Cooking with D.A.D
I never realised that when I became a Stay-at-Home-Parent I would put so much thought into what Sally eats and absolutely no thought into what I eat. In fact, sometimes I forget to eat at all. It is crazy how much time goes into Sally’s meal plans and it’s often the case that no matter how much effort you put in to the food preparation or its’ presentation, it could very well just end up on the floor, with the loud bellow of ‘Ice-Cream’ echoing from the high chair 🤣 Why on earth did Ben & Jerrys have to introduce a vegan range! Too damn good – they are literally ruining dinner time!
Parenthood is one big adventure, full of surprises. I might plate up Sally’s favourite dessert – dairy-free yoghurt with raspberries and then, hey presto, five minutes later, she suddenly hates yoghurt and raspberries?! It varies like the Irish weather and as everyone well knows, that’s pretty changeable! The food never seems to go to waste though. My dietary intake usually consists of the off-cuts and leftover bits that Sally doesn’t eat. The half-chewed bits of crust are a delicacy at this stage. I’m like that stalker bird when you are dining al fresco at a restaurant, waiting to swoop in and stuff all the leftovers down my beak 🦅 Basically, parenthood has reduced me to some sort of disgusting bird-man, among other things.
I am a big believer in the ethos that good food equals good mood. I can 100% say, from experience, that on the days Sally eats well, she is in much better form. Those ‘little roasted Broccoli trees’ go down like a treat and you can really notice the difference 🥦 It’s been said that fresh cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and other greens have many stress-reducing benefits and increase cognitive skills. Looking at it from a parental point of view, I can definitely vouch for this. My thinking on it is that with the right recipe, any type of food can be tasty. Then there are the days when trying to entice Sally to eat vegetables is like trying to get the straw into a Capri Sun! 😅
Over the years, the truth is I haven’t always had an interest in cooking or baking. I remember when I first met Donna, we were both only 18 years of age and I invited her over to my house to make her Mexican fajitas 🌯 They didn’t turn out too bad actually but my skills were definitely limited in this area. During my 20’s those skills did not improve much (or at least they didn’t get the chance to improve) as I ate my own weight in fast food. This was when we were living in Dublin, in a box of an apartment and the kitchen was so small, it was not conducive to any type of Michelin star style cooking (well that was my excuse anyway). To be honest, I’m pretty sure I was addicted to fast food back then. I would often eat three take-aways in one day. Seriously...three!
I was defensive over my take-away food too. I mean, my grub meant a lot to me and so it was my duty to protect this precious plate of grease 💪 God help the poor divil that tried to rob a chip off my plate! That was honestly, the worst thing you could do to me. My Stepmother at the time was prone to the oul’ ‘nicking chips of plates’ trick. This act of blatant criminality was appropriately reprimanded with a nice slap on the hand with my trusty fly-swat. Ok…ok, this may have just been a dream of mine but it is something I definitely would have done if I had a Groundhog Day like the main man, Bill Murray. Could you imagine the stuff you could do if you had a Groundhog Day! How fantastic would that be? 😂
It wasn’t until we moved to a house in Donegal (when I realised Donna, my wife at this stage, had fewer cooking skills and even less interest in cooking than I had) that I honed my abilities. Donna will admit this (and sometimes brag about this) herself by the way! I became competent at the standard dishes – fajitas became a gourmet affair and lasagna was a no-brainer. Then we had Sally and after her food allergy diagnosis, I knew I had to step it up a level.
Cooking dairy-free, egg-free or vegan can be a lot more complicated and the recipes usually involve a lot of substitution but I definitely work on a trial and error basis. So far this has worked for me. Whether I fail or succeed, I’m enjoying the journey of improving my skills bit by bit. What I have learnt though, is that anyone can cook and bake. It’s easy to follow a recipe and the majority of the time, something edible comes out of it. Whether you have an interest in it or not is where people can differ. I definitely have an interest in it myself, mainly because of my love for the finished product. Believe me though, if I can do it, anyone can.
Fortunately, I have recovered from my dependence on take-away food today but I still haven’t lost the protectiveness over my vegan food. I’m still that same guy, guarding his grub like a lioness to her cubs. I mean…a lion to his cubs. Actually…a lion holding the biggest badass fly-swat the world has ever seen 🦁 Leave my avocado alone! ‘Rawr... Shlap…Shlap’ 😆
God, I hate people taking food off my plate!