to save money, we decided it was high time to eat through our long-sitting cupboard stash. (Recently, we've only gone to the market for milk and fresh fruit.) And, I'll have you know, it has led to some quasi-acceptable meals.
The kidney beans with vinegar, onion straws and pickled jalapenos were surprisingly edible, if not exactly enjoyable. The kids were not fans, but in all fairness, unless I can mash meat into a dinosaur shape, they don't tend to be impressed.
The pasta wheels with peanut butter and soy sauce and canned lima beans were consumed with minimal complaint.
The tuna casserole with chickpeas, tomato paste and breadcrumbs was a disastrous failure. Our 4-year-old cried. We gave in and ordered a pizza.
Shockingly, the meal consisting of coconut cream, rice, dates, peas and sliced carrots (two cans!) was a huge success. The children asked for seconds, but we were out of coconut cream, so I tried using coffee creamer. This may not surprise you, but it did not work.
Before I had children, my brother moved in with my husband and me for about six months. He wasn't paying rent, so he paid us back by cooking dinner. He made all sorts of delicious concoctions, from jelly lasagna to butternut Tater Tot quiche. My favorite dish of his was spaghetti tacos. While going through our sparse shelves for dinner ideas tonight, I came across the ingredients. I excitedly told my husband that we are going to introduce the kids to spaghetti tacos tonight!
He arched an eyebrow.
"Are you enjoying cooking?"
I laughed. No. I assured my husband that we will return to our frozen lifestyle once we hit the road in the RV.
But it did give me some pause. The appeal of my frozen-food lifestyle is that it is easy, but it is also always the same. I can't mess it up, but I also can't make it interesting. Unless, perhaps, I can.
When my brother stayed with us, I asked him how he had come up with his meal ideas. He said he had just looked at what was available and put things together he knew would taste good. It was that simple.
I'm putting things together. I just need to work on the "tastes good" part.
Yesterday the service shop working on our RV called. It will be a few weeks until the freezer is fixed. We can take the RV now but will need to bring it back if we want a working freezer.
Looks as if more canned carrots are in our future.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.