Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What's for Supper?

I've been doing it for almost 45 years now --- putting supper on the table nearly every night --- and it hasn't gotten any easier. I should qualify that a little bit; I didn't know how to cook when I was first married, and now I'm a competent cook who can improvise and put a decent meal on the table without a lot of physical effort. But it's still a struggle to think, "What shall we have for supper?" The only respite comes on the infrquent occasions when we eat out, or when we have lots of left-overs. (We've been working on a beef pot roast for several days now. I have to think of something different for supper tonight.)

When I was first married, I bought a good cook book, and sat down every day to write out a strategic plan for our evening meal. The big challenge was timing --- making sure everything was done and ready for the table at the same time. Over the years, that struggle has been made easier by microwave ovens, and I've given up trying for precise timing anyway, because I have a husband, who, when called to the table, will say, "Just a minute." and appear 30 or 45 minutes later. That means, fortunately, that he's not fussy about what he eats, and is willing to fend for himself on occasion.

Later in my marriage, I went through a phase of reading every recipe I came across in newspapers or women's magazines, evaluating it, and clipping it out if I thought it was worth trying. Gradually I learned that many recipes are for people who like to handle food and fuss around in the kitchen. I'm not one of them. Why bother to do something complicated with a perfectly good piece of fresh fruit? I don't even bother to squeeze orange juice when I can just eat an orange.

It's always been a goal to shop for groceries only once a week, instead of running to the store every two or three days. That means a certain amount of planning ahead, even if I also rely on seeing what looks good when I'm in the store. When I ask my husband for menu suggestions, I can rely on his reply: chile. That's fine once in a while or even once a month, but not every week.

I know I shouldn't complain when much of the world goes hungry. We not only have enough to eat, we have choices that would be unimaginable to most everyone in the history of the world. Maybe that's the trouble. Instead of serving the same thing day after day, I have too many options when I think, "What's for supper?"


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