I have my mental Rolodex of dishes, things that require no recipe reading, things that are easy to put together when I get home from work. An additional requirement is that the meal be able to stay Prepared-And-Tasty for a couple of hours because neither of us ever knows when he'll get home after his workday. Husband is tired of all of my old standbys. Additionally, he's tired of food in general because he eats lunch in restaurants every single day. Me, I'm off to the office daily with my Tupperware container of leftovers or my hummus and Triscuits. It's a big day for me when we order pizza delivery for a group lunch.
"Different! I want something different!" he said early last week.
He consulted one of his Jacques Pepin cookbooks and made, two nights in a row because it was so good, Mustard Crusted Chicken. I loved it! It was delicious. I was glad there were only four pieces of chicken so I didn't embarrass myself. The following night he made a different chicken recipe. That one wasn't such a hit with either of us. Yesterday I phoned him and said, "If you aren't already planning it, don't make anything fancy tonight."
"Oh, I'd just as soon have some Triscuits or a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich."
Early this morning I woke up and mentally cast about for some kind of different food to prepare for him. The internet offers me recipes for which he has already expressed distaste.
- I'm not really a soup kind of guy.
- I'm not really big on salad.
- I'm not crazy about chili.
- I really don't like Feta cheese.
- I'm not big on wraps. This last one is a big disappointment to me because wraps are like the Indo-European language family with a million offshoots. To my mind, you can put anything in a wrap and it becomes Different and Delicious.
Many of the recipes call for ingredients I've never heard of . . . one-eighth teaspoon of some spice that I'd have to order online or drive three and a half hours to Brooklyn to get. If I make the dish without that particular spice, I fear, all the rest of my efforts will have been in vain. The finished product will be met with a gimlet eye, and a quiet, polite, and cheerful "It isn't my favorite." It's hard to take for a woman who breathes a little faster at the thrill of goulash made with ground beef, or macaroni and cheese. "Fancy" to me is macaroni and cheese made with Swiss cheese in addition to cheddar.
Several weeks ago, Phyllis brought sweet potato lasagna for lunch. It was left over from her family's dinner the night before. This morning I got up early to search for a recipe. I found one. It calls for:
- sweet potato (slice and bake first)
- kale (cut up and blanch first)
- zucchini (slice and bake first)
- two or three kinds of cheese
- red onion (slice and bake first)
- broccoli (cut up and blanch first)
- God knows what-all else.
Suddenly I'm thinking of the relatively exotic meals that I find "in my grocer's freezer case." Sure, they're expensive, but what's the cost of the leftover spice for which I paid $6 and which I'll never use again? I think my shopping list just got a lot shorter.