Cooking From Scratch With Twin Toddlers

January 6, 2011

I don’t know too much about reality TV, but every now and then I hear people talking about those reality cooking shows wherein budding chefs race to beat the clock, create something amazing out of seemingly random ingredients, and prevail over various other intense culinary situations. Well, I’ve got an idea for whoever gets paid to come up with these show ideas that would surely satisfy the needs of anyone who craves their food seasoned with danger, drama and suspense: I’d call it “Cooking From Scratch With Twin Toddlers.”

Maybe you’ve heard parents refer to the evening hours as “the witching hours.” For reasons no one truly understands, babies and young children go nuts after 5:00 PM, and this tends to make mealtimes a real challenge. My husband works in the evenings, and so during these so-called “witching hours” I’m usually the only adult in the house, and it’s up to me to make sure we all eat. Suspenseful, right?

Sometimes I just open up some cans and be done with it. But, you see, we made this pact long before the boys were born that we would reduce waste and cut spending within our household economy. As twin parents we crave convenience, but, as earnest as it may sound, we really do want to do our part to help the environment and small farmers. Also, we’re really into bargains. And you can save a lot of money cooking from scratch. Plus, what can I say? I like to live the crazy life.  Anyway, the frugal, green initiative is what we called our pact, and one of the top priorities was to forgo the packaging and preservatives of pre-cooked foods and engage in the meditative, labor intensive act of real cooking. What good is a pact if it does not withstand up under the hard times, right?

So several times a week I get out the knives and frying pans, turn the oven up to 450 degrees and break out the blender, thus putting my family’s collective safety on the line in an effort to prepare nutritious, reasonably sustainable meals. Tonight as I was attempting to dice up some peppers and garlic, I realized just how hilarious my evenings can be. Before I even thought to get out the camera I had already broken up a toddler fight, cleaned up spilled water from the doggy water bowl they emptied all over the floor, and rescued the low-lying Christmas ornaments from their grasp (yeah, our tree is still up and it probably will be for several more days).

About that time I thought, you know, I really ought to document this. At the expense of sounding overly-dramatic, one good thing that came from losing my mom was the gut-level realization that most problems I face in life aren’t really a big deal. House a mess? No money in the checking account? Haven’t brushed your teeth today? Baby poop in the bath water? Well, at least no one is dying from cancer, I laughingly remind myself.

So, here’s a little photo representation of the chaos. I hope you can find some humor in the insanity of my evening.

I should preface this by saying that if you’re used to reading fancy food blogs with various intricate, fancy photos of picturesque fancy food, you’ll find none of that here.  I understand that some moms manage to create both tasty and beautiful food and even serve it on fine dinnerware. I’m not that Mom.

So, here’s my less-than-stellar photo essay depicting how to make fish tacos while herding toddlers.

Step 1: Cut up peppers and thaw fish.

Oil is hot in the pan, fish and peppers ready to fry; beans on the back burner.

Step 2:  Become aware of screaming and angry cat noises from the living room, go to investigate and find the elderly cat being rocked out of her, eh, rocker.  Diffuse situation and redirect children to their non-mammal toys.

Pestering the kitty

Step 3: Stir up fish and peppers, add seasonings to beans. Spatter self with grease because I let the pan get too hot while defusing afore-mentioned elderly cat harassment situation. Quickly put on apron, stir and season.

In the pan to fry

Step 4:  Detect sharp cries come from the hallway. The eldest twin has fallen down again and is screaming and kicking his feet in frustration. Pick him up, kiss his head, and head back to the kitchen with baby on hip. Attempt not to splatter baby with cooking oil.

Apron over clothes, baby on hip

Step 5:  Put the now-comforted child down, open refrigerator in search of whole-wheat tortillas. Close door and turn around to find that the youngest twin has gotten into the basket of freshly washed diapers and the elder twin has somehow managed to reach the cell phone off the kitchen table, leading me to believe that they really do grow when you’re not watching.

Diapers strewn about, cell phone discovered.

Step 6: Retrieve cell phone from eldest son, which then causes him to wail and fling himself against the oven door in a fit of frustration.

The intensity of emotion is not equal to the size of the body, bless his heart.

Step 7: Ignore the fact that younger brother is still throwing diapers across the room. This is, after all, a harmless task that bides me a few extra seconds to stir the beans and fish.

Diapers everywhere.

Step 8: Stir fish, stir beans, get babies in high chairs, get food on plates to cool, wash and refill sippy cups, and then realize that I never got around to cleaning off their high chairs after their last snack. Oh well. Whatever. Stale Cheerios and crackers never hurt anyone.

Impatient babies await not-so picturesque fish tacos, minus the tortillas.

Step 9: Join in as children devour food and attempt to throw a few choice bites overboard to the dogs. Intercept flying food as best I can. Clean up messy faces and hands before letting the children lose to further destruction. Give the remains from their trays to our adorable dogs who, I’m convinced, love the children only for their leftovers.

Why our human and furry children get along.

Step 10: Ignore big pile of dishes and instead write about the experience. What I’d give for a dishwasher. Not only do they clean your dishes for you, they keep them behind a closed door, thus *not* reminding you of how many plates you’ve dirtied trying to make the simplest of meals.

The aftermath.

And there you have it. Oh, and perhaps you are wondering what became of the tortillas. I didn’t find them until after the boys were done eating. I guess those stale Cheerios will just have to constitute their whole grains for the evening.

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6 Responses to “Cooking From Scratch With Twin Toddlers”

  1. I tried to make some chili when I was babysitting one night and it was no easy feat. Super cute post!

  2. jen erwin said

    I don’t know how you do it! I mean I really am amazed.

  3. rachel reynolds luster said

    hilarious and awesome!

  4. Becca Seay said

    I can hear your mother laughing, which makes me cry. I miss her so much – can’t imagine how you must miss her.

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