Hi everyone. Please click on the title to read the rest of this post. I received an email from a reader with questions regarding how I cook when I have 4 children, a question that i am frequently asked:
I have a question for you: how do you manage to cook all the time with 4 KIDS? I have one and even though I used to love to cook before, grinding out meal after meal (and cleaning up most of them) seems a real chore. Not to mention the fact that my picky toddler seems to like only bread-like foods and carbs, and refuses all other culinary creations. I make one meal for him and one for me (and my husband at dinner…sometimes).
What is your secret? What is your inspiration? Are you extraordinarily organized or extraordinarily energetic? Have lots of help? All the kids in school now and you can cook and blog all day? What?
Looking for some inspiration (and healthy food-fueled energy!)–
O.K., Magda. I have a lot to say but will try to be concise. I do have a lot of energy but I am also a pretty good multi tasker. I am not good at multitasking with everything, only with tasks with which I am comfortable, tasks that I have practiced, like cooking. Currently, I have 3 out of 4 children in camp until 12:00, 1:00 and 3:00 and a 2 year old at home all day. I have a sitter two times a week, 4 hours each day. When I need/want to cook and my kids are around, I try to occupy them or include them in the process. Sometimes I resort to TV. I do a lot of my cooking in the AM when my kids are eating breakfast and contained in the kitchen.
I am able to cook as much as I do not because I am magic, but because I take a few moments each day (and I do mean moments) to think about (plan) what I will make that day or in the days to come that week. This is CRUCIAL. For example, today, I thought about how I will defrost some chicken legs tomorrow so that I can marinate them tomorrow night for Chicken night which is Thursday in my house. I was shopping yesterday and bought buttermilk because I had seen Nigella Lawson on the food Network marinating her chicken in it. (She looked really attractive marinating them and I wanted to be just like her.) If you watch the following video of me making them at 7:30 AM, you will see that I am not nearly as attractive as she is, but I can whip up those drumsticks with one hand. Watching people prepare food makes me want to try making it myself if the recipe looks good. I learn best by watching.
I love food, I love people, I love nurturing people with food, including myself. I don’t want to be home all day cooking and cleaning up after my kids so I incorporate other interesting things into my life like organizing and participating in Parents Who rock shows, writing this blog, doing workshops for Take Back the Kitchen and helping people overcome their obstacles. I want a family, a job, to be able to indulge in my hobbies- I want it all! An excellent Lucinda Williams song, Passionate Kisses, sums up how I want my life and I have figured out a way, as best I can, not perfectly, to intertwine all of my “chores” in life with all the things I love to do. If we want something badly enough, we can make it happen. Listen to Lucinda (feel free to change the lyrics from “passionate kisses from you” to “delicious dishes for you”:
P.S. I will be singing this Lucinda song at the next Parents Who Rock show on Sept. 6th., starting at 11AM and going all day. For more details go to: http://www.parentswhorock.com/
There will be more answers to your question in future blog posts, but please know that it is possible to have it all or close to it all when it comes to taking care of the house, the kids, the job, ourselves and not have it always feel like menial tasks or chores.
Nigella’s Marinated Chicken Legs:
12 chicken drumsticks (approximately 3 pounds)
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
2 cloves garlic, bruised and skins removed-bruised means smash with the side of a knife (optional)
1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns (optional)
1 tablespoon kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Place the chicken drumsticks in a large freezer bag, and add the buttermilk and 1/4 cup of oil.
Add the bruised garlic cloves to the bag with the crushed peppercorns and salt.
Sprinkle in the ground cumin and finally add the maple syrup, and then squish everything in the freezer bag around to mix the marinade and coat the chicken.
Leave the buttermilk marinated chicken in the fridge ideally overnight or out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Take the chicken pieces out of the bag shaking off the excess marinade, and then arrange them in a roasting tin lined with foil.
Drizzle over the 2 remaining tablespoons of oil, and then roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until brown, even scorched in parts, and juicily cooked through.