Father’s Day Feast — Finally!

Grace was getting over food poisoning this past weekend, so Father’s Day was postponed. We won’t get together with my father until this coming weekend, but I was able to make a special dinner for hubby today reminding him how special he is to all of us.

The Menu:

  • Steaks on the Grill
  • Shrimp Scampi
  • Twice Baked Potatoes
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Freshly Canned Pickled Beets

The Prep:

Steaks on the grill are a no-brainer, but the rest of the dinner took a bit of time and planning in order to get everything on the table at the same time, hot and savory. The first thing I had to do was bake the potatoes. Not wanting to waste the opportunity of running the oven, especially on such a hot Michigan day, I decided to bake as many potatoes as would fit in the oven. This way I could freeze some twice baked potatoes for other days as well as the extra potato shells for deep-fried potato skins.

Twice Baked Potatoes

  • Russet Potatoes
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Cheese

Bake potatoes at 450° for 45 – 50 minutes depending on size of potatoes. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

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The warmer the potato, the easier it is to scrape out the stuffing. Slice the potatoes in half.

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Using a teaspoon, remove as much of the potato as possible without damaging the skin. Place potato pulp in bowl and set shell aside.

Once all the potatoes are hollowed out, mash the potato. Add salt, butter and milk until the potato is the desired consistency.

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I found that I don’t like to mash the potato to the same consistency as traditional mashed potatoes. These are “baked” potatoes after all, so I leave some lumps in the potato filling.

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After the potato is mashed, begin refilling the hollowed out potato shells. There will not be enough potato to refill all the shells, especially if you heap the potato in the shells as I do.

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Place the filled potatoes in a Corning Ware dish, top with a slab of butter and cheese, and return to oven at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes.

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With any extra filled potatoes, place on a cookie sheet and freeze until firm, wrap in plastic wrap then foil, and return to freezer. Do the same with any extra potato shells. These can be used for either deep-fried potato skins or can be filled with any leftover mashed potatoes in the future.
After the potatoes were done, I turned my attention to the stuffed mushrooms. These have become a family favorite and one that makes mushrooms a standard on my weekly shopping list.

Bacon & Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

8 Slices Thick Cut Bacon Crumbled
8 oz. Cream Cheese
8 oz. Whole Mushrooms, stemmed and caps hollowed out
Parmesan Cheese

Cook bacon till crisp. Cool and then crumble. Place in small bowl.

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Clean mushrooms and stem. Make sure that the caps are hollowed out. Place in baking dish.

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Fill each mushroom with cream cheese, heaping the cheese on top.

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Dip each mushroom in crumbled bacon, pressing down so bacon covers cream cheese.

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Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

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With the potatoes and mushrooms in the oven, and the steaks started on the grill, I worked on the final part of dinner — shrimp scampi.

Shrimp Scampi

1 Pound Cooked and Cleaned Shrimp
2 – 3 Tbsp. Fresh Minced Garlic
1/4 Cup Butter

Melt butter in large fry pan.

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Add shrimp to butter and cook for 1 minute.

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Turn shrimp and add the garlic. Cook for 2 minutes more. Flip one more time, mixing the garlic and the shrimp thoroughly.

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Remove from heat and cover until ready to serve.

Hubby loved his Father’s Day dinner, even if it was a few days late. Enjoying this meal of some of his favorite foods with the kids, when everyone was feeling good, was wonderful. I’ve always believed that holidays should not be the only days to do something special for someone. If you aren’t going to treat every day like Father’s Day or any other “holiday” for that matter, doing it on that one day is not going to make up for the rest of the year. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t love a good excuse to go overboard every once in a while. Today was special because we “celebrated Father’s Day,” but actually we celebrate being a family everyday and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

 

Mother’s Day Canning, Gardening and Cooking

“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver

Mother’s Day wasn’t as productive as I thought it was going to be. The hubby and kids actually wanted to spend some time with me — go figure.

Being an early riser, I was able to can the box of nectarines I bought on Saturday before anyone knew it was morning. The box yielded 10 quarts and I have over a dozen left on the counter to eat fresh.

