Summertime foods

I've sworn off cooking, at least for the summer.

It's too danged hot to eat big, wholesome meals, much less cook them. Why heat up the kitchen when the whole family only wants Popsicles anyway?

I tried to keep my family on the nutritious path. I sweated through every evening, cobbling together healthy food-pyramid meals. How did my family react to such culinary enterprise? I don't know. I couldn't get them away from the cooler vents long enough to come eat.

On those rare evenings when we did gather for the traditional family dinner, my traditional family proved to be ingrates. Picture this: I'm setting out a big dinner, one that features boneless pork chops that, admittedly, hadn't browned up very well. As I sweatily present this anemic tour de force, my two sons say, in unison: "Pork -- The Other Gray Meat."

This sounded suspiciously rehearsed, one of their little jokes, but at that moment I received an epiphany. Here's what it said: Stop cooking.

My wife, who thinks it's a sin to turn on the oven between Easter and Thanksgiving, heartily agreed with this plan. We stocked the house with picnic food -- fruit and snacks and lettuce and cold cuts and ready-made potato salad. We eased the rules about gathering for communal meals. Summer, we announced, was now a food free-for-all. Everyone fends for himself.

The result? Our house has become an around-the-clock, all-you-can-eat buffet.

There's always someone eating around here. Always someone preparing food. Always someone else (me) cleaning up afterward. We've become a production line of consumption, working around the clock to keep the food coming. I'm thinking of installing a conveyor belt in the kitchen.

Partly, this is the result of having two growing boys in the house all day during the summer. They eat non-stop to fuel their ever-expanding engines. I'm twice their size, but they consume twice as much as me, then complain there's nothing in the house to eat. We buy so many groceries, the supermarket clerks send up a cheer when they see us arrive.

We can keep up with the shopping -- barely -- but there's no way I can prepare meals fast enough to keep the boys sated. Not if I ever plan to work or sleep again. So my sons have been preparing most of their own food this summer, eating only when they're hungry (an estimated 22 hours a day) and falling into a pattern of perpetual grazing.

Nutrition experts tell us it's healthier to eat this way, noshing several mini-meals throughout the day rather than sitting down to one or two big honking grubfests. This, no doubt, is an evolutionary mandate. Our caveman ancestors hunted and gathered all the time, just to scrape together enough calories to live another day. Our bodies still haven't adapted to caloric abundance or the availability of TV dinners.

I suspect our caveman ancestors didn't bother about sitting at a table or cleaning up after a meal, and our sons have adopted that pattern, too. Food consumption no longer is confined to the kitchen. If you're eating on the fly, what's to keep you from flying around the house?

The natural consequence is a house littered with crumbs and paper cups and apple cores and Popsicle wrappers. All the time I've saved by not cooking goes into clean-up. Somehow, I got demoted from chef to busboy.

But at least I'm not standing over a hot stove.


lilybee1984 said...

I am enjoying your blog. It seems to fill the void left when Dave Barry stopped writing his column.


Thanks, lilybee. That's high praise, indeed.

Ambercita said...

Steve, your blog is a joy to read! I always end up laughing out loud - - and since I generally read this at work and my laugh is sort of contagious...I can hear laughter coming from the other cube dwellers whenever I have finished reading one of your entries. Thank you!