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Dear Fairy Godmother, please grant me one wish…..

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

As things stand, if I was to get my one wish today, here’s what I’d wish for……someone to come in daily and cook healthy (and calorie-free) varied meals (including shopping for the ingredients) which would be loved by parents and teenagers alike.

That’s all.

Nothing too difficult about that really.

In fact it would only be taking over one of the multitudinous roles that I’m expected to carry out every day.

Not too much to ask for….but unfortunately, as you’ve probably guessed, it isn’t going to happen.

The trouble is, I’ve lost my mojo…..it’s gone, fled to the hills and as a result disaster is looming. I’ve already been told that it was about time that there was a bit more variety (when I served lasagne for the second time in 3 weeks – lasagne is a lot of work, right and it’s my guaranteed ‘everybody loves it’ menu….what the heck!!!). Last night’s dinner was a complete disaster – the meat was so inedible that I threw it in the bin before we’d even started and told everyone to make do with mash, veg and what was, if I say so myself, a spectacularly delicious gravy. I won’t be taking an unidentifiable slab of meat out of the back of the freezer and trying to wing a Brassato again 🙁

So what would you do?

I have a husband who eats out a lot in nice restaurants and has high standards, so fish fingers and the like are a no-no. He’s also a bit anti-British (what’s that about?). None of the children will eat fish or any of the things that I love (aubergines, anchovies, hummus etc), one of them barely eats enough to fill a fly and I’m always surreptitiously on the lookout for eating disorders (although I suspect she consumed enough junk food outside the house to keep her going for a very long time). All have long days and have to find their own lunches in the city and I do move mountains to try to make sure that we eat a family dinner together, even if there is a shift system on some evenings when people are out doing sport.

It’s all left me feeling deeply,deeply uninspired and every day I just rake around in the freezer trying to find something that will do for dinner with the minimum of effort and preferably no shopping involved.

It’s not good.

This morning at 6.15 am, this was the sight at the breakfast table….

I’m now filled with dread at the thought of trying to write a shopping list and head down to Migros.

What would you do? No, what do you do when this feeling strikes, because I’m sure that there isn’t a woman out there who doesn’t feel like this sometimes?

I need your help….failing that, please send your fairy godmother my way!
Helen

20 Responses to “Dear Fairy Godmother, please grant me one wish…..”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    I got fed up of cooking for the family a long time ago. Fortunately, the move to France and our new self-employment meant that Chris could take over the evening meals, which he thoroughly enjoys doing. I could happily live on cheese sandwiches so I’m delighted to have a cooking hubby, although these days he’s only cooking for himself as Rors has a big dinner at school and so only wants a sandwich at teatime and I’m not into the spicy stuff Chris rustles up.
    Shall I send him over?

  2. Elisabeth Says:

    I know the feeling. Last night we had potato wedges with nothing else as I was so worried that I would burn them I forgot about the fish fingers. I’m hanging my head in shame…
    Whenever I don’t know what to make for dinner, I make Spaetzli, veg and meat with gravy. Everyone here loves it.
    On the weekend I make my husband cook. Clever, no?!

  3. Lush Says:

    I think we all feel your pain, after 20 or so years of not just cooking but coming up with a healthy varied menu, shopping for it etc it gets BLOODY BORING!!
    When my son hit the teenage “not pasta again” years, I completely lost the plot & told him he had to choose the meals, they had to be healthy & he had to learn to cook for at least 2 nights a week. Oh & I threw in lunch & breakfast.
    That sorted things out nicely. He can make pasta boscaiola, french toast, pancakes & a mean bit of scrambled egg with toast.
    At the very least you could make them have to set a menu for the week, if they each select 2 meals you get to do a roast on Sundays, your done & it’s not your fault if it’s a crap choice.
    Keep your chin up & good luck. x

  4. Susan Says:

    I don’t usually mind the cooking, but try to keep things like pizzas in the freezer for the nights I have lost the will to live. I get plain cheese ones and then we top up with what we like. In the colder months I am all for slow cooked dishes and mine ar good for just about anything so a pork and chorizo casserole with cannellini beans, goes down as well as black bean soup, or spaghetti bolognaise. Stir fries are a regular here, chilli, and in the summer lots of salads with grilled meat of one type or another.