10 Quarts of Nectarines - All Floaters

10 Quarts of Nectarines – All Floaters

At first I was concerned when the quarts came out of the canner looking half-full and all the fruit floating at the top. Researching this on the internet though I learned that “floaters” are a normal outcome when it comes to nectarines. They have more air in the fruit than some other types and I used a light syrup which almost always means “floaters.”

With the nectarines done and no one up, I headed outside to tackle some of the gardening. First on my list was planting the pepper plants. This year I’ve decided to try growing jalapeno and green chili peppers. I bought two of each plant — just enough for the side gardens.

Once the peppers were done, I used the extra dirt from the holes I dug for the peppers and filled two buckets so I could plant the two Roma tomato plants I bought. Last year I bought a bushel of these from a local farm to make tomato sauce. This year I’d like to see how many I can get from a couple of plants to see if it’s worth trying to grow my own bushel. I’m not sure how they’ll fare in the buckets, but that is yet another test.

Next I worked on putting a few marigolds in the pots around the plum tree. The plum tree is in full bloom. There are so many flowers that the blossoms look like carnations and the sweet fragrance that fills the yard, made planting around the tree a wonderful experience.

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Before I finished the marigolds, the family got up and being a “Mom” took precedent. It was time for coffee, gifts, and then some last-minute grocery shopping. Although Mother’s Day, I was cooking dinner, had to have my mother and mother-in-law over. The good thing about making my own Mother’s Day dinner is that I get to make my favorite things. I didn’t have to worry about what anyone else wants — it is MY day too you know.

So for dinner it was turkey burgers, bacon wrapped deep-fried hot dogs, potato salad, pasta salad, home-made mac and cheese, deviled eggs, canned peppers, and homemade plum-cranberry sauce. For dessert it was a strawberry Jello cake and fresh peach cobbler. I had made peach crisp before, but never cobbler. I chose an easy Bisquick recipe and am very glad I did. It was a hit, my husband’s favorite, my father’s favorite, and the one thing everyone loved. If you want a quick easy dessert, give it a try.

Peach Cobbler - Golden Brown

Peach Cobbler – Golden Brown

Classic Bisquick Peach Cobbler

  • 2 Cups Original Bisquick Mix
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Melted Butter
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 7-8 Cups Fresh Sliced Peaches or 2-28 oz. Can Drained

Heat oven 375°
Stir together Bisquick, milk, and cinnamon in ungreased 13×9 baking pan.
Stir in butter until blended.
Stir together sugar and peaches and spoon over batter.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown.

I served the cobbler warm with vanilla ice cream.

Although I didn’t get to all the canning I had planned or all the gardening that needed to be done, I spent an absolutely beautiful day with my family enjoying good food and a reprieve from the daily demands of motherhood, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Quick Fix Monte Cristo

Hard work is often the piling up of the easy things you neglected to do. – Unknown

The weather did not cooperate today, so the garden will have to wait at least another day. The plum tree though is well on its way to full bloom.

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Instead of dodging raindrops outside, I decided to concentrate on finishing up a ton of little projects that have been accumulating since Christmas. Spring is the ideal time for deep “spring cleaning” so today was the day.

The first chore on my never ending to do list I wanted to get done was a trip to St. Vincent De Paul to drop off a carload of donations. It amazes me how much crap one can accumulate in a short period of time. I made a trip like this just before Christmas, and now I’ve got twice as much stuff to get rid off. Clothes, books, purses, shoes, bags, appliances, dishes, Christmas decorations, and even some exercise equipment — and that was just the first load. Next week I’ll fill the car again and maybe free up some extra space for my pantry.

Next on my list was a clothes basket full of ironing. I swear I let it pile up until there isn’t a clean shirt for my hubby to wear. Does anyone iron anymore?  None of my neighbors do.  How do they manage that?  Even hanging clothes outside on the line I need to run an iron across nearly every shirt and pant that I bring in.  At least it’s not as bad as when my grandmother used to iron — she ironed underwear and sheets.  I don’t take it that far.  It took most of the afternoon, but now it’s done until I clean the winter clothes out of the closets for the summer — yes that was on the to do list too, but I needed to enjoy the moment, albeit temporary, of an empty ironing basket.

All afternoon I checked little things off my list and really thought I was making headway, until I looked at the clock and realized I had only 30 minutes before dinner was supposed to rear it’s ugly head.

