More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Food For Thought: Feeding Those You Love During NaNo

Spouses and children alike groan with despair when November 1st comes around. Why? Because they know it's time for them to try and survive on their own without our help. We are too busy creating alternate realities, for Bard's sake. We can't just stop in the middle of a scene because people are hungry. If you've read any of the comments, you'll know that I am the mom of a 3-year-old and a 19 month-old, and that I routinely throw food in their general direction from my place at the computer. I have a confession to make. I only do that during snack time. I really do make up and serve 3 meals a day for their little bellies.

Where is my DH? Well, he works so that I may stay home and raise our lovely children, or so he believes. I'm usually writing when I'm not teaching them to be polite, independent, creative, and generous human beings. The housekeeping suffers. Hey, I'm a stay-at-home-mom, not maid.

But we all have to eat. Living out in the boonies leaves us limited take-out options, so I have to come up with easy, fast, and yummy foods. I really don't want to cut into my limited writing time, and those doing NaNo know what I speak of.

So, my friends, here are some yummy recipes and hints that will make your significant others happy and keep your children's bellies full.

HINT ONE: Buy lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Apples, oranges, bananas, broccoli, carrot sticks, grapes, berries, peppers, cucumber, etc. These are great quick things to feed them that have little or no prep work. Other items to pick up: Whole wheat crackers, natural applesauce cups, cheese sticks, yogurt and yogurt smoothies, raisins, dried fruit, canned fruit (in pear juice). A romaine lettuce salad with dressing as a side dish makes even your most lazy moment (delivery pizza) seem a little less lazy. I also splurge and buy juice boxes. Less sippy cup parts to wash.

HINT TWO: Buy meat in bulk, then take an hour to make and freeze meatloaves, meatballs, cut up cheap cuts of beef into cubes for stew. This 1 hour on 1 day will save you loads of time later in the month.

HINT THREE: Buy easy-to-make foods, such as whole wheat pasta, mac-n-cheese, hot dogs, brown rice, and canned beans. Then even the big kid in your house can help out when prepping.

HINT FOUR: Cook for an army, even if there are only three or four of you. The rest can be frozen or refrigerated. If you aren't a leftover kinda person (I'm raising my hand here), just dump the wet stuff into a resealable bag. Rice freezes REALLY well. A few days later, on your way to the computer, pull it out and pop it in the fridge to defrost. It's already cooked, so when you remember you have people to feed, toss it into a dish and microwave with a a paper towel on top. Then go back to writing. They can serve themselves.

When reheating rice, add a tablespoon or two of water, then lightly cover with a microwave-safe lid.

Ok, onto the recipes!

African Beef Curry Recipe | Taste of Home Recipes

This is a favorite at our house. Easy to put together, pretty much everything comes out of a can or from the snack closet. We don't usually add the coconut--it's not in our pantry--but I highly recommend tossing pineapple on top. It cooks for awhile, but that makes the house smell good and others will think that you actually care about food.

Make "breakfast for dinner". Scrambled eggs (we add a tablespoon of real whipped cream to the eggs, along with salt n pepper. Trust me. It's freaken yummy), toast, and melon. Sometimes we have sausages. This also includes oatmeal and cereal.

Black Beans & Rice.
Just as it says. Heat up 2 cans of black beans with 1 bullion cube. Pour over rice. We add balsamic vinegar and chopped, seeded, cucumbers.

"Dump Chicken"
When you buy chicken pieces, add salad dressing to the bag before you freeze. Then defrost and bake as usual. Visit the The Dump Chicken Pages for some real fancy cooking, and if you do Once A Month Cooking, then that place will be like mana for your cooking soul.

The old standbys--Spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, mac-n-cheese with fish sticks or hot dogs, and soup. Dust out the old crock-pot and start using that baby. Chili is at it's best when made in a crock-pot. Here are some crock-pot recipes to get you started.

Also, skip dessert. Really. The kids don't need the extra sugar to burn off and it just makes more dishes.

The best piece of advice I can give: Everyone eat together at the table. Chances are they have seen you scream, yell, curse, and watched in awe as your head spun around while writing your NaNo. Everyone at the table should see you in front of a hot meal instead of a keyboard, and though your thoughts may be distant (should your main character already know how to use a sword or would that be a great characterization scene if they were to learn it?), they would all appreciate you just being there.

