By now you know that I love to cook and I shun packaged and prepared food items, making my meals usually from scratch and using fresh, local produce whenever it is available. Every "Table Talk" blog includes my Sunday menu and sometimes recipes and cooking tips. Food is important to me, and good food is almost an obsession. So how, then, did this Sunday's meal come to be a package of ravioli, a ring of sausage and a jar of marinara sauce? I would be embarrassed to even publish this Sunday's menu if there wasn't a funny story behind it!
A couple weeks ago my son Justin made a delicious pasta dish. He is a very good cook, especially considering that he is both young and male, and he often creates some gourmet sandwich, pasta or omelette for his lunch that leaves the rest of us drooling over our PBJ. After this latest pasta creation, he offered me a taste (which he often does), and I appropriately sighed and "mmm'd" and pronounced it delicious. Then he said, "Mom, next week I am going to make Sunday dinner. You can take a break." Well, the next Sunday (which was last Sunday) was our Thanksgiving Fellowship Meal at church, so he told me he would cook after Thanksgiving. "Perfect," I thought, as that would free me up to focus on Thanksgiving dinner and not have worry about shopping and cooking for the Sunday meal as well.
So, Saturday night I am peeling potatoes at about 8:30, doing those wonderful make-ahead mashed potatoes that make life so much easier on Thanksgiving Day. I'm also noticing that Justin is relaxing in front of the TV and snacking on something after getting off work. I asked him if he needed anything for his dinner tomorrow. I felt my body sag as he looked at me blankly and said, "What are you talking about?" Well...long story short, when he said he would make dinner "after Thanksgiving," he meant the actual holiday and not our Thanksgiving fellowship meal. So he wasn't planning to do dinner until next week. I wanted to grab my hair with my rubber-gloved hands and give out a gutteral groan, but I turned back to the sink and continued peeling...and pep-talking myself back into a state of calm. "Okay, there's that new recipe for chicken and gnocchi soup...that's easy. Then just add a salad and homemade bread in the breadmaker. Super easy, super quick. And for dessert I'll use that coupon for free ice cream and Belgian cookies and then whip up a batch of fudge sauce to go on top." So I quickly made up a small grocery list and sent Jeff to the store after the game. Relaxed and feeling good about getting life so quickly under control, I finished the potatoes, popped them in the freezer, and checked "potatoes" off my list. Then the phone rings.
Yep, it's Jeff. "I can't find the gnocchi." Actually, I was expecting this call, so I told him where to look and even gave him a back-up location if they weren't in the first section. The phone rings again. "The guys says they don't carry it at all anymore." Well, it's 9:30 now and I don't feel like thinking up a new menu and sending Jeff for more ingredients, because I know he already doesn't want to be there. So, I clean up the kitchen, fold the laundry, and head for bed, rolling through the recipes in my mind like a card file. Finally, I settle on a good Canadian stand-by that my gang will love and think of as a real treat: pyrogies and kielbasa. In our four years here, I've only come across Cheemo pyrogies in one store. Back in Canada, pyrogies were just a super-quick meal that we didn't eat often and didn't really treat as special. But deprivation makes divine, so because pyrogies are almost impossible to come by here, they are now on everyone's list of favorite foods. I planned to still do a batch of bread in the breadmaker, but then on the way home from church I would stop and pick up pyrogies and kielbasa. Calm and in control once again, I fell asleep.
Next morning after church I zipped over to the store. Kielbasa was on sale...a really good sale! Oh, yes, I am happy. Gonna have a quick and easy meal that's cheap too! But, I'm sure you've guessed, there are no pyrogies. That section of the freezer now holds frozen mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and potatoes for holiday meals. I ask about pyrogies and the girl says, "What are pyrogies?" She gets another guy, who also says, "What are pyrogies?" and then tells me they most certainly are specialty foods which aren't carried regularly. So now what? I've got a household of hungry guys and I'm tyring to think up dinner #4! By this time I plain old don't care what we eat. I grab a bunch of packages of fresh ravioli (not canned, I'd never go that low!), keep the kielbasa, and throw in a couple jars of marinara sauce. At home I start the water boiling for our one-pot wonder meal and get the girls to make a caesar salad. The bread machine beeps and fragrant bread emerges. We sit down to eat. The guys devour it, loving it just because it's food. But then my mom comments: "Oh, this is delicious. Justin, what did you put in this. It is sooo good! Excellent job, Justin." We all burst out laughing. "What? What?" my mom asks, bewildered. "It's all canned!" I exclaim. So we told her the whole story, and she got a laugh out of our "gourmet pasta" meal too.
Funny thing is, it really was good...so good I ate the left-overs for lunch today!