This is the first post in the series to chronicle our weekday dinners.
I cook weekday dinners whenever I can. There are several reasons I try hard to do so even though I’m not a natural-born chef. There are people who love to cook. Then there are people who cook for those they love. I fall into the second category.
I grew up with home-cooked food. My mum’s cooking is not the tastiest, neither is it the best. But it is far healthier that what is available outside. My mum cooked most meals even when she worked full time, often waking up at 5am to prepare dinner before she went to school to teach. This meant she just had to fry up or heat up what she had prepared. I had always taken for granted home-cooked meals, until I got married and moved to my own place. Even then, before we had kids, my husband and I would alternate between my parents’ and his mum’s place for dinners, or eat out. So dinner wasn’t a big issue.
When we had kids, we continued the routine, as we had help from both sides to look after the kids. Then the kids started school and we no longer sent them to the grandmas. It meant we had to settle our own dinners. After Shannon came along, we had a maid for over two years. I taught her to cook using recipes I found online, and we wrote down the recipe for each meal. After several months, she became adept at cooking and no longer needed to refer to recipes. It helped that she enjoyed cooking far more than she enjoyed doing housework! So we had yummy meals cooked to our liking.
When Anna’s contract was up and she decided to go back to do her degree, we decided not to employ another maid. That was when my adventures in the kitchen started. I started working from home, so slow cooker meals often worked for us because I could prepare the ingredients in the morning, settle down to work, and dinner, usually a stew, would be ready in the evenings as if I had a cook in the kitchen the whole time. But that only happened if I had my marketing done beforehand. On busy days, I often end up opening my fridge at 5pm, and wondering what I should do to feed my family in an hour’s time. Pasta is usually the answer. Then, the rice-cooker became my next best friend. It’s amazing all the other things you can cook in a rice cooker, apart from rice – this macaroni recipe, which has the highest hits among the recipes, is one example.
So back to why I cook:
I’m not a health nut, and don’t feed my kids only “healthy” stuff. But I reckon I’m not as liberal with sauces and seasoning as hawkers and that counts for something. I usually blanch the veggies, grill meats or steam fish. There is sometimes a soup dish because Shannon loves her soups. I don’t usually fry stuff because I prefer not to have to clean up an oily kitchen or stove top.
Apart from wanting to feed my family healthier food, it means we can sit down together as a family to have dinner. Eating out at a food court means we have to look for seats, queue for food, contend with a noisy and packed place, decide what to order, and so on. So on days when I’m far too busy to throw together a proper, healthy meal, and yet not want to eat out, I resort to semi-ready stuff.
Tonight’s fish soup is an example. I was out for lunch and went for a meeting after that. By the time I picked Shannon and hubby and got home, it was past 5pm. So I used Prima’s fish soup la mian pack. Two packets was more than enough for the four of us. It says there is no MSG, and using two packs for a pot of soup meant it didn’t taste salty either. I boiled the water, added the fish stock, and two types of fresh fish – thread fin and snapper because those were what I had in the fridge. I also threw in tofu, tomatoes and butterhead lettuce. It was tasty enough for my family, who slurped it all up. It tasted nothing like the overly salted fish soups sold outside. I figured that’s good enough for a day when we would otherwise have to eat out.
Prima fish soup la main
fresh fish, sliced
1 pack of tofu
Bring half a pot of water to boil.
Add fish stock from packet.
Add tofu and tomato.
When it boils again, add fish.
When fish is nearly done, throw in lettuce and switch off fire.
Boil noodles separately until al dente.
Serve fish soup noodles!
And dinner is settled for Monday. 🙂