Saturday, September 18, 2010

father knows best

My dad is a very smart man.  I crack a lot of jokes at his expense, which could cause a person to overlook the genius hiding inside his goofy exterior, but it's true - my dad knows his stuff.

I am a stubborn pain-in-the-a$$.  Although I frequently give the outward appearance of intelligence, I am That Person who needs to learn from her own mistakes.  All my life, people have warned me about things from taking the ease of youth for granted (guilty!) to continuing to pour money into a car that Kelley Blue Book would laugh at (also guilty).  All my life, I have ignored their sage advice, only to turn around when all is said and done and admit my stupidity and attempt to prevent someone just like me from making the same mistakes...and knowing I'll fail.

Many years ago, when my father began his daily commute from the far-flung suburbs of Philadelphia into the heart of the city for his [new, at the time] job, he had the option of having money withheld from his paycheck for a train pass.  He has been blissfully commuting by train since then.  When I started complaining about my long commute to my job and the stress it was putting on my aging car, he suggested I look into taking the train.  I laughed and made excuses about how inconvenient that would be, not to mention expensive...and no, if you're wondering, I didn't listen to the fact that it wasn't that expensive.

When my car died on the side of a highway in early May, my father said, "why don't you get a new car?"  I said, "No, that's stupid and I don't want to spend the money.  Besides, it will run fine after the engine transplant."  When my catalytic converter blew shortly after the engine transplant, he said, "Why don't you just look around a little, see what's out there?"  I said, "No, the CC is still under warranty, so I only have to pay for the other things that are wrong with it."  Maybe my error was that every time my car broke, I went to lunch with my dad while it was at the doctor so we could argue briefly about what he thought I should do and what I thought I should do.

Or maybe my error was not listening to him the first time.  I would be many thousands of dollars closer to my financial goals if I hadn't replaced the engine, catalytic converter, tensioner belt, compressor, side mirror, and a few incidentals over the past few months.  I could have used some of those thousands to buy a new car that wouldn't have caused me so much trouble.  Or, I could have recalled his words of wisdom about the train sooner, because he is absolutely right; it is the best commute ever.  I can't believe I survived so many white-knuckled obstacle courses to work or back, wondering who was going to pull out right in front of my car or run into the back of my car when I stop for stop signs.  I get to walk to the train station, hop on a train and just sit and listen to my music as we speed through the ghetto and out of the city.  It's also far less expensive than owning a car.

So, in honor of my dad, I made a real meat-n-potatoes kind of meal...okay, seitan and potatoes.

Savory Vegetable Cobbler was slightly more labor-intensive than most meals I've made lately, but as you can probably tell, I like to do things the hard way.  In this case, however, the outcome was absolute success.  Even my father would want seconds on this guy - the seitan stands in for chunks of beef, soaking up the gravy along with the carrots, potatoes, and friends.  The topping was a little thicker than Robin probably makes it, but it was the perfect accompaniment to the rich, savory sauce and tender veggies.  Mister and I did quite a number on that dish and I don't think we'll have trouble getting through the leftovers, either.

I have constructed the new week's menu from Vegan on the Cheap as well and although I didn't feel like I saved a ton of money last week, I was very happy with how perceptibly shorter my grocery list is this week.  Here is our new menu:

1. Peanut Noodle Salad

2. Coconut Curry Rice

3. Indian-Spiced Lentil Ragu - because I've been really good lately about not having an Indian dish on the menu every single week.

4. Mexican Rice and Bean Bake

5. Tuscan White Bean Pizza - because Mister loves pizza and I am attracted to anything that begins with a reference to Tuscany.

6. Black Bean Soup with Kale and Rice - this was listed in the Slow-Cooker section of the book.  I don't actually have a slow-cooker, and until I have a larger kitchen, I do not want one.  However, this recipe has kale in it just looked too good to resist, so I'm just going to cook it stovetop and hope it comes out. 

1 comment:

  1. Dear Natalie,
    Thank you for your wonderful comments about your father. As you know the road of life has many twists, bumps, potholes and the occasional switchback. So it isn’t so much that your father knows best, but has run the road of life for many years and learned from the travels. I just try to convey that knowledge so your life travels are more like a smooth highway and a bumpy unpaved road.
    That is what dads do.