Over the years, I’ve found it forms the framework of our lives together — whether my husband, Kevin, and I are preparing special birthday meals for our children, inviting fellow artists and friends over to nosh and natter, or planning an upcoming family gathering for Mother’s Day. Even daily dinners for the two of us serve as an opportunity to celebrate — whether it’s nutrient-rich fare designed to boost our immune systems during a viral outbreak or a light salad with fresh bread when it’s too hot and humid to stomach much else.
That’s why, at this time of year, we’re just as excited to see progress in the garden as we are to spy the back of the freezer. On the one hand, it’s comforting to know that we’ll be cutting asparagus and pulling rhubarb as early as this weekend. But it’s equally satisfying to realize that we filled much of our plates all winter with last season’s bounty.
Hardly ever is food a chore for us. Occasionally we haven’t planned ahead, which is far more of a hurdle when the cupboards are virtually bare of “prepared, convenience foods.” That’s usually when we rely on pesto to save the day. A few dollops prepared the summer before can be plucked from the freezer as the water boils and presto! Pasta is now a meal.
Sometimes it’s an urgent obligation: When the fruit or vegetables are ready for harvest, we better be ready to pick, prep and preserve them.
Always with the promise that at some point, we’ll sit down and savor the flavors, usually enhanced by a little butter or olive oil, onions, salt, pepper and garlic, and occasionally highlighted by basil, parsley, oregano, even ginger or cilantro.
But some of the best meals are simply pieced together from what’s on hand — like Wednesday night’s meal of oven roasted potatoes tossed with olive oil, fresh ground salt and pepper; steamed carrots lightly dressed with butter and parsley; red Marconi pepper strips crisp sautéed in butter; and pan-seared salmon in an improvised Asian citrus glaze.
Kevin polished off the last bite, swooning, “that was such a good dinner!”
I had to agree.