"God must love the common man, He made so many of them..." Abraham Lincoln

Friday, October 9, 2009


“What’s for dinner?” If only I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that. Between the picky-eater kids and the suspicious-eater husband, I’d be rich! Now don’t get me wrong, I like cooking dinner. It’s just the decision-making before I get behind the stove that drives me crazy.

My mom took dinnertime seriously. Experts have long said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, those experts didn’t consult my mom who believed dinner was the overlord of all meals. Mom planned menus, kept track of recipes, and rotated leftovers. Almost every night our family gathered around the table for something hot and homemade. We never asked what was for dinner. Mom fixed it and we ate it. Pot roast, spaghetti, sweet ‘n sour meatballs and tacos were her signature dishes. Mom really was an outstandingly good cook.

I don’t know that I could claim to be an outstanding cook or even a good cook, but I can say that I’m a bored cook. Same pans, same process, night after night can be a real drag. How can such dinner drudgery be livened up? I like to use a dinner theme. There’s nothing like a theme to change mundane dinner into something special. So it could be Ethnic Dinner night, or Breakfast Dinner night, or Fend for Yourself Dinner night, or even Drive-Thru Dinner night. Dinner themes are limited only by my imagination and my paycheck. When my family asks the dreaded dinner question, I respond with my theme du jour. Here are my two all-time very most favorites…

Adventure Dinner! This is the most feared theme in my arsenal. Oh yeah. When it’s Adventure Dinner, every food is a new food – or at least new recipes. If your family’s like mine they will be afraid. Very afraid. This dinner can be time consuming to prepare what with intensive recipe researching and more-specific-than-usual grocery shopping. Crock-pot Adventure Dinners usually turn out pretty good. Curried Adventure Dinners, not so much. Please let me assure you that Adventure Dinner isn’t too bizarre or far-fetched, but it is always an adventure.

Monochromatic Dinner! Just picture this – poached chicken, mashed potatoes, and canned pears. Or how about this – fish sticks, mac ‘n cheese, and canned peaches. Yep, Monochromatic Dinner means all of the food is the same (or very nearly the same) color. The first time this dinner happened it was just culinary dumb luck. But now, it has evolved into a genuine theme. To do it justice, this dinner requires some serious planning and a fairly sophisticated color wheel. Using plates the same color as the food adds to the ambience and introduces an unexpected camouflage factor.

Hey, hold on there just a second… Camouflage? Another whole new dinner theme!