What to make? Although I don’t like to make a habit of serving sandwiches for dinner, the Monte Cristo sandwich is definitely filling enough to squeak by as a meal.

The traditional Monte Cristo is ham, turkey, and cheese dipped in egg, of course, as usual I did not have all the ingredients. Not being one tied to a recipe, I took all the lunch meat and cheese out of the fridge and viola! dinner.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches on the griddle.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches on the griddle.

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

  • Bread or Rolls
  • Lunch meat – I used ham, salami, bologna, and pastrami
  • Cheese – traditionally it calls for cheddar and swiss. I used spicy Fiesta Jack and Provolone
  • 3 Eggs
  • Milk
  1. Assemble sandwiches making sure to place the lunch meat in between two slices of cheese.
  2. Dip completed sandwich in egg mixed with milk.
  3. Cook on griddle until cheese melts and bread browns.
  4. Serve with maple syrup.

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I was the only one who ate the sandwich with syrup. Hubby likes his plain, Zeb eats his with ranch dressing, and Grace uses thousand island dressing. Served with a side of homemade French fries and a salad it was dinner.

Some days it’s nice not to spend hours in the kitchen making dinner and yet serving something that is hearty and fulfilling, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

A Little Comfort Food Focuses Perspective

Maintaining proper perspective on emotions is a powerful key to health and strength. – J. Schindler

Today was one of those days that called for “comfort food.” For me, the best type of comfort food is food that simmers all day on the stove, bakes for hours in the oven, or cooks all day in the slow cooker — anything that fills the house with the scent of food.

A few of my favorites are sauerkraut and pork with dumplings, beef stew, short rib soup, bean soup, and chicken and dumplings. Thinking about these fills me with anticipation and warmth. These are the dishes that when the weather turns cold or ugly, and here in Michigan that can happen any time, I start early in the morning and drool over all day while it is cooking.

Today was a day filled with so many types of weather, it was impossible to know how to dress. I started out with jeans and a t-shirt, added a light sweater mid-morning, then by afternoon I had on a long john top, my thickest turtleneck sweatshirt, my fall fleece jacket, and thick socks. The temperatures were a deceiving 56°. With the wind, clouds, and squalls of rain that opened up every time I decided to venture beyond the front door, it felt more in the range of 30°. There had to be a wind chill in there somewhere.

Thankfully, this morning, I had the foresight to start one of my all-time favorite comfort meals — Cube Steak. Now the way my mother prepared this while I lived at home was awful. It was dry, tough, and barely edible — at least that was what I thought as a teenager. As I’ve gotten older, I have mellowed and somehow many of the meals my mother made that I found horrible back then, are now some of my favorites. Cube steak, the way she prepared it, is not a favorite, but I admit I have made it when I’m feeling nostalgic. No one really likes it when I make it, but they know better than to complain. To put up with my need to visit an old flavor once a year, isn’t too much to ask.

When I moved out on my own, I began experimenting with all sorts of recipes.  I wanted to branch out and expand on what I learned from my mother, from the home economics classes I’d taken, and from watching my grandmother in the kitchen. So when I found cube steak on sale while shopping, I decided it was time to tame that tough, dry meat and turn it into something good. It took years of tweaking and trial and error, but my final recipe is one of our family favorites. It might not be the most original recipe out there, but it certainly warmed me up on a fickle Michigan Thursday afternoon.

All-Day Simmer Cube Steak

  • 4-6 Pieces Beef Cube Steak
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • Bacon Grease or Lard
  • Water
  • Beef Bouillon or Stock
  • Mushrooms – Dried or Fresh

Mix flour and salt in plastic storage bag. Drop cube steak, one piece at a time, into plastic bag. Lay bag on the counter and press the flour into the steak, making sure to flatten the steak while coating with flour.

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Heat bacon grease or lard in large fry pan to 350°.

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Add floured meat and sear until brown.

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Flip and sear other side, adding more grease or lard as needed.

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Once the meat has been seared on both sides, fill the pan with warm water and add a tablespoon of beef bouillon. I used a paste-type, but cubes, granules, or store bought stock would work just as well. Turn heat down to 250°, cover, and cook all day on the stove or in electric fry pan. Check often to add more water and beef stock as needed.