Hope this helped and good luck NaNos!


SarannaDeWylde said...

OOh, I like it! But, my laptop sits on the dinner table. The husband won't sit there because of his big viking porportions. His pillager thighs won't fit under the table. LOL.

But, we take the food upstairs to our little "living room" and hang out together. If the husband is home, I am off of the computer. He works 90 hours a week. So, if he's aware, we're spending time together.

For NaNo, I stocked up on organic poptarts, those awesome Horizon milks for the girls (no refrigeration and no rsBt and it's still organic) and tea for me.

Preparing food for me is still a pain in the ass though since I'm Celiac. I'm thankful for the 30 lbs I've lost, but I do miss a good grilled cheese and soup.

Great tips!

Liane Gentry Skye said...

OMG. I could dive into that curry and never come up for air. I have to try this tonight. I'm not nano-ing, but keeping kids fed with their brother in the hospital and dad out of country is a task best not tried at home!

Liane Gentry Skye said...

Mmmm, Sarannah, can't get my shameful little mind of of the term "pillager thighs". That might be equally as yummy as the curry. Or...perhaps we could put the curry ON the....uh....never mind. :)

Robin said...

Liane--I'm not NaNo-ing either, but I am known for "getting into the zone" for hours while writing.

I know, the term "pillager thights" makes my stomach do somersaults. Remember, though, that Saranna can make convicts cry and we don't call her the amazon goddess for nothing. So, back away from the yummy dreaminess that is her hubby, back away slowly...

Jennifer L Hart said...

Excellent suggestions! Last year I was all over the food prep like stink on sh#$. Chili, baked ziti, meatballs all filled the freezer ready to go for November. Turned out I didn't need 'em because I tore through River Rats. I was wonder woman, hear me roar!

This year is a train wreck. After getting over the cold from hell,DH with pnemonia and kids with flu, dumping way too much time and money into my house and the stress of the D contest, well future meals were the last thing on my mind.
I like the no desert idea, except I have a mountain of Halloween goodies that if they don't eat I will and my pants just can't take the added stress. ;-)

I am wonder woman, hear me squeel like a stuck pig.

SarannaDeWylde said...

Jenn- Wonder Woman is HOT. Especially if she's thick. So, have another candy bar. *hehee*

Liane and Robin- You guys are Divas and I love you dearly. If you'd like to ogle the pillaging beefcake, go ahead. I was trying to talk him in to going to RT in a little cloth thing and the viking helmet. No touchy, but I'll rent out the intellectual property... *laughs*

Courtney Sheets said...

I have no one other then myself and Koa the wonder dog to feed, but I'm still trying that curry!

Jennifer L Hart said...

Okay, I'm like such a weenie cause I have a whole bunch of recipes up on my own blog and neglected to mention it.

Sheesh. My next book will be "How the Next Best Celler Contest ate my last brain cell" Too long?

AClassic1 said...

This is all great recipes... One more for the mac-n-cheese is instead of hotdogs... add tuna and peas-n-carrots to the mac cheez. My son loves his mac n cheese this way, and has fits if I try to serve it plain ol mac n cheez!

I now get him to change up sometimes since he discovered he likes my tuna casserole. He's raving over (or is the term 'lamenting'?) the last one I made telling me he can't wait for more cause it was so goooooddd! :D

He is my little piece of Heaven. As an eight month old, I use to refer to my son as "my two-fisted eater" ... thats when he got to know how to let me know that he liked the mac n cheese tuna vegie dish made for him. When he wanted Seconds and thirds... he'd pound on his highchair tray for more! So cute. (He's now 10 going on 40.)

C.J. Ellisson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C.J. Ellisson said...

Great post! I'm doing NaNo for the first time this year and cooking is a HUGE challenge.

Thanks for sharing the recipes and the ideas.

Good luck this month in your writing!

C.J. Ellisson said...

Hey Saranna! I'm a new Celiac's!! Glad I'm not alone ;-) It certainly makes quick meals harder, eh?

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