The Root of Our Current Kitchen Sorrows

It’s a sad, sad state of affairs in our kitchen right now.

You see, I am (temporarily) in charge of dinner.

Yes, you can feel sorry for my kids, they who must bear the brunt of this change in the domestic cooking arena.

And to make things worse, it’s all more or less my fault.

Early in February, I got an email from the Canadian Opera Company (well, I did, as did all the other subscribers to the COC’s newsletter). They had some interesting news: they were holding an open call to fill over a 100 “supernumerary” roles for their upcoming spring productions!

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering, what’s a “supernumerary”? Luckily, the newsletter spelled it out for me:

Supernumeraries, a.k.a. supers, are the extras of the opera world and play a variety of non-singing roles. They are vital to enhancing the operatic experience presented on stage.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably know the following about Ward, my significant other:

(1) he teaches martial arts for a living

and

(2) he’s the (one and only) cook around here.

What you probably don’t know is, he’s a huge opera fan. So when I read that email, I got really excited. “You’ve got to go to the casting call!” I said.

Ward was hesitant, never having even contemplated doing anything like this before. But I was persuasive, and when the date of the open call rolled around, off he went.

You probably know where this is headed, right?

Yes, Ward was picked to be a “super”: he’s playing the role of a peasant in the COC’s production of Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites, the story of an order of Carmelite nuns during the French Revolution.

dialoguesPhoto credit: Canadian Opera Company

If you get a chance to attend the performance, which runs in Toronto from May 8 to 25 at the Four Seasons Centre, Ward says he’s in the front row in several of the scenes in which the supers play a part. Look for the tall guy with light brown hair and blue eyes, dressed in peasant robes. (Mind you, I think all the supers are in peasant robes. And there are about 60 male supers. So okay, you might not be able to pick him out.)

Ward’s been having a blast, attending the rehearsals, hearing some great opera almost every night, getting to meet some of the main performers.

The downside? I’m temporarily in charge of the kitchen. Because there are a lot of rehearsals in the evenings, both during the week and on weekends.

Which means, no one to cook dinner.

So far, we’ve been having a lot of takeout. As I mentioned in my last Sunday Salon post, I’ve even taken to doing the 40 minute walk to Chinatown to pick up congee and Chinese donuts (which Wikipedia tells me is called youtiao) and then doing the 40 minute walk back. The walking is a good thing, because having a lot of takeout does not add up to a particularly low-fat diet, if you know what I mean.

Then there’s that good old standby, grilled cheese. And sandwiches. I am particularly gifted in putting together ham and cheese sandwiches. I will even cut off the crusts if you so desire.

And let us not forget frozen lasagne. Thank goodness for frozen lasagne. It kind of feels like a home-cooked meal. So far we’ve tried two kinds: the Longo’s store brand and the President’s Choice brand from Loblaw. Everyone here likes the President’s Choice one better.

Now I just have to get through most of May.  If  you have a suggestion for a quick and very very easy dish that even I can make, please please please let me know in the comments. My children will thank you.

Since this post mentions food to a certain degree (although it mostly discusses the root of our current kitchen sorrows), I’ll be linking it up at Weekend Cooking, a regular feature that runs every Saturday at Beth Fish Reads.

31 thoughts on “The Root of Our Current Kitchen Sorrows

  1. rhapsodyinbooks

    That’s so great for Ward! But not so great for the rest of you! LOLOL Don’t look at me for recipes – as far as I’m concerned, if it’s not frozen and pre-made, it’s not “easy” LOL. But if my mom served grilled cheese every night when I was a kid I’d be in heaven! :–) By the way when I saw the title of your post I thought “oh wow, this sounds like another book like “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” – LOL – won’t you consider it for your next manuscript? :–)

    Reply
    1. Belle Wong Post author

      Ha! Right now, as I sit looking at May and so many nights of “what the heck should I do about dinner”, I’m feeling narcissistic enough to write a memoir based on these sad times :)

      Reply
  2. Brette

    Are you only vegetarian/vegan? No meat (b/c rotisserie chicken makes tacos, salads, and easy pastas and is the easiest way to make a million dinners with almost no cooking)? Then I would say cook up giant vats of rice and pasta. Then heat them up w/ different stuff. Stir fry some veggies to go with the rice. Add bottled pesto and a veg to the pasta. Add either to store bought veggie broth with some beans. Make Spanish rice. Buy bottled Asian sauces to put on rice noodles.

    Reply
    1. Belle Wong Post author

      This is a great idea, Brette. And we’re not vegetarian or vegan, so the rotisserie chicken sounds good – I never thought about that. The grocery store down the street sells rotisserie chicken, so it’ll be easy even when I’m not prepared. Thanks!

      Reply
  3. Beth

    That is so cool that your husband is into opera–and what a fun opportunity for him! I have lots of easy dinner ideas, being the one in charge of the kitchen around here and very lazy after working all day. Some of our favorites:

    Pasta w/ sauce + salad
    Lentils and sausage
    Curried lentils and poached eggs
    Chinese fried rice (I buy the frozen kind) and egg rolls
    Quiche + salad
    Soup + sandwich
    Omelet and fried potatoes
    Roasted dinner (may be getting too hot for it, but basically you can drizzle anything with olive oil and stick it in the oven at 200 degrees for a half an hour and it tastes good).
    PIZZA! :)

    Reply
    1. Belle Wong Post author

      These are great suggestions, Beth – thank you. I never thought about roasting things. It’s still cool around here, and it sounds easy!

