Food fights

Care giving made me (Tim) a better cook.

Some of that was necessity being a mother.  Uh, of invention.  And sometimes just a mutha.  Somebody had to get dinner on the table.

"Cuban" pork chops, black beans, and 3 Red Necks cab from South Dakota's Prairie Berry Winery.

“Cuban” pork chops, black beans, and 3 Red Necks cab from South Dakota’s Prairie Berry Winery.

I chafed at this and fought it for a long time.  When I started working a second job, I got whiny about coming home and having to put dinner in front of other people.  I really missed having meals set in front of me. (Still do. Just less whiny.)

But I began to delight in the way my family enjoyed some of the stuff I cooked. I started to experiment with recipes and actually had fun, especially on Saturdays when I could take my time.

Some weekdays I would cook in the early morning so that dinner would be ready and waiting on me when I got home in the evening. Sure, I had to cook it – but it was there to enjoy at the end of a long work day.

Right now I’m doing more crock pot stuff on Saturdays, which gives us leftovers and helps keep the grocery bill down. I avoided crock pots for a long time for some reason; right now it’s my new toy and I’m having a blast.

Tomato-free beef chili.

Tomato-free beef chili.

Other food thoughts hover around Joey and his autism. We’ve been advised here and there to get him on this or that diet, and we tried some gluten free stuff when he was a little guy.

What we found was that the agitation that he experienced when served food he didn’t enjoy was more pronounced than any behavioral or other benefit we could see. And when he had foods he liked, he was calmer, happier and more social.

He likes Famous Dave’s Barbecue. At dinner there one night, we realized that if we were at another table observing him, we wouldn’t have known he was autistic. He was eating neatly (and heartily), smiling and chit chatting.

On Saturdays, I perpetrate total autism diet heresy and let him eat his favorite treats from the local market: glazed donuts by day and a take-and-bake pepperoni pizza by night. He looks forward to that routine. He interacts happily with me around it and is more flexible about going out and doing stuff when he knows those treats are going to bookend the day.

Melissa suffers from interstitial cystitis, which creates plenty of meal planning challenges. But even that’s made me a better cook, experimenting with alternative ingredients to pull off dishes we’ll enjoy together.

I’m not sure there’s any great point to today’s post. Just that care giving has made me more adept in the kitchen and the kitchen has made me a more flexible, responsive care giver.

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