I’d never cut it in a church women’s group. I’ll never be the PTA president. And I am not fit for gigantic family holidays. As a vegetarian, I always feel awkward trying to determine which dishes are “safe.” With Ramadan on the horizon, I’m reminded how often food traditions in faith separate us. Eating kosher or vegetarian, refraining from meat each Friday of Lent, or fasting during daylight in Ramadan sound difficult to those on the outside. But to those practicing these traditions, it’s only difficult when eating with those outside of these practices. (Something I read online about keeping kosher even suggested it’s God’s intention to keep us apart. Ridiculous.) Eating at a friend’s home, out at a restaurant, or at a potluck can be challenging and uncomfortable. Maybe the change we really need on restaurant menus is not the addition of calorie counts, but icons indicating items that are kosher or vegetarian. Give us something that will help us eat together, not something that will help us quietly judge the fat intake of our friends. As for potlucks? That’s a little trickier. Is there a way to prevent some from feeling “left out” without others feeling “put out”? Or are potlucks better left segregated?
I grew up with a charcoal grill, and more than a healthy does of arsonphobia. While my mom was the model of a confident griller, I was sure I’d do nothing of the sort. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a totally evolved woman of today. The bread-winner for my family of four. A Rosie the Riveter for today’s recession. But in my house, grilling was still a man’s job. Until this week.
Jeff tried to instruct me on proper stove top popcorn popping technique half a dozen times before asking me why I kept walking away. When I met him, I was completely at peace with my independence. I owned a condo, had a good job, was pursuing a master’s degree, could pay my bills, went out with friends several times a week, and was pretty content with my life. I didn’t need a husband. I chose to have one. But a little part of me wanted to need him too. (Is that wrong?) That’s why I never pop popcorn, and I didn’t grill.
Though Jeff is no doubt a man’s man, he has also taken on a good share of the childcare role in our house. And more and more, I do need him. I need him to be the amazing father he is. I need him to be the calm, reasuring, supportive partner he is. I need him to weed and feed, mow stripes in the lawn, and painstakingly pull crab grass. I need him to go the the grocery store to buy candy when I’m sick. I’ve come to need him more than I even realize. That said, I guess I don’t need him to run to my rescue when I want to try a new recipie on the grill (like pizza, asparagus, or succotash).
Here’s why I became a Girl Griller:
- It allows me to avoid 2 things I hate most. The first is dishes. The second is a two year old whinning “eat som’” as soon as I walk in the door after work. Pre-assmeble tinfoil pouches, and you’re golden. It’s once-a-month cooking for summer.
- No one wants to heat up the kitchen. Enough said.
- Sometimes it feels better to do something nice for someone you love than letting that someone take care of you.
- Something as simple as throwing cut carrots in tinfoil with nothing but butter, salt, and pepper can make my meat-eating husband ask, “Why don’t we eat carrots more?!”
- Did I mention this gigantic hole in my kitchen wall? Cooking outside is much more fun than cooking in a construction zone.
My first try was this asparagus and shallot pizza on Trader Joe’s refrigerator dough (the topping was cooked on the stove in olive oil first)… grilled on a cookie sheet. If you’ve never tried asparagus pizza, I highly recommend it. Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to put it straight on the grill.
Need more convincing? Girl Grillers are are the hottest thing this summer. Last month, Jenny of Dinner a Love Story wrote about getting past her aversion to grilling. And earlier this month, Lian of the Chaos Chronicles had a post on tips for “girl” grillers.
Do you (or the women in your life) grill?
Special Feature: Our Kitchen Remodel
Part 2 – Peek-a-Boo
Photo: Celebrating Jeff’s Grandpa Loren’s 91st birthday last month!
(Before we were married, I made Jeff promise he’d be like Loren.)
We were driving down to Cambridge last Sunday (a 30-minute drive to the closest Lowes and McDonalds – NUGGETS!), our two year old and 8 month old quietly jabbering in the back seat, as we listened to this week’s “On Being” on MPR. The conversation that day was on aging. What it did look like. Imagining what it could look like.
“What does old age look like to you?” I asked my husband as he drove (Does anyone have the forethought to have a serious conversation about this BEFORE marraige?). To which he said something about Dick Proenneke having a good idea. He retired at age 50, built a cabin and a life for himself in the Alaskan wilderness. Alone. But where is the meaning in that? Is the meaning in his time for reflection and space for spiritual growth? Do we need to interact with others for there to be meaning in our lives, or if we have a personal spiritual practice (however that may be defined), is that enough?
What role does your calling have in your older age? When it comes to vocation, the proverbial question is, “What would you do if you won a million dollars?” This is essentially asking what you’d do if you didn’t need to work for a paycheck. So is that the question we should be asking ourselves as we prepare for retirement? Of course it’s not always that simple as there may be issues of health and ability to consider. But for argument’s sake, what would you do? Perhaps it’s along the same lines as what you had done as a child (another time you didn’t need to work for a paycheck). Jeff built forts. I wrote stories. Maybe we could do these things in the solitude of the wilderness (provided he’d let me come along).
Part 1 – No turning back
I made a joke a couple of weeks ago about busting out the sledgehammer to get a jump start on our next reno project while my husband was out of town. I guess he took that joke as his green light. For at least a couple of years now, Jeff’s been trying to talk me into this project. Our marriage has survived 4 years of on-going improvement projects from major landscaping and fence building to a basement family room gut job and tearing out a wall to expose brick in our bedroom. Last summer we even lived through a complete gut job of our upstairs bathroom while I was pregnant. Our only other bathroom is in the basement. That’s 2 flights of stairs in the middle of the night. But this is our first structural expedition as this is a load bearing wall.
How’d I get on board? After baby number two was born, the prospect of a 3-hour round trip to get Indian food seemed completely out of the question, so I started to become interested in cooking. But we also have two active kids to keep an eye on. Putting an archway in this kitchen wall would allow us to cook while keeping an eye on the girls when they’re in the living room.
BUT… we’re pretty addicted to This Old House and have been dreaming about our “some day” kitchen with a Wolf range, marble back splash, and Schoolhouse lights. Getting into this project, main concern is not the pipes we found in the wall, moving the heat vent, or making smooth curves in the archway. It’s my fear we won’t be able to stop.
to do on a Sunday!
1. Take a walk.
2. Watch Meet the Press while drinking coffee.
3. Meander the home improvement store.
4. Play someplace new!
5. Bake while listening to MPR during nap time.
- 8 cups rhubarb, fresh or frozen (drained)
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup flour
- 2 tsps. cinnamon
- 3 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 cup butter, softened
Preheat oven to 375.
Grease 9×13″ pan.
Spread rhubarb in pan. Stir in white sugar.
In a separate bowl, use fork to mix brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Stir in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling.
Bake 50 minutes.