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Around the Bluhmin’ Town


Judy Bluhm

What’s For Dinner?

When my husband asked me last night, “What’s for dinner,” I wondered how many times in one day those three precious (evil) words are spoken. Worldwide, might these words be recited over a billion times? And in my own life, how many times have I heard children, grandkids, and husband innocently (and hopefully) question what will soon be served. It’s not that I don’t like cooking; I actually love it! But there are days that drudgery of mixing, beating, dipping, tossing, frying, baking, boiling, or simmering just seems like another exercise that I have repeated too many times. In other words, I have no idea what to make for dinner some nights!

A few psychologists claim that doing “routine chores” create “comforting habits” that serve as anchors in our often turbulent lives. The habits we create offer us some sort of “psychological reassurance” that life is still going along in a stable manner, even if the world is off kilter, stocks fall, wars break out, work is stressful, or conflicts exist. Nothing like baking a chicken in the midst of rush and turmoil to get our lives “back-to-basics” and providing a sense of routine and normality into our busy lives. Ha! Well, I don’t have to buy it just because a psychologist says it. Some days are the “wrong days” to be doing routine chores. And aren’t “anchors “those heavy weights that drag us down?

I notice that the older I get, the more adventuresome I have become in the kitchen. Perhaps because I have done all I can do to chicken and beef, it helps to expand my horizons. I am not bored with my cooking, just tired of the same old recipes. Last week I made a Chinese Chicken Salad and after hours of preparation, like baking chicken in soy sauce, browning almonds and ramen noodles, cutting cabbage, and making sauce, I began to ponder: “what the heck am I doing?” No, not in the kitchen, but in spending an inordinate amount of time on a salad! In other words, re-examining your life while you are chopping cabbage is not the best timing!

My girlfriend, Marsha, has had three horses about as long as I have had horses, which is twenty years. One day she sat down and started figuring out the number of wheel barrels full of manure she had loaded and pushed, hours spent mucking stalls, time spent spreading manure with a tractor and adding up the tons of manure she had shoveled by hand. With calculator in hand, the final numbers were staggering. Marsha realized that she had scooped, hauled, and smashed about 500 tons of manure! Then she suggested that I do the same. Oh, and she said I should also start calculating the number of chickens I have baked, or meals I have cooked so I could “take an inventory” of how I spend my life. Yikes, I refuse to do this! Dear Readers, stay strong and do not count the number of tedious tasks that you do, because it might not paint a pretty picture. In fact, it is a terrifying thought!

But I digress, from horse manure to cooking is not exactly a clear association. So, back to that simple (and frequent) question that my husband posed, “what’s for dinner?” Today, I am throwing in the towel, letting the pots and pans sit silently, allowing the spices and sauces to rest idly in their allotted corners, waiting to ambush me tomorrow, no doubt. Today, I am liberating myself from the mundane task of cooking, seeking greater fulfillment in some other task. (Not sure yet what that might be).

When I told Doug I did not feel like cooking tonight, he just stared at me like I have two heads. Inquiring if I was ill (no) and looking confused, he then wondered if I wanted to go to dinner (not really). In other words, the wheels have fallen off the chuck-wagon! Mercury must be retrograde and casting a dark shadow on the planet (and in my kitchen)! Life as we know it must be in jeopardy! Why? Because the one question asked billions of times a day and in hundreds of languages cannot always be answered!

So when you hear those three little words, “What’s for dinner,” try answering with my three little words: “I don’t know!” Tomorrow is another day to explore the joys of cooking. Until then…bon appétit.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at