How to turn supper into a competitive sport


Kevin and I have stumbled onto a way to make cooking fun again.

It all began the first week of January. Kids were still off school, but we wanted to get back to work. So we split our days. I took the morning kid-shift, he took the afternoons; but afternoons meant suppers too. I relinquished my iron hold over kitchen proceedings, and introduced him to The Joy of Cooking, and he liked it. A lot.

We did have Yorkshire puddings two nights in a row because the first recipe didn’t replicate his childhood memory of his mother’s version. Sadly, neither did the second recipe. After which, he moved on to a traditional shepherd’s pie. Getting in touch with his British Isle roots. (What if he attempts blood pudding??) I must add that he also solicited advice from me, which I appreciated. Because I was practically itching to give it.

I found that the brief break inspired me to cook with more enthusiasm, and, I’ll admit it, a faint stirring of competition. Nothing like a little challenge to get me inspired.

I’ve already been creamed by the competition, according to our four-year-old. Kevin prepared leftover noodles with cheese sauce on Saturday evening, and, to repeat a story I already told on Facebook, here’s how that went over:

CJ: Who made this supper?
Kevin: I did.
CJ: This supper is awesome! *holds out arms for hug*
Me: Are you serious? I’m going to cry.

Please note: I have never, not once, received a spontaneous hug for any meal I have set upon the table. A more common response would be:

“Why do you always make food that I hate?”

I have been preparing said meals for eleven-and-a-half years. That’s, like, 4000 meals.

But I digress.

We’ve decided to up the stakes.

Inspired by a friend who is going on sabbatical this summer, and who is chronicling her attempts to “eat down the freezer and cupboards,” Kevin and I have decided to prepare meals using all those edible odds and ends that dwell, untouched and neglected, in our own cupboards and freezers. (I suspect there’s some weird survivalist instinct in me that wants to save the stored food, in case of apocalyptic circumstances; in any case, we have a lot, and we could probably reduce our monthly grocery bill by making better use of it. Worth a try.)

* I started on Monday with a meal of quinoa (cupboard), spelt (cupboard), and brown rice (cupboard) salad with roasted red beets (leftover), and a corn (frozen) and potato (cold cellar) chowder (broth from freezer) with bacon (freezer). For bedtime snack, we opened a jar of pearsauce (cupboard) and served it with yogurt.

* Last night, Kevin made us a spinach (freezer) gorgonzola sauce with bacon (leftover), mushrooms (lingering), and shrimp (freezer), over pasta. He wisely prepared a separate cheese sauce for the children who didn’t want the fancy bits, making him, once again, most popular chef with the four-year-old set. (Pandering! I refuse to stoop to such tactics!)

* For tonight’s meal, I’m planning to prepare corn tortilla (freezer) quesedillas with refried red beans (freezer) and roasted red pepper salsa (freezer, fridge, cupboard), and a raw cabbage (cold cellar) salad.

The opposite of indomitable
Swimming studies, early morning, girl in green


  1. Nath

    Blood pudding is delicious! And easy to prepare – you just have to fry it like sausage (you don’t actually make the blood pudding itself yourself unless you have a freshly slaughtered pig around). It really is good. My mom made it for unsuspecting guests more than once. They would exclaim how yummy it was, only to declare, after they were told what it was they had liked so much, that they would never eat it again. Which is a shame.

    Anyway, I’m enjoying this process of cleaning out the pantry and freezer so much that I’m thinking of doing it every January! I hope you’re enjoying the process too!

    • Carrie Snyder

      I wonder how long it’s going to take — my sense is that it will take us longer than a month, but I’m curious to see.

  2. Margo

    oh, this makes me laugh! Since I started working 2 days a week, my husband and I share the kitchen uneasily. I WISH he asked for my advice!!

    • Carrie Snyder

      Kevin probably asked for advice purely out of kindness — he knew I was dying to give it!

  3. Susan Fish

    My favourite part of this whole blog reflects its title and it is the parenthetical aside: Pandering! Love it!

  4. Cathy Olliffe-Webster

    Love the idea of using everything up in the cupboard. Sometimes I look in there and think, WHAT was I THINKING???

    • Carrie Snyder

      We have three containers of tahini, for example …

  5. Clare

    I got stuck on the concept of leftover bacon…

    • Carrie Snyder

      I wondered if anyone would notice that! It was, in fact, uncooked bacon leftover from the corn chowder recipe I’d used the night before, which only called for four slices of bacon. Teamwork!


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