I bought a new cookbook – “Dinner Tonight: Done!” – because its title so accurately and succinctly reflected my attitude about cooking lately:
What’s for dinner? And more importantly, how quickly can I get it done?
Also, the cover photo of the flank steak and pepper tacos, one lying ever-so-artistically on its side in a dollop of beef juices, hot sauce and sour cream, nearly made my mouth water. Then I read the dust jacket:
“Every day, without fail, someone – your teenager, as he barrels through the door after soccer, your own starving inner child as you sit in traffic after a long day at work – will ask you what’s for dinner tonight,” it said.
“Quick! Before your head explodes! Turn to one of the 189 time- and sanity-saving recipes in this book.”
My first thought, of course, was why 189? Would it have killed them to include one more recipe, or 11, to make it a nice, round number? But I bought it anyway, mostly for the Peanut Butter Cup Cookies on page 331 (not exactly dinner, but delicious).
I left the book on the couch one Saturday morning, and Jack attacked it with a pad of sticky notes. He used the notes to mark pages with recipes or photos he found enticing, as if perusing the menu and ordering dinner at Chez Tobias:
“We’ll start with the Chicken and Prosciutto Club Sandwiches on page 119 …
“After that, we’ll have the Brown Sugar-Glazed Pork with Grilled Corn, and then the Ham, Gruyere and Shallot Pizza on page 181.
“I believe the lady would like the Halibut with Tomatoes and Capers on page 231. Where, exactly, do you get your fish …?”
Jack did this to another of my cookbooks years ago, when he was in kindergarten and practicing his letters and spelling. Each sticky-note bookmark in that volume, which I kept exactly where he put them all those years ago, says something like, “Looks deelishis” or “I wont you to make this.”
Seeing the books side-by-side illustrates how my son’s tastes have evolved over time, the first one tagged mostly on dessert pages – cakes, pies, and anything with strawberries – while the bookmarks in this recent book reflect his love of seafood.
Creamy rice with roasted shrimp and tomatoes? Can’t argue with you there, son. Sounds deelishis.
My daughter, Hannah, is a less adventurous eater. The lunch she takes to high school each day hasn’t varied much all year – celery with peanut butter, string cheese, Goldfish crackers, and occasionally, hummus and pita bread. Now that I think about it, it hasn’t varied much since she was a toddler.
But she enjoys cooking and makes perfect stovetop popcorn and a mean chips-cheese-and-salsa recipe that she calls “Awe-chos” because they’re, you know, awesome nachos.
Hannah plans to take a cooking class at school next year – it’s called “Culinary Arts” now, by the way, not home ec – and I’m hoping her homework assignments will coincide with my dwindling desire to fix dinner.
If she’s looking for something to try, I’ve got dozens of cookbooks and a whole stack of sticky notes.