Love slows down

Can I tell you something I consider one of my dirty little secrets?

I love crappy food.

You may be shocked to know that, because anyone who knows me knows that we almost never eat out, and also that I’m quite vocal in my disdain for the lack of nutritional value in most take-out food. But the truth is that there was a long period of time when I was a kid where my dad hadn’t yet learned to cook and my mom was working nights, and my brother and father and I lived on McDonald’s and Kraft Mac and Cheese and Spaghettios and such. We were hardly unique—it was the 70s, and everyone was digging “convenience food”—and even though I hardly ever eat the stuff, now, I still see comfort in a blue box of macaroni or occasionally need some salty fries from McD’s.

(Mmmmm… salt and grease.)

As I feed my own family, now, I’m trying really hard to make the kind of memories that center around good food choices, with the occasional trip to Sonic being a treat of shocking proportions.

The truth of the matter is that both my husband and I work full-time, which means we both often work even more than full-time, which means that sometimes, yeah, we pick up the phone and order pizza because it’s all we can manage on a busy day. I’m not going to beat myself up over that. It happens. So far, it hasn’t killed anyone.

On the other hand, there’s nothing quite like gathering the kids ’round at dinnertime and letting them make their own pizzas. We’re all in the kitchen, jockeying for elbow space, as I toss onions in my cast iron pan for the “grown-up” pizza, and Monkey is placing pepperoni on his pizza with artistic precision, and Chickadee is asking “How much pineapple can I have? Can I have more than this? How about this much? OOPS! I used it all!” and then Otto leaves and comes back with a camera and starts taking pictures of it all.


(Ready to go into the oven.)

.

I made the crust from scratch. The kids had jarred sauce, but Otto and I had pesto I made from the basil growing on the deck. Chickadee and I made our own mozzarella (I blame Belinda, but she’s right, it’s so much fun and SO SO YUMMY), and those tomatoes and peppers are also from my little deck garden.

There was work I had to finish and laundry to be sorted and a hundred other things that maybe I could’ve accomplished in the time it took, when all was said and done, to bring that meal to the table.

But this was more important, that night.

Some days we’ll still give up and call for pizza, sure. But the nights we can crowd together in the kitchen, assembling a meal from the ground up… these are the moments I hope the kids will look back on, rather than the times when we were so rushed that it didn’t matter what we ate.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. I hope you know the love that makes slowing down a blessing, rather than a chore.

43 Responses to “Love slows down”

  1. 1
    Holly July 24, 2008 at 11:19 am #

    Very inspiring!

  2. 2
    Melanie July 24, 2008 at 11:21 am #

    Homemade pizza nights are my very favorite food nights at our house. Both boys try to outdo each other on creative layout designs… (really, the mona lisa in cheese and sauce). I have to admit, it doesn’t exactly “taste” as good as expensive delivery.. but it FEELS so much better! Happy Love Thursday.

  3. 3
    D July 24, 2008 at 11:25 am #

    Homemade pizza, homemade bread, brings a family together and memories [says the woman who called pizza delivery yesterday … ]. Making mozzarella? Gotta look that up …

  4. 4
    Astrogirl426 July 24, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    It’s so funny…my mom was a stay at home mom, so we had a pretty stable home life as far as meals were concerned. My mom always cooked every meal, and we rarely ordered out.

    But I still lurve me some McD’s fries. Among other junk food.

    I want to tell you, those memories of making dinner will absolutely be your kids’ favorite memories. I still vividly remember coming home from school on dark winter days, walking in the house smelling all yummy from whatever mom was cooking, and feeling like that was the best place in the world. Food is a great trigger – they will remember those times viscerally, in their guts and muscles and skin long after they have left home to strike out on their own. You’re a good mom. :)

  5. 5
    laurie July 24, 2008 at 11:44 am #

    yum!

  6. 6
    Sabrina July 24, 2008 at 11:49 am #

    Just to avoid the call out, when you make your own pizza’s make an extra one or two (or have everyone make 2 for themselves), bake all the pizzas and freeze the extras–home made frozen pizza–takes about 20 minutes to cook in the oven frozen depending on size and temperature!

  7. 7
    StephLove July 24, 2008 at 11:49 am #

    Wow. You made your own mozzarella. That’s intense.

    I made my son English muffin pizzas for lunch today. I guess that’s not quite as ambitious. And he didn’t even like them. Oh well, for him it was adventurous just to try it.

  8. 8
    jennielynn July 24, 2008 at 11:53 am #

    I’m with Stephanie. The making of your own mozzarella has elevated you to goddess standing.

  9. 9
    Cele July 24, 2008 at 12:22 pm #

    Making homemade pizza from bang biscuits when I was a kid (with just tomato sauce) is a big warm memory for me. When my daughter was growing up I made the dough, used homemade red sauce and added a lot of laughter. Now I know what we’re making for dinner Saturday night when Burp is here. Thank you for the reminder.

    Love Thursday.

