"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

All Mom needs to eat

It’s what’s for dinner…with a nice large glass of suave blanc…

It’s come to pass.

After my morning workout a few weeks ago, I swung by Trader Joe’s to restock my larders. It was the second weekend with both kids away at college. I had the house to myself. And the larders.

It’s not unlike the first time I went grocery shopping for myself on my own at 18, many many many moons ago.  I remember the quiet thrill of autonomy. I chose REAL butter, not the margarine my mom always bought. SOURDOUGH baguettes not Wonderbread. NO soda.  I snubbed the Kraft American Slices and Hostess products, both staples of my childhood. I didn’t buy a single diet anything.

It was a heady, self-actualizing experience.

In between then and now I grew up and worked and traveled and married and then had kids. Somewhere in there the white bread returned because they requested it and wouldn’t eat my sourdough.  And they liked that orange macaroni and cheese in a box. And canned soups. And string cheese. And So. Much. Milk.

I still only bought sodas for birthday parties.

For nearly 20 years mealtime was a calculus of What-they’ll-Eat times Nutritious plus Quick and Convenient.

But now, suddenly, they’re both in college. While the kids will be coming home from time to time, they won’t be living with me under the former contract. They can ask me to cook for them, but it won’t be expected that I have their preferred foods on hand.

The end of an era. A little discombobulating. A little sad.

On the other hand, I never have to buy another frozen pizza again as long as I live.

Hello, extra firm tofu. It’s been a long, long time. You’re going to be my protein now that I’m weaning myself off chicken. And since the 6 foot 2 man boy is now being amply if expensively fed in his college commons, there will be no animal protein in my house for the foreseeable future.

For the first time in 19 years there will be no more collection of half-eaten boxes of cereal on my kitchen table. No more gallons of milk taking up space in the refrigerator.

OMG I can ignore whole aisles!

Get thee behind me, frozen foods!! There will be no more chicken pot pies or mini pizzas or frozen meatballs. No more mac and cheese in a box, either. No sandwich bread. No mayonnaise. No deli meats! No string cheese!

Next time I buy dino-nuggets it will be for the grandkids.

Breakfast now might be three spoonfuls of cottage cheese eaten right out the container in the morning, washed down with the tiniest glass of grapefruit juice. The kids hated that stuff. TOO BAD!!

Lunch is whatever leftover I have handy. Or a chunk of feta and olives. Who’s gonna judge? My kids were fed well and now are well-built, good-looking and clever young people who are (presumably) feeding themselves.

Leave me alone and let me eat what I want.

Dinner might be a grain bowl—black beans, avocado, diced preserved lemon over faro or brown rice. If I’m feeling wild I’ll add a poachie.

Dinner might also be half an avocado and a glass of sauvignon blanc.

For the first time since I got pregnant in 1996, I’m only eating for one.  Food shopping is once again a hedonistic exercise.

So it’s local honey and hummus and all the fresh fruit I can reasonably manage on my own.  It’s tofu I will marinate in soy sauce and stir fried with veg. It’s steal cut oats with blueberries and diced preserved lemons and iced tea in a mason jar (not all at the same time).  Sometimes it’s a small jar of umiboshi plums.

My entire shop doesn’t even fill my Trader Joe’s tote. I am delighted. I feel free! Liberated from the tyrannies of mealtime responsibility.

Before I leave I consider buying a whole case of my favorite sauv blanc….

Better not. Can’t let myself be too liberated.


eat ALL the food!

eat ALL the food!

Dear children:

Now that you are nearly grown, I must ask you to take responsibility for feeding yourselves. Indeed, one of you is legally an adult and the other is fully two feet taller than I am. You can fend for yourselves, and I, your mother, have made it easy for you to do so. Because that is still my job.

I am going to work in a few minutes. And as the two of you slumber peacefully as only those early into summer vacation can, allow me to offer this list of what is available for you to eat when you decide to finally arise for the day.  Please do partake of any or all of the following foodstuffs. For I have purchased them with the idea of feeding you in mind.

There is:

Bacon, farm eggs, bagels, cream cheese, butter, cheese of several sorts, yogurt (the kind you, boy, have indicated you will eat). There is bread. There is frozen fruit for smoothies. There is a mango on the kitchen table and a cut up cantaloupe in the fridge. There are citrus fruits. There is oatmeal, two kinds. There is milk and almond milk and pineapple juice and orange juice.

No, there isn’t much dry cereal left. And no, I am not inclined to pick up more Rice Krispies on my way home from work.

For luncheon – I beg you both – Do not go through the coin jar trying to cobble enough together for In n’ Out when we have the following items in the larders:

Soup (girl, your favorite), beans (all kinds), rice (even the microwavable kind), salad fixings of all sorts, celery, peanut and almond butters, bread, cheese, sliced turkey, tuna, potatoes, pasta, couscous, jarred sauce, tomatoes, freshly roasted chicken from last night, freshly roasted beets from last night. There is delicious turkey and tomatillo sauce I made from scratch Sunday night – delicious with a salad! Indeed, that is what your old mother is bringing for her lunch, and if it is good enough for her…

Did I mention the mango on the kitchen table?

Children. I am sorry you feel you must call me at the office with your tales of starvation. I am sorry you feel deprived because there is no cash in an envelope for your use to order a pizza and garlic knots. Please be forewarned that every day when I walk in the door, after a long day and an hour commute on the train, I take in your cries of hunger and queries as to what are we having for dinner and can we get burritos or Chinese or In n’ Out, and I find myself increasingly inured to your situation.  Especially when I see the dishes from all the cereal you have eaten today still in the sink and the fridge still stuffed with good, healthy food that I bought for you to eat.

Dearest children. Please eat the food in the house today or there will be unspeakable consequences. I don’t know what those are yet but you do not want to go there.

The mango on the kitchen table had best be gone by 7 p.m. tonight.



Your loving mother.




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