Let’s talk side dishes

I am having, shall we say, a bit of a crisis in the kitchen. Part of it is because, yeah, I don’t have an oven (my bad), but most of it is just that I am over it. I want to eat but I do not want to cook.

I can’t blame the new lack of oven for an apathy that goes back years.

Well, planning is half the battle. I asked Eric for side dish ideas before my weekly shopping extravaganza and his response was to ask Johanna. She’s pickier because she’s got textural issues and, as Eric pointed out, he will eat anything. So I was like, Hey Jo, what kind of side dishes would you like this week? and she was all, What do you mean, “side dish?” and I was all, Uh, like rice or rice and beans or mashed potatoes or green beans? and she was all, I like all of those.

I mean, okay.

Also, the fact that she had to clarify what I meant by “side dishes” should tell you something about how long it’s been since I planned an actual menu.

Eric amended that he also is a fan of salads; Johanna likes raw veggies not in salad form (usually). Well, that’s easy enough, we always have that kind of stuff in the fridge. Add to that we are in a ridiculously awesome time for fresh fruit grown in our area — Asian pears (HERE), apples of all kinds, plums, Jupiter grapes, peaches and pears — and it’s almost to many riches.

So I made all those things: Rice for me, rice and beans for Jo and Eric, mashed potatoes for them, mashed sweet potatoes for me, and green beans for all of us (in a can, I just like them better that way. Recyclable, yay). I washed the grapes and plums; Eric cut up zucchini, cucumbers, carrots and peppers. All pretty basic, but they are getting the job done.*

There’s not really a point to this except to say wow, mealtimes are boring and I’m struggling. And that I’m still doing the Sunday night Prep All the Things that I started back during my Simple Year. I took it a step further last weekend in that I made myself a couple of complete freezer meals for those times I need something fast (we get invited out for pizza at someone’s house, for example, or Eric and Jo are in the mood for spaghetti). That has saved my life more than once and I’ve gotten out of the habit of creating them this summer.

P.S. The millet is still in the cupboard untouched. I know, it’s not the millet’s fault that it’s birdseed, but I just can’t make myself try it again. I will. Not yet.

P.P.S. On my last trip to the grocery store, I made an actual list and figured out how many jars I would need for certain items. I’ve been sort of lax with that lately — relying on paper bags available in the bulk aisle if I don’t have enough jars. But the point, as Plastic Free September is reminding me, is to eliminate waste where I can. And jars are so easy to do, really. This is why I have a quart of store brand organic decaf coffee beans in my cupboard right now. NOT my preference, but they get the job done.

And P.P.P.S., having a menu / ideas for side dishes meant that I could go through my big freezer and get rid of a few things in there, like pinto beans and onion. I also found jars of shredded turnip greens from 2017. I believe I had plans to add those to frittatas. They are now on the compost heap. Sorry, greens. Note to self: Be realistic about what you save.

*Yes, what I’m saying is that I make everything on Sunday and then, during the week, the counter is littered with jars and containers of items at dinnertime. Everyone takes what they want and warms it in the microwave as needed. I’ve let go of the idea of perfect mealtimes with freshly prepared food. We need to eat; how we get there is up for grabs.