I’m not a morning person

I do not thrive in this, for lack of a better description, 9-5 world. Any thought that retirement would afford me the freedom to live on my own schedule was just that – a wistful thought because I am married and accommodations must be made.

About a year and a half ago I upended years of tradition by moving our main meal of the day – the old protein and veg cooked meal – to the middle of the day instead of 7pm, our long-standing dinner time. That at least was doable in retirement.  Eating that late in the day was not good for my health quite frankly. Nor was still doing “chores” at 8pm good for my mental health (chores being the whole dinner/kitchen clean-up routine.)

I don’t have an in-unit washer and dryer so twice a week I get up early to get the laundry done – the community laundry room most accessible at 6:30/7:00am. And besides it’s a major chore done. I sometimes start cooking at that time of the day – when it’s something that needs hours to simmer.

This morning it was meatballs and gravy – spaghetti sauce to you non-Italians. Right now my apartment is smelling really good – if you like the aroma of Italian food.

I make peasant style spaghetti sauce, as learned from my parents. I’ve read recipes that include onions, carrots, all manner of odd herbs (sage? rosemary? – no.) It’s not that there aren’t ‘sauces’ that include onions and other things but they have their own specific names and aren’t ‘gravy’. The difference between ‘sauce’ and ‘gravy’? Meat. In the old days you would go to the butcher and ask for “a piece of pork and a piece of beef for gravy” and the butcher knew exactly what you wanted. Meatballs in our house were just ground beef or chopped meat, however you call it. Some Italians use a mixture of pork/beef/veal, my parents didn’t so neither do I.

A young woman in the grocery store I frequent once asked me for my recipe for ‘Sunday Sauce’ ie: gravy and I laughed and said “I can’t tell you but I could show you”. Same goes for meatballs – I have no idea how much of anything goes into the pot or the meatballs.

My mother always fried or baked the meatballs before adding them to the gravy. My father always put the meatballs uncooked into the gravy which is how I do it. Simmering in the gravy for 3 or 4 hours cooks the meatballs and keeps them moist (whoops, there’s that word again) and they absorb the flavors of the gravy.

Peasant style spaghetti sauce? Crushed tomatoes, red wine, water, garlic, basil, oregano, salt. pepper, sugar. How much of each? Your guess is as good as mine. OK, so for every 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes, you use 1/2 a can of water and 1/2 can of wine, the rest of the ingredients – as much or little as you like to have it taste the way you want. Not exactly the way my parents made gravy but close enough.

As for meatballs – since they are going to cook in the gravy I don’t use as many spices/herbs as I would if I were going to bake them. Chopped meat (beef only), an egg for every pound of meat, salt, pepper, loads of fresh parsley, grated cheese, bread crumbs. How much of any of this? Who knows, it’s like making bread, you know by the texture, how it feels in your hands when you’re mixing it. For baked (or fried, if that’s your choice) meatballs I would add garlic and basil and oregano.

I can give you very specific recipes for desserts because baking is science. But for cooking – I can only show you, can’t tell you. I make a macaroni and cheese that will knock your socks off but it’s not like anything you’ve ever eaten before because it is MY concept of macaroni and cheese. And as my husband’s brother said “This is delicious but it’s not mac ‘n cheese” And yes, he asked if he could take the leftovers home.

I always say I hate to cook, and I do. I didn’t always hate to cook, but after years (and years) of cooking I’m over it. It’s just a chore. Plus, living where I live and not being able to get the foods I’m used to eating – the whole thing becomes – Meh.

I’m not a great cook but no one has ever gotten up from my table unhappy or unsatisfied. Besides there would always be dessert!

25 thoughts on “I’m not a morning person

    1. I don’t work at all, I’m retired. When I did work it was at a variety of, mostly, office jobs, in a variety of industries, in mostly Office Manager or Personal/executive assistant to the owner of the company type positions. Also retail manager – a lot of stuff LOL either through interest, opportunity or necessity.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I like to cook but I take your point. It can be a chore, I won’t deny it. It’s funny how we all have recipes that we make without thinking about how we make them. Measurements? Surely you jest.

