I’M NOT HUNGRY ANYMORE!

There is an annoying trend happening in my household. I cook and no one eats. Sound familiar to anyone? 

Every Sunday, I meal plan and order my groceries online. Each week, like clockwork, I’ll ask the same question – what would you like to eat this week? The response from each member of the family never changes – I don’t know, whatever!

So each week, I waste brain cells coming up with exciting new dishes coupled with a few solid favourites for dinner. Honestly, I don’t know why I bother with trying to expand their palates! The results are always the same. 

“I don’t like this!”

“It smells yuck!”

“It looks yuck”

“I can’t eat this!”

Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? I must be insane. 

The worst part is having to eat leftovers for days on end because I don’t want to throw out good food and waste money. 

You’re probably wondering if maybe my cooking isn’t up to par and that’s why people are refusing to eat it, right?

Well, let me assure you that I’m a decent cook. In fact, I’d go as far as to say I’d be in the running to win Masterchef… Junior, that is. As in, if I was competing against a bunch of talented 10-year-olds, I’d totally be in with a chance 😜

Sure, there are people who would spit their coffee reading my bold declaration. For instance, my brother would bitterly disagree and claim that eating my food gives him the sh&ts, literally. My mum would roll her eyes and tell me my food is as bland as baby mush. My children and husband might balk and tell you my meals are never the same and too “experimental.”

But maybe the problem isn’t my abilities or my creations. Maybe the problem lies with everyone else?

I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. Just a few days ago, I made a lemon meringue pie for the first time ever. My husband suggested I make use of the surplus of lemons given to us. Obviously everyone knows baking is an exact science and can’t be replicated without a recipe, so I found a highly rated recipe online and channelled my inner Nigella.

This is what it looked like. Pretty damn good if you ask me.

Lemon meringue pie

After making this beautiful creation, my husband told me he didn’t like lemon meringue pie. My 9-year-old daughter told me it tasted terrible, and my 4-year-old son stated he was allergic. I think he meant he was allergic to my food in general.

I offered some to my brother, but he texted “The pie looks mad [but] nah, I’m good. Too risky with diarrhoea.” My friends weren’t too keen to take any, stating diets and what not.

So what do you do when no one wants to taste test your food? You try it yourself. And guess what? I got diarrhoea. My brother was right to steer clear of my food.

While the pie looked amazing, its beauty was only skin deep. The shortcrust pastry was undercooked, the meringue tasted strange and the lemon curd was playing slippery buggers between the layers. I did a rush job and took the pie out too soon, fearing the meringue would burn.

My ratios were a bit off!

But in my defence, maybe the lemon meringue pie disaster was a once-off anomaly. Just a bad day in the kitchen is all. After all, even Gordon Ramsay experiences bloopers and cooking fails.

Last night, I made a beef massaman curry from scratch. No bottle stuff, no siree! I used kaffir lime leaves, cinnamon sticks and even tamarind paste. You know, like authentic Thai ingredients. 

This is what it looked like. Smelled as good as it looked, my friends!

Beef massaman

Anyway, the husband asked if I used lemongrass or kaffir limes, claiming the taste was overpowering. The 4-year-old claimed “grass limes” weren’t for him and refused to even try it. The 9-year-old asked if she had to eat it all to get dessert. It felt like another bust.

The husband tried to placate me saying that I should lower my expectations and not strive for perfection all the time. He suggested that I should view cooking as a journey to be explored and to think of these mishaps as a learning and practice experience. 

He wasn’t trying to sound condescending or critical, but after slaving in the kitchen for a few hours, I wanted to shove my boot up his clacker!

From where I stand (…in the kitchen), there can only be two solutions to this problem. One – be a stubborn mule and continue in hopes something will change. Two – accept that I’m no Gordon or Nigella, and I might be better choosing dishes to suit the palates of my family members. However unrefined those palates may seem.

Which one do you think I should choose?

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SHORT STACK

I experienced a growth spurt once. Those of you who know me are probably giggling, but it’s true! When I was ten-years-old, I shot up in height like a rocket reaching for the stars. Unfortunately, it was short-lived and by twelve, I was closer to Earth’s epicentre than the Galaxy’s stars. I am a short stack, a pocket rocket, fun-sized, a small fry. I am 5 feet tall… on a good day. 

I can’t say that it was unexpected given my dad is 5 foot 1 and my mum is 5 foot 2. I had no hope with those kinds of genes. My brother got lucky somehow and ended up being 5 foot 9. He must have gotten more vitamins in utero than me. 

