5 “Recipes” Every Dad Should Know

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As a man, I readily admit that men are not the heroic sex. Consider our manifold deficiencies, our moral inferiorities, our inability to put the toilet seat down. It’s a wonder we manage to (mostly) dress ourselves and find the TV remote. Still, every once in a while we outdo ourselves by stepping up — heroically — in the kitchen (usually on weekends). Here are five recipes (in order of difficulty) every dad should be able to nail.

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1. Toast

Toast happens when you put a piece of bread in something called “a toaster.” The bread, by action of the heat, will brown; your job is to put butter (on one side only!), and serve. Lately, toast has become “trendy” and people are serving it topped with all manner of things, but especially avocado. I suggest jelly if you’re feeling adventurous; children love sweet. Your kids will love it even more if you cut off the crusts. (This is called “parenting.”)

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2. The Sandwich

Men are good for assembling things, like IKEA furniture and sandwiches. The good news about winning in re: sandwiches is that you don’t have to follow those impossible black-and-white IKEA drawings to really nail it. For those of you who don’t know how to make a sandwich: it’s two pieces of bread with stuff in the middle. (You got this; I truly believe you got this.)

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3. Pancakes

This may seem like a big step, but pancakes are almost too easy: flour, salt, baking powder, sugar in one bowl; eggs, milk, and butter in another; mix (but not too much), get the griddle spitting-hot, and boom! Saturday mornings are made for pancakes. Cartoons on the TV, mom sleeping in so it’s dad’s duty to rustle up a batch of America’s favorite breakfast food.

Pro tip, guys: If you use a mix, you instantly move on the hero scale from Liam Neeson in Taken (“I will find you, and I will kill you.”) to Woody Allen in Love and Death (“I was the men’s freestyle fleeing champion two years in a row.”) — just be sure to point out to the kids that they were made from scratch … that’s why there’s still some un-mixed flour in there.

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4. BBQ

The great thing about grilling? Once the fire is lit, and tended, and re-tended, and worried over, and the sparks have stopped setting your trees alight … well, the food tastes like you can cook, because: char. All you have to do is wait for the coals to turn gray and it’s on — yes, put the meat on the flippin’ grill. Wear an ironic apron, and serve with huge tongs and a smug grin. Bonus: You get to stand out in the garden with your buds and your Buds.

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5. Herb-Crusted Tilapia with Fennel Root Purée, Topped with a Piquant Chipotle Sauce, Served over a Bed of Wilted Greens

This is for birthdays only. The children are with their grandparents. Her big day is this Saturday, so if you haven’t started preparing this by the previous week Thursday, make reservations instead.

Tilapia is a fish. You can purchase it at something called a fishmonger, or better yet, most big food stores have a fish counter — you can tell it’s the fish counter because no one is anywhere near it. Fennel root purée isn’t a thing. Chipotle is where you’ll go if a) you didn’t plan at least 10 days beforehand, and b) you couldn’t get reservations at her favorite restaurant, or any restaurant.

But at least the kids are having a great time, and no, they’re not being spoiled at all; they’ll be super easy when they get back from their overnight with Pop-Pop and Mrs. Pop-Pop.

(By the way, the wilted greens are also known as “vegetables.”)