Ask Ceil – Dinner Jeans

Dear Ceil,

What should I have for dinner?

Hungry in Harrisburg

Dear Hungry,

This is the question I ask myself every day. To be fair, if I didn’t ask myself that question, I wouldn’t eat dinner. And my answer is usually found in Ceil’s Patented List of the Four Basic Dinner Groups (mainly because the graphic representation is still being worked on. The hard part is making a perfect circle for each level of resented effort.)

Group 1: I don’t feel like cooking anything, and will pay anyone to cook me something that can, legally, be called food.

Note: This actually divides into subgroups: (a) I care about my health, and (b) I’ve lost all self-respect. This answer is applicable for both, mainly because this is all the dinner wisdom that I contain.

You’ve had a bad day. You’re on day 32 of the great winter cold of 2012. Your hairdresser is moving away. No one noticed your new pen. Whatever. Suffice it to say that having to come home and cook dinner, whether it’s for yourself or your screaming brood of dirt-covered progeny, just seems unthinkable. Before you throw everyone in the car and drive them over to Salty McFat’s, remember these two magical words: We deliver. That’s right. The best option for dinner here is a big old pizza. Pizza has all of the major food groups, swimming around in sauce and cheese (or as I call them, vegetable and dairy), on a fresh chewy crust (carbs). You put a few veggies on that thing and make it a wheat crust, why, it’s practically a health food!

Or, if you can think of it fast enough, invent something to celebrate! (It’s National Tortilla Chip Day!) Then proceed to pile the family into the crumb-covered minivan and head to a restaurant. Bonus: Your server will completely allow you to sit at your table in total silence. You can even point at what you want from the menu. (As a matter of fact, go ahead and pretend you have laryngitis. Do it for a month. See what happens.)

Group 2: I don’t feel like cooking anything, but I am able to perform simple tasks, and am only drooling a little bit.

If you fall into this category (as I so often do) then the microwave is your friend. Oh, who are we kidding? If the microwave had a little money and wasn’t so boxy, we’d run away to Tahiti with it! You can even get food that you don’t even have to remove from the bag. That’s right. No utensils or dishes were harmed in the making of your dinner. And when it’s out of the microwave simply let it sit for a minute or two, tear the top of the bag off with your teeth, and pour the contents directly into your mouth. (Warning: contents recently emerged from the microwave may not be suitable to dump in your mouth. Please use caution when eating food directly from microwave-safe bags.)

Group 3: I know what a pan is for.

So, you probably are a little ahead of the curve here. Maybe you even defrosted something. Maybe… maybe… you may have even thought about making a salad and a dessert. You’re getting crazy, now. Even your family doesn’t recognize you. (Who is that person with the salad tongs? Why on earth are they baking?)

I’m just going to warn you now, to not set a standard that you can’t live up to. Or more to the point, don’t set a standard that I can’t live up to, when my kid comes home and asks why Jimmy’s parents use plates and flatware. And why do they use napkins, and eat food that you have to cut? Why is their broccoli so bright green? “How come Jimmy’s parents don’t eat out of plastic bags like we do?”

Don’t dump your good example on my lawn. I’m watching you, Susie Stovetop.

Group 4: I’m Bobby Flay.

Blindfold yourself. Open the freezer. Wait, no, scratch that. Stand in front of the refrigerator. Blindfold yourself. Open the freezer. Select two random things. Open the fridge. Select three random things. Go over to the pantry (don’t trip). Take out three random things. Undo the blindfold. Now… make a dinner! I am totally going to do that one day, just as soon as I get all the toxic leftovers out of my refrigerator.

Dear Ceil,

Why are jeans called “jeans”?

Puzzled in Pontiac

Dear Puzzled,

The word “jean” is actually a version of the word “Joan”. Jeans were named after Joan of Arc, and it turns out that she was actually wearing denim trousers when she was captured in 1430 at Compiègne. (No, I’m kidding. Most pictures she’s in, she’s actually wearing metal. Maybe someone should have pointed out how breathable cotton is.)

“Jean” is actually from the word “Genoa”. As the story has it, while jeans were being made here, similar pants were being made for sailors in Genoa, with bell-bottoms. The thought was that, if they were overboard, they could take off their pants quickly without getting their feet stuck.

Or at least that’s what they told people. Right. Overboard. Gotcha. Because when I’m drowning in icy ocean waters, the first thing I think of is that I have to remove my pants.

Ceil Kessler is an award-winning dinner-cooker. Most of the awards were given by her husband. She also enjoys going out to dinner and wearing jeans. And she does a bit of writing. When she’s not writing, she listens to Crimson and Clover. Over and over. If you would like to hire Ceil as a writer, she accepts all forms of payment including dinner, jeans, small animals, large farm machinery and cold cash money. If you just like reading what she writes without having to pay for it, she totally understands. She likes free stuff too.

(Her editor would like to point out that the word “jeans” is indeed related to the name “Genoa”; specifically, “jean fustian” meant “fustian from Genoa”, which was often used as prison clothing.)


6 thoughts on “Ask Ceil – Dinner Jeans

    1. I also forgot to mention Chinese delivery, of which I am a big fan! And I truly do not recommend microwaveable enbagged meals. Lord only knows what finally ends up in your food.

      And my personal research shows that jeans fustian were from sailors, but I looked into it enough to know that there are a bunch of confusing and conflicting stories of the origination of jeans. Everyone should know, though, that the question itself came from a four-year-old. And thus, it had to be answered.

  1. Or, you can just prepare everything in the slow-cooker the night before, plug it in before you go to work in the morning, forget that you ever did all that, or even possess a slow-cooker, and then act (and really feel!) surprised and thrilled and grateful when you get home and see that some wonderful person has filled your home with the smell of dinner, AND given you this puzzling appliance.

    Failing that: takeout.

    1. Oh, how I wish I could do that! My house contains 1 (one) almost-carnivore, 1 (one) vegetarian, and 1 (one) extremely picky eater. I usually make three dinners each night. On the bright side, one of the dinners is usually peanut-butter toast.

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