    Funnily enough I have had Nigella’s feast out this week too. I randomly pick out a cook book when I have time and look through it and put a little scrap of paper in all the pages of recipes I would like to try in the foreseeable future. Then place the book back on the shelf. Then when I need inspiration fast, I grab one of the book marked cook books and see what has already caught my eye. Right now in Nigella I have pages 116, 207, 226, 232, 253, 299, 326, 343, 364, 380, 383, and I am not done yet.

  5. ailsa Says:

    I lost my cooking mojo about 7 years ago. I will go to the ends of the earth to avoid cooking (& the washing up!), I am also not particually interested in eating either, I’m known for coming in from work and having a bowl of cereal for my tea! I did manage to warm some M&S food up last night!

  6. Kyrena Says:

    heya! try going to migros without a shopping list. i do that most of the ti
    es and get inspired during shopping. i’ll see what’s on offer and just go along with it. Let yourself take in all those beautiful colours of vegs and fruit.
    what i do when mojo is low: ebly with frozen vegs and chicken (breast or chopped),quite healthy and yummy,or couscous with an anychoice ratatouille (you could even put aubergines in there and they wouldn’t notice)! very quick and reasonably healthy! if you wan’t something nice and warm and filling which doesn’t require stamding next to it the whole time,try gulasch. put some potatoes in or make some knöpfli to go with it!
    or just stop cooking and see how long it takes the kids to come begging for lasagne!!! 😉

  7. Dianne Neale Says:

    I think I’m the last person to ask! I’m with ailsa on the eating front, and stephanie on the cooking front.

    But we do a chicken and bean casserole quite often with wraps. Moroccan Chicken with cous cous? A great big spanish style omelette with everything in the fridge in it. Mince and potatoes? AT this time of year we marinate a few pieces of chicken, and barbie them with potatoes and salad.

  8. Katy Says:

    I might just be able to help (well, not with the shopping, sorry) I started a new food blog because I realised that I was ending up eating crap when I really wasn’t inspired by what I was eating (having the same 20-30 meals in rotation) So I’ve decided to eat & diet my way through Pinterest: http://southbeachpinterestproject.blogspot.co.uk/ Even if you’re not doing a diet, hopefully there’s enough healthy, tasty and varied meals in there that might do you occasionally. I post a menu at the start of every month, and review the recipes as I go.

  9. Tracey Says:

    Echoing others – I made the children pick the recipes for at least two meals, and made them cook at least one. The meals weren’t necessarily better, but they weren’t worse, and there was way less complaining. Plus they learned to cook. I started when they were about 15 but in retrospect I could have done it a lot earlier.

    I love the idea of shopping wihtout a list but I’m not that kind of cook. I need a recipe to start with, even if I change it as I go. (I’m that kind of knitter, too – I admire people who grab yarn and needles and knit to fit, but I need a pattern.) But there’s so much really fresh food this time of year – maybe it’s worth a go!

  10. Julie Says:

    I also wish I had a cook, Helen. If I had one to send you, I’d hoard her/him for our family and not send him/her. 🙂

    Seeing Ina Garten’s cookbook in your photo, however, made me think of her Panzanella recipe. It’s the best I’ve ever tried – it’s elegant-seeming, simple, and is the most delicious salad ever. I always have to make copies of the recipe because people moan and roll their eyes when I serve it. You could take any simply prepared chicken breast, serve it with panzanella and it would seem like a fancy feast. 🙂 Thinking of you…. xxoo

  11. MelD Says:

    This made me laugh out loud – one day this week I made the most awesome Yorkshire puds (with thyme in the mix!), mash, veg and gravy, no meat at all, just the sides ;)) Another day we had breakfast for dinner – bacon, egg, beans and tomatoes and some salad. Risotto is another endless variation that I go for when there’s a blackout, or even soup made of whatever’s around plus pulses…
    For a while, I just assigned a basic food per day and winged it from there: Monday beef, Tuesday pasta, Wednesday pork or chicken, Thursday was pizza day and Friday vegetarian, which meant I only had to search a small portion of my mind for ways of presenting it. It worked very well for several years, I have to say.
    I just heard that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has a new book out where he uses only 3 main ingredients per recipe and that reminded me of one of my favourite cookbooks that has the same concept and was published nearly 15 yrs ago!