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    1. I don’t think there is anything I cook that I actually have to measure ingredients – unless it’s using the thing the ingredient came in – like the crushed tomato can or the can the clams come in for clam sauce…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m very much a morning person, and I do my main mail of the day around noonish. My mom is into careful measurements for both cooking and baking, but I’m with you, measuring is for baking, not for cooking. My current spaghetti sauce of choice involves roasting grape tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, and shallots, then transferring that to the stove and adding red wine and fresh basil.

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    1. Now that sounds really Goood! I do like portobello mushrooms. I gotta try that one – Thanks! And yes that’s when we eat our main meal – Noon-12:30-ish. My energy level reaches its peak around 4-5 in the afternoon – then I am a whirling dervish of activity!

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        1. Me too! Tho I am in the process of devising a recipe for portobello mushrooms that don’t include turning the oven on…getting too warm for that despite having a/c if I want it…it will include ground lamb, tomatoes, the aforesaid mushrooms, provolone cheese…

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  3. I hear you about the daily grind. We’re in the middle of it, with teenage children, but at least during the pandemic a lot of the extra stuff has been removed. When the kids were at junior school, the day would begin at 7am, and our feed typically wouldn’t touch the ground until at least 9pm most evenings – making meals, washing up, ferrying kids around, washing clothes, tidying up, making more meals, reading stories, helping with homework, and working too. How did we fit work in? Hell – for a time I did freelance work late on evenings too. Madness.

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      1. I honestly don’t know how people manage adult relationship/children/work/home keeping these days. and most especially during the lock-down. I am in awe!

        Just the basics were different when I was growing up – Dad went to work – end of. Mother’s did most of the big stuff until it could be off-loaded to the kids. Well, at least that’s the way it was in my family. But having to do housework/cooking/shopping/child care when I was still a child myself definitely influenced my decision to never marry or have children. Unfortunately I did get married, wrong decision because I am not cut out for it. Never had children, My husband has 3 and they were young when we married but I only had them on alternate weekends, by the time they were adolescents my husband’s job took us 800 miles away from where they lived so I never had to deal with teenagers – I don’t think any of us would have survived that! OMG – is that all too much information?

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        1. We both work full time – seems to the story with most families these days. When the kids were little my other half stayed at home, but as soon as they were old enough it was “all hands to the pumps”. I still don’t know how we made it through those few years of clubs, sports, and so on with all three of our daughters drawing on us, all the time.

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          1. Didn’t have all that when I was a kid. My mother went to work when my younger brother started kindergarten, she worked in a factory. Most white-collar, middle class wives/mothers didn’t work back in the 40’s and 50’s and 60’s but blue collar women worked – they had to. As for clubs, sports etc – kids got there on their own if they participated in such things – walked, biked, took the bus – I grew up in NYC – so different place, different world.

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  4. I am a qualified chef, but l have grown to sadly hate food and only eat now out of necessity. My gradual decline in eating for enjoyment has waned off due to this stomach disorder. i eat healthy now, but slimly and l tend to have a breakfast purely of 5 eggs between 11-1 so more of a lunch, and then a dinner/supper/afternoon meal at around 5-6.Eating later than 7 is bad for me.

    I used to be a night owl, l guess to a certain degree l still am, as l am not now apparently much of a morning early bird. Suze is, l’m not, although l am usually out of bed by 9am.

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    1. I don’t hate food, I’m just bored with it, nothing seems to appeal. Well, maybe meatballs and spaghetti…I got to bed when my husband does – 10pm and am asleep by 10:30 courtesy of melatonin, I get out of bed anywhere from 5:30am to 7:30am – not because I want to it’s just the schedule and one must adhere to the schedule. Not that it is MY schedule mind you…

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    1. While supposedly the alcohol cooks off, it is there for the flavor and some cooking sites say for the acidity – I’ve never tried any of the substitutes recommended, In the case of making tomato sauce you can just leave it out – marinara sauce, or as my mother used to call it, 20 minute sauce NEVER includes wine. Beef broth and chicken broth both add a depth of flavor, balsamic vinegar also gives food a nice kick – you only need a little and you can get balsamic vinegar made from all sorts of fruits – I’m using fig balsamic right now – I always marinate chicken before cooking it – I use chicken breasts – and lemon juice and garlic give it a nice kick-up in flavor and keep it moist, white wine not needed. I see that some cooking sites recommend apple cider vinegar…(https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/wine-substitutes).

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