Aug 23, 2010

Shifting gears

I love a car with a stickshift.  I learned to drive with a stick in Colorado, which meant not only learning how to get a standard transmission in gear, but I had to be able to pop the clutch without a) killing the engine, and b) rolling too far when trying to get started on an incline.  Not easy for those of us with limited hand-eye-foot coordination.  But I did master the art and science of driving a stick.

My "baby" (a 1979 baby-blue Mustang) had four on the floor.  So did my next car, a white 4-door Oldsmobile: my first mom-mobile.  It was so small it was almost cute for hauling around the first baby ("Thing 1"), and then Thing 2, too.  My 315i Ultimate Driving Machine was a graduation gift from my husband, along with the thick payment book.  It was a blast to gear down and zip around curves and maneuver through traffic on my way to pick up Things 1 and 2 from the sitter's.

But then I hit my third decade of life and had Things 1, 2 and 3 to convey and chauffeur, so it was time for a sensible car: a full-size sedan.  Yawn.  With an automatic transmission. Double yawn. Fast forward a decade.  My next vehicle was the next-most-sensible choice for a 21st century carpooling mom:  an SUV with a 3rd-row seat.  Also with automatic transmission, of course.  It's totally boring, according to Thing 3, who is now a driver-in-training.

But this post isn't really about cars.  I was coming up with the title "shifting gears" and that made me think how much fun it is to actually SHIFT the gears when you're driving.  Unless you're trying to juggle a drink, a phone and the steering wheel.  (Only moms can do this, or at least do it well.  Often we're also reaching behind us to swat at mini-miscreants in the backseat.  Thank goodness for eyes in the back of our heads.)

But back to the subject at hand: shifting mental gears.  Namely, dinner routines and menu choices.  This time of year, I really have to shift my mental gears to adjust for my favorite football official's schedule.  And swim practice will begin in a few weeks.  And "Thing 2" starts back to MTSU, so his schedule will become even more hectic with job and work.  It won't be cool enough for crockpot meals like roasts and soups and stews, not for a few more months.

But I need dinner menu plans that are either extremely quick to put together, or hold well.  Or reheat well.  Or - ideally - all three.  Stay tuned:  I'll be sharing some of my favorite weeknight meal ideas and recipes.  Because we could all use a few more tried-and-true recipes to rescue family dinnertime from the doldrums and over-scheduling, right?