      Reply
  4. Sheryl

    Lots of times when I didn’t feel like cooking when my kids were young we’d have breakfast for dinner. What could be easier than waffles,a cakes, eggs? Always a treat in the kids’ minds.

    Reply
    1. Belle Wong Post author

      I’ve been making a lot of eggs, Sheryl, although I hadn’t thought about waffles. My two boys would definitely go for waffles for dinner!

      Reply
    1. Belle Wong Post author

      I’ve been telling myself that, Kathy, because he is having such a great time – he comes home late at night and he’s all smiles and bursting to tell me all about the evening. Salads are a good idea – quick and easy. I can bear my own cooking for the next little while, right?

      Reply
  5. heidenkind

    That’s so cool! Honestly I’m drawing a blank on a quick dinners right now, but you can always eat out! :)

    Reply
  6. Charlie

    Awesome news for Ward, it must be a fantastic experience. We often have a pasta bake for the ease of it, though it takes ages to cook (as in a little over an hour, but it seems longer). If you want to have more of a hand in it, what about a pizza where you just buy the base and then add the topping? Or something like salmon fillets where you can experiment with sauces, side salads, etc (fish in oven, use bagged salad, little time needed). We don’t do much ‘real’ cooking here, either…

    Reply
    1. Belle Wong Post author

      These are all great ideas, Charlie. Now that you mentioned a pasta bake, I remember a dish I made a few times in the past when Ward was busy with something or other. It was a tuna casserole thing, and involved Campbell’s soup and had a topping of potato chips. I remember it was a hit with everyone. I’m going to dig up that recipe!

      Reply
  7. Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll)

    How about vegetarian chili? Three cans of beans, drained and rinsed (we use three different kinds, but traditional red can work), three cans of diced tomatoes, chili powder to taste (we use about 1/3 cup). We saute onion and garlic, but you could use garlic and onion powders to keep it easy. A can of V8 juice to thin it all. Let it simmer in a big pot for half an hour to an hour.

    For a simple complete meal, I’d serve the chili over baked potatoes (made in the microwave) and top it with grated cheese and broccoli. I’d use fresh broccoli and saute or roast it, but you could use frozen and prepare it however the package directs. Or, we’ll toss chili into drained pasta, top it with cheese, and serve a salad with it.

    The chili is as good, or better, as leftovers. So it will make an even faster meal later in the week.

    Reply
    1. Belle Wong Post author

      Thanks, Joy! I always thought chili was difficult to make, but your recipe sounds nice and easy. I’ll have to give it a try.

      Reply
  8. Diane (bookchickdi)

    Congratulations to your husband, that sounds like so much fun! My SIL went through the same thing with her kitchen remodel, just remember that eventually you will have a beautiful new kitchen. And when we did our small kitchen reno years ago, rotisserie chickens from the prepared section of the grocery store saved us.

    Reply
    1. Belle Wong Post author

      The rotisserie chicken idea is definitely a good one – I don’t know why I didn’t remember them!

      Reply
  9. JoAnn (Lakeside Musing)

    Congratulations to Ward – very exciting to be part of an opera!

    I see the suggestion have already been made, but you can do so much with a rotisserie chicken! My kids used to think ‘breakfast for dinner’ was the ultimate treat.

    Boneless chicken breasts also make quick easy meals – pound them a little, marinade (my kids loved teriyaki) and then cook on the stove for about 6 minutes per side.

    Investigate all the different fresh pasta sauces out there for more easy meals. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Belle Wong Post author

      The boneless chicken breasts sound good! I always think making chicken must be so fussy, but your idea sounds really easy. Thank you!

      Reply
    1. Belle Wong Post author

      I know! I didn’t realize how much I took his cooking for granted – until he wasn’t there cooking for us any more.

      Reply
  10. Megan M.

    I like throwing a roast in the Crockpot. Couldn’t be easier. Put in a chuck roast, add some baby dutch potatoes and baby carrots, take a packet of onion soup mix and mix it with 1 cup of water, then pour it all over the roast and potatoes. Then you set it and forget it! 7-8 hours on LOW and 4 hours on HIGH.

    And here’s an easy chicken casserole. In a casserole dish, layer shredded, cooked chicken (you could shred a rotisserie chicken) then a mixture of 2 cans cream of chicken soup and one 8 oz tub of sour cream. Then smash up some Ritz crackers and mix with melted butter, put that on top. Put it in the oven at 375F for 25 minutes. You can serve it over rice, couscous, or quinoa (we’ve tried all three.)

    Reply
      1. Belle Wong Post author

        Wow, both these sound delicious. I’m definitely getting a few rotisserie chickens this week, so will likely give your chicken casserole dish a try – it sounds like it would be a hit with the kids (I mean, a Ritz cracker topping – how could they resist?!). We do have a crockpot, and I’m thinking the onion soup mix must make everything taste really good, right? Thank you for these great ideas, Megan.

        Reply
  11. Teddyree

    What a great opportunity for Ward but I did giggle over your kitchen plight. How about a chicken pie the cheats way. Pull apart rotisserie chicken, dice and toss in saucepan with Campbells creamy chicken soup, 2tsp gravox, splash of cream and 1 cup of frozen veg (I use peas, carrots and corn) Cook until nice thick pie consistency. Need 1 sheet frozen shortcrust pastry for bottom of pie dish. Add chicken filling and top with sheet of frozen puff pastry. Bake in mod oven approx 30mins

    Reply
    1. Belle Wong Post author

      I’ve always thought chicken pies were hard to make, but your recipe looks so easy! Another one for my list – thank you!

      Reply

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