Yesterday I told myself I would power-batch cook.
fast food meals.
Power-batch cooking = carving out dedicated kitchen time to make the basics: large batches of legumes, grains, sauces, dressings, and baked goods.
I prepared myself and my kitchen for some good, hard work.
And then I sat.
Lately I haven't been interested in eating very much. Let's just say I've felt a little tired of food. As a human being do I really have to eat? Can't I just go play with my kids, read books, take a nap?
So instead I sat on my kitchen bar stool. I looked at my kitchen, and thought about the work ahead of me.
I tried convincing myself. Ashlee, you haven't cooked a big meal for your family in two days. They are hungry! Nope, didn't work.
Then I moved to threats. Ashlee, how can you possibly encourage others to power-batch cook if you don't want to do it yourself!?! Still sitting there. Staring.
I continued to use all manner of mental manipulation, and then Paul's words came to my mind.
Start with something easy, that you love.
Make it pleasant for yourself.
Paul has had to do a lot of difficult things in life that he doesn't want to do; admirable, amazing even, but difficult. One of his most amazing accomplishments is that he has earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. He described to me a point in his life where he couldn't stand school for one more second. He got in his car. Drove to the mountains. And sat.
At which point he proceeded to tell himself that he was never going back to school again. Never touching one more homework assignment. It was over. He wanted out.
He told me he took a deep breath. Went for a walk, and let himself think. He recognized that he was struggling with the task in front of him. He fought the greatest of wars we all fight every day - that inner struggle - and won. He got back into his car and returned to the battle field.
Needless to say Paul has some really good tactics to use when trying to muster up the strength to win.
I looked at my brainstorm list. You don't have to cook all of this. Just put a large batch of rice in the rice cooker, and then you'll be done. Easy. I looked around my kitchen again and saw my Zune (MP4 player) and speakers. I slowly meandered over to the counter and started some music.
Thank you, Chloe Agnew.
You made it pleasant.
I thought of Samuel. My favorite little boy in the whole world.
His birthday party would be in two days.
I love shopping and preparing for my children's birthday parties. I love the look on their faces when they know that it's all about them. The look that tells me they understand that they are important to me, and important to everyone around them.
This would be my reward.
After starting the brown rice, and putting together a quick vegetable soup, I planned Samuel's party menu.
part 1 of our whole foods pantry series. On the next page is my Costco shopping list.
The first thing I realized is that it's the adults that are picky! In this situation, children are very happy with fruit trays, veggie trays, chips, juice boxes, mini sandwiches cut into fun shapes, chex party mixes, cookies, cake, and ice cream.
Usually a party menu consists of cheesy pizza, or hot dogs, or macaroni and cheese. Last year for Essie's 7th birthday party I made my plant infused mac n' cheese, and it didn't go over as well as I wanted it to. First of all, I shouldn't have used the word, "cheese," when describing the menu. Kids liked it, but some of the adults obviously knew it wasn't cows milk cheese.
I'm thinking a warm pasta dish for the adults, maybe another Italian twist on Cauliflower Bechamel?
Then a big, green salad...Who says kids are difficult!?
For other formal large events I have made my Cheesy Mexican Casserole and it was a big hit. But it's a casserole. Who serves a casserole at a birthday party?
The cake is like the crowning event. Samuel and I looked through my cookbooks and he chose Lemony Luscious Cake with Strawberry Sauce from Dreena Burton's Let Them Eat Vegan!
He wants the cake to be served with a side of peach ice cream.
After finishing the menu planning, I wrapped up my power-batch cooking by making a large batch of salad dressing, and then I made Thai Chickpea Almond Curry (again from Let Them Eat Vegan!) to be served over some of the Jasmine brown rice for dinner.
I already used my batch cooking to help me! The curry came together in minutes; it's rice that takes forever!
After it was all done, I stood back and realized that if all I did was make the rice, soup, and the salad dressing, my whole week would have been easier than if I had done nothing at all. The idea had been more daunting than the actual task.
Raw Tahini Salad Dressing -- one of my favorites.
Now I get to enjoy my reward of making a big fuss over Samuel. Prioritizing well is essential to be ready for our guests tomorrow. But mostly so that I don't forget to enjoy one of the last days I've got with my four-year-old son. If I am not careful, I will miss the most important part; he's turning five. And growing fast.
What do you do to conquer seemingly difficult things?
And what types of food do you think adults like to have served at formal gatherings?