Last night I was talking to my sister on the phone. Neither one of us has much downtime so we usually talk when she’s on her way to a “thing” and I’m on my way to a “thing.”
“What are you making for dinner?” I ask.
“I’m too embarrassed to say,” she says. “It’s almost grocery day. We are out of everything. What are YOU making?”
“Leftover chicken noodle soup,” I tell her. “I made it a month ago, froze the leftovers, and today sat it out on the counter to thaw while I was at work.”
“Mmmm” she says. She’s being sarcastic; I can tell.
Easy peasy dinner? Yes. Quick? Yes. Nothing hard about throwing it in a pan to heat up. Now, did I want it? No, I did NOT. It looked as if the seal on the Tupperware bowl had come up. The question was, did it come undone while sitting on the counter just today, or the second I put it in the freezer, a month ago? Ah! Shriek! Freezer burn!
“Well, it sounds like a better dinner than mine,” she snickers.
“Why, what’s yours?”
She sighs. “Tacos.”
“Tacos? What’s wrong with tacos?”
“You don’t understand.” she snorts. “It’s really not that glamorous. It is nothing more than a sad couple of tablespoons of taco meat on a flat tortilla. No cheese. No sour cream. No tomatoes, no lettuce, no taco sauce. I’m out of everything. The worst part is that the kids all told me that dinner was just fine!” She wailed. "Thank gosh we had made a cake earlier in the week or the kids would have starved."
I make soothing, sympathetic noises. “I feel your pain,” I say. “Once I scoured the cupboards and ended up serving some old crushed Fritos stirred with a can of tuna, covered with plain tomato sauce.”
I could hear her shudder even over the phone. “I hear you. Last week, before we went grocery shopping, I stretched three eggs and a can of fruit cocktail into dinner only because I had found an old bag of cheddar cheese in the freezer to glue it all together. Hey, are you gagging?"
I drink some water because I am indeed gagging.
We’ve all done it; just try to make it through one more day until there’s time to go grocery shopping. It’s easy to order a pizza, pick up subs or chicken. Where’s the challenge in that, though? It takes skill and kitchen finesse to take five unlikely ingredients and come up with something edible, even if it’s not pretty.
My sister and I are good cooks. We could go several rounds with the Barefoot Contessa or Rachel Ray, and perhaps turn out something even yummier … given enough time and the right ingredients. However, we are each the parents of three children and work full time.
Speed and ease is of the essence, but time is precious, too, which is why you should always make a cake or cookies on Tuesday night. That way, if you are forced towards the end of the week to make one of the (shudder) aforementioned dinners, at least you have a consolation dessert.