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Plan B

This week I did something that I rarely do. Oh, that could be any number of things, you know.  Did I make sure to check my calendar each morning to know what was going on on a given day? Nooo... Did I put away all the clean clothes as soon as they were dry and folded? Heavens, no! Did I handwash two days worth of dishes one night because our dishwasher is a piece of junk isn't working properly, the power tabs we have don't really work, or a combination of the two? Actually, I did do that...but I'm trying to talk about something else here. I planned dinners and made meals accordingly.  Wow.  First of all, I planned.  This in itself is a great feat for me.  I went to the store with meals in mind, and shopped for those meals and didn't get a whole lot of extra stuff (Oh, maybe a jar or two of pasta sauce, because I love to stock up on pasta sauce.  I think I have a problem with that, in fact.).  I am not a natural-born planner; it is not in my genes.  (This is REALLY bizarre because my mom could have invented Day Planners.  She wants to make a plan, she wants to know the plan, she wants to plan the plan.  I frustrate her.)  I am the anti-planner.  I don't like to make a plan.   My plans don't come to fruition.  My plans end up being wrong.  My plans are too complicated to pull off so they are left undone.  My plans are non-existent.  (I am not trying to be hard on myself...these are just the facts.)  Making a plan is hard for me, in part, because then I have to follow through, and there is something about following through that scares the padoodle out of me.  Making a plan is hard for me, because then I have to be committed to the plan.  I have to be responsible, and make sure that things work out and fall into place.  I am pretty sure that I missed some integral part of normal development where I actually became an adult, and instead I am really 13 in a 34 year old body. Back to the meals...the real point is that it worked out pretty well.  Right now you should know I am eating a piece of humble pie (which will NOT take the place of the piece of chocolate cake I am going to have in a few minutes).  Just last week I told Mike that I didn't want to plan meals anymore because it didn't work...that one time I tried it the week before.  I got so discombobulated because the plan didn't pan out that I wanted to give up.  But he encouraged me to persist, and so I did, half-heartedly.  And stubbornly, too.  I made a list in my head, and we all know how effective those kinds of lists are.  This, too, came back to bite me in the derriere when my fajitas were sans peppers.  (Yes, "fajitas" is a Tex-Mex kind of word, and "sans" is French, along with derriere-I'm multicultural like that.)  At any rate, for the most part, my meals went very well.  I was able to prepare some during the afternoon while Eliana was sleeping, and I knew how much time I needed in order to finish getting it ready (I am still working on this skill...I am always 10 or 15 minutes later than I hoped to be!). Two of the main dishes I prepared were relatively easy and pretty tasty, so I thought I would share them.  I did not come up with these recipes (although I did tweak one to suit our fridge and our family's tastes). The first thing I did was cook six chicken breasts all at once so that I could use them or freeze them.  I ended up using three for each recipe. Early in the week I made soup with a garbanzo bean base.  The second time I ever made this soup I accidentally opened one can of garbanzos and one can of navy beans.  I decided to go with it, and it didn't affect the taste negatively, and it turned out creamier-bonus!  So now I do it that way each time.  But the beans don't come in to the picture until later.  First, I cooked some tiny shell pasta according to the directions.  I think I cooked about a pound, and ended up using most of it in the soup.  While the pasta is cooking you are supposed to saute (I'm sorry, I can't put the accent mark on that word, but I know it goes there!) a little garlic for a couple of minutes; I had none so I skipped this part.  To the garlic you would add diced chicken (I used the three breasts cut into small pieces), 32 oz. of chicken broth, dried rosemary (about 1 teaspoon, more if you like), salt and pepper (I put in quite a bit of pepper and I think it made a big difference in the flavor-maybe a full teaspoon.  I'm not sure, but it was more than I usually put in, but tasted great).  The real recipe calls for two small tomatoes, cut up, but I didn't have them and my kids don't like them, so I skipped the tomato part and instead added a cup or maybe more of baby spinach.  I put a lid on the pot and let it simmer for a bit, so the spinach wilted and everything heated through.  While that was going I drained two cans of beans (you can use two garbanzos or one garbanzo and one navy) and then blended them with some of the broth until it was smooth.  Then I dumped it in the pot, along with the pasta.  The recipe calls for a tiny bit of pasta, but it's just not enough for us.  I use a bunch of pasta and it makes it heartier.  I kind of eyeballed it, adding pasta until I thought,"That looks good."  Very scientific and precise.  (Can you see my dislike of planning even in this cooking bit-I don't even follow the recipe.  This is definitely not always true.  Most of the time when I don't follow a recipe, we want Papa John's to come to the rescue.)  Then I let it get hot all the way through.  This soup turned out well, I thought, and both of my kids ate it up.  That is always a good sign.  I served it with salad, and bread would be good too. The other meal I made that went well was chicken enchiladas.  Because the chicken was already cooked, this was super simple.  I cut the chicken into tiny pieces.  I melted an 8 oz. box of cream cheese (I used the full-fat version this time) in a skillet, then turned off the heat and added the chicken to it and stirred it to combine.  I added a small can of diced green chiles (I used the Whole Foods 365 brand, and they were the best green chiles I've ever eaten in a dish like this...I don't know why, but it's true-a little bit of heat, not too much at all, and a good flavor) and mixed it in.  I patted out the mixture in my skillet so that it was flat and divided it into "slices" so that I would have eight relatively equal enchiladas.  I grabbed my eight tortillas and filled them, rolled them, and put them in a 9 by 13 dish (lined with aluminum foil), six across and two down the long side.  Then I sprinkled two cups of Monterey Jack cheese over the rolled tortillas, and poured one pint of cream over the top.  (Note:  This is not a low-fat dish.)  I baked it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  It was good.  It was rich. So, these two dinners brought happiness to our family this week...and happiness ought to be shared.  Maybe your family can enjoy them as well.  And if anyone has foolproof recipes to share, then I plan on trying would love to try them!

