ugly dinnertime

(by kristi bennett)

trying to navigate too little counter space. stopping to break up a disagreement and the risotto is just a little too brown. a little hand grabs my leg, drags me into his room to see his dinosaur school. i am not sure the inventors of risotto had children.

the pictures i tried to take of my ugly, chaotic kitchen while prepping this meal don't look that bad. that's probably because i am beyond anal when it comes to cleaning as i cook. when my dear husband cooks, i can't even go in there. the piles of pots and pans freak me out too much. i start cleaning, and he shoos me out. we are different like that.

what inspired this dinner is our ugly, depressing bank balance, which is precariously low thanks to companies that aren't paying on time, thanks to a stupidly awful economy that makes it hard for my husband to find a job. we have a lovely, giant pantry that we have joked would substitute as a small nursery if not for its location directly off the kitchen. (don't worry, we don't need a nursery anymore, but when we first moved in over 4 years ago we did.) in our giant pantry, we have loads of food, which i politely ignore when planning meal menus. i flip through food magazines, browse food blogs, get inspired, and make a list, which usually involves way too many ingredients.

i want to be one of those resourceful people who can just walk into her pantry and make do with what i have. but sometimes i am spoiled, and i don't have to make it work (in the words of tim gunn).

tonight wasn't one of those nights. i had to make it work, so we had risotto and mashed sweet potatoes. i love risotto because it is so easy and also so easily adapted to whatever you are craving at the moment. plus, tonight i loved it because it was in my pantry.

the other ugly part of dinnertime that i can't show you is the conversation around our dinner table. i wish i could say that it was "how was your day? what part of your day was the favorite? what part made you laugh?" and there are nights when this definitely happens.

but tonight, as any night we aren't having pizza or breakfast for dinner (BFD, as my friend likes to call it), it's more like:

them: "why do i have to eat this? i don't like it. it's not fair. you make things i don't like and then ask me to eat them. i'm hungry."

us: "sit down. please use your  napkin, not  your hair. don't talk to your brother like that. yes, you have to eat it. yes, i'm such a horrible parent for making you vegetables and rice and chicken and expecting you to eat it. no, you cannot have toast with nutella. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

the sweet part of this story is that we have wine.


  1. Not once have I successfully made risotto. I like to blame it on the stove, which seems to be either HOT or COLD, but I think it might be me.

  2. freaking ingrates these kids. what's not to like? sweet potatoes. YUM. i love, use your napkin, not your hair. a new classic.

  3. elise, gillian's hair used to always smell like pancakes (at least it was not too offensive) because i swear that kid, she always wiped her hands on her hair. now she does it just on occasion. geez.

    meridith, there are some good instructions for risotto on the interwebs--it's not that hard but you just have to keep an eye on it. which, as the post says, pretty much means we should put off making it till after our kids go to college.

  4. Mmmmmmmm.... risotto. Impressed that you made it *and* attended dinosaur school. You are an inspiration!

  5. I have never made risotto! I have been having to "make do" and it seems that during those times I always have an overwhelming craving for something at a local restaurant. And Larkin always manages to get something on his clothes at every meal. Oh, and my kids always have food from the corners of their mouths toward their cheeks. What is that?

  6. amy my kids always have the line of food from ear to ear too. i have no idea. it's the same one acquired from eating a PB&J, except they manage to somehow always have it. my kids don't use utensils either. we are like barbarians.

  7. so nice to read...makes me feel less alone in attempt to have a Norman Rockwell dinner time :)


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