Saturday, March 2, 2013

Kiss the Cook!

“Are we having pizza again, Dad?” My son curled up his nose.

“Nope. We’re having fried bologna.” I smiled, pulling a pan from the cabinet.

My daughter shook her head and stared out the window with a look that said, “I hate being here.”

I was very proud of myself actually. I had made a choice that week to try harder as a cook. Both kids were now living with me full-time. As the custodial parent, I needed to up my game. It was not an easy road and my kids suffered through some weird meals. With some help from grandmothers in my church and a cheap cookbook, I got by.

When it comes to meals I can be somewhat lazy. It’s much easier to whip out some toaster pastries than to make an omelet. Left on my own back then, meals for my kids gravitated toward frozen foods. The microwave oven provided easy, quick solutions. My refrigerator became a drive-thru window of sorts.

I started with boxed macaroni and cheese, then I finally discovered the wonderful magic of (insert angel choir here) the slow cooker!

Ah the slow cooker; a single parent’s dream. Fill it with food, slap on the lid, turn it on, and go to work. When you come home, dinner is served.

A few basic rules of thumb might keep you from having to buy Cooking for Newbies. First of all, use color. If all the food on your plate is white or beige, it’s probably not a balanced meal. You might think it’s balanced, but chicken, rice, bread, and cauliflower is not only ugly—it’s unbalanced. If everything is green, it might be healthy, but it won’t be balanced.

Try to go for a dinner plate that includes a variety of hues from the color pallet. Often, this ensures a more balanced meal—but not always. Use your head. Fruit Loops are colorful too, but hey . . .  
 
Next, try not to poison your loved ones. While raw beef and fish won’t kill you, raw chicken and pork might. Avoid cross-contamination when you cook by using different knives and cutting boards for different foods. If you’re like me and many other guys, multitasking isn’t a strength. If someone is talking to me while I’m cooking, he or she is pretty much gambling with his or her health. Staying focused in the kitchen keeps your kids out of the ER.

You might not be the next Food Network’s Guy Fieri, but with a can opener, a pot, a frying pan, and a spatula, you just might turn into your kid’s own famous chef. Now help out some other dads by posting your own easy dinner recipe in the comment box below