  10. 10
    kaye July 24, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    this SLOW FOOD is a phenomena getting a lot more media attention … just yesterday I saw two articles in the media on it. Presumably, it was because SF just planted a garden outside their city hall or something & there is going to be a big Slow Food Nation party on Labor Day. Anyway, if you haven’t looked into the whole slow food movement thing then you should.

  11. 11
    Karen July 24, 2008 at 12:34 pm #

    Wow! I thought I was doing good when I made the crust from scratch, but you with your home made pesto and cheese, well, I suddenly feel really lazy again.

  12. 12
    Megan July 24, 2008 at 12:40 pm #

    I used to be the slow food from scratch cook (and loved it) but with one thing (mostly) and another (actually, nope, just with one thing) I haven’t done it for months now. Time to get cracking – although not pizza until it’s no longer kill-me-quick hot out… oh, and we’re still going for gyros today!

  13. 13
    Mom, Ink. July 24, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    I felt superior for making a week’s worth of organic meals for my son last night. But he’s only 6 months old so how hard is it to steam and puree some vegies? Then I read THIS. Homemade mozzerella. Crust from scratch. Pesto from the garden. Holy Martha Stuart, I feel so inadequate!

    Thank you for at least mentioning the laundry.

  14. 14
    suburbancorrespondent July 24, 2008 at 12:58 pm #

    Homemade pizza is the best. But you’re making me look bad – I don’t have a second job (managing the house being my first one), yet I haven’t found time to do that with the kids. What’s your secret?

  15. 15
    Desiree July 24, 2008 at 1:18 pm #

    How fun! The pizzas look so yummy… inspires me to start a homemade pizza night at my house.

  16. 16
    Em July 24, 2008 at 1:29 pm #

    My hero!

  17. 17
    Daisy July 24, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    I love bonding with the kids in the kitchen. It’s worth so much more than a call to Pizza Hut.

  18. 18
    Walking In My Sleep July 24, 2008 at 2:02 pm #

    My favorite thing to do when we have dinner guests is to let the kids make their own pizzas. They have fun and get to eat what they want, and the adults have a great time watching, commenting and then get to eat the grown-up stuff.

  19. 19
    Vane July 24, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    Wow … you rock!

    A few months ago I decided to start cooking for my daughter on saturdays (I work full time so I don’t have time during the week), so far, she has been great at telling me just how yummy everything is. I love to be able to do that, even if it is just the one day.

  20. 20
    Asianmommy July 24, 2008 at 3:23 pm #

    Aww…that’s sweet. Things like that are what the kids will remember once they’ve grown.

  21. 21
    Deb July 24, 2008 at 3:38 pm #

    Great memories for the kids! And super great Love Thursday post, nothing is better then the love of a family sharing time together making beautiful memories!

  22. 22
    superblondgirl July 24, 2008 at 3:41 pm #

    This is one of the things I really remember from my own childhood – making our own pizzas together. My son never seems interested yet, but I’m holding out hope that sometime he’ll realize how awesome it is to do it yourself. Right now I’m happy enough making it and sharing it with him and the husband.

  23. 23
    Fyreflixie July 24, 2008 at 4:00 pm #

    Mmm, homemade pizza is one of my favourite things to make at home. I don’t eat red meat & pork but my husband does, so being able to share in meal prep and end up with something personalized (and not force him to eat chicken like we have 5 nights a week!) is just so fun.

    We are expecting our first child in February and, especially with this entry and how fun it all sounds, I am really looking forward to a family pizza-making night with my baby when s/he is old enough to appreciate it!

  24. 24
    Mike Golch July 24, 2008 at 4:28 pm #

    sounds good to me!
    Hugs and God’s Blessings. Mike G.said that (it an A.A. thing)

  25. 25
    Lady M July 24, 2008 at 4:36 pm #

    Awesome. We’ve made our own pizzas a few times this summer, but I’ll admit to using the Boboli pizza skins. Something about newborn baby wanting to be fed is keeping me from real cooking. Oh, who am I kidding? I wouldn’t have made them from scratch even without the baby. I can dream about someday though!

  26. 26
    Belinda July 24, 2008 at 4:42 pm #

    You did it! Ha! Yaaay. Now, please try some of the more difficult cheeses before I do, so you can warn me of the pitfalls.

    I’m going to buy some fresh goat’s milk later this week and try making Chevre. Wheeeee!

    Last night, I made jelly using the hulls of purple hull peas (they’re in season now, so go get some, and be a real Southerner), and right now I’m waiting on a loaf of bread that took 20 hours to rise to come out of the oven.

    I may be losing my mind.

  27. 27
    LiteralDan July 24, 2008 at 5:08 pm #

    Oh, man, those pizzas look so homemade-edly delicious. Can you send me one?

    On second thought, there’s no way they could taste as good as they look. Did they?

  28. 28
    Dawn July 24, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    YOU CAN MAKE CHEESE???

    I think I love you.

  29. 29
    Claudious July 24, 2008 at 6:11 pm #

    I love the home-made pizza idea, in practice it’s hard to duplicate the nasty good-ness that comes from all the terrible secret ingredients of pizza you order out for, but home-made pizza is by far healthier.

