You Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Recipe
By Janet Hinze
I’m crawling on the Interstate dreaming of being home… and of food. Lunch was nonexistent and breakfast just a yogurt. I’m starving, tired and cranky. I want to be home in my comfy jammies, with a glass of wine, something good to eat and Netflix … zoning out.
Takeout means another stop, finding parking and waiting even if I call ahead. Drive-thru (what a laugh) is as slow as the Interstate. Delivery: more waiting, soggy food and a big price tag. And no, I don’t want frozen pizza or Lean Cuisine.
Oh dear, I’ll have to make something, and it has to be quick and tasty. I pull into the garage and start reviewing the larder. Of course I have a larder, and so do you! Very few people live like homicide cops on nothing but beer, peanut butter, microwave popcorn and vodka in the freezer.
So quick … let’s think about the fridge. I know there’s mayo, mustards, salsas, yogurt, milk, a bag of baby carrots, salad dressing and romaine that’s seen better days. And eggs! With eggs you’ll never go hungry. I’m sure the freezer has bread of some sort, a sausage or two, bacon, definitely baby peas and corn.
By now my clothes are changed, my toes are cozy and the wine is in my hand. Cue up the music and in 15 to 30 minutes I will be eating something hot and delicious! I just have to figure out what.
So let’s really check the supplies. Oh look! A tub of hummus. Grab the carrots, we’ve got apps to go with the wine! Yep, there’s a couple of onions, lemons, a wrinkled but edible red pepper, apples, a lump of cheddar and one of Parmesan (the good stuff). The cupboard has pasta, beans, tuna, olives, anchovies chicken broth, boxed soup. And, of course, olive oil, vinegars and a garlic bulb.
If you don’t have most of these items (and I hope a few more) sitting in your kitchen you are living at the mercy of fast food, delivery drivers and food professionals. That’s no way to relax in your underwear!
So what can we make with the above items. A quick salad, grilled cheese, a sausage sandwich, a comforting bowl of pasta, a warming bowl of soup.
None of these items requires a recipe. The pasta takes the most time to cook, and that’s just because water has to boil first. News Flash! You don’t need a huge amount of water to cook pasta. You just need enough so the noodles keep moving. Start the water, make it as salty as the Pacific, then work on the things you want to put on the pasta. When it boils, throw in the noodles, start a timer (remember you have one on your phone) and keep working.
Grab a sausage or some of that bacon. Partially thaw in the microwave, then slice into pieces and saute on low in a covered pan. Chop some onion and the good parts of that red pepper. Smash a couple garlic cubes. Put them into the pan with the meat. You probably need some olive oil in there. Saute for a few minutes. Now’s a good time to grate some cheese.
Actually, all of these things could go into one of the boxes of soup from the pantry. Tomato, Roasted Squash, Black Bean. What ya got?
So, if you opt for the soup, you just need to add it to the sausage pan and heat everything together, maybe adding a little water, or even some of that wine you’re drinking. (Beer works!) A few dried herbs, but not too many, they’re strong flavored. Leftover rice works in here, or a can of beans … any kind. Plop in some frozen peas and corn. Find the crackers, make some toast. Pour the soup into a big bowl and top with some cheese. Cue up Netflix!
But if we’re making pasta, save some of the pasta water when you drain it. Just stick a cup or glass under the strainer, you don’t need much. Put the pasta into the sausage/bacon pan and maybe add some more olive oil, some of the pasta water and grated cheese. It’s a sauce! And it’s dinner!