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An hour before you serve, add mushrooms to pan and cover. From this point, do not add any more water. You want to reduce the gravy so it thickens. If the gravy is too thin, make a roux of flour or corn starch and water and thicken.

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Serve with mashed potatoes and a fresh vegetable.

Alternate method: Cook thinly sliced onions in bacon grease till tender prior to searing meat. Remove while searing meat and then return to pan with water. This gives the gravy even more flavor.

Some days it is harder than others to keep my focus or go with the flow. One way I have found to keep myself grounded when I feel myself slipping, is to cook something that will fill the house with warmth — true comfort food, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy…Michigan Walleye

If wishes were fishes, we’d have a fish fry.

One of the most challenging aspects of living in the “suburbs” is getting along with the neighbors. We built our home more than 20 years ago in a subdivision of more than 1,200 homes. This opened up a world with every type of person you could imagine. When we first moved in, the majority of the homes were owned by young families. There was the occasional bachelor, a few retirees, and a few homes with two or more extended generations. On our street and directly surrounding us there was a mix of young and old and for the most part we got along fairly well.

Twenty years later, we’ve watched the neighborhood grow-up, age, suffer through illness, die and then slowly a new generation is beginning to join the mix. We hadn’t planned on living here this long, but the economy hasn’t been kind. Our dreams of moving out farther into the country, buying a plot of land, and leaving suburbia have all but died. Still, we have been very lucky in that several of our neighbors are “old timers” like ourselves and been here since the subdivisions inception. These neighbors have evolved from passing acquaintances to friends that we can count on. This is what has made living here tolerable.

Yesterday our neighbor John came home from a morning of fishing on his boat. I watched as he backed his boat into his garage and then sat in a chair cleaning fish. While he worked, our dog Bell sat in the middle of our yard staring at him. He knew what she wanted — a treat. You’d think after three years she’d finally stop playing this game of cat and mouse and go up to him for her treat. I think she must like the game though because this is what they do every time John opens his garage.

John called to her several times for her to come and get her treat. Bell kept still. Not so much as standing up. I could hear John explaining to her that he was busy and couldn’t come to her. Bell didn’t care, she kept her vigil, staring him down, doing her best to break him. Well, it didn’t take too long. With fish still to be cleaned, John got up and walked to where Bell was sitting. Before he got within arms length however she ran away barking. So John turned, pretending he was going to walk away. This made Bell bark even more as she turned and chased after him. When he turned to face her, again she turned and barked as she ran away.

This little game went on until finally Bell ran right up to him so he could give her the treat. The moment she had it safely in her jaw, she sprinted all the way back to our yard. I couldn’t help but wonder, if I went and sat in the middle of our yard, would John give me a treat as well?

Later in the afternoon, John walked across our yards and met me at the back door. In his hands he had a plastic bag with four large, freshly cleaned and boned walleye filets. And I didn’t even have to play cat and mouse with him. Dinner! I’d never had walleye, but John told me it was excellent and similar to perch.

After John left I mixed up some batter, cut the filets into strips, and deep-fried them. What a treat. Living in Michigan, no more than 30 minutes from The Great Lakes, you’d think fresh fish wouldn’t be something new, but it was.

Deep Fried Walleye

  • Four Freshly Caught & Cleaned Walleye Filets (these can be caught by you or if you’re as lucky as I am, caught by a very generous neighbor)
  • Walleye Filets

    Walleye Filets

  • Peanut Oil for deep-frying

For Batter:

  • 1 Cup Flour divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix 1/2 Cup flour with salt – set aside.  Combine milk and egg.  Add to flour mixture and whisk till smooth.

Batter

Batter

Dredge fish in remaining 1/2 Cup flour.

Dredge Walleye in Flour

Dredge Walleye in Flour

Heat oil to 375.

Dip fish in batter.

Coat Walleye in Batter

Coat Walleye in Batter

Fry battered filets in oil.  Cook 2-3 minutes per side depending on thickness.

Fry Walleye in Peanut Oil at 375

Fry Walleye in Peanut Oil at 375

Drain on paper towel before serving.

