I don’t really have tech support as a one-woman show here at Cook With What You Have. Technical breakdowns make my heart rate go up like biking up a hill when late to a meeting. That feeling plus a tired, cranky adolescent who still doesn’t make the connection between his mood and his empty stomach made for a tricky day yesterday. I felt the pressure, in the 15 minutes I had to pull some food together for my son and husband, to leave them something good and nutritious as I headed out the door for a late meeting.
My son’s tastes have swung towards flaming hot cheetos, pop tarts, oreos and chicken tenders. He often sells his (sometimes partial) sandwiches to friends at school and then visits Plaid Pantry for said items. I don’t really blame him. I used to steal change out of my mother’s purse when I was his age to buy Paprika Chips at school (in Germany) and let the sandwiches she sent me rot in the back of my closet (yes, she’ll be reading this post:)!
Ultimately yesterday’s challenges were mundane and not on par with those many people face. However, these moments make me acutely aware of how hard it can be to just nourish ourselves and our families. Convenience food is just that, convenient. But I’ve chosen a job, a business inspired by my love of food, love of people, love of farmers and love of using food as a daily opportunity for connection, joy, celebration and yes, nourishment. But some days don’t turn out that way. And of course you can still connect and take a moment to enjoy whatever it is you’re eating.
My stressed out state last night led to the above, un-photogenic elements–sauteed cabbage and black beans and sausage. My husband ended up putting it all in flour tortillas with some cheese for cook-with-what-you-have burritos. I guess all these years of preaching about pantry stocking (sausage in the freezer, cooked beans in fridge (canned would be just fine of course) and having some veg on hand (cabbage is the best! It keeps forever, delicious with nothing but salt and olive oil) paid off!
As a breast cancer survivor I think about the conflicting dietary information I read and want to do everything I can to stay healthy. As a parent I think about what my son needs to thrive and I think about my African-American husband with high cholesterol and how to best nourish him and us all.
I have no perfect answers. Stress doesn’t help so taking short cuts is important too. My years of cooking with or just assembling basic pantry items does help me get through days like yesterday without having to order take-out (extra $ plus extra time) and I’m committed to sharing more ways to nourish ourselves when there’s no time for chopping herbs and washing lettuce and cooking beans.