Home for Dinner

Most of the time my wife mows the lawn. And most of the time I cook dinner. It doesn’t always work that way, of course, but we have settled into some roles after many years of marriage. These two tasks happen to run upstream of the typical gender roles. That is something I can get behind.

I like to make dinner. I like to have a tasty, hot meal ready for all of us to sit down together to enjoy. I like the process of creating something that is worth eating, that makes my family say “This is good!” Yes, occasionally we have a frozen pizza or two and sometimes we revert to pasta with jarred sauce. But mostly I try to be home in time to make dinner so we have time to eat together and to talk about our day and the days to come.

Some days I think about dinner as I get ready for the day, or as I eat breakfast. What to make tonight? What ingredients do we have that we need to use soon? What have we not had in a while? How much time will I have when I get home? When will I get home? My schedule is so varied that I might get home at 3:00 one day and not until 5:30 the next day. I work some evenings. There is no routine so I need to think ahead.

What I like to do is to plan a menu for the week and then to purchase the ingredients by Sunday. That way I can come home and just cook up one of the meals that is already planned. But. honestly, that almost never happens. I just don’t get it together to plan and purchase ahead of time. When I do get it together it makes things way easier. Often, however, I stop on the way home for ingredients, or I just go with what we have.

Typically we have staples on hand to get started. This includes:

  • Base grains like pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa
  • Cheese–we always have sharp cheddar and typically Parmesan and one other variety
  • Milk and butter and cream
  • Frozen vegetables like peas or broccoli
  • Fresh produce–whatever is in season or ripe from the garden or that just looked good at the market

I almost never cook meat in our house. When my wife and I met we did not eat meat at all. We raised our children on a vegetarian diet but my daughter has come to enjoy meat now and again, so once in a while I will cook a chicken dinner, usually when my wife is not home. If it is local and raised well I will eat it as well. That is just a rare event.

For dinner tonight? I’m not sure yet. The sun has just risen on a Saturday. I have time to make a plan. Maybe this is a week I will get ingredients for a week of meals ahead of time. I should make something new, something to mix things up a little, a new recipe. Although, we haven’t had that spinach lasagna in a while; it takes a couple hours to assemble but dang is it worth it. I might just have to do both.

Too Much Sugar

Crowd at the Shelburne Farms Sugar House

Crowd at the Shelburne Farms Sugar House

The first dose of sugar at least came from natural sources. We visited Shelburne Farms for their pancake breakfast, complete with real maple syrup. The cakes were complemented by juice and then hot chocolate. It was a great breakfast, a fundraiser for 4H. But sweet for the children.

We visited the sugar house, watched them boiling down the sap into syrup. Of course, they handed out free samples, small for an adult but large for the tykes. In the sugarush they had hidden small wooden disks, sliced from small maples. Those could be handed in for hard maple candies, one for one. So the children each had one of those.

My parents, visiting for the weekend, wanted to puchase some maple syrup, so we stopped at Palmer’s Sugarhouse, a little closer to home. We watched them boiling as well and got, again, free samples. These samples were much more generous. And my wife also bought some cotton candy and–how could she not?–shared that with her progeny.

Back at home we had lunch. That was a little healthier. Even the afternoon snacks were decent. The problem came later. My children, with their cute wiles, convinced my parents to take us all to Friendly’s for dinner. Friendly’s is fun but doesn’t exactly serve health food, if you know what I mean. After a dinner a little too concentrated in the fried genre, we had ice cream sundaes. The sundaes were part of the point of dining at this particular establishment so they were not to be denied, but whew, it was good that have that over.

Too much sugar today. Normally I would not allow all that crap to enter the system of my small and precious youngsters, at least not all in one day, but it seemed a tricky one to navigate, what with the pre-planned pancake breakfast and the grandparents and Friendly’s. It is only one day, however. Tomorrow we get back to cracking down. Apples and yogurt will rule over treats.

It was a fun day. The children settled down and fell asleep without too much trouble. We had a fine hike while we were at Shelburne Farms and they ran around a lot today. It was pretty much perfect–sunny and in the 60’s. So hopefully they managed to work the sweet out of their little systems. Maybe it evened out. I ran eight miles this afternoon, so I’m not worried about myself too much. Except that I need a haircut something fierce, but that is off the topic.

All in all we enjoyed our maple sugaring open house day, even if it meant too many sweets. What’s one day? It is a good thing sugaring season only lasts a short time. And that the kids get sick of pancakes. Plus, I won’t have the clean the griddle tomorrow morning. That will give me more time to run off the ice cream I ate with dinner.

Waffle Cabin

Up at Bolton Valley they have a Waffle Cabin, a shack outside the main lodge that sells, uh, waffles.  It was not open when we were there yesterday in the afternoon.  Not sure what was up with that.  Why wouldn’t you have this unique snack shack open on a beautiful day during school break?  Seemed like a missed opportunity to me.

We went up for night skiing tonight.  The kids wanted to try it and this was as good a time as any.  It was pretty much perfect–warm, soft snow, not crowded at all.  The corporate race event was happening and they got a kick out of that.  They had so much fun they did not want to stop.  Twice we did just one more run, then we had to get home for bed.

We checked when we got there to make sure we would get a waffle before the hut closed.  We had plenty of time to ski before then so we got in a few runs first.  My daughter is shredding it up these days.  She has gained a lot of confidence and so is really having lots of fun now.  We could say I told you so, but what would that accomplish?  Our little guy has lots of ground to cover.  Maybe next year he will get it.

The waffles were dang good.  Crispy and fatty and covered in chocolate.  And warm.  They had been recommended by a friend so highly that we had to try them.  I had seen the building and was curious, but could take it or leave it.  Then Nicole talked it up, telling us she would look forward all day to having one of the waffles when she knew she would be up there.  She was right about them.  I want another one.

It is the perfect example of word of mouth marketing.  The place has high visibility but no real flash.  It does smell good when things are cooking and word has now spread.  Knowing this now, I really can’t figure out why they would not have been open yesterday.  We may go up again tomorrow (the kids are now eager to hit the slopes again) and that place better be open if we do.  I’m already jonesing.


We have way too much candy around here. We got some to hand out for Halloween, of course, most of which we are simply just eating ourselves. And we got some for the party we had this weekend, most of which we still have and are just eating ourselves. And we got some from the Halloween parade, which…

The parade was a grand affair for the children, with floats and firetrucks and costumes and, of course, candy. Parades have become a forum for tossing candy to children so that they can learn how to run out into the street, but this parade tops them all. Halloween is all about candy, so every person on every float tosses candy, and they they have someone walking the curb to hand it out as well.

We walked away from the parade with two pretty good sized bags full of dented chocolate bars and shattered lollipops (all that tossing takes its toll). Right now we have three bowls with candy in them, as well as a large Tupperware bin of stuff we weeded out to give away. It is a good thing that last one has a cover or we would be digging into it as well.

I have had a few pieces today. I was working in a high school and I forgot a fork and couldn’t go get one for a while, so I ate the candy I had in the meantime. It didn’t sit like that tofu pot pie I made last night would have sat. But it was pretty tasty in the moment I ate it. That is the problem, of course. It is tasty for a bit and then gone, and then I want that tastiness back. In fact, those bowls are calling right now…