filling the empty nest with food
When I was a teenager I remember being dazzled by the monthly menus published in the Women’s Day magazines my mom used to buy at the grocery store. Probably my OCD self loved the way the whole month of dinners was perfectly and neatly laid out in advance. So methodical and organized. I imagined the pleasure in sitting down with a pen and paper and a growling stomach to think up those 30 dinners. Every dish in each meal meticulously planned. And then, I’d picture myself taking those menus to the grocery store to buy the ingredients on the list to make just those meals, and nothing else. Each ingredient to be bought in advance and stored expectantly in the pantry. And when you were ready to cook, say, roast chicken with buttered egg noodles and steamed green beans, you’d have all the ingredients stored neatly and ready to go. At the time, it seemed like the perfect way to cook.
Except, somehow, I didn’t turn out that way when it comes to menu planning. What I’ve got instead is a pantry full of random things bought on impulse or on sale. What the heck do I do with 5 cans of coconut cream from a momentary impulse to throw a pina colada party? Or all the necessary ingredients for a meal except the main one missing? Spaghetti carbonara sounds delicious right about now. A look in the cupboards and fridge locate the spaghetti, bacon, parmesan, and parsely–but, damn, no eggs.
I will attribute my current state of menu “planning” to my anarchic muse being much stronger than my orderly muse.
I opened the fridge the other day and saw a half-empty container of sour cream and began to dream up recipes to use it in. What could I make with that? Beef stroganoff might be tasty, or a plate of nachos to plop some on top of. But what tempted me most was an aptly named “Decadent Chocolate Cake.” It’s easy to mix up, since all you need is some chocolate, a bowl and spoon. Well, mostly chocolate, a bowl and spoon. But, if, like me, you’re not tied to your monthly menus, you’ll always have some butter, eggs, and sugar at the ready.