  12. paige Says:

    when my 16 yr old was a toddler (and i was really concerned about his eating veggies during mealtime), my good friend suggested making “hors d’oeurves (can’t spell, sorry)–fruit and veggies cut up into finger food and placing that on the table about an hour before mealtime. the kiddos could pick and snack all they wanted (while i was cooking), and if they didn’t eat their cooked veggies or salad at dinner, at least i knew they had some carrots, celery, apples, or whatever else was on that platter.

    i’ve continued the tradition (?), so now when my cooking mojo has disappeared, at least i know they’re getting some food into them. maybe only supplemented by toast. but now they’re teens and can fend (albeit slightly) for themselves.

  13. diane stanley Says:

    Remind me to tell you my Braciole story some time. Let’s just say it was a very expensive reaction to the kids not liking dinner. But what I did when this happened in our home when the boys were all home was put my hands in the air and said, “If I can’t cook what pleases you, you know where the kitchen is…every man for themselves”! It was very freeing.
    Good luck with your picky eaters.

  14. Gertie Pye Says:

    I am the wrong person to ask. I am a terrible cook with a very fussy eldest child. I know what you mean about losing your mojo – sometimes I think “Yes! I will cook something exciting from scratch!”. Then I go to an awful lot of trouble, way out of my comfort zone, and my fussy eldest child won’t eat it anyway.

    I know when we were teenagers my mother declared Fridays “make your own dinner” day – maybe try that and see what they make for themselves and see if that inspires you (or not!)

  15. Flying Blind Says:

    I hate cooking, all the effort for grumpy faces, so I go for least aggro for me, as the reaction will be the same!
    I just make sure they have at least 4 of their 5-a-day at breakfast and lunch, then the pressure is off.

  16. Lisa Says:

    My daughter went to university barely able to make tea and emerged a Vegan with an Hons. degree in Classics (she’s a whizz with Latin and Greek ) . She took herself to London (from Canada) (as you do )and landed a job shopping and cooking dinners for a film producer and his wife who were vegans.
    She called at their beautiful Hampstead house early Friday mornings, armed with lists of new recipes, she shopped, came back and cooked, froze the meals, baked a cake or cheesecake or pies as an extra …..cleaned the kitchen, left the change on the countertop with the week’s menu written out and suggestions of extra’s they could buy to go with the main meal. They were delighted , they paid well so she was delighted, and she really enjoyed her day.
    Then she met an Italian and lives in foodie heaven in northern Italy and is a fantastic cook. Perhaps you could find a student who likes to cook.

  17. Sherri Says:

    Have you ever read the food blog “Our Best Bites?” They have the best recipes…my family loves everything I make of theirs. I absolutely love their first cookbook, and have pre-ordered their second one which will be out in a couple of weeks!

  18. Edith Says:

    I don’t have any helpful suggestions…but I can totally relate.

  19. Leanne Says:

    I think that when you have no mojo for cooking the bets thing is to have a break and others, especially those who want variety could have a turn, it is not the easiest of tasks. Or maybe an alternative is cooking classes, with cute chefs, maybe in Paris or something.

  20. Kathryn Says:

    I know the feeling! The quick and easy standbys that almost everyone in my family (4 out of 5) will eat are stir fries and pasta with red pesto and creme fraiche – just dollop in equal quantities of each into cooked pasta. Sometimes I add chicken and broccoli florets, otherwise we just have it plain. Serve with garlic bread and / or side-salad.