Deep Fried Walleye Filets

Deep Fried Walleye Filets

 

It’s nice to know that there are still new experiences to indulge in, even after all these years, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Mexican Fiesta

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.  In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ~ Julia Child

Once I’d decided that Mexican was the choice for yesterdays menu, I went in the basement and pulled all the home-canned supplies from the shelves. The most exciting part of making the meal was being able to use the jalapeno peppers I’d just canned a few weeks ago. I’m not sure why I never thought to can them myself years ago, but when you start thinking one way…it’s almost impossible to change.

With the supplies at the ready, I opened first the tomatoes I’d canned last summer. Surprisingly these were my last two quarts. Good thing tomatoes are a constant during the summer. Having to wait until late August would be far too long a wait.

Once the tomatoes were pureed, I opened the peppers. Wow! My mouth began to water immediately. They smelled hot but I couldn’t control myself — I emptied the whole pint into the food processor and added the pureed paste to the tomatoes.

Here are a few pictures of the process:

My salsa isn’t very unique. My family does not like it chunky, so most everything in it is pureed so that the chunks are  small. I, myself do not like tomatoes. I eat them as a sauce mostly, but have never liked them raw. I think I have an alergy to them as well. Whenever I am in the garden trimming the plants or harvesting tomatoes, I end up with a rash all over me. Last year my daughter finally forbid me from going in the tomato garden. She took over so I wouldn’t spend the next day scratching and puffy.

I have added fresh onion and green or red bell pepper to the recipe on occasion, but for the most part, this is how we enjoy it. Here is the recipe if you’re interested.

Homemade Salsa

  • Servings: 3 Quarts
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

 

Ingredients

  • 2 Quarts Fresh or Canned Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Pint Jalapeno Peppers
  • 12 – 16 oz. Chopped Green Chilis
  • 1 24 oz. Can Tomato Puree

Directions

  1. Put the tomatoes, peppers and chilies through the food processor and process to a consistency of your liking.
  2. Put in a bowl.
  3. Add tomato puree (I add this to thicken the salsa, but if you don’t mind the salsa a little runny you can omit it).
  4. Stir and chill for at least an hour.

Cooking Note

This is really just a starter salsa recipe. There are so many more options with this base. You can add in freshly diced onion, peppers, tomatoes or our favorite — cilantro. You can make this your own with whatever your preferences are.

 

Recipe by:  Tilly Frueh – Simply Grateful Housewife 2014

 

I have to admit that the full pint of peppers made the salsa very hot. I will be adding more puree to calm it down once we’ve eaten more of it. I’d add more tomatoes, but that shelf is bare.

As luck would have it, yesterday I happened upon two bags of green chilies on the discount rack at Meijer’s. I had put canning these on my Canning To Do List for the summer. Of course, who can wait until summer when there are two bags for less than $2.00 staring you right in the face. I picked them up and plan on roasting them today and giving canning them a shot. They have to be pressure canned. I’m not as comfortable doing this, but I did just pick up a new 12 quart pressure canner at an estate sale, so no better time to try it out.

After the salsa was done, I worked on the Mexican Tortilla Soup. Not sure where this recipe came from, but I have changed it so many times over the years, I’ll call it my own. Here is that recipe, very easy and quite hearty (so hearty in fact that the family asked me not to make the tacos with it last night — they figured they be too full from the soup to enjoy them).

Mexican Tortilla Soup

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 – 2 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 3 Pints Refried Beans or Canned Pinto Beans
  • 4 Cups Beef Broth
  • 2 Cans Enchilada Sauce
  • 1 Can Chopped Green Chilies (optional)
  • 1/2 Onion Chopped Fine and sautéed to translucent or 1/4 Cup Onion Flakes

Directions

  1. Brown hamburger in large pot. Drain grease.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least an hour. I leave mine on the stove all day just because I like to have my dinner done as early as possible so I don’t have to worry about it later. It needs to boil about an hour to allow the spices and flavors to infuse the meat and broth, but after than you can just put it on low.
  3. Garnish with tortilla strips or broken tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped green/red bell pepper, diced onion, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and salsa — whatever you put on a taco or a burrito, will go great in the soup.