    I love that you have moments like this to share with your Family, it occured to me the other day that we’re digressing as a society, with so many processed foods it feels at times like if it doesn’t come in a box then I can’t cook it. It’s on par with starting a fire without matches. (or a blowtorch)

  30. 30
    Brenda July 24, 2008 at 6:33 pm #

    My husband and I cooked Indian food together for our anniversary celebration last night. It’s a small kitchen so I wouldn’t want to battle that claustrophobia that cramming additional people in would cause … but, for the first time, I saw that cooking together (in addition to dining together) could be a bonding experience! Great post … and congratulations for the Redbook mention!

  31. 31
    Kylie July 24, 2008 at 6:35 pm #

    Every Saturday night is Pizza Night at our place. Hubby and the kids make the pizzas from scratch. We’ve been doing it for months and it just doesn’t get old. Home-made pizza is so much better than the bought stuff. We rarely buy it now, and when we do, I always wonder why we did.

    Last week, we had Cooking Week. Every day we (the kids and I)made something different – ranging from pizza to spaghetti to cakes. It culminated in a ‘Grandparents’ Dinner, which involved much fussing over and feeding of the grandparents. I love to cook and it was a great way to start to involve my children.

  32. 32
    jen July 24, 2008 at 6:39 pm #

    That is so cool!!! It is hard with our busy lifestyles to find time to have “real” things; real time, real food, real life to some degree. It seems almost like a special occassion when we fit it in. It is my goal as a busy working mom of five that we make time for “real” too. Our focus has been picnics in the back yard for dinner, reading great books as we watch the sun go down and creating our own special family traditions. We love it! Thanks for the pizza idea. We haven’t tried that one yet. :)

  33. 33
    Trisha July 24, 2008 at 7:46 pm #

    I love home made pizzas. Have you ever tried grilling pizza? It is wonderful and doesn’t heat up the house a bit! Of course you coat the crust (home made works best) in olive oil so it won’t stick to the grill, cook it for a while until it is basically done on one side, flip it over, top it and put the lid down for a while to heat the cheese. I have found it helpful to pre-cook some things like veggies and meats.

    Talk about yummy!

    Please don’t tell my Hubby that you make your own cheese!

  34. 34
    Caz July 24, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    I love KD Mac and Cheese! we never ate it much at home as kids, it was a treat for my Mom and I when my Dad and Bro were out somewhere but it’s still a wonderful comfort food I need every 6 months or so.
    Then again a lot of other comfort foods I love were healthy and nutritious so I allow myself the KD :-)

  35. 35
    Randi July 24, 2008 at 9:59 pm #

    Homemade cheese – homemade sauce – SLICING the pepperoni…

    beats my boxed/bottled crap any day!

  36. 36
    Keesha July 24, 2008 at 10:43 pm #

    I’ve had the cheesemaking kit in my cabinet for a couple of weeks now. Hubby and the kids are out of town for a few days and I plan to make mozzarella on Saturday. I’m so excited! I’ll just have to try not to eat it all before they get home Sunday night…

  37. 37
    Dina July 25, 2008 at 8:56 am #

    I bought that cheese kit thanks to reading Belinda’s post as well. I got it two days ago and can’t wait to try it. I sure hope it’s as easy as she made it look! Those pizzas look yummy!

  38. 38
    tori July 25, 2008 at 9:13 am #

    I have been wanting to try making cheese ever since she posted about it. Now I am going to order the kit and do it because I just can’t resist any longer.

  39. 39
    Kim July 25, 2008 at 4:12 pm #

    I don’t usually have the time to check in every day to read your blog, so the entries kind of stack up in my feed reader and I’ll read 3 or 4 at a time. Your Love Thursdays sneak up on me every week and tug at my heart strings. :)

    When I was a kid living in SC, we once had banana splits for dinner. This was totally unheard of in our house and was a MAJOR EVENT that I remember fondly to this day. Its because of this memory that I try to do unexpected things with my preschooler to keep her on her toes, and maybe form some long-lasting memories in the process.

  40. 40
    Looking Glass Jewels July 25, 2008 at 8:30 pm #

    You are just the kinda mamma I want to be. All of it, not just the yummy food. :)

  41. 41
    Burgh Baby July 28, 2008 at 11:54 am #

    I meant to comment on this one before, but only to ask for the dough recipe. C’mon, woman, you have to stop teasing us with all these great foods and no recipes!

    In exchange, I shall point you to my FABULOUS and easy pizza dough recipe for the grill. You have not lived until you’ve had good grilled pizza. For reals. http://www.theburghbaby.com/2008/07/grilled-pizza-la-burgh.html

  42. 42
    Wendalette July 28, 2008 at 6:40 pm #

    Speaking of love for questionable “foods”, I saw this ( http://www.wecovet.com/wecovet/2008/07/pennant-we-cove.html ) on one of my new favorite sites and immediately thought of you. I would have bought and sent it to you, but that seemed kind of stalkerish…and I don’t have your address anyway.

  43. 43
    kara August 1, 2008 at 8:13 pm #

    You crack me up!

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