We have a little joke around our house these days: blame it all on SonShine…he’s gone to college and not here to defend himself. Of course, he knows we are only teasing.
And yet, we also have a saying around our house: all jokes are rooted in truth.
Therefore, it only makes sense to blame my perfectly precious SonShine for the fact that I have cooked dinner at home this semester precisely ONE time.
Here’s the deal, though…I have done spectacularly well with his leaving home and moving into the dorms at TU. I give him oodles of space, I never nag about schoolwork, and I don’t even “lecture” when all my maternal instincts go on full-alert sending me signals that perhaps I should simply remind him of the basics (Rule #1, slow down when you drive, be extra aware when out and about, etc…).
I love that he loves college. I love seeing his smiling face when I am on campus. I love watching him thrive in his environment. I love that he has found his place. I love when he calls me out of the blue just to talk.
And yet, I miss him being at home.
I miss him most at dinnertime, and without realizing it, I just quit creating dinnertime.
Angel Girl eats anything, I eat everything, and Coach is rarely home to eat at all – at least before 9 pm.
But my SonShine, he is picky. He likes what he likes, he loves what he loves, and that’s about it. He is by definition finicky and difficult and has zero intention of branching out, broadening his horizons, nor expanding his palette.
He is also the very biggest, most enthusiastic fan of my cooking. He will take my home-cooking over absolutely anything else. As long as it’s one of my recipes and prepared by my hands, he’s all over it. He digs into what he likes; he devours what he loves. And he eats and eats until he absolutely cannot eat anymore.
For a crazy, southern momma like myself, there is no greater display of love!
I treasure that. And I miss that.
And since he is not here to relish in my cooking, I just kinda stopped.
But my hard-working Coach and my beautiful Angel Girl deserve a little mothering, too, so I am climbing back on the horse and jumping back into the game…
First step: take my own advice: plan a month of meals.
It’s a [tiny] bit sad to start by filling in all the nights that I won’t need to cook due to other engagements and obligations. One can see how transitioning from “dinner every night mom” to “mom who doesn’t cook” was so effortless! But after all the fun stuff is penciled in, I am still left with at least three nights a week to take care of my crew.
Last night was Night #1:
Nana’s Chicken Spaghetti.
My theory on this recipe is that – like all the very best recipes – it stands the test of time and taste because it is easy to make, scrumptious to eat, and plenty filling. I received the recipe from my mother-in-law when Coach and I got married almost 22 years ago. I have also seen it nearly character-for-character in Ree Drummond’s first cookbook which leads me to believe that it has been present at many a Texas/Oklahoma church potluck over the past 100 or so years. Needless to say, one can never go wrong with a recipe that has found a long life on the Church of Christ cookbook circuit!!
- 2 cups (or 2 cans) chopped, cooked chicken
- 1 c. chopped celery
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cans cream of mushroom soup
- 1 can chicken broth
- 4 oz. chopped pimentos
- 12 oz. spaghetti cooked in broth
- grated cheese (original recipe says Velveeta melts best)
- salt and pepper
- Saute celery, bell pepper, and onion in a small amount of oil.
- Mix with soup.
- Add chicken, pimentos, and spaghetti.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place in 9×13 pan.
- Sprinkle with grated cheese.
- Bake at 350 degrees until cheese melts.
I served Nana’s Chicken Spaghetti with fresh, steamed green beans and garlic toast.
I am happy to report that there were no complaints, so I suppose my cooking skills are still intact.
We did not, however, eat at the usual dinner table. It stays set for 4, and I am no where near ready to remove a place setting.
Luckily, the game table is less than 10 feet away and serves our purposes just fine.
Baby steps, I reckon.
With love and hugs,
PS: Tonight is Layered Enchiladas…another family favorite, so I’m batting 1000 🙂