Cooking Note

This soup is really more like a chili. Definitely substantial enough for a meal, but if you limit everyone to just one bowl (good luck with that) you could serve a main course as well.

 

Recipe by:  Tilly Frueh – Simply Grateful Housewife 2014

So, yesterday’s dinner is under my belt and seeing as I didn’t make the tacos last night, dinner is planned for today, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

What’s For Dinner?

My life at home gives me absolute joy. There are some days when, as soon as you’ve finished cooking breakfast and cleaning up the kitchen, it’s time to start lunch, and by the time you’ve done that, you’re doing dinner and thinking, ‘There has to be a menu we can order from.’  Julia Roberts

Every morning it’s the same thing. What am I going to make for dinner? Until this question is answered, I cannot begin to tackle my to do list without that sword of Damocles dangling above my head.

Of course the fact that my son’s first words to me each day, before uttering “Good Morning,” are “What’s for dinner?” doesn’t help much. You’d think there were a constant battle for food around here. I finally had to make a new rule: You are not allowed to ask me what’s for dinner until after lunch. Even then though I cringe when I hear those words.

My husband will call during the day, interrupting whatever I am doing, to ask, “What’s for dinner?” At first I would tell him (if I actually knew), but after he told me once or twice after finding out what I was making, “Oh, did I tell you I have to work late tonight?” I stopped indulging him. Sure he might have been kidding, but planning dinner 360 nights a year can get stressful and I’m not always in the mood to play.

As for my daughter, well she has reached that wonderful age where she thinks she can freely express her dislike for some of the things I prepare. Silly girl! Why in the world would she think she actually has a say in this? She doesn’t help with the planning, she certainly doesn’t “offer” to help with the preparation, and getting her to clean up is like pulling teeth, so until she has “earned” a say, she’d best tread lightly.

A few years back I decided to write out a monthly menu. For six months I wrote a different meal in every box of the upcoming months calendar. This gave me a guideline for shopping lists each week and took the pressure off of constantly feeling like I had to come up with something new for dinner.

The euphoria soon wore off though because the menu made me feel “tied down.” Although I certainly could have changed a planned dinner on the menu, seeing it in writing gave it a sense of permanence making me feel guilty if I didn’t follow it to the letter. I believed if I changed the menu for this one day, what was to stop me from doing it every day. And if that were going to be the case, what was the point of the menu?

The weather was another factor when it came to following the menu. If the weather was hot and steamy typically grilling outside was better than heating up the kitchen even more with a huge pot of soup. Or if a cold front or thunderstorm suddenly decided to descend on us, which living in Michigan is always a distinct possibility, I surely wouldn’t want to find myself standing outside flipping burgers.

Additionally, some nights I did not feel like making what was on the menu. Every week I was sure to have a different Mexican dish and Italian dish. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, when my husband worked out, I had to make either pork or beef, chicken didn’t give him enough umph. And what about leftovers? If I were to schedule them on the menu, there was no guarantee that someone wouldn’t eat them for lunch, and again, I found myself right back to the old routine of “What’s for dinner?”

One good thing that did come of the “Menu” was it forced me to make a master list of all the meals I make. Surprisingly I had enough dishes to go three months without repeating a single meal. That was good to know and in theory sounds really good, but there are some meals I like having more than once every three months.

So, here I sit, staring at the dogs next door romping in their yard, listening to the birds chirping in the trees, waiting for the clouds to break up just enough to let a little sunshine into the morning, wondering What’s for dinner tonight?

It isn’t supposed to rain, but the temperature is only going to be about 54°, so I don’t want to grill. It’s Wednesday, which means I have to make something with beef or pork. I haven’t made anything Mexican or Italian this week, so there are those options. There is leftover ham in the fridge — but that would be good for a snack for my husband after his workout. Everyone should be home by 4:00, so I don’t have to serve dinner in shifts. What really matters here is:  What do I have all the ingredients on hand to make? Having to run up to the store for even one thing is not going to work today.

Mexican! I always have everything I need for that. Soft and hard shell tacos sound good, with some fresh homemade salsa from home canned tomatoes and jalapeno peppers, and maybe even a pot of Mexican soup with home canned pinto beans. Done! Now I can get on with my day and not stress about “What’s for dinner?” Not tonight anyway, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.