Suffice to say, I can’t help but envy tall women, what with their long limbs and elevated view of the world. Just think about how useful being tall would be! If I was taller than my 5 foot short stack, I would not…

  1. Need to do a hop, skip and jump over big puddles! I’d simply step over them.
  2. Get bruises from door handles when my sleeves get caught.  
  3. Buy 3/4 pants to substitute for full-length pants. 
  4. Buy shoes from the kiddie section because women size 5 shoes are impossible to find.
  5. Adjust the car seat all the way forward and upwards to reach the car pedals and to see over the dashboard.
  6. Ask random strangers for help getting products from top shelves at the supermarket after making a dunce of myself by jumping up and down like a loon. 
  7. Ask a random stranger to check if I made the 150cm height restrictions for accompanying adults so I could take my 4-year-old son on a mini go-kart ride at a carnival. 
  8. Have to explain to a cop that I was indeed the mother of two children and not their underaged babysitter.
  9. Be mistaken as a young child when on ordering drinks from McDonald’s. I don’t even say this in jest… a few days ago, I overheard a server yell ‘get the little girl her drink order’ to his colleague before correcting with ‘I mean, the lady’ upon second glance. Talk about mortifying!
  10. Do you really need more examples? I think you’ve probably laughed enough at my expense.

There must be yang to this yin, right? Pros to these cons? Let’s see… (thinking)… give me a minute… (thinking harder)… hmm… (brain starting to hurt)… I’ll have to get back to you on this.

Anyway, I can’t change my height, and I wouldn’t want to if it meant I wasn’t the person I am today. I guess I’ll continue to graciously accept hearing people say ‘great things come in small packages’. At least people aren’t cracking jokes about how down to Earth I am or how I’ve got a great perspective on life because I’m always looking up.  

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ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND WORMS

I’m pretty competitive, even if I do pretend not to be. I can’t help it and so, I’m gonna blame human nature. Yes, that’s it. Human nature. We are hardwired in wanting to succeed and if you believe what that guy — Freud — says about humans, we are inherently selfish twats with an innate competitiveness that drives our psyche. Something like that – don’t quote me, I did psychology 101 about a gazillion years ago and we all know I have the memory capacity of a goldfish

Anyway, moving along. The point of this drivel is that I am competitive, ergo, I don’t like losing. Losing gives me that slight twinge in the guts. Losing feels like there’s a mean spirited gnat buzzing near my ear telling me that I failed at something, no matter how insignificant it is. But of course, it’s not true and I know this to be the case. Rationally, I understand that “failing” is an important part of life and an integral part of learning and developing skills to achieve success. Failure helps us to grow. 

However, despite this, I’m still driven by my competitiveness and dislike of losing. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be happy with a participation award. Not everyone should be a winner. 

Suffice to say, our household is pretty competitive, but in a good way. We don’t condone smack talking and tall poppy syndrome is non-existent. We give merit where merit is due.

So when it comes to being a good role model for the children, it can sometimes get tricky. Why do you ask? Because I can be a bloody sore loser.

As we are in our sixth lockdown, we’ve started a routine where as a family we play games after dinner and most weekends. It alternates between Monopoly Deal (card game) and Worms W.M.D. (Nintendo video game). To my absolute embarrassment, I suck at both. Actually, that’s a lie. I am as good as my 4-year-old boy, and that’s saying something. We keep a score board for Monopoly Deal just for kicks and guess where I sit on the leaderboard. Yeah, bottom last, beneath the 4-year-old, who plays with his cards open on the floor for all to see. What does that tell you? That my strategy skills are so poor it’s a miracle I’m not homeless. I believe I’m at 6 wins to about 25 for the husband and daughter, and 10 for the son.

As for Worms, remember that game? You play as little worms armed with a bunch of artillery and the aim of the game is to kill your opponents. Whoever has the last surviving worm wins. It was called Worms Armageddon about twenty years ago. I was a gun at it back in the day, or at least, that’s what I keep telling my family but no one believes me. And I can’t even blame them given my track record so far. But really, how am I supposed to win when my worms are ALWAYS placed in precarious positions? My worms are always sitting on a ledge or at the base of a hill where they can get batted off into the ocean and die. I keep telling them of my suspicions that the tiny computer person inside the Nintendo game is biased towards me and that’s why I keep losing. That and because everyone keeps ganging up on me.

Do I sound like a sore loser? I do, don’t I? Sigh. I hate losing.

Anyway, after several months of this losing streak, I’ve come to a realisation and acceptance. Yeah, losing can suck, but there’s good in losing too. I don’t play to win anymore. I play to spend time with my family. I play to help my children develop strategic and critical thinking skills. I play to help them develop social and cognitive skills. I play to show them the value of family time.

So in essence, while my children are winning and I am losing like it’s my job, we are actually winning as a family.  

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