Reader Comments (2)

Alright, so a public blog is probably not the best way for bride and groom to have family-enriching intercourse (by which I mean, strictly, “conversation” of course), but I just had to offer a few thoughts on this laudably transparent post.

First, there was this line: “This soup turned out well, I thought, and both of my kids ate it up. That is always a good sign.” My response: 1) You actually have three kids, though it is true that only two are eating pasta soup at present. 2) The soup didn’t “turn out well.” It was magnificent; ’nuff said. You do extremely well in preparing family meals in the midst of being pulled in so many directions constantly. When the kiddos respond otherwise, it’s usually because of something like the fact that our little man wasn’t allowed by his daddy to watch Star Wars, which put him in a bad mood, which means his response to dinner had nothing to do with dinner. 3) What am I, a total zero? It wasn’t just “both of your kids” that ate it up: I went back for more. If I didn’t tell you how good it was, I’m sorry – seriously. No excuses.

My second general thought on your remarks here is that you can’t take all the credit for not having stress-avoiding plans that are followed through to the letter. (Actually I hope we never get quite to that point:) If you hate to make plans because of the fear that you won’t follow them, I love to make plans and then not follow them. That’s not any better (or it’s worse, since it creates expectations and hence disappointment). In addition, you’ve been shouldering so much more than you should be expected to carry. Given all of our life’s circumstances (the many blessings as well as those things that have felt like curses), you have been and continue to be a loving, sacrificial, and gracious wife and mom. I am glad that Jesus embodied the truth that our relationships are not built on merit, or our own plans for them, or our ability to fulfill such plans, but on the kind of love, sacrifice, and grace that he shows to our family through you.

If you’re still reading this and your name is not Christina, you’re no doubt thinking: “Umm….she posted about cooking dinner. How did you get from what she said to what you said?” Let’s just say I think my beloved wife is a more talented writer than even she knows, and that the way I read it, in this post she (wittingly or not) used dinner plans as a metaphor for greater things. So it’s her “fault”!

Thank you, Christina. I love you!

April 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

I love you too, and thank you. Other than that I am speechless and quite humbled.

April 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

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