Let’s talk about those days when you don’t have time to hunt down recipes, shop for and prep amazing ingredients, and spend an hour putting a meal on the table. In other words, most of our lives nearly all the time.
Working in the food world, I absolutely do my share of perusing food magazines, websites, etc for intriguing recipes. I also enjoy grocery shopping as well as any and all time spent in the kitchen. I’d rather make my own bread than buy it, put my own pizza together than bake frozen, and peel, chop, and steam fresh broccoli than turn to microwaved bags. But you know what? I do all of the above and some of it not infrequently. Real life has folks going to evening meetings, running kids to activities, trying to keep up with family and friends, and then some.
But eating poorly is not an option.
Case in point: When given a rare day of working at home, sans appointments, I can easily graze my way through the afternoon (there’s all that leftover Easter candy, remember?). Yet today I knew I needed to eat real food. I especially wanted a Cobb salad–a favorite restaurant order that makes me feel as if I’m worth some prep time. Cooking, peeling, chopping those rows of ingredients is a commitment and I felt strongly about making that commitment to myself, especially as it’s been a whole lot of running around for others lately.
A mental inventory of my pantry didn’t sync exactly with what I needed, but I was willing to be flexible. An avocado, bit of crumbled blue cheese, eggs that could easily be hard-cooked, and most important–a head of romaine, would start my Cobb off quite authentically. Chicken and bacon would have to take a pass as I had no time to thaw and cook just for a lunchtime salad. Decent fresh tomatoes in Minnesota in May? Forget it. Instead I thawed a small handful of frozen cooked beans, leftover from another time, and chopped colorful rainbow peppers which are marching toward their expiration date. I did have olives–score! But they were green, not black.
In the end, I got my Cobb salad. Served on a plain-Jane brown plate–part of a set inherited from my mom as I couldn’t bear to see her give away the dishes I grew up eating off of–it made me feel worth it.
It wasn’t a recipe taken from a cookbook, it wasn’t particularly well thought out (freshly cracked black pepper served as the dressing), and it was only a shadow of what could be considered a real Cobb. But I made do with what I had.
And that, my friends, is key. Though there are times when it’s possible to prepare amazing meals, there are just as many–or more–occasions when making do will do. And the sooner that fact is accepted and even embraced, the sooner folks can get into the kitchen and start cooking.
We in the blogosphere are especially guilty of putting only the best out there. But I also want to highlight what happens between my weekly posts. My food is not always post-worthy, but it’s real and it feeds myself and those I love. My wish for you is to go forth and do the same. You’re worth it.