Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Witching Hour

A friend once named this hour for me, and I have thought of it like this ever since.  It is the hour just before dinner when everyone is hungry and mom is on the spot.  We have all been there!  Teenagers open the fridge and stare.  You say, "We'll be eating in 10 minutes."  Toddlers stake their claim off of your right back pocket so you step on them every time you turn around.  You say, "Go play."  Children wander through and ask repeatedly "What's for dinner?" You say, "Fridge Soup!"  They roll their eyes and groan.  This, my friend, is the Witching Hour, and guess who is the witch? Me!  It is such a tough time of day!  Here are a few tricks I have employed over the years to get through with as much grace as possible.  I'd love to hear what works in your kitchen!

1) Have a menu plan.  It takes some of the stress off when you aren't the deer in the headlights, waiting for the dinner hour to hit.

2) Eat at the same time every night if it is at all possible.  People adapt to a schedule and their bodies "know" when to be hungry.  Try to plan each night so dinner can be served at the same time.

3) Serve appetizers.  Especially crunchy veggies with a little dip. It helps every one's attitude to have a little something to munch and if they are getting a serving of vegetables along with it, Great!  Use this trick especially if you do usually serve dinner at the same time, but for some reason it is late tonight!  A bowl of popcorn works too.

4) Consistently give jobs to kids who come through to forage.  You will either have help with things like side dishes and table setting, or those who don't like to help will wise up and stay out!

5) Set the table.  It appears that things will be happening soon this way.

6) If you are having a day where time gets away from you and you suddenly realize that everyone will converge on you in the next 10 minutes, start boiling a pot of water.  Just like setting the table, the action sets people at ease with the promise that food is forthcoming.  Incidentally, this is a good trick if you don't know what to fix.  Start boiling water and begin looking for something to go in it.  Pasta, rice, potatoes, soup--all start with boiling water.

7) Have an emergency dinner plan.  I have two, one is spaghetti, the other is pancakes and eggs.  The way this works is to keep the ingredients for your emergency meal ALWAYS in your pantry.  Both of these can go on the table in about 20 minutes.  Choose something your family is pleased to see for emergencies so you don't get grumbling on top of the stress of pulling it all together.

8) Take care of the cook.  If you are too hungry to think, eat something.  Have a tall glass of water.  Put on some soothing or some cheery music.  Take care of you enough that you don't feel angry and resentful of present demands because you are undernourished.

9) Remember, this too shall pass. In an hour, it will all be over.  At least for a few minutes, until the teenagers get hungry again.
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If you are visiting, welcome! I am in the process of a Vulcan Mind Meld with my computer to put all of my right hand recipes for feeding my family on here as fast as possible. Please come back often and stay awhile. There are so many exciting things to come!

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A clearing house for all my favorite recipes. All my food musings. All my favorite cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. If you enjoy it here, and find it useful, welcome!