When it was just me at dinner time, a fancy meal meant I turned on the stove.
I enjoyed cooking, it was just that there was no real reason to cook much, since it was just me. So, dinner could be anything from an egg sandwich (one of the most underappreciated culinary creations that I know of) made with seasoning salt, Poulsbo Bread and sprouts, and never mind the egg had to be done in bacon drippings. Those sandwiches tasted better than most anything I can think of now, despite their humble reality.
Now, if I don’t some how put some plan of some sort for dinner, I feel like I have rather shirked my duties, since I have 4 mouths and tummies aside from my own. Dinner and all meals are far beyond the oatmeal, toast, tea, coffee and an apple and or milk that completed my diet in my solo years.
So, at least 15 to 20 percent of my energy goes into the food I buy, the menu, the recipes, the prep, the side dishes, the presentation and all of it that happens at 6 p.m. weeknights. Never mind the vermicomposting, or the Community Garden which requires us (read: my woodworker husband) to go and work off the cost of our “all you can eat buffet” of organic vegetables.
The table is a big place in our house, in my head, in life and in our family.
And as I pull out some ground beef, that I eye with shirking disdain after watching Food Inc., I know that some days are meatloaf (or love loaf, as my friend calls) and some days are green curry with basmati and naan. Some days are sandwiches with cheddar and lunchmeat, and some days are proscuitto and basil and mozzarella. Some days are samosas, and some days are just chicken. What can I do? I am not the president, although that thought sends me into a food daydream that I might just have to lay down to fully appreciate…
It is a rainy Friday after all, what will I do to redeem this day? Family time would by necessity have to be indoors because we are all full of germs, fighting off colds.
Yesterday, Sylvie redeemed the day by saying “Ow!” for the first time (imitating her sister whose stomach was being stepped on) and then she repeated “Bay-bee!” over and over bringing pure joy. Because certainly the Mexican we had for the 4th time in a week wasn’t going to make this Thursday memorable.
So as I walk out from the freezer with my footballs of frozen ground beef and canned concentrated orange juice, I try not to think in terms of the fancy meal we are not having, and focus more on the fact that “Hey! We get to eat food!”
Wrong meatloaf, byt the spitting image of my friend Greg. I hope he still has a good sense of humor.
And on a side note, we will translate the meatloaf into Italian wedding soup, because deep in my heart I want to believe that the only difference between an ordinary meal and a meal we want to eat was just a little bit of creativity. Though creativity can be hard to come by when cooking in a haze of fighting off a bug.