Friday, March 29, 2013

I do love jello.

Sometimes it's all about that beautifully-layered Jello salad. It's sitting there on the table at the church carry-in and I'm thinking - who has time to layer 25 layers of Jello? When it's in a mold is even more exasperating and even more beautiful. My life and adequacy in the kitchen do not come down to whether I have time to sculpt Jello salads – sometimes it's enough to boil hot dogs. Yet, why does that nagging feeling pick at the back of my head keep telling me that I'm not taking the time I should to create beautiful foods?

Last week we talked about making healthier choices in the supermarket and not just mindlessly grabbing junk food. The bad part is, we can make that choice but need to follow through and cook something healthy. It does no good to have pristine heads of lettuce glimmering in the fridge along with those lovely celery stalks, and cartons of portabello mushrooms if we don't use them. Making the choice to buy them equals actually using them before they turn that awful squishy brown. 

I'm guilty of this and also guilty of throwing said formerly-beautiful items straight into the trash. Really, I might as well throw away that $20 bill in my purse. Is it laziness? Or maybe I need to get a little more organized when it comes to planning meals.

Usually I cook off the cuff. Before I go to work in the morning I have somewhat of an idea of supper before I leave. Really being prepared would involve getting meat out and putting it in the crockpot. Sometimes I forget, but other times I leave a cut of meat in the sink to be defrosted when I get home. Other times I'm glad for that $10 coupon at the local pizzeria.

Our lives are a lot busier in these modern days and I know it's not a valid excuse to not cook "proper" food. I work part-time and on the days I'm off I try to cook a more semi-elaborate meal than the days I'm working. My working days include foods that are easier to make: pastas tossed with cherry tomatoes and bacon, thin pork chops pan-fried with a boxed rice on the side, or frozen breaded fish filets baked with cheese and eaten on a beautiful wheat bun with waffle fries on the side. All these options are good meals to warm you and your family's stomach. Notice that none of these meals included a 100 Jello salad. I love Jello salads with all their vivid colors and jiggly creaminess but I won't beat myself up because I don't have time to create them and their many varied steps throughout a day. I do have time to whip up some Toll House Marble Squares or my favorite from scratch 10 p.m. Brownies and so I will do that with love. The Jello salad can be saved for Christmas Eve when I'm home to appreciate the steps to make it. Or maybe I'll just enjoy it at church because if someone else has time to make it, then kudos to them. My kitchen is mine and no box of Jello will ever make me feel like I'm not doing my job.