Lately life has been completely out of control. Hectic… busy… frantic… frenzied… chaotic. S, as you may already know, moved to Ottawa to go to school while Leith and I stayed behind in Toronto to duke it out on our own for a while. Needless to say, we’ve been keeping ourselves pretty busy (getting a three year-old to and from school on a daily basis shouldn’t be this much work!) and haven’t had time to make much of anything other than toast in the mornings and a quick pasta or rice dish in the evenings. Yesterday I actually asked my kitchen for help. While it didn’t respond, my brain finally did.
There is nothing wrong with "help" in the kitchen. There is absolutely nothing wicked about buying (if you eat it) ketchup, or (if you like it) Cheese Whiz. If you prefer canned soup, then you are not going to die a slow and painful death. If you love your microwave and use it on a daily basis, you can still continue to call yourself a cook, if what you make with it pleases you and/or your family. If you take a few shortcuts to make a delicious meal it doesn’t mean that you can’t cook or that you care about cooking any less than someone who makes their own pasta, pastry or soup stock.
I know that time is precious – I am re-learning this on a daily basis. Every hour is filled with something that needs to be done and cooking is generally the first thing to take a back seat to more important things. Why spend hours making soup when you can grab a can and heat it on the stove in under five minutes (and the noodles might even be shaped like fishies)? I think this way sometimes and I don’t hold it against myself for wanting to spend less time doing anything that might take time away from teaching Leith how to ride a bike or taking him shopping for new winter boots. I understand that part of taking care of children is feeding them something other than McDonalds and Kraft Dinner…but there are times when cooking simply has to come second.
Yes, there are times when even The Domestic Goddess in me needs a vacation. There are times when I want something but just can’t find the time to make it entirely from scratch and I will, I admit, take a shortcut that I think is forgivable. I have in the past made my own puff pastry and will only do so again if l lose a bet or have a few days alone and need to kill some time. I have never made my own phyllo dough, and don’t actually know anyone who has to be honest. To me, buying phyllo is a shortcut worth taking, especially when what you put into it is the real act of cooking.
Sometimes these shortcuts keep us cooking – so for that we should be thankful. As long as the results are what you want to eat then you are your very own genius in the kitchen. That’s why a new Pillsbury competition caught my eye and I am encouraging you to enter it. The rules are pretty simple, they want you to create your own unique recipe using one of their handy ready-made products. They have some great examples on their site (from which I have chosen a few favourites) to give you some inspiration and get you cooking, even when you don’t think you have the time.
So enter, vote and enjoy – and stay tuned because shortly, I will be announcing my own little contest you can enter to win a fantastic prize basket from Pillsbury!