Friday, December 14, 2007

Seeing is Believing

I wouldn't have believed this if I didn't see it with my own eyes. My first thought was to check outside to see if there were pigs flying across the sky, or check the weather report to find the temperature down in Hades.

I made something fancy for dinner. And my kids ate it.

I'll wait a minute until your hearts start again, I know this comes as quite a shock.

Ryan's parents were going to come up for a visit a week or two ago, and I bought a pork tenderloin so that I could try out a new recipe on them, for Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Pineapple. Yum! But they didn't end up coming, and so the pork sat in my fridge while the pineapple went bad, because it seemed stupid to cook this meal for just us and the kids. But it was just going to go to waste if I didn't cook it, so one afternoon I whipped up the glaze, spread it on the pork, and popped it under the broiler.

Naturally, as with everything I attempt to broil, I burned it. I don't know why it's called a broiler - a burner is a more appropriate word choice. I guess "burner" is already in use in another part of the stove, a place where I rarely burn things. So the glaze is completely black and charred enough that it lifts off in chunks. But the middle of the loin is still pretty pink, due to the fact that my brand-new, just used once for Thanksgiving, digital meat thermometer is now broken because it can't handle the heat from the broiler. So I overcooked the outside of the pork and the thermometer, but upon cutting into it, I haven't cooked the inside enough.

Ryan came home at this point, when I'm about 30 seconds away from chucking the whole thing in the trash and getting out a box of cereal for dinner, but he claims it smells good. I was only making this for two people to eat, trying to keep my expectations realistic, so if he was still game, I thought I'd keep plugging away at it. I sliced that bad boy up and laid each slice on the broiler pan, then put it back in the oven to try to, at the very least, heat up the E. coli bacteria that we were going to have as a side dish to our possibly undercooked pork.

When they were nice and toasty (and the pork looked less pink) Noah and Zack were both hanging out in the kitchen. So just to humor ourselves, we told them that dinner was ready and they sat down. I put out plates with a piece of pork on each one. I had some steamed veggies that were in a bowl also on the table. We sat down and Ryan and I each took a kid's plate to cut their food for them.

And then they ate it.

All of it.

Noah was even excited by the bowl of steamed broccoli on the table. No one complained about the crust being black. As far as I know, they didn't even take the burned parts off, just ate the whole thing.

This is such a stunning development that I barely know what to think about it. Do I could this as a fluke? Is this just a precursor of good things to come? Should I expect this kind of behavior more often? Is this a reaction to us trying to be more laid back and less uptight about mealtimes? Or do they just like pork?

My guess is, the planets aligned for this one meal and I shouldn't expect this again. Most likely, if I cooked this again they would completely reject it. But it does make me see what is possible for the future: someday, my kids are going to sit down and eat dinner like grown-ups! We'll have scintillating conversation as we explore the pros and cons of universal health care or conservatives' reactions to Romney's JFK speech. I'll ask them if they've read any good books lately, and we can discuss them.

I'm going to look back fondly at this dinner as a nice, one-time thing. Right now, Zacky and his friend Jonathan are eating lunch while wearing snow hats pulled down over their faces. Brad and Noah both think it is perfectly acceptable to crawl under the table instead of walking around it to go get a drink. Later that night, we found Zack playing our Star Wars lightsaber game with a piece of pork shoved in his cheek, like a chipmunk. And fish sticks are still received with cheers and accolades. But they know to thank me for dinner, which they do every night, even when they choose to make themselves a sandwich instead. I just didn't believe I'd ever see the day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your blog reminded me of a recent dinner Dad and I attended with work. First, we very rarely eat out, mainly because it's too expensive and usually not very good. I usually make a better meal choice than Dad but this time I messed up. I chose chicken stuffed with cheese and ham with some italian name. Dad had carbonara. First, the waiter forgot my meal and everyone was done eating before I finally got mine. Since they cooked it late I was already worried that it would be undercooked, which it was. I was about to eat around the pink parts and I prayed that I wouldn't get sick, which I didn't. Very disappointing but at least it was free. Big shots from HP were in town. Mom