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We’re not starving

By Robin Dearing

Several people recently have asked how my mom is doing. Shirley’s doing OK. She had to start IV chemo a couple weeks ago, but she’s hanging tough like she always does.

Hopefully she won’t have to be on the IV stuff for more than another month or so. Then she can go back on the oral cancer drugs that she tolerates much better.

Even though she’s on the most mild form of IV chemo, it’s really taken a toll. It saps all of her energy and strength. She can’t do much more than take care of herself. By the time she starts feeling better, it’s time for more chemo.

This is her week off, so she’s feeling much better and was even able to get out of the house and go for a drive yesterday.

Since Shirley hasn’t been up for much, I’ve taken over all the grocery shopping and cooking.

For those who know me, know that the thought of me shopping and cooking is as strange as having four rainy days in a row in the high desert. It’s doesn’t seem like it should be so weird, but it is.

Luckily for me and the family, my mom recently purchased a Taste of Home cookbook called “Almost Homemade.” For the last two weeks, every dinner sans two has come from a recipe in this book.

I call it “The Book” and worship it a little too heartily.

Unlike my mom’s cookbooks that have long lists of ingredients that require skill and knowledge, “Almost Homemade” uses a lot of store-bought, premade ingredients. And that, my friends, is essential to the fact that we have continued eating dinner every night.

When it comes to cooking, I have zero creativity. I can’t make up any type of meal on my own. I can be in the grocery store and still not be able to figure out what to have for dinner. I need a guide. “Almost Homemade” is that guide … it’s “The Book” for Robin’s cooking needs.

Even though the recipes are simple, I still have to go to the grocery and find the ingredients in store. This is not an easy process. I’m utterly overwhelmed by the grocery store. The aisles and aisles of food stuff arranged in some secret code known only to cookers and smart people who are not me.

I walk around the grocery store in a cold sweat, clutching my list with all my might. If that list gets lost, we are all doomed to cold cereal without milk (because it was on the list) for dinner.

Worse yet is that I talk to myself as I scurry to and fro searching for things like frozen puff pastry and Italian-style stewed tomatoes (have you seen how many different varieties of canned tomatoes there are?). I read the items on my list out loud and wonder where will I ever find these things out loud. I mumble along trying not to look like I’m crazy and off my meds.

Yesterday, I told myself to stop talking to myself out loud.

Oh, it’s a mess for sure. But you know what? My family has had an almost homemade dinner every night. Plus, most everything I’ve made so far has not only been edible, but pretty good.

It feels like a miracle. Every day I make a new meal and we eat it and no one dies. It almost feel like I’m a regular mom.


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I’m totally down with “almost homemade.” That’s good enough for us most nights of week. The Taste of Home website has more easy recipes too. And, as far as the store goes, don’t even bother asking anybody where the capers are .... (the good ones are in the Mexican section. The ‘hell?)

Richie you’re so right about the capers! And Robin, I’m happy to be your personal grocery shopper for a small fee ;)

Robin, if it makes you feel any better, I don’t cook either. You are way ahead of me. I cooked for a decade or so. Now I don’t. It’s not that I can’t, I just don’t. Luckily, I have girls so they are usually okay with it because they’re “watching their figures.” Good job on taking care of your mom.

Randee, I’m always so happy to hear that other women don’t cook. I just don’t have the knack. Luckily for us, we can follow a recipe. Oh and I made yet another recipe from “The Book” this evening.

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