How did my grandmother do it? How did she raise 8 children and make her own bread, can vegetables from the garden, volunteer at church, and keep her house free of dirt and cobwebs?
Yesterday, I had guests for dinner. Preparing was an all-day affair. Although I multi-tasked and did plenty of other things, I was amazed by how much time a woman can spend in the kitchen if she makes a meal from scratch. Here's how the time-absorbing vortex of home cooking can suck up a woman's time:
In the morning, I set out a roast from the freezer to thaw and by noon, I popped it in the crock pot. Before the Today show went off air for the morning, I had already picked apples off the tree in the back yard, cut them up, put them on the stove to boil for applesauce.
While that was simmering, I ran out to the garden and picked some fresh tomatoes and basil to go with the cucumbers I'd scored from my mom's garden. I diced those up and made a salad. After I strained the applesauce and sweetened it, I ran out to the tree to pick some more apples for a pie. My son picked 8 ears of corn and shucked them for me and I boiled those and cut the kernals from the cob.
As I pulled my grandmother Betty's falling-apart Betty Crocker cookbook from the shelf to hunt for the pie crust recipe, I felt very Betty Crocker-esque. The mess on the counters proved it. I had traces of corn kernals here and there, apple peelings spilling over the sides of a bowl, pans piled up by the sink, and the aroma of beef roast wafted from the crock pot.
In the afternoon, I tidied up the house and started setting the table for our dinner. I peeled the potatoes and put them in water on the stove, ready to boil when the time came. Just before the guests arrived, I whipped off my red and white striped apron (which makes me feel more like Betty Crocker). I dashed to the bedroom to check my hair and added a beaded necklace to my outfit.
Back in the kitchen, as I gave the pots one more stir, I thought of my grandmother again. I glanced down at my jeans and flip-flops. I guess I've given the Betty Crocker thing a modern twist.
All I can say is, this is why we have frozen pizza and convenience foods. I'd never be able to do this every day. But my grandmother did. And I wish she'd still been around to see me do it yesterday. I think I did her proud.